What a Success Plan Is (and Isn’t)

post from Chris Meroff:
Investing in your people
should be the end game for you as a leader. They come to the workplace every
day and invest their significant gifts and talents in an effort to help you and
your organization reach an agree upon goal. Their success is your success. 
So, it makes sense that
we as leaders would want to create a success plan for our people. But first, we
have to define success. And that can be a moving target.
A success plan is much
more than an annual performance review. Though they are sometimes lumped
into the same category they are quite different. Annual performance reviews
focus only on what’s born out of hard skills and tend to boil your people down
to metrics around what they’ve done for your company. The general goal of these
meetings is to determine a number that your company thinks your employee is
worth. This (not so subtly) communicates that their value is based only on how
much they can do for the company.  
What Is a Success Plan?
I tried the typical
annual performance review in my company for several years, and it left both me
and my employees feeling unfulfilled. In those meetings everyone was primarily
concerned with their compensation, which is to be expected. Many were not
interested in having a meaningful conversation about their passions and goals
at work, let alone their passions and goals outside of work.
It became clear that I
needed to revisit these get-togethers and figure out a different agenda, one
that would serve the company and the team member. I realized that if these
great people who were bringing their bests selves to my company every day were
having to ask for my time and space to talk about their fulfillment, then I
probably wasn’t doing it right. Why should they have to wait for their next
performance review to have a dialogue with me about their dreams, their success
plans, or their jobs?
When I realized that a
change was needed, I started at the beginning. I redefined the whole notion of
a success plan. Here’s my new definition: A success plan is dedicated space
to focus on the success of your people, both personally and professionally, to
move your employee to fulfillment
. The success plan focuses on fulfillment
through their soft skills and requires you as the leader to practice more
intentionality and engagement on who they are personally, not just
professionally. It’s a daily engagement toward ultimate fulfillment. Not
that I said daily and not annually. Dialogue can and should happen anytime. Not
just when I schedule it.
To be successful at
success planning you have to know the full person. You have to know what makes
them tick and what might influence their idea of success. This is where the
pursuit happens. This is where you show your people their value beyond what
they bring to work. Pursue your people and do it on purpose. Yes, it takes a
great deal of time and effort to pull this off. But the benefits for everyone
involved-the company, the employee and yourself- are worth it.
Meaningful Investment
Creating a personalized
success plan for each of your employees requires that you really
understand your people. You have to understand how they define success
personally and professionally. This takes time and sustained effort; you can’t
rush through it. 
Throwing pizza parties
and happy hours doesn’t necessarily create these opportunities for meaningful
investment and relationship building. If you care about your people and serving
them toward fulfillment, be genuine and authentic in your pursuit. Talk to them
about their families and home lives. Ask them how they spend their free time
and what their interests are. Find out what really motivates them and how they
define what’s commonly known as work-life balance. 
In my organization, we
no longer use the term ‘work-life balance’. Emphasizing work-life as a balance
is a win-lose proposition. So, we use the phrase work-life integration.
This is meant to create more alignment between our personal and professional
lives. In a work-life balance model, something gets cheated; it communicates
that you need to be all things to all people at all times, which is impossible.
But by working toward work-life integration, the gap between the two is
bridged and we communicate that the two should complement each other instead of
Figure these things out
on an individual basis for each person in your organization and you will find
that success becomes clear. It will be different for each person, but you can
help them attain it, whatever it looks like. In exploring your people’s
definitions of work-life integration, you’ll find some people who want more
structure at work and others who would prefer to have more flexibility. Neither
one is wrong—it’s just who they are.
You can do all this
through informal conversations that can and should happen anytime that they are
Chris Meroff has spent more than 25 years
supporting leaders in education at both the campus and district levels. Through
his work in 17 states and across thousands of school districts, he’s seen
firsthand the frustration administrators feel when their efforts don’t produce
the alignment they desire. He’s made a career of testing new leadership ideas
to see what works—and what doesn’t—in service-oriented leadership. His
business, Alignment Leadership Consulting, exists to teach leaders how they can
boldly pursue a workplace culture that prioritizes employee fulfillment. You
can learn more at
www.AlignLeadThrive.com .