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Think of an action movie where our hero is inside a large unfamiliar building trying to find and free a hostage. Meanwhile, there is a super-geek outside (with an amazing array of integrated systems, btw) guiding her through a maze of hallways, elevator shafts, and HVAC ducts as she karate-chops her way toward the prize and past the bad guys. That is, until her earpiece fails. Agghh!

In an earlier post I wrote how workers need feedback from management (coaches) in order to understand their current performance and how to improve it. Without feedback, our hero may eventually achieve the objective but the level of risk is too high and it certainly isn’t sustainable. Yes, she needs to be free to apply her expertise, improvise, and follow through but she also needs someone on the outside to add perspective and context and ensure she gets timely, relevant, and actionable information.

A feedback system must be integrated into the management/worker relationship and it doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. Workers don’t want to be in a “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you,” situation. Give them the information they need, tell them how they’re doing compared to others and other groups, and give them the chance to develop new knowledge to do their work. Here’s a loop you can adopt today.


  • Formally assess performance from the prior year.
  • Discuss the current company business plans for context and purpose.
  • Revise the job description together.
  • Ask the worker to set goals that you will review, discuss, and finalize together.


  • Assess progress against goals from the prior quarter.
  • Revise and adjust.
  • Create and sequence goals for the current quarter.


  • Meet 1:1 periodically (frequency based on the need of the worker and the work).
  • Revise and adjust.


Nowadays I don’t hear about management-by-walking-around. MBWA is a powerful management tool that creates a dialogue. It shouldn’t be a “Caught you being good/bad” thing but, rather, a sign of a persistent and productive relationship with an endless loop of information, knowledge, and ideas.


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