I got a bad performance review once.
It hurt me just to write that sentence. I’m still embarrassed because of it, and I’ve probably only told a couple of people about it. I remember sitting in the seat and holding the paper in my hand while he looked me in my eyes and told me, “I don’t think you’re cut out for this job.”
Me: *Gasp*. *Clutch pearls*. *Cast eyes downward*.
And as if he needed to add salt to the wound, he continued, “You’re great with people, but you don’t get things across the finish line. I need somebody that drives execution.”
Me: Still in shock. Not out loud, but in my head I’m thinking – “But everyone loves me. I’m the glue around here!”
My boss still had more to say. “If you cannot figure out the execution part, you need to determine a different path.”
Me: Still in my head – “Is he allowed to say these things to me?”
Okay. We all have our own reasons as to why critical feedback hurts. And of course, I think my reasons are very important. I’m an only child with strong people-pleasing tendencies. My boss had just told me that I had not pleased him, and that I had let the whole team down. I was blessed that this was right before my end-of-year vacation; I was approaching a week and a half off work to give me time to process the situation & think about 3 critical questions:
1. Was he right?
2. Did I want this job? Did I want this path?
3. What should my next steps be?
And here are the answers I came up with:
1. My boss was partially right. He just couldn’t see all the good I was doing because I struggled with delivery.
2. It took me about a week to determine it, but yes – I was in the right job. I like to listen to people, influence people, teach people, and help people succeed. Duh!
3. I knew I needed to focus and get better at execution. But how could I hack that? The world of distractions, bureaucracy, and politics seemed to conspire against delivery & execution.
• • •
After this much needed thinking time, I came back to work at the top of the new year ready! I wrote the words. ‘Execution – Delivers Relentlessly’ on my wall and I focused my systems as a project manager on that. I thought through it and journaled about things like:
1. Meetings should be actionable.
2. Does everyone know the plan? Keep them focused on it.
3. Do the stakeholders know where things are? Keep them engaged. Leverage them to remove barriers and keep the flow.
4. Make your projects fun so that people love to participate.
5. Build relationships with all. A request from me should be reviewed and addressed immediately.
• • •
The list goes on and on. As soon as I would write something and validate that it addressed some of my root cause issues with relentless delivery, I would add it to my process.
Half way through April, my boss pulled me back into his office and this time, we had a much different conversation. He said, “What’s going on? You are on fire!”
Me: Out loud this time – “I know. You couldn’t see me before. I had let too much stuff get in the way, but I’ve got my process now!”
Do you have your process for delivery? It may have to be tweaked a bit for your environment, but it’s in you. And importantly – don’t let negative feedback get you down; instead, address it. Let it propel you forward. We’ve got this!
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Holloway Consulting Group is an Atlanta-based firm helping corporate technology teams all over the world set goals, create plans, and solve complex problems. We aim to service organizations through our training, coaching, and project management programs. Visit our website to schedule a call with our team today!