Newsletter – October 13, 2011

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Ambitious goals, better 2-way feedback, meetings that don’t suck, and more

Hello friends,

The Management Fix is now one year old! We’re celebrating its birthday by bringing you tips on setting ambitious goals, judging employee turnover differently, holding meetings that don’t suck, and more…

1. What Good Goals Look Like in Practice

If you’re in the midst of setting your goals for next year, here’s a sample from the American Independent News Network (2015 update: this document is no longer available) that illustrates how you can have a few key goals and clear measures of success for what the organization will accomplish. We love how this stays short and simple while setting concrete and ambitious finish lines.  (Individuals then have their own goals that align with the toplines here.)

2. Ambitious Goals Make You Happier

Speaking of goal-setting, here’s some research that gives you one more reason to aim high: it’ll make you happier. People who set ambitious goals tend to be happier in the long-run than those with lower expectations, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research. “Safe bets, generally speaking, are less valuable ones,” says one expert in the article.

3. Are Employee Turnover Rates Bogus?

If your organization brags about its low turnover rate – or if you’re a foundation that uses turnover as a data point – we urge you to consider that turnover rates can be really misleading. As Andy Porter writes in this article, low turnover can indicate an overly comfortable culture that doesn’t push employees to excel and/or managers who don’t replace low performers. You want to retain the right people, but you don’t want retention for retention’s sake.

4. Improve Two-Way Feedback

If you’d like to ensure that you and your staff members talk more frequently about how things are going in your work, try out our 2×2 feedback form. You and your staff member will each fill out two things the staffer is doing well and two things she could do better – as well as two things you’re doing well and two things that could be better in your work with her.  For the staff member, the focus is on her performance overall; for you, the focus is on your work with her.  You could build a monthly meeting around this form, or incorporate it into your check-ins periodically.

5. How to Hold Meetings that Don’t Suck

There’s a good chance that your meetings suck, writes our friend Alison Green. She recommends a slew of tactics to clean them up, including what to ask yourself before you schedule a meeting, what to do when an item comes up that’s not on the agenda, why you should never use group meetings as a substitute for individual check-ins, and more.

6. Show Us Your Most Engaging Job Postings

If you’re like us, you often see job postings that are filled with “bureaucratese” that takes the life out of the role. If you have an example of a job posting (your own or one you spotted somewhere else) that inspires rather than putting candidates to sleep, we’d love to see it!  (Here’s one we spotted recently and loved.)


Our friend Mario Morino and his colleagues at Venture Philanthropy Partners have made their new book, Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity, available for free. As Ken Berger writes on the Charity Navigator blog, the book is “a great starting point for understanding the importance of nonprofits managing to outcomes.”

I hope these resources are helpful. We’ll be back next month, when the Management Fix enters its terrible twos!


Jerry Hauser
The Management Center

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