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 your performance regarding your everyday duties.
Yet there has always been one piece of performance feedback that’s always left a sour taste in my mouth …
No Action Required
I’ve seen this used a lot in the production and retail environments when the manager of an area is meeting budgeted or program goals. A shift manager hitting monthly production goals? No action required. A store manager reaching quarterly customer count and sales goals? No action required.
Well, I beg to differ.
When it comes to our performance, action is always required.
- Same Action. When we’re meeting goals and expectations, the action required is to continue 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 the place where goals have been met. Preservation is critical – do not overlook it.
- Different Action. When we’re meeting goals and expectations, the action required is to change 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 left 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 to plan 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. 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 just what is acceptable to the “next action required”, we can create working environments where performance excellence can flourish, grow and thrive.