Archives for posts with tag: feedback

success team

My previous blog responded to the question: “Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great?” with the answer “both”.

Focusing on the second part of this question, here are 10 common denominators that I’ve observed which help people become great (or at least much better) at what they do:

  • EVERYONE understands the company’s Vision, Direction & Purpose
  • There are clearly defined roles and responsibilities for every person on the team
  • KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and SLA’s (Service-Level Agreements) are established with each individual, and agreed to by both the manager & employee
  • Actual performance is measured against targets and “score-boarded” for all to see
  • Good results receive timely acknowledgement & praise
  • Poor results receive timely “coaching” for how to improve going forward
  • Employee strengths and opportunity areas are identified & understood
  • Strengths are exploited and areas for improvement reinforced
  • Ongoing growth & development within the organization is encouraged
  • Candid praise & constructive feedback occurs consistently with EVERYONE

Here’s a Leadership Challenge suggestion for you: review each of these 10 items and rate your business on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being poor & 5 being great.  Then, prioritize your opportunity areas for focused improvement based on the lowest scoring results.



In reference to a prior blog on “The Review”, this process is often challenging and ineffective in terms of generating the desired performance improvement that Managers are seeking.

The traditional performance appraisal reviews past performance, and is often an inaccurate reflection of true performance due to:

  • inadequate preparation or effort,
  • poor documentation or record keeping,
  • any number of biases.

I believe that what really matters to is to provide your employees with input that leads to the development of their skills, which ultimately benefits them personally as well as serving the organization’s future.

There is much discussion in HR circles about eliminating the annual or semi-annual review process altogether. Such a change should foster more frequent conversations and updates about an employee’s performance, which is what most workers want.

ConstantONGOING coaching and feedback is one of the keys toward achieving continuous employee growth and development.

I’m not saying micro-management, but rather taking the time to ensure that every employee:

  • understands the clear expectations surrounding their role and responsibilities,
  • knows where they stand in terms of their performance,
  • and has a vision of how to grow and improve.


As opposed to job enlargement, which simply increases the number of tasks without changing the challenge, job enhancement or job enrichment increases an employee’s responsibilities while also providing them with additional authority and control over the way their tasks are accomplished.

During various leadership roles throughout my career, it has been universally evident that when colleagues are given new and exciting challenges in their roles, spicing things up with a little meaningful variety, it tends to be quite motivating for that individual.

The engaged type of employees you want to have on your team yearn for excitement, recognition and being part of the organization’s success.

Leaders who further support these employee’s expanded roles with ongoing feedback, encouragement, and communication are often privy to watching career growth unfold before their very eyes as they assist that person in achieving their true potential!

By the way, I’d suggest linking the employees performance directly to a reward (that they desire) to further fuel their fire.  Challenge them and let them surprise you with the results.





4 E's

Prior “Boltz” messages have stressed the importance of feedback sessions with your team.  These interactions assure alignment while providing 360 degree candid conversations to occur…IF the leader has created an environment that allows open and honest communication without repercussions!

Such an environment typically promotes the Four E’s noted in the above image.  I believe these are crucial components in achieving the successful leadership of any group, team or organization.

It is well-documented in multiple surveys that employee empowerment and engagement are often key determinants that impact whether a person stays with, or leaves, their employer.

Furthermore, a culture that promotes enhancement of roles and responsibilities while providing the resources and knowledge to enable optimum performance typically achieves results far superior to operations that don’t embrace these strategies.

With these high-level notions in mind, stay tuned for a well-warranted separate discussion on each of these Four E’s in upcoming posts!




Thank You

The “Boltz from Bernie: Leadership Strikes” blog was derived out of a process I started over 15 years ago: recognizing and thanking my peers or employees for outstanding performance by surprising them with handwritten notes or cards which acknowledged a superior effort.

Those writings were headlined as a “Boltz from Bernie” (accompanied with a lightning bolt graphic flashing through the sky!)

This handwritten feedback was very specific, citing exactly what the person did, and why it was special and impactful to our team, as well as the overall organization.

Especially in this day and age of electronic this and texted that, the receipt of a genuine, sincere “Thank You,” done in writing, on unique letterhead or cards, is impactful!

And if hand-delivered with a heartfelt, verbal appreciation of what the team member has accomplished, all the better.

Writer’s Note: I remain humbled by how often I’ve seen these documents proudly displayed in cubicles, offices and even homes years after they were issued to my valued employees.


In order for employees to achieve optimal performance, consistent coaching is mandatory.

As noted in the Talent Four-Step blogs, coaching is a constant, ongoing activity which preferably occurs via daily interaction and feedback. Thus, there should be no confusion about where the person stands, what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon.

So what exactly does “coaching” look like? An ideal coach certainly should possess expertise in the area of business (or life) they are mentoring about.

Critical skills during this process include:
• patience and the capacity to be attentive
• a keen ability to actively listen, without interrupting
• genuine interest in what the person is telling you
• a supportive and caring attitude

Successful coaches utilize open-ended questions to gain perspective on their mentee’s opinions, and gain a clarifying understanding surrounding whatever subject or process is being discussed.

Once the “coachee” has had an opportunity to fully share their feelings and insights, it becomes the coaches challenge to ask additional probing questions, and consequently provide the required feedback directed at achieving further progress and improved results.

As the saying goes, “sounds easy, does hard”!


In follow-up to steps 1 & 2 (planning and sourcing…earlier blogs), you’ve now armed yourself with the required high-caliber  human resource talent to get your business operating at the desired levels of proficiency. Hence, the focus turns to the development of those employees.

Talent development requires relentless communication, training, feedback and reviews directed at bettering the performance of individuals and groups in organizational settings.

Employee career growth is an ongoing effort, ultimately allowing every person in your organization to potentially achieve their optimal level of success.  This requires constant and consistent coaching with your team so there is never any question about where they stand, what they are doing well and what they need to improve upon.

“Performance evaluations” should not be a once-in-a-year event subject to the recency effect/bias!  Ideally daily interaction and feedback is optimal, even if brief…as long as it is genuine.

When running multiple locations, I implemented a monthly performance development review (PDR) which evaluated results, action items and areas of strength and opportunity.  Surely a quality leader can commit a few hours each and every month toward the evolution of their direct reports.

Talent 4 step


LEADERS…get things done through influencing others.  Leadership guru John Maxwell professes thatleadership is influence”.

—LEADERS…establish specific expectations so that direct reports are crystal clear on what their contributions to strategic operations of the business should be.

—LEADERS…provide constructive feedback.  Their direction is positive, stimulating, encouraging and reinforcing, versus any destructive form of “reinforcement” that brings people down.

—LEADERS…measure performance & hold their team accountable.  What get’s measured get’s done.

—LEADERS…cast a big shadow.  The influence of the leader on their team is evident as a truly great leader is admired and respected as having an influential impact on the lives of those who he or she leads.

Maxwell influences

Citing a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO), an essential component of  leadership is the strength to communicate…effectively, efficiently, and frequently!

Effectively means all proper messages are being delivered at the appropriate times and the recipients understand what it is you are trying to say.

Efficiently entails using the appropriate form of communication, either synchronous (real-time and collaborative, i.e. face-to-face, phone conversations, Skype, Go-To-Meeting) or asynchronous (get to it when you can, i.e. email, letters, social media when you manage it).  Determine what is the ideal tool (discussion, email, meeting, etc.) and use that method.  I’m amazed how often someone two doors or cubicles away will spend time creating an email to share a message with that other person!

“Frequently” represents what I find to be the biggest opportunity area for managers and leaders.  Those in your command long for communication so they can feel like they’re part of the action and are aware as to what’s going on.  The need for constant coaching, feedback, status reports and recognition is essential to the performance, and retention, of your team.

If you asked your subordinates as well as bosses how you’re doing in these areas, what would that challenge reveal???


Years ago, I implemented a simple, two-page monthly performance review process for the Managers in the organization…called the Performance Development Review, or “PDR”.

To my surprise, the execution of this program met with resistance, primarily due to the belief that “we couldn’t spend the time” completing this task, especially on a monthly basis.

In such a scenario, a question any legitimate leader might ask themselves is: “what do I truly expect my operating results to be if I won’t even commit a couple of hours a month to the performance review and development of my direct reports?”

Unfortunately, many leaders tend to be “so busy” that they often don’t ensure that quality time is spent with their people…coaching and reviewing performance, clear expectations and opportunities for improvement (by both the employee and the supervisor).

Are you willing to dedicate a few hours a month to develop an asset as valuable as your team?

blindfold ees