Me, Manager and Reviews

Me, Manager and Reviews


I like acronyms because I can't remember much of the stuff I come up with. Acronyms have been a memory hack for me. Sometimes it allows me to think/conceive structurally. Today is Teachers' day, Socha, Thoda Gyan baant Doon! Before I get to CDSA, a jog in memory lane! 

In my first job, the most dreaded moments were reviews with the manager. Review meetings were predictable, and the mismatch between expectations and actuals had to be handled. Somehow, it reminded me of the marks card signing moments during my High School. I knew my marks were low and worse, and I knew what my Khaaka would say before signing. The only commonality between reviews and mark cards was in the excuses.

I think my manager wasn't as unreasonable as some of you may be experiencing now. He would remind me of what I was supposed to do, and I would, in turn, remind him of how tough the 'ask' was. In the end, only one side could win the argument, and you know which side that would be. I used to tell myself that if I became a manager, I would be more reasonable in the reviews. 

What I did not budget for is the pressure one undergoes as a manager, especially if your team is underdelivering. On the one hand, you have a reportee who is demotivated because of the results, and on the other hand, you have the client or the super boss screaming down your face. When I look back, there are many moments where I probably put my arms around the shoulders, but many where I left them more shattered.

The manager-reportee calendared meeting is the most 'missed' best practice in most organizations. Nobody measures if these meetings ever take place. I always dream that such meetings are happening becoz many crucial things get achieved when the reportee meets the manager.

  • Connect: In the transactional and mostly remote world, we get an opportunity to connect to the person we work with. I know we don't look forward to meeting/speaking to every reportee who works with us, some are sweethearts, and some are jerks (just like the managers). But kehte hain, meetings give this space to understand each other's world. However, many of us convert this conversation to transactions. There is nothing wrong with KPIs/Transactions; after all, we are here to get work done and not to shoot a 'Hum Saath Saath Hain' family movie with colleagues. But, when done with Intent, we get to know each other's world even if we don't agree with each other's views. The Connect logically leads to D & S.
  • Directions: It is easy to get carried away with what has not got accomplished (quite common in my reviews), But imperative for the manager to take time to set the directions (sometimes the tone may not be friendly, and the irritation is palpable). I believe Directions to the team are a critical cornerstone to all reviews, especially when chips are down.
  • Support: Not everyone can absorb directions or are equally skilled. In many cases, support would be required. It is likely that managers will have better access to resources and also can make time to step in. If your BD guys cannot meet enough customers, will you spend time with them in the field or just instruct them to be in the market? If your software engineer cannot fix some bugs, will you shout at them or direct/support them on how to get it done? Managers are considered to be more experienced or sometimes better skilled than their reporters, time to show what got them there?
  • Accountability: One of the critical parts of any review is holding the team members accountable. I think this comes easy to many managers as picking holes is second nature to most of us. It's how we hold team members accountable that makes the difference. Whether we want to apply only pressure (for many of us pressure works) or invoke people through their strengths and past track records will depend on the skills and the intent of the manager.

From what I have observed, the D & A (Directions and Accountability) part is mostly covered in organizations, and the C & S part is selectively ignored.

So if you are a manager, let me know if you think CDSA is a practical framework. If you report to someone, see if there is a CDSA in your manager's approach!

 If there isn't, don't worry, you know what to do when you become a manager! 



You may also like