FWE Leaders Lounge featuring Martha Piper

Martha Piper, FWE Leaders Lounge

Photo credit: Alice Matheison, Life & Times Productions

Crystal and Heidi attended the FWE Leaders Lounge featuring Martha Piper on Tuesday April 21.  The event was hosted by the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs at Hawksworth Restaurant.

Martha Piper is an established education advocate and inspirational leader. As UBC’s first female President, she succeeded in establishing the university as an international leader in education, community involvement and research. The recipient of numerous honourary degrees and a Board Member of several organizations, Dr. Piper continues to be a leader while encouraging women to achieve their success.

As with previous Leaders Lounge events we’ve attended, we left feeling energized, inspired, and entertained.

Our takeaways from Martha Piper were many, but her wrap-up words of advice will last far beyond this experience:  1) Always carry jumper cables, 2) Put on lipstick at the table if you want to (because if it’s ok for the Queen, it’s ok for you!), and 3) Spend as much as you possibly can on great sheets.  More than simple lifestyle tips, these stories represent values we share:  making yourself available to help others, acting with confidence, and treating yourself to a good night’s rest so you can wake up each day ready do your best work.


Creating a Simple Assessment Form


Is it time to have a conversation about performance with your team? Are you feeling overwhelmed and unprepared? We’d like to help, as promised, by giving you some tips for creating a simple form that can act as an anchor for this type of conversation, whether it is annual, post-project, quarterly, or weekly. This form can be used as an employee self-assessment or a manager review, in either a formal meeting or an informal 1:1.

Conversations about performance can be powerful but they don’t have to be complicated. What matters most is creating a fair process for open and productive communication between managers and employees, agreeing to goals and actions, and capturing the results. Employees want to know what is expected of them, how they are doing, and what they need to do to be successful. Using a simple written form for discussing and measuring performance keeps things clear and fair, and when you’re done, everything is already written down so it can be referred to later.

Start with something small, then gauge your results. This may be a new or untried process for you. It can evolve over time, and you can course-correct or add to it next year.

For now, try creating a simple form with the employee’s name, reviewer’s name, the date, and the three sections detailed here:

1. Assessment of job skills + responsibilities.

This section of the form can be as simple as a list of key skills and responsibilities with a ratings scale and space to add comments.

To create a small list of the skills and responsibilities you want to measure, it might help to take elements from the employee’s job description as a starting point. Responsibilities evolve over time, however, so don’t be afraid to use a list that reflects real tasks. For now, pick a handful of these that are important to your business. Assess whether or not your employee is performing these well, within schedule and scope, and to a high degree of quality.

You can design the ratings to fit your culture, but if you’re stuck, “Above Expectations, Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations,” or using a scale of 1-3 or 1-5 are all pretty common. The important thing is to make sure everyone understands what the scale means and uses it in the same way.

Comments are important, because they add context and explanation beyond a rating. Why does the employee or their manager see things this way? What are they looking for? What’s missing? Were sales targets or deadlines met? Were resources used properly? Was the company’s business advanced in some way? Is the employee challenged or bored? Do they feel inspired to do their best, or are they buried under meaningless tasks and a lack of clear direction? In other words, what are they responsible for, are they living up to expectations, and do they have what they need to do great work?

2. Assessment of fit.

How an employee performs their work is often as important as the work itself. Just like the section for job skills, this part of the form can be a list of a few values or soft skills/qualities, your ratings scale, and space for comments.

To create this list, think about the qualities you are looking for in your workplace. If you don’t know, consider your “leaders by example” and try to articulate what makes them a great addition to your business. Doing this will likely give you a list of qualities you want to measure and encourage in everyone, in categories such as communication, leadership, teamwork, customer satisfaction, professionalism, and the ability to build relationships.

Measuring and assessing behaviour can make it clear to your employees what matters to you. Why does this matter? Think about a time when you worked with an incredibly bright and productive team member who hit all of their deadlines and produced high quality work, but they were disruptive and arrogant in meetings, hostile to coworkers, came in late every day, and didn’t listen to anyone else’s ideas. Were they in a job category where this mattered? If so, it’s important to bring this up, ask questions, and, if possible, correct behaviour. It’s also critical to encourage great, healthy, positive behaviour if that matters to your team and your business.

3. Goal-setting.

Goals look to the future. They can cover areas such as training, support, overall performance, or the desire for increased job scope or responsibility. A simple way to capture this for discussion is to create a blank section with a question or two, such as “What are 1 or 2 areas you want to improve in, and why?” and ‘What can the company do to support this?”

As with any system, its purpose, as well as the guts of it and how you train your staff to use it, are important. If you and your employee use this form as a starting point, then meet to compare and discuss the results, you will have the ingredients for an effective conversation.

Need more help? Please get in touch with us at hello(at)projecthouse(dot)ca.

Happy Easter and Passover!