Monthly Archives: January 2013

Keep up Wrk!!!

Dawn Bardessono Uncategorized January 25, 2013

Most professionals dread performance reviews. And who can blame them? Some employees fear being judged and found wanting; others see the process as pointless bureaucracy. Managers spend hours — if not days — agonizing over reviews when many of their employees are just looking for a grade. It’s a lot of sound and fury, signifying not much.

Performance reviews can be done right. They’re a great opportunity to synchronize manager and employee expectations, jointly set goals, and evaluate progress toward those goals. If you’re a manager and not doing these things, you might as well skip the review process — and reconsider whether you’re fit to be a manager.

But even well-executed performance reviews are glaringly one-sided. They review employee performance on terms set by their managers. Why don’t we see the reverse: employees reviewing the performance of their managers?

Some companies have mechanisms for upward or “360” feedback. But those are peripheral, hardly addressing the asymmetry of the overall review process. I’ve never heard of a manager being afraid of being fired because of 360 feedback.

Let me make a radical proposal: invert the performance review. Make the primary focus upward rather than downward.

Why? Here are a few reasons:

  1. It’s usually harder to judge managerial performance than individual contribution. Individual contributions mostly have tangible, attributable results. In contrast, managerial performance is largely reflected in how the team perceives the manager.

  2. Managers are key reason that employees decide whether to stay at a company or quit. Given this leverage, we should focus performance management on managers, and especially on senior managers.

  3. Without a formal review process, it’s easy for managers to not get meaningful feedback from their employees. Employees may be afraid of retaliation, or many simply be uncomfortable delivering feedback to their bosses. A formal process forces the issue.

There’s still a need for managers to evaluate their employees, and more importantly for managers to provide employees with feedback that helps them improve their performance and develop professionally. Evaluation is part of the coaching that should be a manager’s primary responsibility.

But that’s all the more reason that evaluation should primarily be an upward process, focused on how well managers act as coaches. Let’s invert the performance review and build better organizations by measuring and improving our managers.

 

The Secret Ingredient for Success

Dawn Bardessono Uncategorized January 23, 2013

WHAT does self-awareness have to do with a restaurant empire? A tennis championship? Or a rock star’s dream? David Chang’s experience is instructive.

Mr. Chang is an internationally renowned, award-winning Korean-American chef, restaurateur and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with eight restaurants from Toronto to Sydney, and other thriving enterprises, including bakeries and bars, a PBS TV show, guest spots on HBO’s “Treme” and a foodie magazine, Lucky Peach. He says he worked himself to the bone to realize his dream — to own a humble noodle bar.

He spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, apprenticed in different noodle shops in Japan and then, finally, worked 18-hour days in his tiny restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar.

Mr. Chang could barely pay himself a salary. He had trouble keeping staff. And he was miserably stressed.

He recalls a low moment when he went with his staff on a night off to eat burgers at a restaurant that was everything his wasn’t — packed, critically acclaimed and financially successful. He could cook better than they did, he thought, so why was his restaurant failing? “I couldn’t figure out what the hell we were doing wrong,” he told us.

Mr. Chang could have blamed someone else for his troubles, or worked harder (though available evidence suggests that might not have been possible) or he could have made minor tweaks to the menu. Instead he looked inward and subjected himself to brutal self-assessment.

Was the humble noodle bar of his dreams economically viable? Sure, a traditional noodle dish had its charm but wouldn’t work as the mainstay of a restaurant if he hoped to pay his bills.

Mr. Chang changed course. Rather than worry about what a noodle bar should serve, he and his cooks stalked the produce at the greenmarket for inspiration. Then they went back to the kitchen and cooked as if it was their last meal, crowding the menu with wild combinations of dishes they’d want to eat — tripe and sweetbreads, headcheese and flavor-packed culinary mashups like a Korean-style burrito. What happened next Mr. Chang still considers “kind of ridiculous” — the crowds came, rave reviews piled up, awards followed and unimaginable opportunities presented themselves.

During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organizations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths.

Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.

LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals.

In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.

The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.

The tennis champion Martina Navratilova, for example, told us that after a galling loss to Chris Evert in 1981, she questioned her assumption that she could get by on talent and instinct alone. She began a long exploration of every aspect of her game. She adopted a rigorous cross-training practice (common today but essentially unheard of at the time), revamped her diet and her mental and tactical game and ultimately transformed herself into the most successful women’s tennis player of her era.

The indie rock band OK Go described how it once operated under the business model of the 20th-century rock band. But when industry record sales collapsed and the band members found themselves creatively hamstrung by their recording company, they questioned their tactics. Rather than depend on their label, they made wildly unconventional music videos, which went viral, and collaborative art projects with companies like Google, State Farm and Range Rover, which financed future creative endeavors. The band now releases albums on its own label.

No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. Ask David Chang, who never imagined that sweetbreads and duck sausage rice cakes with kohlrabi and mint would find their way beside his humble noodle dishes — and make him a star.

Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield are the authors of the forthcoming book “The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well.”

 

Curiosty

The important thing is not to stop questioning… Never lose a holy curiosity. 
Albert Einstein

 

Curiosity is an important trait of a genius. I don’t think you can find an intellectual giant who is not a curious person. Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, they are all curious characters. Richard Feynman was especially known for his adventures which came from his curiosity.

2013 is a new year. A new time for all of us to discover what makes each of us unique and wonderful and how we pull that back into the universe.

In the Wine Industry, curiosity is the mainstay of our existence. Ask any Winemaker, if it wasn’t for curiosity wine would not be what it was is today. With the shrinking of the individual family wineries and the drive to recreate over and over again the same wine flavor profiles we may be losing what makes us special on many levels.  Not allowing ourselves to take the time to allow curiosity and discovery to take over we will lose what makes us special.

When looking at yourself or your team or your company…ask yourself, “Are you curious?”

If you discover that you have been in the weeds and lost your way to curious behavior..I have listed a few ways to take it back.  

But why is curiosity so important? Here are four reasons:

  1. It makes your mind active instead of passive
    Curious people always ask questions and search for answers in their minds. Their minds are always active. Since the mind is like a muscle which becomes stronger through continual exercise, the mental exercise caused by curiosity makes your mind stronger and stronger.
  2. It makes your mind observant of new ideas
    When you are curious about something, your mind expects and anticipates new ideas related to it. When the ideas come they will soon be recognized. Without curiosity, the ideas may pass right in front of you and yet you miss them because your mind is not prepared to recognize them. Just think, how many great ideas may have lost due to lack of curiosity?
  3. It opens up new worlds and possibilities
    By being curious you will be able to see new worlds and possibilities which are normally not visible. They are hidden behind the surface of normal life, and it takes a curious mind to look beneath the surface and discover these new worlds and possibilities.
  4. It brings excitement into your life
    The life of curious people is far from boring. It’s neither dull nor routine. There are always new things that attract their attention, there are always new ‘toys’ to play with. Instead of being bored, curious people have an adventurous life.

Now, knowing the importance of curiosity, here are some tips to develop it:

1. Keep an open mind

This is essential if you are to have a curious mind. Be open to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Some things you know and believe might be wrong, and you should be prepared to accept this possibility and change your mind.

2. Don’t take things as granted

If you just accept the world as it is without trying to dig deeper, you will certainly lose the ‘holy curiosity’. Never take things as granted. Try to dig deeper beneath the surface of what is around you.

3. Ask questions relentlessly

A sure way to dig deeper beneath the surface is asking questions: What is that? Why is it made that way?When was it made? Who invented it? Where does it come from? How does it work? What, why, when, who, where, and how are the best friends of curious people.

4. Don’t label something as boring

Whenever you label something as boring, you close one more door of possibilities. Curious people are unlikely to call something as boring. Instead, they always see it as a door to an exciting new world. Even if they don’t yet have time to explore it, they will leave the door open to be visited another time.

5. See learning as something fun

If you see learning as a burden, there’s no way you will want to dig deeper into anything. That will just make the burden heavier. But if you think of learning as something fun, you will naturally want to dig deeper. So look at life through the glasses of fun and excitement and enjoy the learning process..

6. Read diverse kinds of reading

Don’t spend too much time on just one world; take a look at another worlds. It will introduce you to the possibilities and excitement of the other worlds which may spark your interest to explore them further. One easy way to do this is through reading diverse kinds of reading. Try to pick a book or magazine on a new subject and let it feed your mind with the excitement of a new world.