Category Archives: Ledership

Who’s Looking Good

Everybody wants to look good. I am pretty sure of this. Some people may want to look good more than others. Sometimes this is construed as some people wanting to look better than others. Although this may be the case in some instances, or if you are to believe that the world is truly a “zero sum gain” existence (for every “winner” there must be a “loser”), I think that in business everyone wants to do their best and have that performance reflect on them positively.  They want to look good.

I think that this precept may be part of the issues that businesses may be having today. I am not a total altruist. I keep a close eye on people who claim to be altruists, and make sure that I know where my wallet is any time I find myself around them. But when the focus on self takes on a bigger and bigger role when trying to quantify performance we have a tendency to lose track of the bigger picture of business success.

Please do not get me wrong. I am a believer in individual accountability and measurement. What I am looking at here is that we seem to have lost sight of the fact that one of the best ways to look good, is to make other people look good. We seem to be inundated with images of the sports figures “beating their chests” after an acrobatic basket, or performing various “dances in the end zone” after a touchdown. I thought these were team sports, but they seem to have evolved to more of a “look at me, I am an individual” mentality. Even individuals on teams that are losing by lopsided scores seem to be behaving this way.

What I am getting at here is that several other individuals on those various teams had to perform their assigned tasks well in order to enable that specific individual to perform their assigned task, which was to score.

I am not going to go into the idea of the coaches who drew up the plays, or the team mates who executed the blocks, or threw the passes, or whatever else. I went here to illustrate the point. Individuals who are part of an organization (or a team) do not need to jump up and down, or beat their chests to get attention for doing their job. If the job got done (the basket made or touchdown scored….to carry the allegory on out), chances are that more than a few people noticed.

It is the start of a new year and we all know what that means: Annual Reviews. I have to conduct them. I have them conducted on me. As leaders we have our teams, and on the bigger scale are usually parts of bigger teams. No one can achieve their objectives by themselves. When I review my team members I usually look at and ask how they worked with other team members, as well as members of other teams to achieve their goals. When I am reviewed I try focus on the work that the team has done to help my bosses achieve their goals. I do not need to take a bow.  I need to focus on how well my team performed, because it was primarily my responsibility to get them to perform. If we scored, they should take the bow.

I think that the approach should be to look for those that give the most, and get the most out of others. If they can do that well, you can be pretty sure that they are also getting the most out of themselves. That invariably translates to and can be seen through the attainment of objectives, both individual and team oriented.

Individuals that have not been able to demonstrate their success as part of and in terms of the team’s success may not have actually or ultimately attained all of their goals. (If the team failed to achieve its goals, it may be difficult to position or defend any individual in positive, quantitative way. An exception to this could perhaps be in the sales realm where quota attainment or lack thereof is measured quantitatively on an individual basis.) In this way as a leader you can look at both the individual and the team, but more importantly how that individual performed with respect to the overall performance of the team.

So, yes there will be individual measurement. It is a business, not a socialistic environment where only the collective is measured. But it should not be just about the individual who made an acrobatic basket and then decided to beat their chest. Some individuals should and will be recognized, both positively and negatively, but it should be from within the scope of the overall performance of the team. In this way, everybody who should look good can look good. Not just those that decided to dance in the end zone after they, and everybody else did their jobs.

Write the Objectives AND the Reviews

 We have all been in the position where we have either brought new people into the organization, or have been put into a new role where it was time to write the annual objectives or the annual reviews. If it is the start of the year we are so busy with budgets and getting started that our first inclination is to tell the team members what the objectives are and then ask them to write and submit their own objectives for your review. If it is the end of the year we are so busy with the annual close that we ask them for draft self reviews for the same reasons. Admit it. We have all done it.

When these events happened to me I usually didn’t feel that my management was too busy to do my objectives or reviews. I felt I wasn’t enough of a priority in the organization for them to take the time to do it. I was busy too, but I guessed that someone had to do it and if I wanted a merit increase or a reasonable review that someone would be me.

One of the best ways to help build team commitment is to take the time to write their objectives and show them how their individual objectives and performance apply to the overall team’s objectives. Instead of treating the objective setting and review processes as necessary evils, you can turn them into a real team building opportunity by using them as a true method of communication with each individual team member. It takes more time than any of us would like, but it is the right thing to do.


Everyone wants to know where they stand in the business and how their work is helping and applies to the organization’s  progress. By sharing your objectives, and by taking the time and showing your commitment to the team by writing and reviewing their objectives you can assure both their alignment and commitment as well. When you as the leader demonstrate the importance of both the objective setting and review processes by devoting the time to personally complete them instead of delegating them back to the team, you show the team the value you place on them and the role that each member plays in the teams combined success. It means a lot. I know it did for me when my leaders did it.