Get Your MEM On - Metaphorical Effectiveness Modeling
This workshop is intended to allow participants to experience simple practices that can improve the effectiveness of performance reviews and begin to better align traditional performance review discussions to be supportive of the agile values of learning and collaboration. Traditional manager to employee performance reviews challenge the adoption of agile as all too often they are based on managers providing one-way feedback to staff based on information of questionable accuracy; however, by simply changing the nature of how performance review discussions are facilitated between managers and their employees, focus can be directed to collaboration and learning. In this session, participants will pair up as managers and employees and go through a simulated performance review discussion. The performance review will be based on a traditional SWOT (Strengths - Weaknesses - Opportunities - Threats) self-assessment activity but rather than writing down notes and then discussing with their manager, participants will be asked to build models using pipe cleaners to support each component of the SWOT analysis. Once models have been built, participants will engage in a simulated performance review discussion where they will present & discuss their models with their manager - each pair will change roles to allow all participants to experience both the employee and the manager roles during the workshop. The intent of this exercise is to create a framework for performance review discussions that has greater focus on discovery and learning. All too often, performance reviews are facilitated using “context-rich” language which can lead to managers “telling” employees what to do without a full understanding of what the employee things. This modeling technique shifts focus away from “context-rich” language so managers and employees can have a more open and emergent discussion where better better feedback can be provided. Using the models to facilitate discussions, managers ask more open questions, such as: “can you tell me why you chose to use a red pipe cleaner for that?” and this leads to mutual discovery of improvement and learning opportunities. Lastly we will touch base on the science behind the recommendation to refer to “reviews” as “effectiveness” reviews vs. “performance” reviews. Join us to experience this technique in a safe setting, so you can decide how simple modeling techniques may enable you to better align “effectiveness review” activities in your organization to support agile values and principles.
Outline/structure of the Session
== Workshop Background ==
This is new workshop and technique that evolved out of some prior work to redesign entire performance review processes to use the “Innovation Games” framework - essentially employees would engage in a series of visual collaboration games (Speed Boat, etc) and collaboratively gather the information necessary for annual reviews. While a few organizations have implemented this gamified and fully-transparent version of employee reviews, several other organizations said it was “too extreme” and hence this is an exploration of a “less extreme” alternative that provides many of the same benefits.
Interviewing staff in several organizations, we found a significant number of employees that said they received little value from the 1-on-1 discussion they were mandated to have with their manager during the review cycle - employees said they found little value in the 1-on-1 discussion since managers were in many instances disconnected from agile dev teams and simply “told” the staff what they needed to do - HR and management held firm on keeping the mandate for a 1-on-1 meeting, so my focus was to create a collaborative experience/framework that would make the 1-on-1 meeting more effective.
Previously employees completed a SWOT in advance of their 1-on-1 meeting, the manager would review, write comments, and then provide 1-way feedback during the 1-on-1, the modeling changes this to where the SWOT is NOT done in advance, but rather, the employee builds the models with manager during the meeting, following the meeting, the employee writes up a summary of their SWOT which includes the manager feedback that was generated collaboratively while building during the 1-on-1 meeting, and then the manager approves the SWOT into HR.
By no means is this a perfect system, but it is a step forward from the prior state as employees now say there is value in their 1-on-1 meeting and they actually getting actionable feedback and guidance from their managers.
While it is important to consult with HR regarding use of this modeling technique in an “official” performance review process, it is possible to introduce this technique within existing performance review activities to provide an incremental improvement to the review process without a complete overhaul (which is a major task) - hence, I hypothesize that many managers or team members could begin using this modeling technique within their existing review process and receive benefit. The model effectively serves as a discussion aid (just as an worksheet or canvas), but the improvement is achieved through the act of building the model together and describing how it was created as this two-way context rich dialogue promotes greater learning and more effective feedback.
== Session Notes ==
- Presenter will provide necessary supplies (pipe cleaners & handouts)
- Since everyone always asks, any type of modeling supplies (blocks, lego, paper, craft, etc) could be used in place of pipe cleaners - we chose pipe cleaners for activity since they are allow people to model their ideas quick (there is no time lost looking for the special lego) and are inexpensive - we recommend that everyone KEEP their models as a reminder of what they are working to improve, and perhaps evolve them over time to capture growth and learning - those attending this session will get to take their models with them.
- Participants will learn the science behind how to use elements of metaphor and touch to engage in more effective communication
- Participants will gain a new technique that can be used to share feedback with and learn more about their colleagues
- Participants will receive insights on how to introduce the technique to their manager within the context of existing performance review activities
- Participants will reflect upon and discover their own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats by completing the exercise with other session attendees
Anyone interested in learning how to have more effective discussions to receive feedback and learn how you can improve and grow