01st May 2017

The best time for an executive development review

It’s executive leadership that builds the foundation of any successful organisation. Leaders are the facilitators of business growth, team direction and healthy workplace culture. That’s why the importance of leadership development–investing in the skills of those who shape an organisation–must never be underestimated.

But in order to monitor the progress of a leadership team, and the results of any executive training development they’re undertaking, there needs to be some kind of structured review process in place. A way of measuring the breadth of development experiences and progress. That’s right,we’re talking about the uncomfortable territory of executive development evaluations.

A successful executive development review will first involve collating feedback on their performance from those in the organisation. Almost nobody enjoys this part of executive level performance evaluations; employees inevitably feel defensive, while managers often hold back on providing real feedback out of fear they’ll offend. In any case, with the right timing and approach, it is possible to make these discussions as painless as possible.

Following this, it’s time for a direct discussion with the executive in review. So when and how often should you be expected to have this conversation? Furthermore, how can the conversation be framed to ensure an accurate measure of the executive’s development takes place and action steps are identified that can be put in place immediately after.


It’s all about consistency

While there’s no firm rule on when development reviews should take place, there are some general guidelines which can help you decide when the timing is right to have the talk. Most importantly, it’s not necessarily the time and date the evaluation is conducted, but the regularity with which these discussions occur.

A common strategy for scheduling the timing for these discussions is to conduct evaluations a few days after company performance reports come in. This provides practical context to shape the discussion and removes the sense of any personal bias or objectivity in opinion over performance. As they say, the evidence doesn’t lie!

Make sure you plan executive development evaluations ahead of time and include them in your executives schedules so they can be prepared for when the time comes. Whether it’s once a quarter or once a year, having a transparent system that outlines when these evaluations take place will help foster confidence amongst your executive, and allow them to better focus on periodic goals.


Take time to plan an executive level development evaluation

We know that the development review process can be tricky for both parties involved. But by sticking to a consistent structure, it’s much easier to keep the conversation on track and ensure all the necessary points are raised. So take a little time to plan ahead by noting down the key criteria you’d like to cover, such as:

An ability to fix major problems

Every so often, our leaders take a wrong turn. But it’s the way in which they deal with those setbacks which will determine how they’ve developed as a leader This should be assessed based on the ability to manage workplace hiccups with confidence and emotional intelligence. It’s these qualities which will ultimately empower your leaders to address major problems and take a direct course of action.

Willingness to lead strategic change

As technology advances with ever-increasing velocity, organisations have no choice but to continually reassess their strategic direction if they want to survive. It’s no wonder why those who come out on top are led by individuals who have the flexibility, determination and vision for change.

Ask yourself: do your executives qualify with those essential skills? If so, are you providing the supporting environment they need to rise above the obstacles and steer the organisation to where it needs to be?

Remaining flexible and open to adopting new fields of work

A common trait of leaders is their acquired experience working overseas, amongst different cultures, or in a broad spectrum of roles and departments. An executive that has worked both on the field and in corporate management will have a deeper understanding of the nuances of your organisation and its culture.

Knowing the company inside out enables executives to make informed decisions that benefit the entire organisation. The same goes for executives with diverse cultural backgrounds, especially those that speak a second language.

Influence outside of direct authority

Knowing how to recognise a potential problem and when to step in and take ownership and give direction (even when it’s outside of an individual’s scope of work) takes guts. It’s also a clear sign of an executive who has developed trust, influence and confidence amongst their colleagues. Enough that they can effectively take charge when it’s necessary to steer a project that’s gone awry.

Investing time in those with great potential

If we were to pick a ‘best’ time to conduct an executive level development evaluation, it would be at a moment when both you and them have the chance to sit, discuss and reflect at the end of a review period—without feeling stressed or rushed.

While as managers we often try to get these meetings over with as quickly as possible to avoid potential awkwardness or to get back to the job, this only does each party a disservice.

Instead, invest the time your executives feel the need to review their development, and address all aspects of their role, from expectations and deliverable outcomes to leadership qualities, such as communication skills, self-awareness, emotional intelligence and the ability to influence through a charismatic executive presence.

Often these qualities can be self-assessed, therefore we recommend executives to run a self-evaluation of their own development to be proactive with growth plans. A simple resource such as our ‘Taking Stock Of Your Development’ worksheet will help guide executives through this reflection – get your copy by clicking the image below.
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Glen Petersen

Glen Petersen

CEO at Generator Talent
With more than 35 years in business, working in large global businesses and consulting, Glen has a wise head set firmly on experienced shoulders – a good thing to have as Generator Talent’s founder and CEO. He is in demand by clients who value his pragmatic advice and ability to positively influence people and improve business outcomes.
Glen Petersen

Categories: Developing Talent

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