CASE STUDY NO 2:

BE HON­EST WHEN YOU CAN BE

Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

Two years in a row, Liz, a se­nior hu­man re­sources part­ner at a global non-profit, didn’t achieve the goals she set for her­self. “I was just too op­ti­mistic about what I could ac­com­plish,” she says.

Since her self-ap­praisal re­quired that she as­sess her per­for­mance against those ob­jec­tives, she strug­gled with what to do. “Most peo­ple just talk about their ac­com­plish­ments, but I didn’t feel com­fort­able do­ing that,” she says. Af­ter think­ing it through, she de­cided to list each goal, ex­plain­ing which ones she didn’t meet. She also high­lighted work she de­liv­ered that wasn’t part of her orig­i­nal plan. She ad­mits that it was a risky move: “I knew that it could back­fire. In some cul­tures that would’ve been equiv­a­lent to ca­reer sui­cide.”

But she was con­fi­dent in the se­cu­rity of her role and knew she was well-re­spected by her man­ager and her clients. Plus she felt her in­tegrity mat­tered more. As an HR part­ner, Liz’s success re­lies on her abil­ity to in­flu­ence oth­ers. “I can’t in­flu­ence if peo­ple don’t trust me,” she says.

Her im­me­di­ate boss and the head of hu­man re­sources re­viewed her self-ap­praisal and were sur­prised. “They were amused, but they also ap­pre­ci­ated that I was will­ing to call my­self out on my own fail­ures,” Liz ex­plains. Her man­ager specif­i­cally noted on this year’s eval­u­a­tion that she was not afraid to ad­mit her own mis­takes. Liz knows she took a cal­cu­lated risk by be­ing so truth­ful, but in this case, her hon­est and care­ful ap­proach paid off.

Amy Gallo is a con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor at Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view.

© 2013 Har­vard Busi­ness School Pub­lish­ing Corp. Dis­trib­uted by The New York Times Syn­di­cate

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