Mason jar performance evaluation #1

Quality performance feedback


Strip #1:  “I admire that you make time to read…”  This one also includes a quote from Harry S. Truman: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

It was probably a familiar sight each day around 11 to see me close up my office and head for the cafeteria, Kindle in hand.  I have always been an avid reader, although I must confess that I am not remotely an intellectual reader.  You will find a lot more of J.R.R. Tolkein, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Anne Rice, and Frank Herbert on my Kindle than, well.. I don’t really know what authors to put here, since the point is I don’t read them much.  I have some friends who are very astute, literarily speaking, and there have been a few uncomfortable pauses in our conversations over the years, as they have mentioned an essential author that I’ve never heard of.

Still, there are biographies, histories, scientific reviews, and social analyses in my library.  Not just old textbooks or gifts, but ones I’ve actually gone and picked out myself.  Admittedly, it’s probably 1 cerebral work for every 10 fun pieces, but I have finished every one and am certain they have broadened they way I look at the world.

The other important part of this ritual isn’t so much the reading as it is the break from the schedule, from the pressures of the day, to re-set and recharge.  I often use this time as much for quiet thinking as I do to read what I brought with me.  It really helps to evaluate where I am on the day’s tasks, and to be much more efficient as I start working through the second half of the day.

Bottom line: keep putting stuff in your brain, but take time out to process it too.

-These are from a jar that my team presented me as I was leaving to accept a promotion.  They are the impressions, thoughts, and ideas that they had come to associate with me during my time there.  I’ve decided to share them, and what I remember of how they came to be, with my readers as I draw them at random from the jar-

Mason jar performance evaluation

Quality performance feedback

Recently, I accepted a promotion into my first senior manager role.  Shortly after the announcement was made, my current team surprised me in a staff meeting with a jar full of colored paper strips.  On the sly, they had assembled a collection of thoughts, attributes, ideas, or sayings they had come to associate with me during my two years on their team.

I haven’t read them yet.  I’ve had them on my desk at home for a couple weeks, thinking over whether I was ready for that kind of feedback.  Not that I think there will be anything horrible in there.  It was a challenging period of time for everyone, but I felt like we had a good team going by the end, and that my participation had been helpful.

It was just that, as I looked at the jar and got ready to open it, it occurred to me what a really choice moment this could be.  As leaders we all try to inspire, to create a vision for what the organization and its individuals are capable of.  We hope that the vision is shared and that it may contribute in some way to increased performance and success by the group.

That is, after all, the value proposition of management: that our contributions create an environment around our teams where more value is produced than would otherwise be.  Here in front of me was a jar full of what my team had absorbed, what they had come to associate with my leadership.  I know what I had tried to communicate.  But how had it really come across?  Did it retain the essence of what I had intended?  Had it grown into things I could never have anticipated?

I am going to open the jar tonight and read one of the strips.  In my next post, I will share what it says, and my recollections about the circumstances that might have fixed its contents in the mind of whoever submitted it.  I’m a little nervous, but I am also excited to see what sort of influence I might have had, especially if they were able to make more of my simple efforts than I had ever intended.