If annual marketing plans and budgets was dessert, it’s Rice Krispy Treats. Thousands of rice puffs delightful glued by marshmallow fluff are comparable to a marketing plan’s countless parts cemented by delicious goo (coherent strategy) serving crowd-pleasing sugar coma when expertly assembled. Sweet! Further, marshmallow melting technique, like sustainable business tactics, requires low steady heat to deliver lip-smacking results, while rushing over blazing flame spells misfortune.

Place your bets. Someone will lose his/her mind during budget season; perhaps it was you this past year? Large-scale projects ambush us for several reasons.

• We procrastinate trying to throw a behemoth document together higgledy-piggledy hoping Executives either can’t read or won’t notice recycled material.
• Deceptively simple templates lull us into confidence thus we underestimate effort required for coherent assumptions and thoughtful analysis not to mention deft internal selling. Stale tactics betray confidence and sub-par presentations go disregarded, along with your professional opinion thereafter.
• Conniption fits, a form of entitled pouting, erupt when managers feel challenged on merits of Swiss cheese solutions slapped together in eleventh-hour resignation. Righteous indignation is fun but stops learning in its tracks.

Come on down! Let’s estimate the retail price of annual performance reviews. Whoever is the closest to the actual retail price, without going over, wins the Spice is Right cake.

Spice Cake

Innovative companies such as McKinsey replaced annual evaluations with quarterly coaching assessments to better serve beginner and intermediate level associates as well as alleviate time-consuming and therefore expensive practices. In my experience, annual assessments are dreaded routine for management with outdated methods robbing employees of authentic feedback and organizations of improvements. While a harsh critique, an overhaul of traditional performance reviews is long overdue as well as an honest look the silent intimidation keeping an ineffectual tradition in place.

What is more comforting than chocolate cake? Three different types of chocolate cake from Cake Monkey Bakery. Mini malted chocolate, salted caramel and raspberry red velvet cake accompany a cautionary tale about too much of a good thing.

Chocolate Cakes

A True-ish Story

Once upon a time, a young bird called Russell, The Crow, would not fly. Russell, The Crow annoyed everyone. He squawked incessantly creating a terrible ruckus refusing to fly, get his own food or listen to advice. The other crows in the neighborhood shouted and pleaded for Russell, The Crow to fly. They flapped their wings demonstrating lift-off technique, but he said, “No, thanks. I’ll stay here.” And Russell, The Crow stayed on the ground for a few days until the neighbor’s cat ate him for lunch.

The End.

Our professional comfort zone is a misnomer in my experience. This phase symbolizes the antithesis of ease and moreover, a concealed impediment to progress and possible danger to our professional reputations. Refusal to leave the familiar territory of an outgrown position summons multitudes of unexpected challenges to our attitude impeding progress and promotion. Ultimately, we end up simmering in discontent, toying with concocted drama, a real threat to our respectability instead of forging ahead to the unknown.

Snickers Pie is the personification of greatness, in whipped cheesecake form, nestled in Oreo cookie crust and topped with slices of the famed candy bar. Excellence is a matter of taste, which is why we are exploring the dark side of disparate and sometimes dueling definitions of virtue. P.S. Devour Magnolia Bakery’s rendition of this pie in private to avoid awkward public display of sugar affection.

Snickers PieWhat is excellence? The quality of being outstanding or extremely good, further excellence is a continuously moving target that can be pursued through integrous action, being frontrunner in terms of products / services provided, meeting obligations, continually learning and improving in each sphere to pursue moving targets.

Evaluating excellence is a managerial nightmare for the well meaning but uninstructed. Mercurial interpretations become landmines of misunderstanding, the antecedent to costly turnover. Peddlers of excellence doctrine may unwittingly demotivate their teams when evaluation of work is confused for opinion of worth, the dark side of self-confidence politely overlooked as a non-work issue. While separating work from worth is every employee’s responsibility, employers supporting awareness will have an advantage with retention having less miscommunication to resolve.

Why are extra-credit projects being treated as requirement? Let’s locate missing brownie points while enjoying a hard-working chocolate treat and ponder how to keep discretionary efforts from being discounted, mislabeled and under-appreciated ever again.

Brownies

With the ubiquity of work-like-an-owner slogans, companies appear desperate for donated work, but can they manage those gifts when received? Discretionary effort, over-and-above job requirements generously gifted, is dangerous territory becoming potential demotivation without transparent expectations and rewards. Further, programs become disastrous without tools for assessing ebb and flow of discretionary efforts as employee’s interest in extra assignments vacillates. If premature turnover of A+ performers is a pattern, mismanagement of elective contribution may be a culprit.

These caramels are for you, Lilly Ledbetter.

An article published in a respected business journal reports women are less likely to interview for executive positions if rejected previously, which launched a firestorm of internal dialogue still irking me weeks later. While men also become more hesitant to try again, this study concludes women are more impacted because of fairness issues, having faced covert bias they are more doubtful about trying again. Admittedly, my reactions vacillated between furry and defeat yet finally landed on steadfast resilience, a renewed sense of confidence we are on the cusp of shattering age-old gender biases holding corporations back from reaching their highest potential.

Tart

Consider influencers in your professional circle, formal and informal, providing lessons on topics from technical know-how to discernment required for finessing sensitive conversation. Whether consciously recognized or not, teachers are everywhere, some hidden in agonizing lessons ultimately growing into deep-rooted wisdom while others super bosses, furthering expert insight, facilitating our promotion and recognition. Although no journey resistance free, time spent in discomfort is partially within our control based upon how promptly one asks for help when faced with dilemma.

I’m going to make him a cookie he can’t refuse, enter biscotti al cioccolato with espresso, a treat and story with Godfatherly snap out of it, or else advice. 

Weatherman Syndrome, fictional disorder poking fun at an annoying behavior rampant among management of stating the painfully obvious as noteworthy contribution while exonerating themselves from problem resolution. Similar to real Weathermen having no responsibility beyond warnings for impending downpour, their only requirement to look sharp while reporting the forecast, in the same fashion, management loaded with trite instruction, leaves us wondering where to find solutions after wasting countless hours talking in circles. Beam me up, Biscotti! There is no intelligent life form in this meeting.

BREAKING NEWS: Director of Sales implodes in furry after mind-numbing regurgitation of problems with nary a solution in sight.

Cinna-MAN-buns inspired today’s professional attire topic. In an era of hyper personalization, traditional dress code inadequately keeps pace with evolving trends challenging everyone’s patience around compliance. Something’s gotta give.   

Are you wearing that to work? Balancing outdated protocol with current trends aggravates organizations lacking flexibility, consequently guideline amendments resemble defeated acquiescence. (Case in point, tattoos) An equal opportunity fashion culture, proactively administered and updated often, is praiseworthy management in action. Gone are the days of stodgy work uniforms but not all traditional policies shall perish. Instead, recalibration is in order ensuring organizations attract top talent now and in the future.

Cinnamon Rolls

Bran is the perfect ingredient for this story because we need movement. Our lesson includes poop or get off the pot wisdom mixed with practical advice about how to be less annoying while preparing for the big promotion. White chocolate amaretto cream rescues these muffins because bran is as tasteless as the imaginary story of what is holding us back from actualizing our dreams.

You’re going nowhere fast. Everyone aspires recognition, rapid promotions plus maxed-out bonus dividends, but if your personal fast track resembles an unrelenting traffic circle, a pause for self-reflection is in order. Reflection does not imply commiserating with sympathizers nor blaming others for frustrating circumstances; rather, let’s review the genuine state of affairs. The goal, direct access to the freeway and putting that roundabout in the rearview for good as you zoom off to the next chapter of your career.

Let’s begin with a couple questions about the final destination.

Are We There Yet?