5 Ways to Foster Great Communication with Your Team

This is a guest post by Chris LoCurto. He is a Vice President at Dave Ramsey’s, host of the EntreLeadership Podcast, and highly sought after business and leadership speaker. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

There is no doubt about it: Great companies foster high levels of communication. When team members understand what is expected of them and what’s going on in the company, you win.

Group of Business People in a Power Meeting

Keep the communication from happening and you will find that fear soon sets in, which is quickly followed by gossip.

Why? Because when team members don’t have a clue what’s going on, they begin to panic—wondering if their jobs are in jeopardy or if the company is falling apart.

How can you keep it from happening? It’s simple … communicate!

And by communicate, I mean more than just asking how their day is going or what they did last weekend. It has to be intentional.

Here are five ways to start communicating better with your team.

  1. Key Results Areas (KRAs). It is vitally important for each team member to know what they are supposed to do each day. While job descriptions are great, we use KRAs to show specific tasks and responsibilities that are required. They define in detail what winning looks like in each position.
  2. Meetings. While meetings can sometimes have a bad rap, they are still one of the best ways to communicate with your team. You just have to make sure that you prepare for them ahead of time, set an agenda, stick to the agenda, and that the meetings are static.

    In other words, if you don’t have a set time every week, the crisis of the day will move it around and keep you from communicating.

  3. Storytelling – People respond well to stories. It’s just how we’re wired. You need to become a great storyteller of how your company came to be and the victories it’s had along the way. This will inspire team members and give them hope in the midst of their battles.
  4. Weekly Reports. Everyone on the team needs to be turning in a weekly report of what they have accomplished toward their KRA. This is for both the writer and the reader. It allows both to see what the team member has done to win in the position.

    The report also gives the team member the opportunity to add a high and a low of the week. You’ll be amazed at what they put down.

    BUT … and it’s a big but, you must respond to the report. If they have a great high, go celebrate. If there’s a bad low, go lead. If you don’t, it’s just become paperwork.

  5. Annual Checkup. I don’t believe in annual reviews. Why? Because you should be spending enough time with your team that you already know how they are doing. Therefore, an annual checkup is a great way to go over the year and discuss how well they’ve done.

    Rarely should this meeting include what they need to work on, unless they’re still really working on it. Reprimands should be done immediately when something is wrong. Don’t wait to discuss it in a checkup.

These are just a few things you can do to add to your current communication process. When done well, your team will feel more secure about their positions and, in turn, be considerably more productive.

Question: How have you seen a lack of communication hurt an organization? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://chrisvonada.info/ chris vonada

    I think one of the biggest drawbacks when people don’t communicate is that assumptions are made… and many times, these assumptions are incorrect. Great post, Chris.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Absolutely true. In fact, I think it gets us in trouble because our assumptions are usually wrong. :-)

      Thanks Chris!

    • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

      I have a good friend who says:  One of the biggest problems with communication is the assumption it has occurred.”

      • http://www.BillintheBlank.com/ Bill Blankschaen

        Nice. Can I quote your friend on that?

        • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

          Absolutely.  I use that quote in my talks on Leadership communication.

      • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

         Great quote, Dave!

  • http://www.ranashahbaz.com/ Rana Shahbaz

    There is no doubt the importance of to the point communication with your team. I found out that if you are not conducting meetings without a specific agenda you can waste huge amount of time. 

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Haha…yes you can. And the team will let you.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      You are so right Rana. Meaningless meetings are the pits. Everyone walks out more confused. 

  • http://twitter.com/SteveBorek Business Coach Steve

    Intentional is the operative word of your post Michael. We tend to go in spurts regarding actively communicating with the team. Consistent communication takes energy.

  • Rneufarth

    I’ve seen this happen in churches, specifically young church plants. What leaders fail to realize is that the entire parish or congregation is the team, not just a select few pastors, officers, chairpersons, elders or deacons. I am not saying all need to be involved or privy to all things; certainly not. But the nondisclosure of financial details, visions and failure to follow-up on visits, organization of activities, volunteer schedules/responsibilities, etc.  is lethal to the health and life of a church.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      I’ve noticed the same. Non-communication in a church ends up making the congregation and staff insecure, fearful and question whether or not they’re being deceived or lied to. I’ve watched this happen first hand and it’s devastating.

      • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

        I can second that Michele! 

  • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

    The crazy thing is, it’s less energy than having to fix the lack of communication, don’t you think?

    • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

      That’s a great point! It’s easier to do it right the first time, than to go back and try to work through the frustrations, hurt feelings, and misunderstandings.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great point. A lack of communication creates a culture of insecurity and distrust, which can take years to change and overcome.

  • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

    So true! Especially in the church where vision is a must! You can work at a corporation and crank out widgets without vision for a while, but you can’t in a church. You parish much faster.

  • http://www.alslead.com/ Dave Anderson

    I always say:  “No team ever failed because of TOO MUCH COMMUNICATION.  It is almost always the opposite.”  

    One part of communication I am not always good at is POSITIVE feedback.  I’ve been trained to deliver bad news.  I’m better at that than giving praise at times.  I wrote about that here:  

    http://bit.ly/NFFaOn  Title- 4 STEP Process for Delivering Positive Feedback

    I hope this helps others like me who may be awkward giving praise.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It’s easy for us to find people doing something wrong. It’s hard for us to think to find them doing things right.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    I have never seen a team actually accomplish positive results if communication doesn’t happen.  In fact, as you point out, it usually leads to some level of panic.

    And I agree whole heartedly about meetings.  There can be too many, but if there are too few, nothing gets accomplished.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      It does have to be a balance, doesn’t it? 

  • http://www.austinburkhart.com/ Austin Burkhart

    Absolutely agree and I love setting KPI’s with my team. As you say Chris, storytelling is key to communicating well.  It’s one skill that will improve virtually every aspect of your life!

    Blog: http://www.AustinBurkhart.com

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I think taking the time to discover the stories is one of the greatest things. It forces you to have to think of how you got where you are. 

      Thanks Austin

      • Brent Keck

        Unfortunately for some of us, telling stories, even finding the right story to tell is very difficult. Of the five ways you list this is the most difficult for me and surely for others. I just don’t think in stories, just in bullet points!

        • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

          That’s something Chris didn’t touch on that he also talks a great deal about on his blog: communication styles. Dave Ramsey’s team uses the DISC profile to make sure that everyone in the company knows the best way to communicate with everyone else, whether it is long stories or bullet points as you’ve said.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    One of the big problems that I’ve seen in leadership situations is a lack of trust. When a leader cannot trust a subordinate to do a task, they often times take on the responsibility themselves. This results in the leader being overwhelmed and the workers feeling insecure. I’ve seen this scenario play out time after time. 

    It’s the leaders job to train, motivate, and work with employees. It’s not their job to do their employees work.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      AAAAMEN!!

  • Rickangell75

    Awesome stuff. I also keep a daily journal, otherwise it’s hard to remember what happened.
    By the way I just listened to your interview with Michael Hyatt on the Entreleadership podcast. It was incredible. Thank you.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks! Mike is a rockstar!!!

  • Aaron Coon

    I really like what you said about the annual check-up. There shouldn’t be any surprises. Like you said the reprimanding and correcting should be done immediately. If it’s done at the annual checkup then either the employee has a lot of problems or the leader wasn’t doing their job. Thanks for the advice.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      So true. It’s a little late at that point to be course correcting. Do it when it’s needed. 

      Thanks Aaron

  • Marci

    This is very helpful. Any chance you could provide a generic KRA you use that might illustrate that concept?

    • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

      I second that. It would be great to read a sample one.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That would be nice to see.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Here you go Marci - http://ChrisLoCurto.com/sample-kras

  • Incomeforministry

    The company I work for constantly makes choices that affects our department without first checking with us to see how it will affect our department. They communicate this is what we are going todo but have no idea how our department actually runs. Upper leadership will say ok new plan now go do it without doing the pre research to see if its a good idea.

    • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

      Some people talk or act before thinking. It doesn’t usually work out on a personal level. It is even worse in business.

  • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

    HAHAHA….what a way to run a company. I hate that for you!

  • http://bretwortman.com/ Bret Wortman

    First, Chris, great to run into you here! I got to the bit about KRAs, thought to myself, wow, that sounds like a Ramsey thing, and had to scroll back up as I read on, thinking to myself, “This doesn’t sound like Michael.” Lo and behold.

    Anyway, your entry about meetings resonated with me. I hate meetings. Hate them with a passion. But I’m also an agile software developer, which means I am a huge advocate of daily standup meetings. In fact, my process is built around a regular, predictable, scheduled meeting which occurs in a set place at a set time Every Single Day. It’s no more than 15 minutes long and the whole team comes together to discuss three things:

    1. What did you do yesterday for the team?
    2. What are you planning to do today for the team?
    3. What is preventing you from getting things done?

    Here’s the twist — the team reports these things to each other, not to a leader. There’s one person in charge, but his or her job is only to make sure the meeting happens, the format is followed, and the timebox (15 minutes is an absolute) is followed. At the 15 minute mark, discussion is cut off and if you didn’t get a chance to speak, sorry. You’ll have to pressure the long-winded folks to be more brief tomorrow, or be more assertive to get your points in. It’s pretty egalitarian. And it works amazingly well. The whole team comes together to ensure that it does, because the alternatives are things like management reviews, weekly status reports… You get the picture.

    It may take a while to get it going, but agile teams quickly see the benefit and it becomes something they want to do, not something they have to do. “Get” to instead of “Have” to, as Michael has said in other posts….

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I love it Bret! It gets the communication happening, it forces team members to be a team, and it keeps them from sucking up the day talking. Well done sir!

    • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

      Thanks, Bret. This is a great example. Programming is one of those things that require a lot of communication on a daily basis. There are other industries as well that benefit from short daily meeting as well. I remember my year at Wal-Mart, starting every day with a short meeting to let everyone know what everyone was going to do, what was coming up, etc. I didn’t like everything about the job, but I rarely went around wondering what the plan was.

  • http://www.BillintheBlank.com/ Bill Blankschaen

    Chris, Your point about preparing for meetings and having them be static is a critical one. I find that when  we don’t prepare, they don’t go well. Then we tend to let them drift away as we try to avoid yet another unproductive meeting. Soon communication has broken down on the team and we can’t quite put our finger on why.

    Excellent advice. Thank you.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      I find it just makes EVERYONE happier in the process. 

      Thanks Bill

  • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

    It’s so true that the spaces you don’t fill with information, your team will fill with gossip and its ugly cousin, fear.  Keeping crucial information from the team is the fastest way to create mistrust.  I am blessed to be part of a team where the leaders clearly state where we stand and have set the process to communicate one-on-one on a weekly basis and do skip-level meetings periodically.  I get to meet with my supervisor, her manager and the department’s director and share my progress and goals.  It feels great to be part of such a team.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That is an awesome team to work for! I bet that’s part of why you’re such a happy person Lily. :-)

      Thanks girl

      • http://www.lilykreitinger.com/ Lily Kreitinger

        Thank your for a great post.  I will share this with my team.  I’ve only been part of it for six weeks. I hope to contribute some ‘happiness’ to it. ;-)

  • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

    If you don’t have good communication, everyone starts telling different stories! I work at a Christian nonprofit, and we start each day with prayer time – we gather for a devotional and prayer, and we’re trying to increase our level of communication about other things afterwards. Kind of the daily stand up meeting. Problem is, not everyone is there. But at least a large number of us are. Next step is to encourage the KRA’s and the weekly reports.  Great post, Chris – and good to see you here.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Same here Carol! Weren’t we supposed to do coffee? 

      • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

         yes we were. Are you in town next week? If so, what day is good? I can do any day but Thursday. Thanks!

        • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

          Let’s check on Monday if that’s ok. 

          • http://caroldublin.com/ Carol Dublin

             Sounds good. Thanks!

  • Sherry

    Lack of communication lead to many negatives actions and losing a very valuable employee mainly because of the lack of communication impacts a company significantly.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Preach it Sherry!!! 

  • http://twitter.com/Skropp2 Mark Sieverkropp

    Great post Chris! It’s amazing how much simply communicating effectively WHAT the job is can affect the efficiency and production, and yet how few people, if you asked them, have the same view of what their job is as their boss does. It’s so basic, but I didn’t see telepathy ESP on your list. Probably because team members can’t read their leader’s minds!!! If they’re going to know if they’re winning, it’s going to be by actually communication between you and them!! Thanks Chris!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s it Mark! And that’s why the KRA is so vital in the process. If both agree on it, you don’t have to worry about there being differing opinions. 

      Good seeing you over here. 

  • Chris Campbell

    Good points Chris. I think to add to that I would use the over sharing principle. If you don’t trust your team enough to share or communicate everything then maybe they don’t need to be on your team. You want to work with adults who you can be open with and share the good and the bad. Good post. Very needed.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Absolutely! It’s also possible you shouldn’t be leading. :-)

  • Chris Campbell

     Good points Chris. I think to add to that I would use the over sharing
    principle. If you don’t trust your team enough to share or communicate
    everything then maybe they don’t need to be on your team. You want to
    work with adults who you can be open with and share the good and the
    bad. Good post. Very needed.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Great insight. Is there ever any information or subject that wouldn’t be appropriate to share with the entire team?

  • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

    I knew you were going to say that! My ESP is working, but others may not. So it is important to make sure that you are all on the same page about what is expected.

  • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

    Great post, Chris. I’m used to reading both blogs, so I get to save a little time today! I love the point you make about having scheduled meetings. My team is starting to have weekly meetings on Tuesdays. We try to cover a couple company basics, but then spend the rest of the time going over the good/bad of the past week. Our manager tries to get us to find solutions to make improvements.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Sounds like a great meeting. Has it worked our really well? 

      • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

        I can’t say that it is everything it could be, but it is definitely a good step. We’ve only had a few weeks of it, but I have noticed some positive influences. It has helped the team to know where we should be and where we stand in comparison.

  • http://www.baptisteducation.org/ Joshua Rivers

    I also like the idea of having KRA’s instead of generic job descriptions. It helps to give clarity and focus to the expectations for that person. Even when several people have the same job description, sometimes the specific duties may be different.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Absolutely. It helps me as the team member to know what I specifically need to do to win!

  • http://www.dougsmithlive.com/ Doug Smith

    Good stuff Chris! I’ll be implementing this with our team! Thanks! 

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      My pleasure Doug!

  • http://www.adonislenzy.com/ Adonis Lenzy

    Great post Chris.  I especially like your outlook on not letting the reports become just paperwork.  Simple steps of celebrating and leading can reduce that.  Thanks bro.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Adonis! And great job the other day. 

  • http://twitter.com/MattMcWilliams2 Matt McWilliams

    Love it Chris. Entreleadership at it’s finest.

    How does a lack of communication hurt? Chris and a few others may remember a comment I left on your blog (http://fyre.it/1fhJ) a few days ago about a great example of open leadership. How communication completely changed the company, saved it from literally going out of business, and shifted the leadership culture there.

    The flip side is every day before that. The leader (and therefore leaders including me) withheld critical information from our team members. We “kept things close to the vest.” We were very secretive and ultimately did not trust our people.

    Only when crisis threatened us, did the CEO open up and by example encourage us to do the same. 

    The point is that we could have arrived at that point at least 6 months sooner, if not much, much earlier…if leadership had been more open. I get it…some things are not for all eyes and ears. But odds are you are holding too much too close. Open up a little at a time and see what happens.

    • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

       Matt, the stakes were really high. Did that experience result in a long-term culture shift? Any other lessons you can share about how to know when to share info and when it’s best to hold it close?

      • http://twitter.com/MattMcWilliams2 Matt McWilliams

        Absolutely. His back was against the wall. His baby was in danger. Like any parent he would do anything to save it, aside of debt, including the uncomfortable…sharing the secrets of the company’s finances.

        The long term results, from what I have heard (I left the company 2 months later) were that they started sharing quarterly numbers with the whole staff. The format of the meeting was exactly like the first one: Here is where we are, here is where our pace gets us, and now I want to know what we are going to do about it.

        The thing is bad news motivates action. So does good news though. When things are going great, it excites us and gets us dreaming. So either way, you win.

        My rule of thumb over the past few years has been to share as much as I possibly can. If I have any doubts, then and only then do I think about it. I weigh the pros and cons of sharing. I would say about 8/10 times I share. The 20% usually has a good reason.

        • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

          Thanks Matt, that’s a great rule of thumb. It’s interesting how fear holds us back, and at some point we have to deal with it. My mentor often reminds me that we rarely change unless we’re made uncomfortable – then he finds some way to make me uncomfortable :)

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    Poor communication creates unnecessary disorganization. I’ve seen two people working on the same project because they didn’t know the other one was doing it, and I’ve seen huge tasks dropped because one person assumed the other had it covered. A short, focused weekly meeting would’ve easily solved the distribution and execution of tasks. Crazy how elementary it sounds, but it happens! Makes me think of outfielders on a baseball team. You have to talk to each other as you run for a pop fly, otherwise you’ll either miss the catch or crash into your teammate.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Great analogy Michele!

  • Michael_Sherman

    Great article. I too would love to see some examples of KRA. 

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Just posted them up top Michael. 

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ Jared Latigo

    Great post Chris! I love reading your insights because I can see how well the team there at Dave Ramsey’s operates, from the outside anyway. I love getting tips from people that are living it! Thanks so much and congrats on getting a guest post on Michael’s blog!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Jared! It’s an honor to be here today!

  • http://twitter.com/LisaColonDelay Lisa Colón DeLay

    You can also do as Chris Guillebeau advocates. “put happiness in a box …and make people feel special…” 

    That’s what I’ve featured today at my blog. {and I’ve monetized it to make it easy for leaders to inspire their team}

    ¡ Consistently. Great. Stuff. Here. Sir!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Thanks Lisa!

  • http://www.danerickson.net/ Dan Erickson

    In academia (or at least at many colleges) the trend seems to be less teamwork between administration and faculty.  This makes it easier for the administration to gain more control and the faculty winds up in the weaker position.  Unfortunately I see this in big business and politics, too.  

    As for my own team?  I haven’t got that far yet.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      haha…then you’re the most important part of your team Dan. And you’re a genius for getting this information BEFORE you have one! 

      • Dannoman88

        I like your sense of humor mixed with truth, Chris.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve seen lack of communication hurt an organization through the rumors that begin to spread. You hear whispers of “We’re shutting down,” “They’re going to lay all of us off,” or “Bill’s in trouble. He’s only got a few days left.” Ineffective communication creates a monster…

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      You nailed it Joe! I think it’s because there always seems to be a trend of no communication equals bad stuff. Therefore, whenever there isn’t communication, we automatically assume bad stuff.

      And I really do feel bad for Bill. Poor guy. ;-)

  • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

    For those of you asking for sample KRA’s, here you go - http://ChrisLoCurto.com/sample-kras

  • http://jonahenry.com/ Jon Henry

    I think it would be wise to look at how the lack of communication affects other areas of life, and then pull that over into the business realm. Go through the list and apply it to marriages. Or Congress. Or pretty much any struggle you may have with anyone else. Communication can certainly get better.

    Not only does communication have to be intentional, but I think communication has to be positive to work. It needs to focus on what what works, not on what is going bad. Would marriages be better if couples focused on and came around their strengths? What if Congress devoted their type to things that worked, rather than those that didn’t?

    From KRA’s down the list to annual reviews, communicating all the negative stuff would be awful. So take Chris’ advice, but be positive too!

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Spot on brother! Negativity will freeze a team member!

  • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

    For those of you who were asking for a sample KRA, here it is - http://ChrisLoCurto.com/sample-kras

  • http://www.wevival.com/ Jason Stambaugh

    When communication suffers inside of an organization and everyone is allowed to walk single file into their own silo, the organization’s mission can take a big a hit. It’s not about you. It is the responsibility of the executive/pastor/leader to keep communicating, keep relating, keep pushing to get everyone moving hand in hand. 

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      Great word picture Jason! I think too many leaders don’t realize that it is THEIR responsibility. It’s usually someone else’s fault. 

  • http://www.trim-online.org/ Jvuvai

    I have seen churches break up as a result of lack of communication and cause untold pain. In fact, this happened in our church just last year causing more than half of the congregation leave the church. It was painful.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      UGH!!! And it’s not like there isn’t a platform…to communicate from!! Sorry to hear that Jvuvai. 

      btw, rockin’ name!

  • Pingback: 5 Ways to Foster Great Communication with Your Team « moreStories. moreSmiles. moreSharing.

  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you Chris (and Michael).
    These are good things.  This year at church I am on a team and not leading one.  We have monthly meetings, but setting up what I did each week when we meet will help me create deadlines as I often wait to the last minute.

    We do annual reports with this year finally doing a light mid year.  They are more a scale system and praise with a reminder of areas that can still be worked on.  I see where you are coming from especially after  reading the EntreLeadership book.

    Communication is huge!!! (I should ad more exclamations marks.)
    Still referring to a church setting – I see the “leadership team” (team with Pastors’) should really know the story of the church so as to not convey to their teams because,  “Pastor XYZ said so…”  The team leader should know why so and so is needed to be done and refer back to the mission and vision statement and not just because “the boss said so.” (Although, they head leader)

    Thank you again Sir.

    K, bye

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      The story really helps the team understand the direction they came from, and hopefully the direction they’re going. And I’m a huge fan of !!!! as well!

  • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

    I have enjoyed my annual review. That probably sounds strange, but it’s  because of the format. My supervisor actually has me do a self-review. I send it to her, she reads over it, then we discuss it.

    In fact, I spent several hours on this yesterday and it was incredibly beneficial. I was able to see the trajectory of the projects I have been working on and realized that I’ll need some additional training in a couple key areas. It also brought to the surface how much my role has changed in the last year (less technical and admin and more working with people). Those hours of reflection were probably the most important of my week.

    • http://www.ChrisLoCurto.com Chris LoCurto

      That’s pretty cool Aaron! I can see how that really helps you to personally see how far you’ve come over the year. Does she have her own analyses of you as well? 

      • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

         Chris, yes she does; but a lot of it is based of off my evaluation and the end goal is to create a plan for personal development. So she and I will discuss what training would most benefit me and our department, she’ll share her perspective, then we’ll agree on a really basic plan. During the next review, we’ll evaluate how the training plan worked. It’s great because, it’s not geared to shore up weaknesses but answers “What resources do I need to pull on to do the best job possible.”

      • http://www.clayproductions.com/ Aaron Johnson

         BTW, I was listening to your podcast interview with Jim Collins today on my way to work. Fantastic! It was fun to jump on the site this morning and see your post here.  Thanks.

  • http://www.blogan.net/ Brent Logan

    I’d like to read more about the storytelling aspect of leadership.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Over the years of my working life (and I am, ahem, older) I have worked for a couple of great organizations.  As I look back, the great ones followed the advice given here.  The ones that ended up with hurt or failure for me, others or the organization-did not.  Gossip truly does fill a communication gap.  I have been most wounded when a boss waited four months, six months, until a review to slap me with something I could have corrected in the moment had it been pointed out. 

  • http://dustinstout.com Dustin W. Stout

    Great tips! Thanks Chris! 

  • http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=128688398&trk=tab_pro Robert Isbell, MSEL, EFO

    Chris,
    Well said.  I’m a big fan of Patrick Lencioni’s blueprint for building great teams, (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) and his detailed outline for meetings, (Death by Meeting).  Both of these great books explain that trust will enable good communications and meetings should have a themed purpose to facilitate engagement.  It sounds like you are either familiar with these works or are very astute in building teams, (most likely both)…   Thanks for the post..

    Robert Isbell
    On-Demand Leadership

  • anonymous

    I disagree with number 4. Some companies do well with more autonomy. I have been unhappy in the past for giving reports. I don’t mind monthly checks on letting my manager know how much time I’ve given to certain tasks, but weekly? I do too much for my company (a publishing company) to have any motivation for a weekly report.

  • http://www.fieldofdebt.com/ Jen McDonough

    Hmmm…..what does one get with one crosses Michael Hyatt with Christ LoCurto? Well that would be just plain awesomeness!
    GREAT tips Chris! I will be utilizing some of these with my virtual assistant team – I like the weekly meetings and progress reports (basically, I will be going over top 5 goals each week, what accomplishments were done the week before as well as what home runs we hit and where there is room for improvement). I would have not thought this was important for me to do as I don’t have “employees” technically, however, I am learning from you that my contracted employees can be intentionally lead in greatness as well as if I was running a fortune 500 company.
    Chris, many thanks for your leadership and teaching.
    Michael, you just rock…thanks for bringing in such helpful leaders!
    Live Beyond Awesome!
    Jen

  • http://twitter.com/jryan48 Jim Ryan

    Great job Chris. I have heard you talk about KRAs a couple of times in your podcast. I would love to learn more about the process of setting them up in the future.

  • http://agents.metrobrokers.com/luis.vejarano Luis Vejarano

    I think a lot of the times we focus on the “Job Discription” rather than the ultimate goal, and this can hurt a company. I think that KRA’s is a great way to get your company or organization headed in the right direction. Great Post!

  • http://agents.metrobrokers.com/luis.vejarano Luis Vejarano

    I think a lot of the times we focus on the “Job Discription” rather than the ultimate goal, and this can hurt a company. I think that KRA’s is a great way to get your company or organization headed in the right direction. Great Post!

  • MarkJCundiff

    Chris, Great points. I especially like #5. I agree that we have it all wrong with the annual performance review system that is in place in most companies.  Research shows that you actually only review the last 2-3 months of work in most cases and that many times this is emotional driven conversations instead of fact based discussions on what has actually been done throughout the year. 

    You solution for consistent feedback on both the positive and negative aspects of their performance is far more effective for all parties involved.  Mark

  • Mike

    I am on board with everything this post talks about.  Where I think I need guidance is the annual checkup.  In my orginization the annual review is also the time we do merit pay increases (or not).  How then could we better design our merit increase system to better reflect the sucess they have had during the year.  I feel like having one opportunity for an increase the whole year puts more pressure on that meeting than is really necessary.  Thoughts?

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great question, Mike!  For project-based team members, the timing of merit increases could be adjusted to pre-defined project outcomes if your organization is flexible enough to budget for merit increases at different times of the year.

      If you do stick with annual reviews, communicating like Chris suggests should take the surprise and therefore the anxiousness out of the annual review.  I’ve always preferred an MBO (Management By Objective) system similar to Chris’ KRA’s, where there are clear, definable objectives that are set up in advance (which can certainly be modified throughout the year).  Certain objectives may be pass/fail, but I usually prefer a 3-point scale that looks something like this:

      3) Exceeds Expectations = Performed above  (merit increase)
      2) Minimum Expectation = Met the expectation (you get to keep your job, but you don’t receive a merit increase)
      1) Needs Improvement = Improvement is needed to keep your job.

      I’ve seen 5-point scales work well too.  Those allow for degrees of successful performance and related merit increases. 

       The key is like Chris stated, to keep consistent feedback coming to the employee about where their performance falls on the scale, so that they’re not surprised on annual review day.  Surprises stink.  :)

  • http://www.abundantmichael.com/ Michael

    When I had employees in my software company we used to have weekly one-on-one meetings with direct reports, weekly all staff meeting and quarterly reviews and this seemed to help communication.  Our goal was “no surprises” at the reviews – any issues would already have been addressed at weekly meetings or when they came up. And I did find that the quarterly reviews gave more time and perspective for longer range issues such as training and where each person wanted to improve in the coming months.  Each person wrote their own review and was then given feedback on it by their manager. That way any blind spots of both people could be discovered and the review was more likely to be accepted by the employee.

    Now I have transformed my business to all subcontractors and I notice that I use less verbal communication (thought plenty through email and basecamp!). Though I still do telephone post project reviews with them. So! I think it is time to do more regular communication again. Thanks for getting me thinking!

  • Momtracisands326

    glad to have found your site; have a ton of people whom could very positively benifit from this.

    • http://www.manager-institut.de/ Sarah 187

      That´s right.
      I learned many things from this blog and I like to thank for sharing your knowledge with us.

  • Barney Lawn

    Could you give me an examples of typical KRA’s.

    By the way, I thoroughly enjoy your posts and find most of hem very informative.

  • Benjamin W. Jackson

    Invaluable insight for leadership, particularly number 3, humanize your communication. Take a break from reviewing progress, projects and focus on people. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned was to talk about my own experiences with my team.

  • Ryancstl23

    I need to figure out a way that is better than group e-mails to communicate with my team on a day to day basis while we cant come together as a group while forming a business.