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 In my experience, annual assessments are dreaded routine for management with outdated methods robbing employees of authentic feedback and organizations of improvements.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.

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?

You have worked hard to earn your current position, having scratched and clawed your way up to the bottom of the middle. You are important-ish. Just look at your inbox overflowing with…well, unorganized stuff. Today we are exploring our email communication style while we enjoy a chocolate treat that has been aptly named an InBox Cake in honor of the nostalgic box cake with pudding in the mix, of course.

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Your email inbox is out of control. It seems that everyone, regardless of position, is receiving hundreds of emails a day. What is all the excessive communication really about? You are likely being cc’d to oblivion, drowning in mind-numbing minutiae and perhaps participating in a few inefficient habits yourself. This is an exit strategy to escape the dark abyss that is currently your inbox.