It’s the time of year to start thinking about treasured rituals.

An apple donut yesterday turned my mind towards pumpkin pie, hot cider, tofurkey, resolutions…and the performance review?

Whether you work for a giant corporation, a startup, or a not-for-profit, your people want your feedback.   They long for it.

It’s tough to give meaningful feedback unless you have solid goals.

As year-end approaches, it’s a good time to check those goals, and your progress.

  • Are your goals still the right ones?
  • Have you discussed them with your team recently?
  • Are your goals clear?

And to that last point, a simple test:  ask yourself, “Have we achieved this goal?”

A goal is clear if you can answer with a simple yes, or no.

Want more guidance on performance management?  I’ve assembled some resources for you at painlessreviews.com

Photo:  Another Goal by Eric Kilby, via Flickr, used under Creative Commons license.


BoulderingWhen bouldering, you use brain, body, and very little gear to ascend a rock formation — usually one that’s pretty low to the ground.

The sport is lightweight by design.   You’re working with gravity.   A missed handhold might send you towards the earth at a rate of 32 feet/second2.

The less weight you’re carrying, the better.  No pack.  (Back on the ground, a good spotter is key.)

The same is true in a young business.

This morning, I had my last meeting of the summer.   Veronika Sonsev is a dynamo.  She’s a co-founder of Women In Wireless, and the Women Innovate Mobile Accelerator.

As CEO of InSparq, Veronika and co-founder Richie Hecker lead a team that’s reinventing online product sales, through improved social engagement and discovery for retailers.

(Disclosure:  I’m a fan.)

Today, Veronika shared a great way they’re working with the team.   When a new employee joins InSparq, they’re asked to answer some forward-looking questions:

  • What 3 bullet points would they like to have on their resume for this role?
  • What 2 things would they like Veronika to say in a recommendation?

Then, Veronika adds commitment:  every Sunday, she reviews each employee’s aspirations.  They’re phrased as resume/recommendation items:  they’re actions.  It’s pretty clear to see whether an employee is on the way to achieving his goals.

Each week, Veronika can also look for opportunities to help each employee move towards her objectives.   She might make a work assignment to allow someone to develop a particular skill.

Today, the InSparq team is 9 people:  this lightweight practice can help keep the entire team on track.  And it creates space for feedback, which everyone wants.  And needs.

As the InSparq team grows, different practices will come into play.

You need different gear to climb Everest than you do to navigate a 20-foot boulder.

Enjoy the last few days of summer!

Many thanks, Veronika, for allowing me to turn a conversation into a blog post!

Photo:  Bouldering, by Anthony Crider, via Flickr, under Creative Commons license.