During the recent AMA/PRSA Boston event, "CMO's Dilemma: Leveraging Agency Partners for Maximum Success," it was clear that brands are more discerning than ever about their agency partners. Therefore, PR, marketing and digital agencies must go to greater lengths to prove they can provide immediate value to their clients.Read More
If you asked the general public for the most dreaded events in their lives, most would say illness, loss, colonoscopies, root canals, stepping on a Lego at 3 AM. For us working stiffs, add to the list the annual performance review process.
So, imagine my thrill at reading Vauhini Vara’s piece in this week’s New Yorker applauding Accenture and others for banishing the process. If 330,000 Accenture employees are taking a pass on formality and instead embracing more regular check-ins and feedback, I say, good for you.
You see, to me that sounds like the makings of any good relationship. You can probably surmise from the list above that I’m 50+, and that means, among other things, that I’ve spent 20+ years working, leading, managing, self-assessing, and participating in performance review processes from 1-1 to 360, primarily with people in creative organizations. From my perch, creatives bristle at processes like the annual performance review, happening as it does like some kind of employee rite of passage.
Cue brief self-promotion: the performance reviews we conduct at my company consist of 2 short items, with credit to HBS for the inspiration: 1) What I like and 2) What can improve. This pretty much sums it up, and it dispenses with the additional busywork required. Yes, we do ask for a self-evaluation so it’s a give and take conversation. And, we do seek feedback from others. In general, it works.
But here’s where it falls down: the employee/manager relationship is really not unlike relationships you have outside the office. They are, whether we want to admit it or not, relationships. This is particularly true with creative organizations, which by definition rely on frequent communications, brainstorming, spitballing, call it what you want: they like to engage and engage frequently in search of the perfect solution, answer, brilliant idea. And relationships -- assuming, of course, you want to stay in them -- require frequent communication, feedback, correction, and “this is how what you did made me feel” moments.
Companies operate with many new rules these days – we’re remote workers working with 9-5ers in the office, channeling thoughts and ideas through email and text, rarely picking up the phone, even. So why do we promote an anachronistic model of performance reviews when all you really need to do is seize each moment of every work relationship to make you and your team better?
Like Accenture’s recent move, I’m equally smitten by what Globoforce (the self-described leader in employee recognition, and a Greenough client, I should add) proposes: you develop and retain employees by frequent acts of recognition, not just once a year, and not by checking boxes, but by having authentic conversations based on crowdsourced feedback.
You don’t wait a year to tell your friends, family or partners that they’ve either messed up or done something phenomenal. Why not apply the same thinking to your relationships at work?
Jamie Parker is president of Greenough Brand Storytellers
We're happy to announce that Matt Weaver has joined Greenough as our newest Account Supervisor! Matt brings over four years of agency experience to the team, including stints at Brodeur Partners and Racepoint Global. Learn more about him in our interview!
If you could tell the story of any company or organization, which would you choose?
I would choose Raytheon - the historical conflicts their products have been involved in are incredible. It'd also be fascinating to spend a day in their R&D labs to see what's being created for the future. Most often futurists shy away from discussing military technology, but as a country it's where we dedicate one of our highest annual levels of investment, so I know they're creating a lot of interesting stuff that will eventually get boiled down into consumer offshoots. I believe it's where the microwave was first invented.
Hobbies outside of work?
I dedicate a lot of my time outside of the office to exercise and fitness. Whether it's yoga or running, I like to be active and I like to create new challenges for myself.
Favorite writer or journalist?
I'm a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut. Read Slaughterhouse-Five while I was in high school and have been hooked ever since.
If you could take the place of one historical figure, who would it be?
Definitely JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
What about if you could have one superpower?
I'll go the route of traditional communication professionals and say the ability to read people's minds, specifically clients'.
What’s your Pandora “paperwork” station?
A steady dose of Metallica, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots.
What do Greenough employees do for fun outside the office? Greenough After-Hours finds out. In this edition, Account Executive Gaby Berkman talks about her recent Birthright Trip to Israel. Last month, I packed my bags, hopped on a plane and arrived in Israel for my ten-day Birthright Trip. Birthright is a free trip to Israel offered to all tribe members who fall between the ages of 18 - 27, and I joined 45 other strangers to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We travelled around the country with an Israeli tour guide, members of the Israeli military and three North American leaders.
My trip focused primarily on the outdoors. We trekked our way through the country, beginning in the North in Tiberias and ending in Netayna, a beach town just outside of Tel Aviv. We stopped everywhere in-between; Israel is only 8,019 square miles, so it wasn’t hard to see it all! Below are some of the highlights from my trip:
Sunrise at Masada
Masada is an ancient fortress in the Judean Desert. It was built by Herod the Great in 37 BC and was the site of the very first Jewish-Roman war. Our group was lucky enough to see the sunrise from the top of the mountain. Despite the 4 AM wake-up, this was one of my favorite hikes.
Floating in the Dead Sea
The Dead Sea was by far one of the coolest experiences I have had to date. Not only is it the world’s saltiest body of water, it is also the lowest point above sea level. Our Israeli tour guide, Itea, advised us not to shave for at least three days before going in because the water was so salty it would sting any open wounds - even the ones you didn’t know you had! - on your body. The thing to do at the Dead Sea is apply mud to your body for extra exfoliation, so after we muddied up we headed into the 80 degree water, leaned back and floated. As you can see in the picture on the left, the water is salty (those are salt rocks that make up the bottom of the sea!) so the trick is to keep your head above water. Don’t even think about swimming - the water’s too dense! (Side note - in addition to the Dead Sea, we swam in the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean. Bucket list items, check!)
Western Wall, Mehane Yehuda and Shabbat in Jerusalem
Jerusalem, naturally, was the city I was most excited to see. We had three full days there, including Shabbat. We began with a walking tour of the Old City, visiting King David’s Tomb and the site of The Last Supper. We then went on to the Western Wall (Kotel), which was unlike anything I had experienced before. Religious or not, the Western Wall is a very powerful place. As a female, I had to cover my shoulders and knees and enter through an entrance separate from the men. I was struck by the wall's sheer size, the chants of the people praying and the notes left in the cracks of the wall.
After visiting the Kotel, we headed to the largest outdoor market in Jersusalem, Mehan Yehuda. Here, the highlight was the food - namely, the giant fresh falafels that came topped with french fries and the fresh, gooey rugelach that was not quite fully baked. Because it was a Friday afternoon, the market was packed with people getting ready for the Shabbos.
Being in Jerusalem for Shabbat was very special. The entire city shuts down and there are no cars on the road. I started my day with a run through the largest park in the city, where it was quiet and reflective. This was a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of taking in new experiences. That day, we walked around the Israel Museum where we saw the Dead Sea scrolls and the Ahava statue. It was so cool not seeing a single car on the road!
Camel Ride and the Bedouin Tents
Okay, this is so Birthright cliche of me, but I have to list “cameling” and staying in the Bedouin tents as a highlight. We drank coffee with a Bedouin, rode camels (we fondly named ours Iggy), saw more shooting stars than I could count, ate with our hands from a communal bowl of rice and meat and sang Israeli songs like crowd-pleaser Ein Ani around a bonfire.
The people, the culture and the land
People go on Birthright for many different reasons, and I went to get a better sense of my history and the current state of Israel. Israel is a beautiful country - there are no bad views anywhere you look! We hiked almost every day and saw more historic sites than I can remember. I came back with more questions than answers, but I left the country with a better spiritual sense, 45 great new friends, 500+ photos, a constant craving for shawarma and the excitement to go back!
Gaby Berkman is an Account Executive at Greenough. Follow her on Twitter: @Gabyberk