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 In my experience, annual assessments are dreaded routine for management with outdated methods robbing employees of authentic feedback and organizations of improvements.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

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.

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.

Dark chocolate caramels are delicious confection satisfying youthful taste buds while fleur de sel sprinkles offer old salty dogs something to savor, a perfect candy to bridge the generations. This story may not be easy to digest but I’m sharing as preemptive strike against hoopla for Gen Z as we have suffered enough with Millennial myths.

Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel

Dear Senior Team Members and Industry Veterans:

Many moons ago during our freshman professional chapters, we were royal pains in the rear end but were delightfully unaware because ignorance is bliss. Without question, we vexed supervisors with no perception of how blindingly irritating our actions, the Millennial group in your organization comparably oblivious. In my experience, current rookies differ from earlier generations only by social media prowess, but Boomers are hijacking social channels with alarming proficiency, our youth have nothing to call their own. While the struggle to manage amateurs is real, our present novices are no more or less inept than previous generations furthermore it’s a waste of time to fuss over imaginary differences. The jig is up; Millennials are just like everyone else.

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.

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?

For all the Antony and Cleopatra’s, this story celebrates the end of our trip down DeNial so you may find your true inner pharaoh and avoid being bitten for ineffective leadership. Cleopatra’s pound cake is filled with a chocolate r-asp-berry filling. 

Vanilla Pound Cake

Be it known that we, the greatest, are misthought ~ Cleopatra

Perhaps in our case however, we are not exactly the greatest yet and could use a bit of leadership coaching to elevate our game. An inconvenient truth is that we often enable sub-par performance by managing ineffectively. While everyone would wholeheartedly agree in theory, many leaders are in denial regarding their own management short-comings and assign blame to a variety of scenarios and subjects. Believing I was protecting my team, I was once overly meddlesome impeding progress out of fear of failure. Of course, this only hastened the outcome that I was so diligently attempting to avoid. If you are struggling with leading your team, then you may be overdue for the valuable lesson of getting out of the way.

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.

img_7320

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.

Today we are exploring dysfunctional team dynamics, while we sip chocolate cake in liquid form. A hot chocolate detox of barely pourable bittersweet ganache with a gigantic marshmallow is in order because the team isn’t getting oolong. Don’t let the marshmallows fool you; this is no lightweight Swiss Miss story. 

Fancy Hot Chocolate
Chocolate Cake Hot Cocoa

Let’s start with a gut check. Please say the names of each member of your team mentally and calculate how much success you hope they have. As much as you want for yourself? Hmmm… How are you feeling about your boss? We probably all have a wee bit of cleaning to do while some teams may require hazmat level intervention due to the toxicity levels of unchecked dysfunction and outright extinction of team cooperation.