How Upstart Developed Performance Reviews for the C-Suite

At personal finance startup Upstart, CEO Dave Girouard realized the standard rating process used for his employees’ performance review wasn’t an appropriate way to gauge his leadership team. This was largely due to the fact that ranking employees against each other can be damaging to leaders, who have very different roles and responsibilities. Instead of a numbered system, Girouard developed a list to measure his C-Suite, determining how well each member could:

  1. Inspire confidence. They execute their duties and lead their teams without any major oversight.
  2. Look into the future. They possess the skill level and commitment that allows the company to reach their goals in the next two years.
  3. Challenge the status quo. They're“chronically discontent” with where the company and their own department is today.
  4. Separate the signals from the noise. They are a great judge of what’s best for their team and the business as a whole.
  5. Be positively paranoid. They have a sense of urgency and are vigilant about the future of the company, while at the same time remaining equally optimistic that they can solve any problem that pops up.
  6. Be trustworthy. They can act as the face for the company in any situation. As Girouard puts it, “If the 60 Minutes van pulled into our parking lot and Mike Wallace was knocking on our door, this is the exec I’d want to be home.”

Takeaway: Providing feedback is essential to any employee's growth, but make sure that you are measuring the right qualities when evaluating your leadership team.

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