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Mission to modernize performance management
Guiding Principles For Successful Managers
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Guiding Principles For Successful Managers

As coaches and managers, we spend a lot of time and energy making sure our employees are okay. We worry about how to give feedback in a way that will build them up and give them confidence to grow. We worry about how to talk and listen effectively. We stay up at night strategizing how to set goals that will challenge but not overwhelm them, and we spend our days being patient as employees navigate their way toward those goals.
What we don’t spend nearly enough time on is checking to make sure WE’RE okay. As anyone who’s ever travelled on a plane knows, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first. It’s pretty hard to help your seatmate if you’ve just passed out from lack of oxygen, and the same goes for helping your team. If you exhaust your energy trying to solve every little problem for your coachees, you might find you have no energy left to be a good coach or manager. So how can you make sure your oxygen mask is secure?

We’ve heard a lot of stories from the trenches of coaching over the years, and they tend to boil down to the same sorts of issues. We’ve collected a few of pieces of advice for dealing with them. Here are five:

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5 Ways to Take the Sting Out of Culture Change

Change isn’t easy. But it is inevitable. With the recent and rapid changes taking place in talent and performance management, many HR leaders are finding themselves in the uncomfortable role of change-maker. Here are five tactics for making that evolution go a little easier on you and your organization.

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The Difference Between Feedback and Reinforcement

We talk a lot about positive and negative feedback, and also about positive and negative reinforcement. Reinforcement and feedback are both useful tools in a manager’s skill set. But are they the same thing?

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The Evolution of Learning: 5 Things Coaches Need to Know

A hundred years ago the word “education” may have conjured up images of chalk and slate in school-houses, or strict nuns rapping students on their knuckles.  It was a different world.

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How Good Employee Coaches Use Tech as a Utility Player

On a baseball team, a utility player adds value by playing well in a multitude of different positions. Team managers routinely call utility players into a whole variety of situations, because they can count on them to always help.

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Reconstructing Performance Management for Both the Employee and the Company

Co-authored by Zachary Chertok, Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group &
Ted Power, Chief Customer Officer, iCoachFirst 

In 2017, Aberdeen found that 64% of Best-in-Class companies (the top 20% of performers as defined by Aberdeen’s Best-in-Class research methodology) distrusted traditional performance reviews. 

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How to Prep Your Culture for Unexpected Change

Planned change is a challenge for any organization. As leaders, we have to work hard to plan and to bring every employee along. But no matter how daunting planned change is—at least we have time to create an action plan, and a shot at controlling the message.

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In Case You Missed It: Best Performance Management Articles this July

We can’t believe we’re already halfway through summer! If you’re like us, you still have so much to do and so little time to do it. One of the items on our to-do list is to stay in-the-know about all things performance management. Here are five articles we found to be the most eye-opening during July:

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In Case You Missed It: Best Performance Management Articles in June

If you’ve been too busy getting ahead of business before summer sets in to keep track of the latest happenings in HR and talent management, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with this month’s top industry new items. Here’s our June round-up of the articles we found to be most insightful:

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Making Connected Learning & Assessments Work

Think back to when you were in college, or even high school. Maybe there was a certain class you weren't crazy about. It wasn't in your major and you couldn't fathom any of the information being useful once you tossed your graduation cap skyward. If you had a test coming up, you waited until the night before to start cramming all the textbook knowledge you could into your brain. Then you went into class the next day, (ideally) aced the test—and by the end of the next week forgot everything you'd just "learned."

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A CLEAR Approach to Agile Goal Setting

A business without goals is like a ship without direction  ̶  you will end up somewhere, but you won't know where (and your "crew" likely won't be too pleased with the landing spot).

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“In Case You Missed It: Best Performance Management Articles this Month”

Find yourself having trouble keeping up with the latest HR/talent management industry news? With our new monthly series, you’ll never have to miss a beat!

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Who Do Performance Reviews Really Help?

It’s time for the annual performance review process: managers are wracking their brains to complete all of the paperwork; employees are stressed out thinking about how to condense a whole year of accomplishments into a few sentences and a 30-minute conversation, and HR is languishing in deadlines and details to ensure the entire process goes off successfully.

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What Do Employees Need from Performance Reviews?

The performance review system, as it stands today, is broken. Employee engagement rates are abysmal, hovering around 30% according to Gallup research, and part of the reason for that is employees simply aren't getting the substance they need from managers during performance reviews.

So what do employees need from performance reviews?

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Simple Steps to Improve Real-Time Feedback & Recognition

We want information and we want it immediately. Whether it's our phones buzzing with a Facebook notification letting us know it's a friend from middle school's birthday, or a pop-up on our computers telling us we have a text message, we live in an always-on world.

Why then is the workplace falling so far behind?

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Annual Performance Reviews...Still Serving Two Masters?

TalentFirst had a great chat this week with WilliamTincup, the President of Recruitingdaily.com, and one of the most experienced advisers in the HR Tech space.

We were discussing the evolution of annual performance reviews, and the reality that many companies readily admit today: The original system of annual performance reviews was designed, as William put it, "to serve two masters, which never works."

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Managing a Toxic Superstar Employee

As Fox News finally showed Bill O’Reilly the door late last week, managers everywhere winced in sympathy. Many have lived through the realization that they have hired, inherited, or created a toxic but high-performing employee. Businesses value superstar employees so much that they often turn a blind eye to toxic behavior—but this is a mistake, and can end up damaging both a company's reputation and its wallet. Ultimately, it's a manager's job to take control and curb toxic behavior as early and as quickly as possible.

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6 Performance Management Lessons Learned from Marathon Training

Today is a sacred day in Boston as the annual Patriot's Day Boston Marathon runs from Hopkinton, MA all the way into the city.  Thousands of runners will take part, and for all of them, the day is the celebration and achievement of months and months of focus, training, coaching, learning and athletic performance management.

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TalentFirst Appoints Julie Zadow as CMO

TalentFirst Appoints Human Capital Management Leader Julie Zadow as Chief Marketing OfficerCompany Sets Stage for Rapid Growth in Burgeoning Performance Management Sector BRIDGEWATER, NJ—March 29, 2017—

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6 Tips for a Performance Management Spring Cleaning

With the first days of Spring finally here, it might be time to take a pause and assess your people leadership score for the first quarter of the new year.  Q1 is inevitably the time when businesses come out punching, charging at the new year's goals and objectives, ready to jumpstart the strategic plan, duel with the competition, and drive immediate results for the quarter and beyond.

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Don’t Manage Performance. Enable It.

I’ve worked for all kinds of managers in my career, from nurturers to narcissists and everything in between. And I’ve taken the lessons I’ve learned about being managed to heart, using those lessons as a guide to try to understand what works – what makes a difference and has impact – when leading teams today.

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Keeping Performance Management Compliant

Everyone knows the problems with the current state of performance management. Performance reviews are dreaded by employee and manager alike, they happen far too infrequently and any feedback is soon forgotten, until the annual performance review cycle starts up again the next year. But rather than continuing the vicious cycle, companies can disrupt performance management by adopting the solutions that enable managers to deliver useful, targeted feedback year round.

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Coaching Can Make the Difference

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” There’s a reason why this adage has stood the test of time. By only meeting someone’s immediate need – food – you are disregarding the fact that they will need to continue to eat every single day. If they aren’t given the tools, training and support they need to catch their own fish when they get hungry, then they might as well be, well, a fish out of water.

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Impact performance through training-make it more than just another "TO DO"!

Training and development efforts are a critical component to a successful performance management strategy and ongoing learning opportunities to motivate employees. Ask just about anyone if they want to learn and you will likely get a resounding, "Yes!" Why then, does completing a training activity often become a thorn in the side of managers and employees alike? There are many factors that can impact the value of training within your organization and unfortunately turn learning opportunities into tedious "to do's".

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What does "engagement" look like?

These days, in the world of HR and Talent Management, "employee engagement" is a hot topic. Although the idea of engagement certainly isn’t new, the term is definitely being used and sometimes misused a lot! With growing trends around new approaches to performance management, the concept of keeping employees engaged is a big focus for many organizations. So what exactly is engagement, and why does it matter? If people are getting their work done each day, isn’t that enough? The short answer to that question is, nope! Simply put, employees who are not actively engaged impact the bottom line.

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Calling All Coaches! (This means EVERYONE)

When I first started to write this article I had planned to call it just "Calling all Coaches," but then I quickly realized that this title would potentially scare away a large part of my intended audience. The reason for the title addendum is the varying use and definition of the term "coach." Outside of the business world the definition is pretty clear; a coach is typically the leader of a sports team who guides his or her players in all activities ranging from teaching basic skills, to giving instruction during practice

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Talent Management – Is it the all you can eat buffet of HR?

Ask ten people to define talent management and chances are, you will get ten very different definitions covering everything from how you hire to how you fire. But no matter how you define it, there is one common element at the root of talent management - people. Ideally, talent management should be a series or set of integrated processes that impact every stage of an employee’s career with the goal of keeping them engaged, motivated and productive in order to help a company meet its strategic and operational goals.

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Keep Goals on Track with Links to Learning

In my last blog, I encouraged readers to visit their goal progress so far for the year and to evaluate where their time is being spent. Hopefully you have done this yourself, and have analyzed how you are using your time and have identified any barriers that may be getting in the way of your highest priorities. Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who are 100% on track with your goals and every day, you are able to spend the majority of your time in high payoff activities.

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Annual Goals-It’s Time for a Visit!

It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of the year is over already! Didn’t we just ring in the New Year, make (and probably break) our new year’s resolutions, and set our annual goals? Although it may seem like we just finished setting goals, now is the time to revisit them for a few reasons.

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Performance Ratings – Finding a Better Way

Ask most HR people why their company uses a performance rating scale and you will likely get a response such as, "Without ratings, how will people know where they stand?" or "How will we justify increases if there are no ratings?" or even, "It’s just the way it has always been done here." Labeling employees with a rating is a practice that has been in place for a long time at most companies and more times than not, performance ratings are linked to other processes such as salary increases,

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Performance Ratings – The Great Demotivator

The other day I received an email from a friend that stated, "Had my performance review today, apparently I ‘Meet Expectations’; I went home and started applying for new jobs." This may seem like a drastic reaction to being told that you meet expectations, but unfortunately, responses like this are not uncommon. Labeling people with a rating, whether good, bad or neutral, can cause a negative reaction and can actually have the opposite effective of what was intended.

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We need better performance management technology, but where do we begin?

At some point in any Talent leader’s career it’s likely they will be tasked with making a major change to any one of their Talent Management processes and systems ranging from talent acquisition to on-boarding through to succession planning, and the idea of making such a major change can be a daunting one! One particular process that is under a lot of scrutiny right now at many organizations is the performance management process and the systems that support them.

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Does performance management have to be painful?

When is the last time, as a people leader, you entered into the season of performance management with wide-eyed excitement? Does that sound ridiculous? I’m laughing even as I write it. Traditional performance management processes and tools are typically time-cycle driven, rating and ranking focused and arduous and tedious for managers and employees alike. Regardless of the characteristics of the manager/team member relationship, few welcome this time of year.

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Goal Setting – Part 3 of 3 – New Year, New Goals – Building collaboration and engagement with goal transparency

So you've created great goals with pathways to achieve them for 2016 for all of your team members. You've also accounted for potential unexpected VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) events that your team members may or may not experience during the course of your company's fiscal year.

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Goal Setting – Part 2 of 3 – New Year, New Goals – Keeping on track with goal agility

What happens when we have a major business event during the year that was unexpected? Have you heard of VUCA? It's actually a military term that has been adopted in the Talent Management arena, and often used when discussing Performance Management.

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Setting Goals – Part 1 of 3 - New Year, New Goals What's the point if we don't stick with them?

In organizations, most of us begin our fiscal year with some form or another of goal setting. As people managers, we hold a meeting with each of our team members to discuss what their top priorities should be. Some of us request that each team member come prepared with their ideas of their goals. We come to some form of consensus and enter those goals into our performance management system.

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