One of the best things about the organizations I’ve worked for is the constant feedback. Monthly, quarterly, annual … Feedback. Every project, every committee, every major meeting … Feedback. Report, metrics, trends … Feedback.
There was and is never an excuse not to know where your performance stands.
Yet there has always been one piece of performance feedback which leaves a sour taste in my mouth …
No Action Required
I’ve seen this used frequently in environments when an employee is meeting budgeted or program goals. Hitting monthly production goals? No action required. On pace to reach quarterly sales targets? No action required.
No action required is a lie. When it comes to our performance, action is always required.
- Same Action. When we’re meeting goals and expectations, the action required is continuing the same behaviors which helped us attain our goals. It seems to go without saying — but you would be surprised how easily and often complacency sets in. Giving “no action required” as feedback doesn’t reinforce the importance of maintaining performance beyond. Preservation is critical – do not overlook it.
- Different Action. When we’re meeting goals and expectations, the action required is changing focus to another goal. Sales or production goals met? Great! Time to focus on training. Recruiting and hiring goals met? Awesome! Time to focus on retention. Achievement in one area does not mean there isn’t any other work to be done. Figure out the new goal and the best way to go after it.
- More Action. When we’re meeting goals and expectations, the action required is planning how to exceed that goal and expectation. Reaching a goal is great. Smashing, crushing and demolishing it is better! No organization would be unhappy with greater production or greater sales as long as the quality of work remains. When an initial goal is completed, it’s time to decide what work, if any, can be done to surpass the goal.
The idea of “no action required” is a myth. We are never doing all that we can do. We are never doing all that we should do, for that matter. This level of perfection does not exist. The best we can hope for are ideal moments which open the door for new opportunities to achieve new goals.
By challenging ourselves to think beyond what is just acceptable to the “next action required”, we can cultivate creative working environments where performance excellence will flourish, grow and thrive.