5th Year Attendee at ASTD International Conference

Last week, my team and I attended ASTD (now ATD) international Conference in Washington DC. I have gone to ASTD just about every year I could. I love the people and the community. This year, there were more international people than ever before, and it was incredible to just hear the languages in the hall.

My first year, I remember I focused on anything cultural or internationally focused. The second year I went to every session I could find about social. Last  year my big focus was on Sales EnablementImage.

 

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This year I went to a few sessions for me but mostly I went to sessions to support my personal learning network (PLN). I had friends who had first time speaking opportunities this year, and I wanted to be in the stand supporting them (and tweeting about them!).

The one most interesting session I did attend was Marcus Buckingham about performance management systems. I was curious because at Microsoft we have just revamp our performance management systems, and I was interested to see what he had to say. Plus I have my performance reviews for my team coming up and I needed to take some notes on how to continue to improve the facilitation of the conversation.

After very thoughtful research and insights into why performance management systems don’t work (Long story short, providing feedback is hard and most people do it relative to themselves, and even in a 360 review its based off themselves instead of the people they are supposed to be evaluating. And if you don’t think feedback is hard, try giving some to your spouse or family member, the people whom you love the most…). He encouraged us that there was a way to engage our employees early and often.

He mentioned that feedBACK was fine but hard to give on past things, but we should focus on near term future focused coaching. Meeting with team members to understand what they are working on, how they can work on what they like to do, and if they and the team understand the definition you have of quality. He also went on to explain that quality could change based on the organization and possibly team. This aspect of quality is something I need to dig further into when setting expectations with my team and my leadership.

There was also 4 questions he would ask of managers for the employees every quarter.

  1. Would you hire them again?
  2. Would you want them on your team?
  3. Is this person ready for a promotion?
  4. Are there performance issues?

With laying the ground work with simple question that provided a better framework for evaluating a persons work it was a more subjective way to review someone. And a way I would like to be reviewed as well.

He made an interesting comment, that we need to make and create performance management systems that are based on the user strengths and not based on corporate objectives and use the system as a crutch to align with goals. I’d love to learn more about this, as this was one of the first sessions I’d been to focusing on performance management in the years I have been at ASTD.

What did you learn? What are you applying?

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