I recently sat in an annual review of a manager. The partner in the meeting did a nice job of setting a positive tone, listened well and reinforced the manager’s achievements. When we got to setting goals for the next period, most of the focus was on improving areas that were lacking, but not broken.
After the meeting I mentioned this to the partner and, as usual, I got the false argument that he expects excellence in everything, so he sets a high bar for everyone in everything. It’s a false argument because no one, including him, is able to be excellent in everything. I didn’t have the heart (courage?) to point out his fallacy, so I let it go.
Why not concentrate on the manager’s strengths—the areas where the manager has demonstrated excellence, passion and drive? On a scale of 1-10, raising a deficit area 2 points from a 4.5 to a 6.5 isn’t nearly as significant as raising a strength a half a point from 8.5 to a 9.0.
The point is that you have a natural bent on what you really enjoy. You may be drawn to applying your technical ability to client problems and welcome interactions with clients to forge close relationships. But there are other areas that you may seek out, like finding other clients (new business) and investing in raising up staff competence (capacity building).
The point is that you’re better off locking in on the couple of areas where you want your professional stature to shine and invest heavily in raising the bar on yourself. Of course, you can’t neglect the other areas, but focus on excellence where you are motivated. That’s when your professional stature raises.
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