Effective Postmortem Discussions

Image Source: Pixabay
Image by Aline Ponce from Pixabay

Problems come in all shapes and sizes. Don’t get mad. Get learning!

Sure, proper planning, resources, and discipline, can prevent many problems from ever happening. But no matter how hard we try, some will slip through, anyway – that’s just reality.

So how best can we learn from the bad things that happen?

Mistakes are the Stepping Stones to Wisdom

It starts with realizing that once whatever issues are resolved, we need to learn what we can from whatever just happened.

So it’s not a time to get mad. Or retributive. It’s a time to get smarter. And an important and helpful, but often overlooked step to bringing that learning front-and-center is something called the “postmortem.”

The Postmortem Process

For those of you not familiar with the term, let’s define the term as an analysis or discussion of an event after it is over.

Here are the steps I’ve used to great success with postmortems in the workplace:

1. Gather everyone together. Include staff, vendor personnel, and customers, if appropriate and thank them all for the being there. Focus on trying to put everyone at ease so they know it’s not an inquisition and it is okay to for them to relax. Assure them, if necessary, that “no heads will roll,” as that would lead to a quite different type of postmortem, if you get my drift!

2. Review what happened. Ask those most directly involved to retell the story, in their own words, of what happened. Encourage everyone to add pieces of information no matter how big or small their role was or the information is. Look to understand, not to blame, by asking questions like, “What then?” and “What else?” Show everyone the utmost respect and a true curiosity in recreating circumstances. And keep probing until everyone who has something to say, says it.

3. Ask for the learning. When you’re satisfied that everyone has spoken, shift to asking about what people have learned from what happened. “What did we learn from all this?” “How are we smarter?” “What changes should we make to plug any vulnerabilities that have become apparent?” Keep asking until, again, even the ‘quiet’ people speak. And if they don’t, invite each to share their thinking with the group…because the quiet people often have the best insights.

4. Assign follow-up tasks and due dates. Likely, some pretty good ideas will surface, many of which will require some planning, preparation, or processing. Follow-up is key, so be sure to have someone put these assignments in writing and distribute to everyone within one business day, and determine how best to insure these open items are properly tracked to completion in a suitable time frame.

5. Reiterate your appreciation. Close happily. Say something that indicates the work of the meeting is now complete. Thank them, again, for their openness, honesty, and collective wisdom. Say something funny, if you can – laughter is a great way to help people release any lingering tension they may be feeling. Reiterate how helpful their participation in this process has been for you…and hopefully them, as well.

6. Get ‘em back to work, because, well, there’s always more work to be done.

Hope this helps.

Original Source: https://www.ggci.com/blog/2003/10/effective-post-mortem-discussions.htm.


Justifying Title and Salary Upgrades

Image Source: Pixabay

It’s that time of year again, so let’s review how things work…

When talking about raises and title changes I always recommend a three-pronged approach:

Your Top 3 Justifications

  1. In-Place Growth – The better you can justify how your job has significantly grown since you first began in the position, the better. Chart out the increase in widgets, transactions, customers, budget, direct reports, etc. – whatever you can use to quantify your ‘in place’ growth, the better. (If your Flash Stats are meaningful enough, they will justify the ‘reasonableness’ of your request.)
  2. Separation – The better you can justify how you are currently performing duties ‘above and beyond’ the duties that people at your current level are performing, the better. This validates that you are already doing more than others. It’s sometimes helpful to think about this as a ‘push’ strategy – that you are proving that you have already pushed yourself up FROM (and beyond) your current level.
  3. Realignment – The better you can justify how you’re currently performing duties that are already similar to (on a par with) those being performed by people ALREADY at the next level, the better. This further justifies that your role and responsibilities are much better aligned with those at this higher level than they are at your current level and, overall, it’s actually more of a precedent-setting move to NOT formalize your raise (or promotion) than it is to simply authorize the upgrade. It’s sometimes helpful to think about this as a ‘pull’ strategy – that you are proving that you have already pulled yourself up TO the next level.

All three points – in-place growth, separation, and re-alignment – must be made, though, if you want your request to truly be a compelling business justification, the type that your boss can easily take to his/her boss to request approval on your behalf.

Sadly, two of three typically won’t be compelling enough. And, of course, each prong must be strong enough to stand on its own. So the onus is on you to articulate these points, as such.

Additional Considerations

A few other elements to keep in mind:

  • If you have some people OUTSIDE of your vertical chain-of-command who can sing your praises to your boss, that’d help make it even easier for your boss to obtain whatever approvals s/he might need to make things happen.
  • You might also ask for some *additional* responsibilities because: (a) you’re obviously ready for them; and (b) they’d help further justify the upgrade you’re seeking.
  • If s/he responds, “Sorry, no,” ask what other options might exist for increasing your compensation, recognition, and/or authority. Don’t discount the value of something less formal, such as additional comp time, increased visibility, to get you on a promotion track, a meeting with his/her boss to discuss additional possibilities, etc.
  • Know that with bonus pools, there’s almost ALWAYS some secret ‘extra’ money available for ‘special circumstances.’ And yours IS a ‘special circumstance,’ is it not? Make it easy to see that.

If All Else Fails

Know, too, that it’s sometimes helpful to ask your boss if the issue is that s/he doesn’t want to promote you…or s/he does, but just can’t get approval TO promote you.

If s/he doesn’t want to promote you, you need him/her to explain why not and then decide if you want to accept it, request a meeting with his/her boss to make your case, or look for new work (inside or out of the company).

If s/he wants to promote you but can’t get the necessary approvals, ask that s/he and you both meet with his/her boss to discuss options, alternatives, and time frames.

Hope this helps. And if this works for you, send me one of your new business cards