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Echo System Partners works with organizations to co-create workplaces that inspire high levels of employee engagement tapping into individual greatness for organizational good.

Organizations that work with Echo discover exactly how their people are the secret to their success and they build action plans to secure this competitive advantage.

Echo’s approach is collaborative. With thorough understanding of an organization's goals and success drivers, we tailor customized engagements that will yield measurable results.  We blend a wealth of experiences, research, and knowledge to create actions that will bring your strategic vision to life.

Echo's Blog

A blog that provides snapshots of key ideas that inspire organization growth. 

One idea: Focus on a basic concept. (Explore complex concepts in white papers.)

Short but Useful: Practical insights and ideas that can be quickly implemented.

Engaging: Quick and entertaining.

Thought Provoking: Generate resourceful thought.

Inspire: What works in organizations. 

Soaring Organization Spotlight: Inner Bliss Yoga Studio

Regina Loiko

A soaring organization is any workplace where employees are energized to contribute their very best (people soar) and in turn the organization is rewarded with financial growth and stability (profits soar). Research by Edward Deci and written about by Daniel Pink in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,demonstrates how autonomy, mastery, and purpose underpins soaring organizations.

Inner Bliss was selected for the first spotlight soaring organization because this yoga studio always delivers on their promise. The Promise: Inner Bliss Yoga Studio is more of a space than a place where warmth envelops you, laughter is contagious and ease prevails. 

Inner Bliss consistently presents a graceful offering and honors those who accept the offering.  This exchange is about community more than commerce.  This yoga studio’s impact can be felt within and well beyond its studio walls.  From within, bliss is found in breath fueled movement and stillness. Students experience life on the mat and carry their experiences into life off the mat. Beyond the studio the teachers and staff of Inner Bliss share their gifts in schools, at parks, at wellness centers, in bike shops, around local landmarks, and in arenas.

Inner Bliss is where I go to stay physically, spiritually, and mentally fit. I have been a grateful student and part of the of Inner Bliss community for more than a decade.

In addition to my personal experience I use Inner Bliss to bring yoga experiences to others. I recently developed a girls’ leadership program that is designed on a play-learn-play model. In this model, the girls gain experiences that help them learn how to be leaders. One way we do this is with yoga. When yoga became part of the program I knew instantly where to go to get the girls the best experience--Tammy Lyons owner of Inner Bliss Yoga Studio. When I reached out to Tammy she asked a few thoughtful questions and then shared that Sally Brooks would be perfect for this program. She was right, Sally is a perfect fit. When she arrives, the girls visibly transition into the ease that yoga brings them. She expertly guides the girls in yoga as she helps them find their voice and gain confidence.

The Inner Bliss team impresses with their excellence and engagement. Because of this I took a look at how Inner Bliss meets the elements of a soaring organization.

Inner Bliss Basics

Purpose: Create space and experiences for people to heal and grow with breath and movement

Products/Services: Yoga classes, workshop, apparel, and lifestyle items

Years in Business: 13.5

# of Employees 28

Locations: Rocky River & Westlake, Ohio

Leader Interview

In April of 2015 I talked with Tammy Lyons, owner of Inner Bliss Yoga Studio about what makes Inner Bliss soar.The Leader Interview

Q: What motivates you to make Inner Bliss soar?

A: After studying yoga and seeing the dramatic impact it had on my life I made the decision to leave my corporate job and start Inner Bliss to help others experience the benefits of yoga. At that time yoga was very new to Northeast Ohio. I was driven to offer others the opportunity to heal and grow through breath and movement. 

Q: Why do you think your organization soars, what is the secret to your success?

AThere is no secret. We live out our passion for yoga and put in lots of hard work.

Q: How does Inner Bliss overcome challenges?

A: Today yoga is a rapidly growing industry. This brings the challenge of competition but our focus is on the growing pains related to managing logistics that impact the student experience. For example space: from the parking lot, to class check-in, to a space to lay your yoga mat we were running out rapidly, this led to opening our second location in Westlake. 

Q: How do you attract and retain employees?

A: It is important to me that employees’ earnings reflect their value so compensation is above average and allows for a good quality of life. But it is the work environment that our employees appreciate most. Our employees get to work with happy people. Our students invest time and money and come to Inner Bliss joyfully. Plus the perk of free unlimited yoga classes is attractive to our employees.

Q: How do you approach leadership?

A: From the heart. I make leadership decisions based on respect--treating others as I want to be treated.

Q: What about Inner Bliss makes you most proud?

A: We feel blessed that people reach out and share with us the positive life changes they experience due to yoga at Inner Bliss. People share that they are learning and growing; that yoga is improving their lives, their health, and their relationships.

People Soar at Inner Bliss

People who soar are motivated to contribute to their employer’s success. Every day they do their best work and seek out ways to add value. This level of motivation results when employees have autonomy, mastery and purpose.  

In the spring of 2015 to explore if Inner Bliss employees do indeed have the autonomy, mastery, and purpose that allow people to soar at work they took the Echo System Partners soaring employees survey. The survey asks participants to anonymously rate their agreement with 22 statements such as:

  • I feel comfortable trying out new ideas at work.
  • If I make a mistake at work I am not afraid to own it.
  • I know what needs to happen for my organization to be successful.

The survey results illustrated in the chart below emphasize that Inner Bliss employees do soar in ways that positively contribute to the success of their organization.

Lead Like A Woman: 3 Calls to Action

Regina Loiko

What does it mean to lead like a woman?  Does it mean being a …a caregiver…pushy…soft… hard…smart…naïve…haggard…sexy?

I was reluctant to read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I perceived the book to be about how women need to lead more like men. This idea makes my skin crawl but I knew I needed to read the book to form a valid opinion. With encouragement from a few others I finally picked it up and am finding the mix of research and personal stories thought provoking. In particular the stories and data tell a compelling tale of the challenges presented to women leaders, pointing to why many women opt out of leadership.

Lean In is strengthening my stance that women should not lead like men, women should lead like women.

Employee engagement rates are beginning to tick up, ever so slightly. But the fact remains that nearly 70% of America’s workforce is not fully contributing to the success of their organization. All leaders need to keep looking beyond the command and control leadership paradigm and choose leadership styles that inspire and engage employees.

Leadership is personal. Men and women will approach it differently, how can we capitalize on the differences? Here are three calls to action to fuel leadership change and advance understanding of what it means to lead like a woman.

1.      Embrace the fact that gender does not dictate who will be a better leader. Blur the line between the genders.

2.      Encourage women to explore leadership roles and to find an effective personal leadership style.

3.      Challenge the biases that influence perceptions about women leaders. (In addition to the studies cited in Lean In the film Miss Representation demonstrates bias relevance.)

More insight on leading like a woman will support these calls to action.  What does it mean to you to lead like a woman?

For me, leading like a women means to seek first to understand then to be understood. This is Stephen Covey’s fifth habit in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I value others’ ideas and input. I am curious about how people think, what they are passionate about, and what they find discouraging. My curious nature makes it easy for me to lead by seeking to understand others but I do not find it easy to ask to be understood. When I do not feel understood I sometimes shutdown, stay quiet, and keep my ideas to myself. Or I do the opposite and try to aggressively push my ideas forward. Neither response embodies the leader I wish to be. When feeling misunderstood it is most effective to simply ask to be understood. A lesson I learned during a client engagement several years ago.

I was working on a change initiative with a group of organization stakeholders. The group was a fair representation of the organization, about 80% men and 20% women. During one session with the group I introduced a new concept and was planning to support it with background information and time for experimentation. Such progress was halted with an ambush of questions.  The majority of the group had no interest in understanding what felt foreign to them. Their response was to destroy the alien idea.  This persisted for forty minutes, until I made a bold move, I asked to be understood.

I stopped addressing the questions. I paused. When the group quieted I said, “I am feeling attacked and need to take a break. Please watch this short video while I step out for a moment.” Then I put on Derek Sivers fabulous three minute TED Talk, How to Start a Movement. All the while I was thinking this move is professional suicide. I have lost this group. We will not be able to continue. They no longer respect or trust me. Three minutes later I returned, still a bit shaken. I found the group willing to move forward. They embraced the concept, put it into practice, and achieved new levels of success. 

I was wrong about what would happen after I asked to be understood. Respect and trust was not lost, in fact some of the people in that group are my strongest advocates.  I no longer let forty minutes of positioning halt progress, once I understand I also ask to be understood.

What does it mean to lead like a woman? Several Lean In reviewers criticize that the book does not portray an accurate or complete story. Criticism without solutions is worthless. Lean In has people talking let’s flesh out more of the story. Please use the comments area to share your ideas and experiences related to effective leadership.

The I in TEAM: 3 Tips for Building Accountable Teams

Regina Loiko


Finding the ‘I’ in team will unite teams. Teams will be triumphant when every individual team member owns their personal stake in the team’s success.  

My first team was a swim team. Swimming is largely an individual sport. Your success as a swimmer rarely relies on the performance of others. You do not have to pass or catch a ball, a baton, a puck, or anything else to be successful. Yes, your teammates rely on you to win individual races to gain points, but there is little action others can take that will help or hurt your performance. To perform well in the pool I had to show up, I had to be invested in my training, no one else could do it for me.

On my high school team I was an above average swimmer. I could be counted on to do my part, to score points. I was not a superstar taking first in every race. The phrase, There is no I in Team reassured me that consistently scoring points for second or third place was enough and that I didn’t need to excel individulaly. That incremental growth, just swimming a few tenths of a second faster each week was enough to be a good teammate. I did not have to stand out, over-achieve, or grow aggressively. The no I in team sentiment comforted me, but in retrospect, that was misguided. I wonder, if I had known about the I’s in team would I have been a better swimmer…a better teammate…gone on to have more success in the sport?

In organizations there is a tendency for those who want to be good team leaders to embrace the There is no I in Team concept. They demonstrate this by saying “we”, “our” or “us” instead of “you” or “I”. Direct questions such as, “What will you do to be successful?” are avoided instead of embraced as a follow-up question to “How can we work together to be successful?” This style of leadership sends the message I received as a swimmer: as long as I show up and perform as expected I am a contributing member of the team. In excellent teams each individual strives for personal excellence and understands how their accomplishments contribute to the success of the team.  

Leaders: do you want minimal participation from your team or would you rather have inspired team members that stand out, over-achieve, and grow aggressively? If you want the latter, then embrace the I in team.  Here’s how:

1.       Ignite Importance

  • Use first names or “you” as much as possible and expect others to do the same.
  • Increase your personal use of “I”. Consider saying “I” instead of “we” or “our” when accepting responsibility for both good and bad things where you truly hold responsibility.
  • Expect every team member to meet their obligations to the team.

2.       Identify Individuality

  • Confirm that each team member knows his or her specific expectations and how he or she brings unique value to the team.
  • Expect team members to set individual goals that require stretching and an investment in personal development.
  • Do not tolerate people who refuse to be accountable.

3.       Inspire Innovation

  • Celebrate individual as well as team successes.
  • Hire people who bring new and needed ideas, skills, and experiences.
  • Avoid group-think; ask team members to contribute personally inspired thoughts and solutions.

Long after my swim team experience I became part of a team that required me to embrace the I in team. As a Boy Scouts of America employee under the fantastic leadership of John Cadwallader I did stand-out, over-achieve, and grow aggressively. The training and processes for professional Boy Scout employees instill the I in team concept.  I had specific goals for the number of members that would be in my programs, the volunteers I recruited and managed, and the money I was to raise. There were also expectations for how I conducted business and supported my colleagues. On the first Friday of every month there was a mandatory staff meeting. Each month I stood in front of my peers and leadership to report on goal progress and action plans. In these meetings my individual achievements were applauded and significant successes were awarded. If I was struggling, encouragement and help were offered. I learned how our individual achievements were supporting organization wide goals and what was needed for my team to be recognized as one of the best in the country. Our team enjoyed success year over year because we lived the power of the I in team.

Today, as I work in organizations to strengthen teams I find the reluctance to acknowledge the I in team one of the more significant causes of underperforming teams.  I encourage you to experiment with one or two the actions from the I’s in team list and watch your team become more accountable.

A Leadership Tip from Medellin, Colombia

Regina Loiko

Treat people like they are poor and they will be poor…poor in spirit, poor in performance, and poor in contributions.

Treat people like they are rich and they will be rich…rich in attitude, rich in ability, and rich in contributions.

The city of Medellin, Colombia is a living example of this leadership principle. In the 80’s and 90’s Colombia was a war zone where every day brought bombings, murder, and kidnapping. Today crime is low. Kidnapping is down 90%. In Medellin, once called the murder capital of the world, homicide is down 80%. In 2012 Time Magazine named Medellin, City of the Year.

Much of this change can be attributed to the vision of Sergio Fajadro. From 2003 to 2007 he served as Mayor of Medellin, Colombia’s second largest city. Sergio believed that the poorest areas of the city are where the grandest buildings should stand. The CBS Sunday Morning Show showcased the investments made to beautify these areas and to treat all of the city’s inhabitants as rich and valuable. The city has been rewarded with zero violence in the beautified public areas and Colombia is experiencing a surge in tourism, expecting four million tourists this year.

The leadership tip in Sergio’s vision: treat all people as rich and they will prove their value.

A rich person is valued for the contributions they are able to make. Here are the steps to help the people you lead to be rich contributors to your organization.

1.       Discover each person's richness by exploring their strengths and abilities. Talk with them about how they contribute value and can help the organization reach it goals.

2.       Set expectations that tap individual strengths and abilities in ways that are both challenging and achievable.

3.       Hold them accountable to those expectations by redirecting when necessary and congratulating when successful.

Using these steps will help the people you lead to know their value and be rich contributors to the success of your organization. Maintaining a focus on what makes people rich will create limitless value for you, your organization, and the people you lead.


Background on Sergio Fajardo and Medellin, Colombia was found on a September 2014 edition of the CBS Sunday Morning Show, an October 2010 article and a July 2007 New York Times article.

Advice for Navy SEALS that Everyone Can Easily Follow

Regina Loiko

Positive self-talk: “The most successful SEALS may not have the biggest biceps or the run fastest mile, but they know how to turn their negative thoughts around.” ~Lu Lastra, director of mentorship for Naval Special warfare and former SEAL command master chief.

Lastar recommends coming up with your own mantra to remind yourself that you have the girt and talent to preserve during tough times. 

You as a Leader: Conform or Adapt

Regina Loiko

Do you expect the people you lead to conform to your style or do you learn about them and adapt to their style?

Conform to Your Style

If you expect the people you lead to conform to your style of leadership; use these clarifying questions to refine your approach.        

  • What are the key characteristics of your style?  What should the people on your team know about your style to best meet your needs?     
  • How do you communicate your style?        
  • When you bring new people onto your team, how do you identify the people who will flourish under your leadership style?        
  • When someone does not fit your leadership style how do you identify that this is the circumstance rather than a circumstance of poor attitude or lack of skills? How do you assist people who do not fit your leadership style?

Adapt to Their Style

If you strive to adapt your leadership style to the people you lead here are some questions you can ask the people on your team to assist you in learning the leadership style that works best for them.        

  • Where do you see yourself in 18 months, 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years?
    • What personal and professional goals have you set for yourself?
    • How can I help you?
  • What is the best way for me to communicate what you are expected to achieve?
  • What is the best way for me to motivate you?
  • What are a few ways you like to be recognized for an accomplishment?
  • How should I redirect you when you are not achieving what is expected?
  •  What do you think is most important to your success in this role?
    • What skills, knowledge and abilities will you rely on?
    • What tools and resources will you use?
    • What would you like to learn?
  • How often would you like to meet to talk about your work and your goals?

For more input to refine communications on your leadership style there are many helpful tools. A quick Google Images search using the term leadership style will turn up many charts and tables that offer a variety of ideas. For more personal insight StandOut by Marcus Buckingham offers a 20 minute inexpensive ($15) assessment to help build awareness of the strengths that define your leadership style. This assessment will also help the people you lead to identify their strengths and communicate how their leader can help them to shine. 

Please share your approach - conform or adapt?

5 Employee Engagement Tips from Netflix

Regina Loiko

The January-February 2014 Harvard Business Review Article titled How Netflix Reinvented HR, highlights some thought provoking organization development ideas. Here is summary of the article’s high points and a few of our own ideas to add to your organization development knowledge bank.

Netflix talent philosophy is based on two principles.

1.    “The best thing you can do for employees: a perk better than foosball or free sushi—is hire only ‘A’ players to work alongside them.

2.    “If we wanted only ‘A’ players on our team, we had to be willing to let go of people whose skills no longer fit, no matter how valuable their contributions had once been. Out of fairness to such people—and, frankly, to help us overcome our discomfort with discharging them—we learned to offer rich severance packages.”

 Two critical points to consider related to these principles. One, what is the definition of an ‘A’ player in your organization? Two, how do you cultivate ‘A’ players? Clarity on these items will help you identify who may not be a good fit rather than who has different ideas about how to get things done.

From Netflix’s two philosophies they developed five talent tenants to inform how they live these principles.  

Five Talent Tenants 

1.    Only Hire Adults

In the article:

  • “If we asked people to rely on logic and common sense instead of a formal policies, most of the time we would get better results, and at a lower cost.”
  • “If you hire fully formed adults who put the company first an annual bonus won’t make them work harder or smarter. Rather consistently pay at the top end of market value...”

Echo input:

  • Treat all employees like adults and they will behave like adults. Restrictive policies, procedures, and bureaucracy send the message that people are not to be trusted or that they do not have sense enough to do the right thing. Be conscientious of the cycles you create. I once heard a leader say the only way we get results is if we treat people like 10 year olds. I asked--is that because they have always been treated like 10 year olds? Side note: treating 10 year olds with respect and trust also yields desired results.

2.    Tell the Truth about Performance

In the article:

  • “Eliminate formal reviews and asked managers and employees to have conversations about performance as an organic part of their work. Building a bureaucracy and elaborate rituals around measuring performance usually doesn't improve it.

Echo input:

  • Don’t try to control people or make them fit where they don’t. Rather let go respectfully, allow individuals to move on and feel good about their contributions.
  • Performance management is a shared responsibility. Cultivate an environment where employees are as likely to begin a performance related conversation as their manager. 

3.    Managers Own the Job of Creating Great Teams

In the article:

  • Envision your ideal team and build it.”
  • We continually told managers that building a great team was their most important task. We didn’t measure them on whether they were excellent coaches or mentors or got their paperwork done on time. Great teams accomplish great work, and recruiting the right team was the top priority.”

4.    Leaders Own the Job of Creating the Company Culture

In the article:

  • "It’s a waste of time to articulate ideas about values and culture if you don’t model and reward behavior that aligns with those goals.”
  • "Even if you have hired people who want to perform well, you need to clearly communicate how the company makes money and what behaviors will drive its success.

Echo input (#3&4):

  • Clear communication on what is expected of great teams and great leaders in SMART (Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic and Time Bound) is key to building great teams.

5.    Good Talent Managers Think Like Business People and Innovators First, and Like HR People Last

In the article:

  • “Instead of cheerleading, people in HR professions should think of themselves as business people. What’s good for the company?  How do we communicate that to employees? How can we help every worker understand what we mean by high performance?”

Echo Input

  • Help people understand how what is good for the company is good for them.
  • See that every team member knows how they create value for the organization. 

6 Ways to Update your Performance Management System

Regina Loiko

Marcus Buckingham the author of many best sellers that focus on using your strengths recently posted, What if Performance Management focused on Strengths? Here he provides excellent insights on how to update your approach to performance management and make it more relevant in today’s organizations. He offers six characteristics of a new system. We suggest that you try at least one of his ideas and are grateful that you don’t have to await an overhaul of you current system to benefit from what he shares. The six characteristics are summarized below.

1.       Real time: give feedback in the moment with frequent (weekly, monthly) check-ins.

2.       Light touch: keep it simple and require little documentation.  Consider just two questions, what are you doing this week and how can I help. Keep the focus on the employee, their skills, accomplishments, interest, and goals. Be more of a coach than a judge.

3.       About the employee and for the employee: the employee drives the process meaning they schedule the meetings, decide what you will talk about, document the results, follow-up as needed and reap the benefits. In the beginning managers may have to coach employees to own this process.  

4.       Strengths based: significant growth results from focusing using your strengths to be effective. Still address weaknesses but understand that they present the least opportunity for growth.

5.       Future focused: Talk about what is expected rather than what has been done. Explore the actions they can take, the skills they can acquire, and the contacts they can make.

6.       Local system: use the system to capture local intelligence. Note: we agree that performance management should be local but do not agree that goals should only aggregate up, rather we advise that they move up and down through the organization. Employees are to have a purpose tied to sustaining the organization and they want to create value.

Enjoy the full article especially our favorite quote: “Performance feedback when anonymous is just gossip.”

To Lead a Movement

Regina Loiko

Derek Sivers TED talk, How to start a movement has been viewed over three million times. In just over three minutes this talk provides an entertaining metaphorical demonstration of the risk leaders must take and the value of followers. If you have seen Derek's talk you know that in a lighthearted way it will sharpen your focus as a leader therefore watching it again will be time well spent and if you have not seen it before – enjoy.

Take another minute to check out this Cheers clip that plays on Derek’s position.  Who do you think is the leader and the first follower of this movement?

Is there a movement you would like to start in your organization?  Take a tip from these clips: find and nurture your first followers.

Destructive Drama

Regina Loiko

Are there people in your organization that are angry, volatile, argumentative, prima-donnas, or in some other way inject your organization with negative emotions?  This is as threatening as a wildfire and needs to be extinguished immediately. 

The Lifetime series Project Runway feeds my fascination with people that excel; it invites us to watch how people soar and how they crash.

In season 12 there were many demonstrations of how one person’s crash can negatively impact a whole team and why it is critical to eliminate toxic behaviors from your organization. One contestant demonstrated this in several episodes. In this clip from the September 19, 2013 episode he aggressively rages at fellow contestants and staff. In the end he and the other contestant most directly involved in the conflict were the worst performers in the design challenge. This is no surprise as environments charged with negative emotions shut down creativity and cause people to doubt their abilities.   

Even if toxic behaviors appear infrequently, do not tolerate them. Doing so sends a message that such behavior is acceptable and encourages it to spread. It also sends a message to others exposed to these behaviors that they are not valued. I can’t stress enough, that such behavior is not to be tolerated from any organization stakeholder, i.e. a key employee, a client, or a vendor.

The best way to prevent this type of wildfire from spreading is to see that everyone models behaviors that clearly reflect the organization’s values.  If they spark up first respond quickly to stomp them out by communicating a direct message that such behaviors are not a part of your organization. If the toxic behavior is still inflamed, see if you can identify what fuels the problem and then offer help to preserve the relationship.  Unfortunately if the fire cannot be extinguished it is best to end the relationship.  This difficult choice presents a valuable example to employees and can help them to soar in unforeseen ways.


Performance Managers – Leaders or Goons

Regina Loiko

I love Popeye. When it comes to performance management are your organization’s leaders programmed like Popeye’s Alice the Goon to only complete the tasks associated with performance management? Do your leaders view performance management as something that has to get done to for HR compliance rather than something that can inspire employee performance, advance their department, and help the organization soar? If this is the situation than what is the point in spending time on performance management related tasks?

Performance management is most effective when leaders are committed to the outcomes over the process.

Process = fill out forms; meet with each direct report, give completed forms to HR.

Outcomes = company, department, and individual goals consistently achieved and frequently surpassed.

Here are three questions to help clarify when leaders consider performance management to be a process or an outcome based responsibility.

  1. Does it vary? Consistency is a  magic word in HR but when it comes to performance management it limits how organization goals are achieved. Employee reviews that are similar from one person to the next and from one year to the next indicate people are conforming instead of challenging the status quo.  For organizations to grow they must change. Consider the words attributed to William Burroughs and Bob Dylan “When you stop growing you start dying.” And  then the words of John F Kennedy “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth."
  2. Is it talked about? Discussions about employee evaluations and other approaches to performance management are often limited and typically don’t occur until the circumstances are extreme.  In outcome based performance management leaders explore situations long before they become problems.
  3. Is it retrospective and futuristic? If performance management consists of only employee reviews that give detailed accounts of the past evaluation period it is less likely that people will identify future action that will help them to grow as an individual and to contribute to the growth of their department and the organization.

The lists of responsibilities for organization leaders seem to be never ending. The more quickly leaders move tasks off their desk the better. Performance management is not such a task. Performance management is a core leadership responsibility and when done well many other leadership responsibilities will be more effective and efficient. Here are a few ways to advance how leaders approach to performance management.

  • Set an expectation that every leader is responsible for one performance management outcome and hold them accountable to the expectation.  For example, At least 25 percent of  all direct reports are using a development plan to help them advance in the company or become a subject matter expert in their  role.   
  • Set annual or semi-annual department goals. Then ask leaders to share how their direct reports will help the department to achieve its goals.
  • Hold leader forums to discuss the performance of direct reports. Active discussions on how people perform and how to communicate performance will strengthen the process. Be conscientious when sensitive information is shared and create a safe space that allows the conversations to produce value.

When outcomes based performance management is a central part of how your leaders lead, people will be aware that they can soar in your organization. In return they will be more invested in the success of your organization and help it to soar. 

Who Owns Performance Management?

Regina Loiko

To help answer the question: Who owns performance management, think about who has the most to gain when performance management is done right. Is it the employees or the manager? When you think about it you realize that they both have something to gain. Employees gain job security and opportunities for advancement. Managers gain operational effectiveness and strategic focus which can also lead to advancement opportunities. Therefore, both manager and employee will benefit from and therefore should own quality performance management.

Effective performance management involves a complex set of actions and behaviors utilized throughout the year summarized in the following equation.

Expectations + Accountability = Effective Performance Management

Here is how each aspect of the equation demands ownership from both the manager and the employees.


  • Managers set and communicate expectations.
  • Employees understand what is expected of them and agree that it is achievable or request changes.


  • Employees inform managers of their progress, ask for advice or guidance, and communicate their achievements.
  • Managers provide advice and guidance, listen to and respond to employee input on their achievements, and recognize employee success.

Here are a few tips for setting and communicating worthwhile expectations and putting into place a system that drives accountability.

  1. Identify department level goals that answer the question: How is the department contributing to the success of the organization? Then collaborate with your direct reports to set individual SMART goals that clearly support the department goals.
  2. Set goals that walk the line between challenging and achievable. People soar when they create value so give them every opportunity to do so and then recognize them for their successes.
  3. Expect employees to report progress. This can be a formal or informal report on a set schedule or milestone achievement. The key is to hold them to it.
  4. For subjective performance expectations (items that are difficult to put into a SMART goal format such as competencies) expect employees to share examples that reinforce their skill, knowledge, and attitudes.
  5. Encourage employees to ask for help. This habit is built when managers seek to understand why a goal was not reached before assigning blame or expressing dissatisfaction. Then provide guidance and advice to help the employee be successful.

Although the equation, Expectations + Accountability = Effective Performance Management makes performance management appear straightforward it can be complicated. It is helpful for managers to periodically ask themselves: Was an expectation set, communicated and understood? Did my direct report agree that the expectation was achievable? Did the expectation create value for the department? Did the direct report progress or come to me for help? If one or more of the answers is “no” then use the tips to go back and amend the situation.  

About our Blog

Regina Loiko

At first I was reluctant to blog because there are so many messages in the blogosphere and I wondered who is reading all of this information and what value does it bring. Then one Sunday morning in that sweet and rare space between waking up and getting out of bed I was thinking about a message I delivered to a client and I thought that message may provoke thought in others…perhaps there would be value in blogging about it. So I got up, made a cup of tea, sat outside, and drafted the first blog.

To run a thriving organization is a complex adventure. There are libraries written on the subject that keep leaders advancing. Yet, today’s demands may only allow for one to two good business reads a year and this is supplemented by well written blogs and articles.  In this blog we will keep this in mind and work to provide quality information that is easy to absorb. 

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