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Why You Should Hate Annual Reviews (and How to Fix 'Em)

Why You Should Hate Annual Reviews (and How to Fix 'Em)

February 21, 2016

Most people don't like meetings. They find them difficult to do and loaded with negative anticipation. Managers feel pressured to give raises or deliver the bad news that nothing new is coming. 


I bet that if you'd take a poll, you'd find that whatever their reason is, most people don't like meetings, of all shapes and sizes. In fact, they really don't like meetings.


Except for me. I love meetings.


In fact, I think every company should have more meetings. Wait. Did I really just say that?


Here's why:


Guess how long it takes Japanese car makers to make a car vs. Europeans. Really. Go ahead and guess how long. The answer will surprise you.


Before I tell you, let's consider one more important factor. How many mistakes do they make per car? Why is this so important? Its easy to do something fast if you make lots of mistakes.


What if you could do twice as much, in half the time and make a better product?


Ok. Here's the answer. It takes the Japanese 16.8 hours to build a car, and it takes the Europeans 57 hours! That’s almost three times as long.


But here's the kicker. The Japanese cars only have 34 defects while the Europeans have 78.7.


What is going on?


European cars like Bmw, Merceds, and Audis are not junky cars. Why does it take them nearly three times as long with more than twice as many defects? That means that it takes them longer to fix the mistakes they made than it takes Toyota to build an entirely new car!


The answer to this question is the same reason why some company grow quickly and others stagnate. It's why some meetings are alive and vital and others are dreaded and boring.


James Womak answers this question at length in his book, The machine that changed the world.


In short, we call this process “Fast Feedback”.


Here's the deal. When Toyota builds a car, at any point during the assembly, any worker is empowered to press the magic button and shut down the entire assembly line and halt production if an issue arises.


Then what happens?


Does everyone blame that guy and get upset with him? No. All of the workers stop what they're doing, swarm to the site of the issue, and fix the problem. Immediately.


Contrast that to when the Europeans build a car. They assemble the entire car, then the “quality control guys” in white lab coats meticulously inspect the car to make sure it's built the "BMW way".  That's when they fix any issues that came up during production.


By waiting to fix the issues, BMW ends up with a car with double the amount of defects and a 3 times longer production time.


This is the power of fast feedback loops and why lots of meetings are so important if you are a growing company. But they must be the right type of meetings.  


*Get the 9 ways to cure a meeting from hell HERE.*


Let me give you another wild example.


Do you know how long a NASA rocket is actually on course?

The answer is only 3% of the time. That means that 97% of the time it's slightly off course!


So how does it make it there?


With minor adjustments all along the way. There's a constant "dialogue" between the rocket and its internal navigation telling the rocket to make small adjustments to its course.


If not for the constant, fast feedback loops, the rocket would never make it to its destination.


That's why I love meetings and think you should have more of them.


When you keep a fast, open feedback loops in a safe environment everyone stays moving and moving in the right direction. I've seen it with my team and with dozens of others that I've worked with. We have a daily check in that’s only 15 minutes. I call in from wherever I am in the world just to make the meeting. It’s that important.


*To get a complimentary, 15 minute quick-start to revamp your meetings, CLICK HERE.*

It will only be 15 minutes. It will be incisive and productive. That’s our commitment.


Here are 3 practical steps to making your meetings effective:


1. Fast

Productive doesn't mean busy. Keep your meetings short and you'll be amazed at what you and your team can accomplish in perhaps half the time.


Parkinson's Law states that work will fill the amount of time allotted to complete it. If you only have 15 minutes to complete a project you'll finish it in 15 minutes, whereas if you had an hour, that same project expand to take a full hour.  You and your team will be less resistant to these meetings if you know that it starts, ends on time and is only 15 minutes long.


2. Frequent

You should hate annual meetings because they're not frequent enough. Annual meetings have a place, but their role is not to provide the quick feedback that's necessary to keep a business on track. After you master daily, monthly and quarterly meetings, integrate annual meetings into your team's schedule.


If you only share insights and plan strategically once a year you're doomed. Part of the magic of frequent meetings is the immediate problem solving it enables. When you tackle issues as they come up, you not only solve them quicker, but improve your process for the future. Frequent meetings increase a sense of urgency, ownership, and accountability.


It's worked with Toyota, it's how rockets get to outer space. Give it a shot.


3. Engaging

Good meetings prevent one person rambling on too long, because they're focused and aligned to the bigger purpose of “why” we are doing what we are doing.


Make sure everyone participates in the meeting. It will foster a team environment and encourage a cross-pollination of ideas.


*To get a complimentary, 15 minute quick-start to revamp your meetings, CLICK HERE.*

It will only be 15 minutes. It will be incisive and productive. That’s our commitment.


Taking you from where you are to where you want to be,

Jon Goldman