I struggle with preparing for my mid-term review. I am expected to present a five year plan of climbing up the corporate ladder – else my boss will discard me as a high potential. Although I am very ambitious, the route up to the C-level does not appeal to me anymore. My challenge is that the only alternative is to become a subject matter expert. And that signals UNAMBITIOUS and hence SECOND CLASS around here.
What shall I do?
This typical concern forces ambitious employees to choose the lesser of two evils.
Playing the game
Making up whatever career ambition is expected from them and pretending interest in that.
Showing up authentically
Sharing how they want to make an impact for the company. And arguing how the 5-year career plan is not the path to achieve that.
Authenticity in most work places is a risky game. The likelihood of meeting with resistance is high. And the ultimate threat is being dropped like a hot potato.
But what’s at risk for the company when people just play the game for a good salary’s sake? The risk is already turning into reality:
High Potentials everywhere have checked out and stopped showing up authentically. Instead, they seek creative self-expression outside of work.
And we are talking about the alienation of already hired, excellent people who aspire to be great leaders. The kind of employees that today’s company’s fiercely compete for.
So why does the dreaded annual review persist so tenaciously?
Well, on a personal level, bad habits persist, unless we replace them with good habits. And what is true for the individual is often also true for organisations. So what good habit could replace the frustrating review meeting?
Try this alternative.
Use those formal one-on-one conversations for empowered strategic dialogues between managers and employees. Start your next review conversation with these questions:
What is your most important objective?
How can I help you realize it?
What criteria do you use to assess whether my contribution to your work has been successful?
If I were able to change two things in my area of responsibility within the next six months, what two things would create the most value and benefit for you?
For more background on conducting stakeholder conversations, see the resource section of the Presencing Institute.