If Your Boss Thinks You’re Awesome, You Will Become More Awesome

(C) https://hbr.org/2015/01/if-your-boss-thinks-youre-awesome-you-will-become-more-awesome


If your boss thinks you’re awesome, will that make you more awesome?  This question came to us recently, when we were working with the top three levels of management in a multinational.  When asked to rate their direct reports on 360 evaluations, some managers consistently rated everyone higher, and others consistently lower, than the average. We wondered if this was a result of bias, and what effect it had on the people who worked for them.

To understand this better we looked at a larger set of 360 data to identify 50 of the company’s managers who rated their direct reports significantly more positively than everyone else on a five-point scale (that is, they gave a higher percentage of their subordinates top marks than their colleagues did, skewing the curve to the right, as in Lake Woebegone, where everyone is above average). We also identified 31 managers who consistently rated their direct reports significantly lower than their colleagues, skewing their curves to the left.

The difference is stark: Only 18.4% of the people working for the “positive-rating” managers, or the easy graders, were judged as merely “competent” (that is, just average) compared with fully 51.4% of those working for the “negative-rating” managers, clearly the harder graders. While neither group judged even 1% of their workers as truly problematic and in need of significant improvement, almost 14% of those working for the negative-rating managers were judged to need some improvement compared with only 3% of those working for the positive-rating bosses.


It’s hard to parse the meaning of these data. Are the positive-rating managers indulging in grade inflation? Do the lower ratings actually represent a more objective and deserved analysis of a subordinate’s performance? (After all, it does follow the standard bell curve.) Or perhaps the ratings are in some way self-fulfilling, and the leaders who see the best in their people actually make them better, while those who look more critically make their subordinates worse.

We favor that second interpretation, since whether deserved or not, the psychological effect of these ratings was dramatic. Anyone who joined us in the discussions with the subordinates of these two sets of managers would have instantly seen the impact. The people who’d received more positive ratings felt lifted up and supported. And that vote of confidence made them more optimistic about future improvement.  Conversely, subordinates rated by the consistently tougher managers were confused or discouraged—often both. They felt they were not valued or trusted, and that it was impossible to succeed.

These feelings directly translated into higher or lower levels of engagement: engagement scores for those working under the negative raters averaged in the 47th percentile, whereas scores for those reporting to the positive raters averaged in the 60th percentile.  This difference is statistically significant.

It’s possible that the negative-rating managers simply had more than their share of less-engaged employees, but we believe the far more likely explanation is that everyone’s engagement levels started out roughly the same and that widely different daily interactions, culminating in extremely divergent performance reviews, had a strong impact on engagement levels.

This is a particularly alarming possibility when you consider the seemingly reasonable motives of those who gave consistently lower ratings. We frequently heard them say something like, “I want my people to get the message that I have high expectations.”  Those who gave high marks to their people also had high expectations, but they were more focused on sending the message that they had confidence in their people. They truly felt that they had selected the best people for those positions, and they expected them to succeed.

And did they?  To see, we looked at the overall leadership ratings the two groups’ 360 evaluations. We were not surprised, by now, to see that the bosses who rated everyone lower on their performance also rated them lower on their leadership abilities, while the bosses who gave the highest marks to their teams in general gave high marks on leadership as well. The degree of difference was startling, though—with leadership ratings averaging only in the 19th percentile for the low raters and 76% for the high raters.

And the thing is, the peers, subordinates, and other associates also rated the leadership skills of the employees working for the low-rating managers lower than those working for the high raters. The gap was not nearly as great, as you can see in the chart below, but it was consistent and significant.

ifyourbossthinks v2

The fact that the ratings given by both the low- and high-rating managers were so different from the ratings given by others suggests that both sets of managers are biased (or that managers trying to force rank their staffs are judging them unfairly). And it also shows that these biases and rankings have become self-fulfilling, influencing subordinates’ behavior to the extent that others ultimately can see it.

If this is so, these tough graders aren’t doing the organization any favors. There’s an interesting study that is related to this issue called “Predicting non-marital romantic relationship dissolution: A meta-analytic synthesis.”  This was a meta-analysis of 137 studies collected over 33 years with 37,761 participants.  These studies were looking at factors that cause non-married couples to break up or stay together.  The number one factor that kept people together was something they called “positive illusion” – essentially that the person you’re dating thinks you’re awesome.

Is it possible, then, that if a boss thinks you’re awesome you will become more awesome? On a personal level, it’s hard to dismiss. We’ve spoken with hundreds of leaders whose bosses thought they were awesome, we know the impact is real.



Kyiv Employer Branding & Engagement Forum 2014

27-28 листопада 2014 року відбувся надзвичайно надихаючий форум – Kyiv Employer Branding & Engagement Forum 2014. Організатор PRP. Співорганізаторами були Mondelez Ukraina.

Отримала заряд енергії, емоцій, мішок різних думок, натхнення для роботи, для making changes and making diffrence… Дуже багато цікавих людей і цікавих розмов. А головне – мільйони ідей. Форум відбувався в Музеї Духовних Скарбів України, що вже само собою створювало своєрідну атмосферу. Падав сніг, з вікон було видно засніжений прекрасний Київ, а всередені були представлені виставки робіт Лілії Тептяєвої та Марії Примаченко, а також відео-інсталяція “Ілюзія присутності”, присвячена Майдану. Справді особливий був дух у цього форуму. Думаю, що всі, хто там був, це відчули.

Оксана Семенюк, як завжди надихала. Вкотре переконуюся, що працюю в одній з найкращих і небайдужих організацій #ILoveMyJob. Гості з Ізраїлю ділилися досвідом, як жити далі, працювати продуктивно, і не втрачати надію в умовах війни. Олег Покальчук без прикрас вказав нам, як суспільству, діагноз – пост травматичний синдром. Кожен за цей рік пережив або особисту трагедію, або співчував оточуючим. Я й сама досі не можу без сліз, ба навіть ридання, дивитися кадри і хроніки з Майдану, АТО… Дмитро Шимків ще не втратив надію змінити щось на краще на держслужбі. You have our support! Павло Шеремета ділився цікавими спогадами. Владислав Рашкован закликав усіх працювати в НБУ, KUDOD, by the way, за оригінальний підхід в рекрутингу :). Якби не мала такої шикарної роботи, їй-Бо, подалась би в НБУ :). Ірена Карпа та Павло Гудімов дискутували з Оксаною Семенюк та Наталією Попович про культуру, культурну політику та корпоративну культуру. І ще було багато-багато цікавих людей, обговорень і доповідей… Згадую щоразу, і знову надихаюсь.

Думаю натхнення вистачить до KEBEF 2015, з нетерпінням його чекатиму наступного року!

Вітаю всіх з Різдвом Христовим, хто святкує його сьогодні! А всім іншим – веселих прийдешніх свят, натхнення та МИРУ нам всім!

WSS_2657WSS_2682   KOR_8359KOR_8070

Burning Man

(с) Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

Burning Man is an annual weeklong
event of self-expression and self-reliance held in Black
Rock Desert, Nevada, regularly attended by more than
40,000 people. Burning Man started in 1986 on Baker Beach
in San Francisco, when a small crowd designed, built, and
eventually set fire to an eight-foot wooden statue of a man
and a smaller wooden dog. Since then the size of the man being
burned and the number of people who attend the festivities
has grown considerably, and the event is now one of the
largest art festivals, and an ongoing experiment in temporary
Burning Man has many extraordinary aspects, but for me
one of the most remarkable is its rejection of market norms.
Money is not accepted at Burning Man. Rather, the whole
place works as a gift exchange economy—you give things to
other people, with the understanding that they will give
something back to you (or to someone else) at some point in
the future. Thus, people who can cook might fix a meal. Psychologists
offer free counseling sessions. Masseuses massage
those lying on tables before them. Those who have water offer
showers. People give away drinks, homemade jewelry,
and hugs. (I made some puzzles at the hobby shop at MIT,
and gave them to people. Mostly, people enjoyed trying to
solve them.)

Change, Change Management

Interesting article on Change Management by 

“Change, Change Management”

(c) https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140508205044-21398219-change-change-management?goback=%2Elit_*1_*1&trk=vsrp_influencer_content_res_name&trkInfo=VSRPsearchId%3A86211991400479657216%2CVSRPtargetId%3A5870268644398759936%2CVSRPcmpt%3Aprimary

There is an old adage: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I’m confident most companies experiencing organizational change strategized a grand plan of growth and success. They took the time to gather the big brains to discuss profit/loss, opportunity, and how to move the company forward. So why do so many companies still experience headaches over change management? Why isn’t everyone in the company jumping for joy and thankful for all the hard work and sleepless nights by the executive team?

It’s not due to lack of planning. It’s possible the planning team left out one essential big brain — communications. When employees can’t see the “planning,” they aren’t able to acclimate and as a result, they tend to feel helpless. Think about it. When you feel helpless, your instinct is to be cautious, protect yourself, and in some cases remove yourself from the situation.

Work with your communications’ team to focus efforts on your internal communications before, during and after organizational change. Employees need to understand “why” change is occurring and “what” is expected of them after the change.

A study(1) of over 1500 public and privately held business who experienced performance transitions, were asked to rate the outcome of the transition on a scale ranging from completely successful to completely unsuccessful. They were also asked to rate the mood in the organization during the change transformation.

The top 4 moods for “Completely Unsuccessful” organizational change were:

  • 51% Anxiety
  • 43% Confusion
  • 44% Frustration
  • 34% Fatigue

The top 4 moods for “Completely Successful” organizational change were:

  • 44% Anxiety
  • 55% Sense of Focus
  • 51% Enthusiasm
  • 47% Feeling of momentum

When Organizational Change Fails
There are two sides to every change and each one needs to be addressed: rational and emotional.

  • Rational is usually visible, it’s what you know and what you do, your knowledge and skills.
  • Emotional is usually invisible or not deliberately conveyed, it’s how you feel, how you are motivated.

Change is personal, even in an organizational context. The emotional components of change must be addressed if you ultimately want to motivate your team. Studies reveal the emotions to drastic change follow a similar cycle as does the emotions to death.(2) When reality sets in, executive teams are often puzzled by the emotional responses to the change and disappointed by the delays in acceptance and drops in performance.




Change, Change Management

When emotional levels are driven into chaos due to change, the worst solution is a complex one. Resist the urge to set up enormous plans and complex methods, keep communications simple and clear. Understand, when people are no longer able to change a situation, they are challenged to change themselves. Most are not ready for that challenge.

Create an internal communications plan that will help your employees adapt and find a way to plant themselves in this new landscape.
A few considerations:

  • Account for the time it takes to adapt to change
  • Be prepared for a drop in performance during the cycle of change
  • Open direct lines of communication to the executive team
  • Reinforce your brand promise, what employees can expect from the company and what the company expects from them
  • Reinforce what is the “same,” help employees appreciate what they have today
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the changes (good or bad), if you avoid these conversations all you’re doing is promoting toxic water-cooler conversations
  • Clearly state what is different and what the vision for the future holds

For more change management goodness, reach me at susan@rmagency.com. Also, read Greg Norton’s blog series on Marketing as a Culture!


About Susan
Susan Nettles has 20 years in the branding industry, and over a decade focusing on the importance of brand culture. She writes about building strong brands through the topics of employee brand alignment, creating remarkable experiences both internally and externally, and creating referral-worthy companies.

(1) Source: McKinsey&Company, 2006

(2) Source: Reply Management Consulting, 2010

7 Management Traits That Will Make All Your Employees Quit

7 Management Traits That Will Make All Your Employees Quit

(c) https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140428194310-68335342-7-management-traits-that-will-make-all-your-employees-quit?trk=tod-home-art-list-large_0

Have you ever had a REALLY bad boss? Well I have. This individual drove everybody out and the company had to close the regional office, because everyone quit or was fired. I quit after being there for just 6 months; and, only days after being recognized as the region’s top new sales professional. I couldn’t take it any longer! This job was so bad that I don’t even list it on my resume or LinkedIn profile. Nothing was done to fix the situation, even after several people complained to HR, and one individual recorded a meeting in which he was verbally assaulted and threatened. Here are some traits that my former manager exemplified that led to the shutdown of the office and the mass exodus of employees.

Micro Management

Nobody likes to be micro managed. Be a leader not a micro manager. Be someone that your employees admire and want to work hard for. Do this by leading by example with your work ethic, integrity, and by treating people with respect. Do not constantly threaten people with their job. If this is your idea of coaching your team, then you should not be in management. As the boss you should be the teacher and find ways to help people improve. Managing by fear will make your employees resent you and the company. The first chance they get they will jump ship. My old boss locked the back door, so we had to pass by his office every time we left the office so he could keep tabs on us.

Do Not Create Office Politics

This manager pitted his people against one another. He told one person one thing that someone said and then told the other person the same thing. Office politics kill morale and as the manager you should be doing things to prevent it not perpetuate it. Don’t be vindictive. Create a positive environment where people want to come to everyday.

Do Not Lie and Be Mean to Customers

I caught this individual lying to customers on more than one occasion. Additionally, in a meeting with a CFO of a local company, he was so mean and rude that she actually threw the quote across the table at him. Then she kicked us out of her office, said she would NEVER do business with us, and told us to not come back. Yes, this was the low point of my career. It was truly an out of body experience.

Keep Your Dirty Laundry at Home

My former manager was always telling us about the drama that was happening at his house between him and his wife. Imagine that, his wife didn’t like him either. It made everyone uncomfortable and resent him even more.

Don’t Gripe About Your Employees Working Hard if You Are Not Yourself

We caught him watching YouTube videos all the time in his office. Then he would take every chance he could get to tell us all how worthless we all were and that we weren’t working hard enough.

Abrasive Communication

He used to curse during meetings at employees and use public humiliation to put people down. Again, do this and your employees will quit.


Nobody likes someone that is a know it all and can do no wrong. Don’t take all the credit when things go right and then be the first to pass blame when things go wrong.

Have you ever had that pit in your stomach develop on Sunday just from the thought that Monday is only a day away; and, you know you have to go back to work? Well, I am glad I don’t have it anymore! That place is my rear view mirror. If your manager exemplifies some of these traits, maybe just anonymously drop a copy of this article on his or her desk.

6 Classic Rules of Engagement for Engaging Passive Candidates via Social Media

  1. First and foremost, think like the passive job candidate. Put yourself in the passive candidates’ shoes to understand how they use each social media channel. Begin by surveying your internal talent pool to understand how members use social media so you can gain specific insight into what’s important to them professionally as well as personally. When communicating information about job opportunities, highlight your employer brand by featuring, for instance, your own employees sharing what they value about working at your organization.  Showcase the total rewards package, work/life balance, and culture of the company in your messaging.
  2. Don’t ever stalk community members. No one likes to feel like they are being “sold.” Use a light touch and don’t overwhelm candidates with information. Let them come to you through referral programs promoted by people they know and trust in their social and professional networks. Allow them to opt-out/opt-in so you know who is seriously interested in engaging with you further. Any passive candidate strategy is more about building a relationship and less about promoting and filling today’s hottest job.
  3. Always keep it fresh. Make sure you regularly deliver new content so you don’t lose the interest of community members so they keep coming back for more. One of our clients, for instance, uses social media to spread relevant, broader industry news, thereby developing a loyal community of followers that receives real value from its communications.
  4. Give back. Don’t just take information. Offer something of value back designed to attract and engage talent in a relationship with you and your company. Offer something more to your social networks than just jobs. Examples can include invitations to events, downloads of white papers, webinars, training modules, certifications, contests and rewards, insider information, and tips.
  5. Provide a unique perspective.  We’re certainly living in an age of TMI, so to make your organization stands out from others, make sure you provide a unique perspective that’s new and exciting. Avoid anything controversial, but do, for example, challenge conventional wisdom about industry trends. Work collaboratively with your marketing colleagues to sync your efforts (and leverage budgets) and share ideas about how to differentiate your employer brand in the same manner that your marketers differentiate your products and services. 
  6. Use multiple channels. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube may be the most common, but there are many additional channels and literally dozens of tools encompassing interactive content, video, chat, IM, downloads, uploads, video, and collaboration. Ensure that your platform supports these in an integrated manner and be sure they are easy for people to initiate a dialogue, especially through mobile devices. Consider investment in a social recruitment marketing platform technology solution capable of hosting large amount of data as well as the capability to track detailed ROI metrics.  Structure your CRM database to minimize duplication and also protect the security of personal data.