Episode 13 – Performance Reviews Pt. 2

Episode #13
Original Air Date: 07.05.2016

33 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Andy Crowe, Bill Yates, Nick Walker

The team picks up where they left off last episode discussing performance reviews. In this episode, Andy and Bill get a little bit more specific covering best practices, practical tools and techniques. Tune in to learn when to give, how to give and how to receive your next performance review.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"You have to do them for HR purposes.  Big organizations, small organizations should do reviews.  And I agree with you.  I think quarterly, making them smaller, making them more frequent, little bit more manageable is a better way to go."

- Andy Crowe

"There needs to be a collaboration. The spirit of, okay, let’s understand the role. What are my goals, short-term and long-term? What are my expectations? What kind of support should I expect? How are you going to measure me for success? What are those performance measures that you care about, Mr. Manager or Ms. Manager? So that’s a collaborative thing that should go together."

- Bill Yates

"Come in and articulate the value that you’re bringing to the organization, the value you’re bringing to the project, and be ready to articulate and document that value assertively."

- Andy Crowe

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ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  Every two weeks we meet to talk about what matters to you as a professional project manager.  We’re into project management certification, doing the job of project management, and we get inside the brains of some of the leaders in the industry.

I’m your host, Nick Walker; and beside me are the resident experts Andy Crowe and Bill Yates.  Now, in a perfect world you could look up “project manager” in the dictionary, and you’d find their pictures right beside the definition.  They are the epitome of project management.  They’re project managers themselves.  They instruct other project managers and those working to become one.

Now, guys, we decided that this topic deserved a double header.  So we’re going to pick up where we left off last time.  The subject, Andy, performance reviews.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, Nick.  In the podcast number 12, the last time, we dealt with this topic kind of generally.  And this time we’re going to get a little bit more specific.  We’re going to get into some best practices, some practical tools and techniques.

But to me, one of the things that we can do here is look at other organizations who are doing it right.  Last time we talked about a couple of ways that were outmoded, maybe that didn’t work so well anymore.  Now we want to look at the ones who are doing it right.  What are they doing?  How are they approaching it?  You know, because things change.  The same techniques that worked in the 1940s maybe don’t translate so well today.  A lot of organizations are doing some of the things the same way we did them in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and it’s time to take a fresh look at it.  So we’re going to try and update that.

But the bigger point here, this is one of those areas that causes project managers a lot of anxiety in giving performance reviews.  They don’t want to do it.  They get torqued up about it.  And a lot of times it’s even worse when you’re on the receiving end.  You know, you sit there, and you and I both know, everybody, everybody who’s listening to this podcast has probably had the experience where your manager gives you a performance review.  You hear several things you’re doing right, and then maybe one thing that you’re not doing so well.  And what do we walk away and focus on and obsess about the rest of the week is that one thing.  So we’re going to look at all of this today, but we’re going to get a lot more practical.

NICK WALKER:  Okay.  Before we get into some of those best practices, let’s rewind just a second, talk about maybe what sets a good performance review apart from a bad one.  Last time we talked about the old school we’re all familiar with, the annual review, the bell curve.  Now we’re talking about a new way, less formal, more frequent reviews.  We talked about some of the companies that have been involved in this new way, Bill.

BILL YATES:  Right, companies such as Accenture, Adobe, Deloitte, and GE.  Those are some places where we can take a peek and see what’s working for them and distill some best practices from that and share that.

NICK WALKER:  So some of the things we want to get into today are how to give a performance review; when to give a performance review; how to receive a performance review.  So let’s talk a little bit about some of these.  Let’s spend some time talking about when.  When is the best time to do this?

BILL YATES:  Yeah, and this was interesting.  So we talked about the breakaway from the annual review and how, like the companies I just mentioned, they’re ditching the annual review and saying this doesn’t make sense.  There’s too long of a gap between the performance and the review, the feedback.  Let’s make it more frequent, and let’s make it less formal.  Quarterly seems to be the rhythm that is coming out in most cases.

However, we talked about in our first episode some of the Agile practices and some of the things that we saw with that.  Andy mentioned some of the rhythms that are built into Agile, and the retrospectives that are done there, and even the daily stand-ups.  So I think the challenge for the project manager is to look at their business, to look at their projects and think about, all right, what makes sense?  When is a logical place for me to stop and have a review, have a conversation with team members?  That can vary; right?  Kind of depends on the projects, the length of the projects that we have.

And even, you know, I think about our own experiences, Andy.  The reporting cycle that we run into, some organizations have a reporting cycle that lends itself really well to a quarterly review.  Financially, for instance, we may do a review then.  So depending on the type of project setup that you have, or the key metrics for your organization, you may find an ideal time to hit the pause button and have that performance review.

ANDY CROWE:  You know, Bill, I had an interesting interaction with a company that’s deep into Agile.  And it was at a project management event I went to recently, and we were discussing the podcast in general and discussing the fact that we were talking about this.  And they said, you know, we do Agile.  And so really with the level of Agile transparency that we embrace, everything’s on the wall.  All the performance metrics are on the wall.  We don’t really do reviews because it’s all publicly reviewed all the time.

And that sounds good at first, but really you don’t assume that people are going to get it that way.  You don’t assume, A, that people are necessarily going to take away – some people have blind spots.  And even though they can see that they’re lagging behind, they may not understand completely the impact on the organization and some of the reasons why.  So that needs to be discussed.  But then there’s another reason for compliance.  So you have to do reviews.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  You have to do them for HR purposes.  Big organizations, small organizations should do reviews.  And I agree with you.  I think quarterly, making them smaller, making them more frequent, little bit more manageable is a better way to go.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.

NICK WALKER:  And I love the NFL illustration that you gave last time about how the coach gets in there, gets into the player’s face right away.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, right.

NICK WALKER:  Makes an impact.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah.  And, you know, in Atlanta, sometimes the owner gets in the NFL player’s face right away, too.

BILL YATES:  Dallas fans can relate to that, as well.  Yeah, but Andy, to build on your point, you think about that in an Agile world, maybe the team sees.  They can look at the kanban.  They can look at the burn up, the burn down charts and see how the team is doing.  But they may not have a good sense for how they – they may not know the personal impact they’ve had.  So again, back to that sports analogy.  Hey, the team won.  We came back in the fourth quarter and won the game, so everybody’s excited about that.  But the coach is still going to have that review for each position player as to how – what was your performance?  What was your contribution to that?

ANDY CROWE:  You have to because people do not always construct the same narrative for their performance or lack thereof than the team or the coach does.

BILL YATES:  Right.  That’s true, yup.

NICK WALKER:  There’s probably some managers listening to this, though, who are saying, okay, this sounds great.  Sure, that’s ideal to do these reviews immediately.  But isn’t that going to cost me a lot in terms of time and money and productivity?

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  Great question.  Sure.  Yeah.  I think about a colleague I ran into recently, and he had a team of 25 or 30 under him that he had to review.  And he had been – “Hey, I haven’t seen you for a while.  Where you been?”  “I’ve been on the road doing performance reviews.  It’s that time of the year.”  And, “Oh, wow, how many you reviewing?”  “Twenty-five, 30.”  “Really.”  And so he was telling me the hours and hours he put into this.

ANDY CROWE:  There’s a flag on the field right there.  That is absolutely too many people to have to manage and review.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, yeah.  So it was interesting.  But because this is less formal, this should be less costly.  And I think, again, doing the research, I think Accenture had a great example.  The CEO of Accenture had a quote.  They determined that they would disband rankings, their old system, in 2016 and go with a more fluid system of ongoing feedback.  And in doing that, there’s a great quote.  Nick, you’re the professional.  You can actually handle these tough names.  You can pronounce them correctly.  So I’m going to toss this to you.

NICK WALKER:  Sometimes I can.  But this is a French guy.  And my French is so bad that even my French professor in college made fun of my accent.  But CEO Pierre Nanterme.

BILL YATES:  There you go.

ANDY CROWE:  We’ll live with that.  And Mr. Nanterme, if that’s incorrect, you’re welcome to contact the podcast, and we will issue a correction.

NICK WALKER:  Might even get a mug out of it.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, he might even get a mug.

NICK WALKER:  But CEO Pierre Nanterme said, “Imagine, for a company of 330,000 people, changing the performance management process.  It’s huge.”  He says, “We’re going to get rid of probably 90 percent of what we did in the past.”  Yikes.

BILL YATES:  Ninety percent.  That, see, to a manager, to someone who’s – again, I think of that guy that I ran into, the colleague who had been on the road.  I think if you said, hey, guess what, next year you’re going to spend 10 percent of the time on this.  Really.  Well, huge savings; right?  It frees him up to do – and project managers, you can relate to this.  It frees you up so you can actually do your real job.

BILL YATES:  Right? This is not what you love to do, more than likely, or you’d probably transition into HR.

ANDY CROWE:  I would argue, from having done this for a lot of companies in a lot of different roles, having done a lot of performance reviews in my life, that I don’t believe you can get away with shedding 90 percent, unless the process was so ridiculously bloated, because there are things you have to log legally in an HR file for compliance, and especially when it comes time to terminate somebody.  HR is standing there and wanting a complete and thorough list.  So I wonder if that’s a valid thing.  But again, Pierre, contact the show, and we’d love to have you as a guest and figure this out because it’s impressive.

BILL YATES:  That’s quite the quote.

NICK WALKER:  So let’s talk a little bit about some of these practices.  Let’s spend some time on how to give a performance review.  How do we go about it?

BILL YATES:  Yeah, let’s get tactical here.  Again, if we’re going to a less formal, streamlined approach, we want to focus on the role of the individual.  So we’re thinking both of the manager and the team member here.  The manager wants to be very crisp with that job description:  Here, for this project, this is the role that I see you fulfilling.  And again, for the team member, understanding and embracing that role.

So there needs to be a collaboration.  The spirit of, okay, let’s understand the role.  What are my goals, short-term and long-term?  What are my expectations?  What kind of support should I expect?  How are you going to measure me for success?  What are those performance measures that you care about, Mr. Manager or Ms. Manager?  So that’s a collaborative thing that should go together.

I think about some of the practical steps that I’ve seen with some performance reviews where let’s say you define certain categories that you want to cover in that performance review.  Those categories may be things like job knowledge or technical savvy or ability, teamwork, customer relations.  So those are the broad categories that you’ll cover in the review.  And then you think about the frequency.

I may have maybe five or 10 questions that I’ve honed in on for each category.  Within that quarterly review, I may just pick one or two questions within each category to go over with this individual.  And then next quarter I may look at another couple of questions, again within those categories, to go through.  And through that we’re able to mix it up so that we’re not falling into the rut of asking the same question the same way.  But we’re hitting on those categories that are most important to our organization and to our project.

One thing that I respect in Andy is he has a clear mission statement and vision for the company, for Velociteach.  We have five core values.  So our performance reviews are tied to those five core values.  So again, how do I embrace that as a project team leader, as a project manager?  Are there certain things that are important to my organization that we need to evaluate on?  And then within the project context, are there big ideas there that we need to include in that review, as well.

ANDY CROWE:  And you know, Bill, I love the fact, any time you can make these objective, it’s wonderful.  Any time you can help somebody clearly see the target and know what their expectations are because so many times people walk into a performance review, they’re unclear that something is expected of them, or what’s expected.  And to make those objective and measurable is wonderful.

I’ll say this, though.  Sometimes it just needs to be a qualitative, sort of subjective measure.  And I remember one of my first jobs was co-oping with IBM.  And it was a great job back in college.  And IBM had an interesting experiment that went very south when they tried to make everything qualitative.  They told programmers that you are going to be evaluated and in fact compensated based on lines of code.

BILL YATES:  Wow.

ANDY CROWE:  And that sounds like a great idea.

BILL YATES:  I’m going to be writing a lot of code.

ANDY CROWE:  Well, and now you – having been a software developer for a long time in my career, I’m well aware you can do things in one statement, or you can break that up into seven or eight or 10.

BILL YATES:  Right.  So I have to ask you a question.  Was this like golf?  Or was this like playing cards?  In other words, were they wanting you to write many, many lines of code?  You got compensated for more lines of code, or less?

ANDY CROWE:  And the funny thing was they knew.  So they knew that it took so many lines of code on average; that a programmer could do X number of good lines of code a day.  So they said, okay, we’re just going to tell you, if you can increase that throughput, like an assembly line, if you can increase that and do X plus 20 percent, then we’re going to compensate you more.  And people did deliver X plus 20 percent.

BILL YATES:  I’ll bet they did.

ANDY CROWE:  So it’s funny because IBM’s trying to increase efficiency, and it turns out it backfires upon them because what they’re actually doing is decreasing efficiency through that very practice.  I think sometimes, ideally, you have a team you can trust.  You have people that you like to work with.  And you qualitatively orient them toward the mission and then give them as objective as you can clear feedback on how they’re doing toward that.

NICK WALKER:  One of the things that you guys have done is learn from others.  You look at other companies, what they’re doing, look at their best practices.  Are there any that jump out at you?

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  Right off the bat I think about an approach that Adobe took.  They ditched the annual review for what they called the “check-in.”  And I’m using air quotes, if you can’t see that.  So let’s have our “check-in.”  And there are three elements to Adobe’s check-in.  They have expectations.  Secondly, they have feedback.  And then, third, they have growth and development.

So the first, expectations, that’s what you would expect.  This is a collaborative process.  This is a conversation between the manager and the employee, the team member, to set clear expectations.  Now, I like the idea of the employee going first.  Team member goes first and describes, here’s my understanding of my role for this project at this time.  These are my expectations.  This is how I think I’m going to be measured for success.  So they write it out first.  And then the manager takes a look at that and agrees or realigns, has a conversation to make sure the expectations are proper or set.

Then they move into a cadence of feedback.  So in this case it’s quarterly.  They do the quarterly check-in.  They’re, again, looking at expectations.  They’re looking at the progress that’s been made, what the status is on the assignments within the project, those growth areas.

And then growth and development, the third area, Adobe takes the stance, and I like this, they say the employee owns her career path, or the employee owns his growth and development.  They’re responsible for it.  The individual’s responsible.  So it should be an ongoing conversation between the team member and the manager.  Here’s where I see myself moving forward in the company.  These are my growth goals.  How can you help me achieve that?

ANDY CROWE:  And Bill, there’s one word that jumps out at me in this whole process, and that is “realigns.”  The manager takes all of this stuff, incorporates it, and realigns back because you have to do that regularly.  The same expectations that the employee had two quarters ago or a year ago may be completely off today, or it may just be slightly off.  They just need recalibrating all the time.  You have to recalibrate everything.

BILL YATES:  Right, right, that’s true.  Nick, it’s funny, you were asking about other examples.  The next one that comes to mind is – it’s a practical tool to help with this, to help with this realignment and to help with this recalibration.  And there’s an app for that.

NICK WALKER:  Of course.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, of course there’s an app for that.  Some of the research we did, it was very interesting to see that GE – again, they’re another company that’s ditching the annual review and going with a less formal, more frequent process.  Theirs is called the “touchpoint.”  Again, the air quotes.  We have a “touchpoint.”  And with that their goal is to have continuous dialogue and shared accountability.  And they do that by holding these regular informal touchpoints to, again, check up on priorities and realign as needed.

But what’s interesting, a little twist that, when you read through, they’ve developed an app internally to help people capture feedback, both positive and constructive, for the team members.  And it’s both for the manager to use and for peers to use.

So think about this.  You’re working on a project.  And let’s say I see Nick handle a really sticky customer situation.  We’ve rolled out – let’s say we delivered something to the customer, a partial delivery of the overall end of our project, and the customer gets it and goes, “Whoa, guys, you totally missed it.”  And Nick jumps in, he does some problem-solving, he goes on the whiteboard, figures out where did we miss the bat, okay, maybe we missed one of the requirements, handles it beautifully.

So in the moment, I can go, “Wow, Nick, you did a great job.”  I can take a picture with my phone – whip the phone out, take a picture of the whiteboard drawing that was brilliant.  Maybe I capture the email that you sent to the customer that defused things or calmed things down.  And in my app I just record that on your record.

So now I’ve got something that I can go back to a month later or two months later and go, Nick, you remember back on this date when this issue came up?  Man, you did a great job with this.  See, because that’s a positive example.  You can think of constructive examples, as well.  So both for peers and for managers, they can use the app and apply things to Nick’s record so that we can have in-the-moment film, again, game film to look back at.

ANDY CROWE:  It’s outstanding because a short pencil beats a long memory.  And in this digital age we can just say an app beats a long memory.

BILL YATES:  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  But the idea of recording something when it happens, and having a place to store that and record it is wonderful.

NICK WALKER:  Not everybody’s GE, though.  They don’t have an in-house app.

BILL YATES:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  Are there ways that we can do this on a little smaller scale, perhaps?

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  There are.  There are.  If you bring up your favorite – go online, bring up your favorite search tool, and type in “top performance appraisal software products,” and do a search on that, you’ll see a number of options.  A lot of them are going to try to sell to you and give you free access, products like Impraise, Workday, Workboard, ActivTrak.  There’s a long list.  I would encourage you, if you’re a project manager, you want to give it a try with your team, download it.  Have a couple of team members try it with you.  See how it works.

NICK WALKER:  All right.  Let’s talk a little bit about measuring performance, the questions to ask.  Any other companies that have good examples of this?

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  So we’ve talked, on the front end of this question, we talked about perhaps some categories that are important to you or your project or your organization, and coming up with questions related to those, and using those in these let’s say quarterly reviews.  Again, as we were doing the research, one of the companies we came across was Deloitte.  And Deloitte had, I thought, a very interesting twist on this.  Again, this is research performed by Marcus Buckingham.  We talked about that prior.

What they found was we as managers or as individuals, we have a hard time rating people’s skills consistently.  We’re very inconsistent in terms of how we rate people’s skills.  I may see somebody’s performing pretty well in one area.  Andy may not.  Nick may be on a different data point.  The approach that they took, instead of rating people’s skills, they rate how you feel about a person.

Now, that, you know, all project managers are now pushing back, going, “What?”  So let me describe this a bit further.  They have four statements at Deloitte.  They said at the end of each project we want to ask four, or we want to present four statements for the individual, and then score or scale those, rate those.  So the first statement goes like this:  I would always want this person on my team.  And then there’s a five-point scale.  A five is strongly agree, all the way down to a one is strongly disagree.  So again, you’re thinking, do I want this person on my team?  Great statement to ponder about that team member.

This second statement:  I would award this person the highest possible bonus or salary increase.  So again, I’m not talking about skills.  I’m just thinking about the value of the person, how valuable they were on this project.  Again, five-point scale on that one.

And then a third:  This person is at risk for low performance.  Now, that’s a yes or a no.  That’s a binary.  This person is at risk for low performance.  That’s important to me as a manager.  It helps me identify problems that could up-end my project or create a customer issue that I want to be aware of.  So that’s a powerful statement.

And then the fourth:  This person is ready for a promotion.  Again, yes or no.  I think about my own son as he develops his technical skill.  He’s curious:  “When am I ready for a promotion?”  So I think that’s a powerful thing a project manager can speak into.

So these are some, again, a little twist here.  Instead of thinking about technical skill or other maybe customer relationship skills, I’m looking at how do I feel about this person and the value they’ve added to the project?  So a different take on it.  I thought those were interesting, interesting data points.

NICK WALKER:  So what are the takeaways you really want managers to know here?  What are some of the main points that we do need to remember?

BILL YATES:  Yeah, well, I think, Andy, the HR point is key; right?

ANDY CROWE:  Right.  You need to find out what compliance issues you have to factor in from HR.  HR, if you have an HR function in your organization, most organizations do, they should give you a template for reviews.  Some of those templates are almost worthless, so – well, you know, some of them are so vague and just give you a chance to write out longhand narrative.  So if you get that, you need to tie it back to the corporate goals, the corporate mission.  You need to, as we said, recalibrate.  Here are my expectations for you for the next review period.  And make sure that the person being reviewed, hopefully they’ve given you those in advance, but make sure that they’re aligned.  So alignment is so important.  I just can’t stress that enough.  That is the time to help realign people, right there in these quarterly or periodic reviews.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  One of the keys, too, I think, is documenting.  It’s always documenting it.  You may hear “less formal.”  Oh, great, I don’t have to write all this stuff down.  No, you still need to be, again, for compliance reasons, and just to be a strong leader of people, you need to document the feedback, the conversations, where you are aligned, where you were not aligned.  And then expectations coming out of the meeting.  What are the follow-ups?  What’s going to take place after this?  What are the next steps?

NICK WALKER:  All right.  We’ve talked a lot about from the manager’s point of view, the person giving the review.  What about those on the receiving end?  How much of an active role should the reviewee take?

ANDY CROWE:  You know what, Nick, this is a big point to me.  And that is the reviewee – I don’t ever think you should be passive in that type of encounter.  When you’re getting reviewed, when you’re coming for your performance review, I think, if possible, take as active a role as you can.  I believe you have an opportunity right there to set the tone.  So you need to be ready, even if your boss is not ready.  You need to talk about the value you’ve brought to the project, the value you’ve brought to the department.

And so a lot of project managers, here’s what happens.  They walk into a review.  The project is intense right now.  Everybody’s aware of what’s going wrong, and they kind of walk in with their hair on fire to start with and trying to keep a lid on things.  And they sit there and receive abuse for the entire review.  So we don’t want that.  We want you to go in and set the tone.

And this is important.  Even if things are tough, everybody – you need to articulate the value of what you’re bringing.  Don’t be cast as, look, you’re unnecessary overhead, but you’re kind of a necessary evil at the same time.  Don’t sit there and make excuses.  Come in and articulate the value that you’re bringing to the organization, the value you’re bringing to the project, and be ready to articulate and document that value assertively.  So I think that’s important.

I think also, as you’re going through, we talked about doing this for your team.  You need to record and document your own wins.  So as they come in, you need to be aware.  People will be quick to tell you in your performance review the areas where you’ve made mistakes and done things wrong.  What you’re going to do is be ready to articulate what has gone right and what value you’ve brought.  And be ready to state that.  You’re actively managing your career.  So this is just like you manage a project.  You have to manage this review to the degree that you can.  Not everybody’s going to walk in and have that opportunity to set the tone.  But I think that’s a big part of it.

BILL YATES:  Absolutely.  And for me, I think this is a moment for self-awareness.  When I’m receiving a performance review, I need to go in humble.  That may be very easy.  Maybe I just blew a few key things, deliverables or whatever.  But you want to be completely open and have an attitude of I’m going to grow from this.  There may be, again, to Andy’s point, there may be – I hear those three good things that happened, and that’s great.  And then I hear the one thing that’s constructive that I can grow in.  That’s great, too.  So to me it’s like a moment of self-awareness.

ANDY CROWE:  You know what, Bill, this is the key, to me.  This is the time when you get a chance to develop self-awareness.  You get it.  Nobody develops self-awareness, almost nobody, by sitting down and reflecting upon themselves.  You get it through the feedback and encounters with others and knowing what to internalize and what to listen to and what to discard.  And sometimes you have to do that.  You have to be very careful in receiving this feedback.  But this is how it develops right here is getting feedback from your team, feedback from your manager, feedback from your peers, et cetera.

BILL YATES:  It’s funny, Nick, you’re always asking what books we’re reading.  And Andy and I have both been reading through “Creativity, Inc.” recently.  And I remember Ed Catmull has a point in there about we all have blind spots.  And as leaders, the higher up you go, the more difficult it is for you to hear the truth from the team.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.

BILL YATES:  And we have, we all know we have blind spots.  So when I go into a performance review, and as I’m receiving that feedback, I want to be able to ask that manager, hey, help me understand, what are my blind spots?  When am I doing things that impact the rest of the team, and I’m totally unaware?  What good things am I doing that I need to continue?  And when am I really bringing the team down?

ANDY CROWE:  You know what, Bill, to this point, I heard a story years ago that really impacted me on this.  And I hadn’t thought of it until right now.  But there was a lady born in Papua, New Guinea, and she was born in a tribe of the bush.  And she actually ended up being raised in civilization.  But she went back to go kind of rediscover her heritage.  And when she did, they started talking to her.  She said, “How do I know what’s safe to eat?”

And they said, “That’s a great question.  Here’s how you do it.  You’ll take a little leaf and something that might look nutritious.  And at first maybe you just kind of rub it on your skin and see if your skin reacts.  And then the next day you might touch it to your lips.  And the next day you might chew it up but not swallow it.  And then you’ll take a very small bite and actually swallow it.  And over time you’re testing to see how it’s going to react with your body.”

Same thing with review and feedback from others because you don’t just swallow everything people tell you about your performance.  You take it in small doses.  You’re very careful about what you internalize.  But at the same time it’s important not to skip it completely.  You need to interact with these comments and these words from other people.  It’s hard.  I think early in my career I took things way too personally when people would give me feedback.  And I would listen to feedback that sometimes ended up not being nutritious.

BILL YATES:  Right.

ANDY CROWE:  And then at the same time you can discard things that you really need to listen to and need to be internalizing.  It takes years for us to kind of figure out what to listen to and what to discard.

BILL YATES:  That’s a great analogy.

NICK WALKER:  I love how you guys take those analogies from things that you have read elsewhere and are able to apply them to a lot of different scenarios.  So you’ve got to be well read to do that.  And I’m always impressed at how well read you guys are.  Let’s talk a little bit about some of the books that you’re currently into right now.

BILL YATES:  The one that I’ll bring up, and I think I mentioned this as a good resource earlier, there’s a book called “The First 90 Days.”  And it’s relevant to the conversation we’re having now, especially from the standpoint of the person who’s receiving a performance review.  The gist of that book is, if you’re starting in a new role, then this book gives advice on how to begin that.  And it talks about advice for the first 30 days, 60, and 90 days.  So that book, I think, is very relevant to the conversation we’re having now.

ANDY CROWE:  That is a fantastic book.  I’ve got a friend who just took over a job as CEO of a healthcare system.  And at that level, and this is a multibillion-dollar organization, he actually went through this book and took the lessons out of it.  So I couldn’t agree more.  Nick, I’ve got nothing to apply here.  I’m reading – I’m working on my Spanish right now, and I’m reading the “Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda” in Spanish and trying to understand them.  So that’s it.  But I don’t know that that helps with performance reviews or project management.

NICK WALKER:  But it’s going to make for an interesting podcast in the future, when you can recite a little of that Spanish.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah, we’ll do that.

BILL YATES:  We’ll have a reading.

NICK WALKER:  I love it.  Hey, Andy and Bill, once again, thank you for your expertise and your willingness to pass it on.  Last time we asked our listeners to give us a performance review.  And yes, we mean that.  Tell us what you like and what you’d like to hear in the future on this podcast.  Visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to contact us, to subscribe to this podcast, or to see a transcript of the show.  And tweet us at @manage_this if you have any questions, or if you know of someone who would be a perfect guest on the show.

Andy Crowe, Bill Yates, thanks, as always.  That’s it for us here on Manage This.  We hope you’ll tune back in on July 19th for our next podcast, when we’ll be talking with Tim Kelly, the executive director of technology at McKesson.  That’s all for this episode.  Talk to you soon.  In the meantime, keep calm and Manage This.

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