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Many years ago, I regularly met up with a group of friends at a local breakfast joint for coffee. It was a bonding ritual for our bunch of diverse, young, high-achieving business types to relax and debrief. Whoever was in town would show up at our usual table, where we would discuss our successes and failures, new interests and heartbreaks. We offered advice, stories and, most of all, a safe place to be with a like-minded group of professionals. We bonded over earthy, soothing and fragrant coffee that smelled like chocolate and promise.
As much as I enjoyed it, our meetup for coffee was wrecking the one day of the week I had to catch up on my personal to-do list. The coffee caused me to speed up momentarily but crash later, leaving me with little energy to do much of anything. My stomach churned and my nerves were on edge.
While this time was sacred to me, I had to reevaluate the coffee meetup to get back on track in my personal life. I realized I had to stop drinking coffee to maintain my energy and keep me at my best. The gathering was not about coffee anyway; it was about camaraderie and mutual support.
This is an example of how evaluation serves a critical role in even the simplest parts of our lives. As leaders, evaluation should be a major player in everything you do. Now at the beginning of the year, it is strategic to do an assessment of your organization’s, and your own, leadership skills, effectiveness and style. When you have a full overview of the assets and opportunities for growth for you and your organization, you will be able to lead with clarity, confidence and commitment.
There are a few steps to accessing the data for you to be more effective and aligned with your goals. Take some time to review each point listed below. Ask the questions, collate the answers and use them to advise both your strategic planning and your professional and personal development.
1. Are your goals helping you achieve your mission? Before any goal is adopted, it should align with the organization’s mission and purpose. Review your goals—what purpose do they serve in accomplishing the mission for you or the organization? If it is a personal goal, have you determined your life purpose, and will this goal align with accomplishing it? Determine first the goal’s coherence with the overall mission before proceeding.
2. Are your organizational goals clear, well-communicated and actionable? Are all relevant parties aware, coordinated and bought into the goals? Are the goals structured so that people know how they relate to their work and how it contributes to the mission?
3. Have you surveyed and gathered input from all pertinent sources, internal and external? In any evaluation, it is important to seek feedback from everyone involved. Each group or individual may have a different perspective, and with the full picture, you can proceed with confidence. Make these assessments a regular process.
4. Establish an honest evaluation of the culture, systems and operations of the organization and your leadership. Evaluations are only as good as the accuracy of the data. Ensure that the survey/analysis is done with confidentiality and as minimal bias as possible. If this is your personal evaluation, exercise the same caution and care in the exercise.
5. How are you applying what you learned to improve your leadership style, strategy and relationships? The actual applied use of the data to improve soft skills and practical operation is how the gathered information becomes meaningful. This is crucial to not only the organization’s success but also for ongoing credibility, morale and ability to conduct further evaluations. This same concept applies if this is your personal evaluation, you will only be encouraged to make evaluations a routine procedure if you experience results from previous ones.
6. Upon review of the evaluation, are you comfortable and happy with where you are and where you are going? One key benefit of an evaluation is that you are able to assess your current career and life path. Use this valuable exercise to reappraise what the process showed you. Do you need to adjust your strategy and/or course? Your personal leadership style? Do you need additional training?
Stepping back to do an overall analysis is very helpful in clarifying the assumptions, basis of operation and the direction. A clear understanding of the many facets of the business, culture, strategic, financial, marketing, sales, operations, personnel, and customer and community relations will empower and guide everyone involved to work in alignment and harmony enthusiastically.
With proper evaluation, planning and application of what you’ve learned, you will grow as a leader to better lead the team and your organization to greater success with improved morale and positive community impact.