Formula 2 + 2

The Simple Solution for Successful Coaching

Doug Allen (Author) | Dwight Allen (Author)

Publication date: 11/04/2004

Formula 2 + 2
  • The latest volume in Berrett-Koehler's Ken Blanchard Series
  • Includes a foreword by Ken Blanchard, an introduction by Bill Cosby, and a mid-book message from lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Offers managers a simple system that will increase their effectiveness and improve employee morale and productivity
  • Written in the accessible and compelling Blanchard storytelling style
  • The latest volume in Berrett-Koehler's Ken Blanchard Series
  • Includes a foreword by Ken Blanchard, an introduction by Bill Cosby, and a mid-book message from lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Offers managers a simple system that will increase their effectiveness and improve employee morale and productivity
  • Written in the accessible and compelling Blanchard storytelling style

In today's fast-paced and rapidly changing business environment, frequent feedback and "course correction" is absolutely vital. But about the only time most managers offer employees feedback is during scheduled (and generally infrequent) performance appraisals, which tend to be stiff, formal, and-whether intentionally or not-adversarial, and therefore ineffective.

Formula 2+2 offers a simple yet powerful approach to revolutionizing feedback conversations. It details the five secrets of effective feedback: making it timely, balanced between compliments and critiques, focused on high priority areas, supported with specific examples, and reinforced with appropriate follow-up.

The book tracks the transformation of Pauline, a strong but traditional leader whose attempts at coaching and feedback are failing miserably. An old friend introduces her to Formula 2+2 and walks her through the five secrets of effectively implementing 2+2 feedback. Pauline discovers that providing feedback is not a necessary evil, but can become a welcome part of the manager's job.

Formula 2+2 shows how to foster a culture of continuous feedback which increases the effectiveness of the manager, protects the spirit and dignity of employees, and provides a systematic approach to reinforcing and improving employee performance.

  • The latest volume in Berrett-Koehler's Ken Blanchard Series
  • Includes a foreword by Ken Blanchard, an introduction by Bill Cosby, and a mid-book message from lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Offers managers a simple system that will increase their effectiveness and improve employee morale and productivity
  • Written in the accessible and compelling Blanchard storytelling style

Read more and meet author below

Read An Excerpt

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Overview

  • The latest volume in Berrett-Koehler's Ken Blanchard Series
  • Includes a foreword by Ken Blanchard, an introduction by Bill Cosby, and a mid-book message from lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Offers managers a simple system that will increase their effectiveness and improve employee morale and productivity
  • Written in the accessible and compelling Blanchard storytelling style
  • The latest volume in Berrett-Koehler's Ken Blanchard Series
  • Includes a foreword by Ken Blanchard, an introduction by Bill Cosby, and a mid-book message from lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Offers managers a simple system that will increase their effectiveness and improve employee morale and productivity
  • Written in the accessible and compelling Blanchard storytelling style

In today's fast-paced and rapidly changing business environment, frequent feedback and "course correction" is absolutely vital. But about the only time most managers offer employees feedback is during scheduled (and generally infrequent) performance appraisals, which tend to be stiff, formal, and-whether intentionally or not-adversarial, and therefore ineffective.

Formula 2+2 offers a simple yet powerful approach to revolutionizing feedback conversations. It details the five secrets of effective feedback: making it timely, balanced between compliments and critiques, focused on high priority areas, supported with specific examples, and reinforced with appropriate follow-up.

The book tracks the transformation of Pauline, a strong but traditional leader whose attempts at coaching and feedback are failing miserably. An old friend introduces her to Formula 2+2 and walks her through the five secrets of effectively implementing 2+2 feedback. Pauline discovers that providing feedback is not a necessary evil, but can become a welcome part of the manager's job.

Formula 2+2 shows how to foster a culture of continuous feedback which increases the effectiveness of the manager, protects the spirit and dignity of employees, and provides a systematic approach to reinforcing and improving employee performance.

  • The latest volume in Berrett-Koehler's Ken Blanchard Series
  • Includes a foreword by Ken Blanchard, an introduction by Bill Cosby, and a mid-book message from lunar astronaut Buzz Aldrin
  • Offers managers a simple system that will increase their effectiveness and improve employee morale and productivity
  • Written in the accessible and compelling Blanchard storytelling style

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Doug Allen

Douglas B. Allen is Associate Professor of Management at the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business. He is also a guest professor at Renmin (People's) University Business School in Beijing, China. He has consulted with and conducted training programs for many organizations including Nokia, Amoco, Boeing, Chrysler, General Electric, and Honeywell.



Visit Author Page - Dwight Allen

Dwight W. Allen is Eminent Scholar of Educational Reform at Old Dominion University. He was previously director of teacher education at Stanford and Dean of Education at the University of Massachusetts. He is the author of nine books, including American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge (with Bill Cosby).

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Ken Blanchard

Introduction: Bill Cosby

Prologue


1. The Unguided Missile
2. The Performance Appraisal: About As Much Fun As a Trip to the Dentist
3. The Trip to the Dentist
4. Celebrate Success and Encourage Improvement
5. The Magic of Balance
6. The Importance of Timeliness
7. The Spirit of 2+2

A Special Message from Buzz Aldrin, Astronaut, Apollo 11


8. The Power of Focus
9. Getting 2+2 Up and Running
10. The Need for Specificity
11. 2+2: Take Two
12. The Integrated Follow-Up
13. Creating a Sustainable 2+2 Program
14. Epilogue: Two Years Later

Authors' Final Note

The Secrets of 2+2

Pauline's 2+2 Preparation Checklist

Acknowledgments

About the Authors

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Excerpt

Formula 2+2

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ONE
The Unguided Missile

Percy Pershing was out of control again. His supervisor, Pauline Smith, was frustrated—and the company was hurting.

Pauline prided herself in running a tight ship. She supervised twenty salespeople, encouraging them to sell and service energetically the firm’s high-quality products. Customer feedback on the product line continued to be extremely positive. However, sales had been relatively flat for the past two years and the company just couldn’t seem to capitalize on its product excellence in the marketplace.

Percy’s recent trends were a case in point. As she looked at the latest sales report, Pauline saw two lines on a graph. One line, which represented the sales goals she and Percy had agreed upon six months previously, headed toward the northeast corner of the chart. The other line—actual sales for the reporting period—dipped and dived erratically on its downward path toward the southeast corner of the graph. Percy is as unpredictable as an unguided missile, Pauline thought.

This report was only the latest of several that had delivered equally bad news regarding Percy’s performance over the past several months. Pauline liked Percy and did not look forward to the prospect of confronting him. Until six months ago, Percy had been one of her best salespeople, and she did not want to discourage him. She had hoped that by giving him some time and encouragement, he might self-correct and the problem would go away. She knew that Percy meant well, and she had originally decided to wait until the formal performance appraisal at the end of the year to raise her concerns with him.

COMPANY SALES REPORT

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But this latest report was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Percy’s sales hadn’t improved. In fact, they had declined further. She decided that as much as she hated the prospect, she would need to have a serious talk with him. She called him and scheduled a meeting for the next day.

In this brief meeting, she tried to remain friendly and supportive as she delivered the bad news. “If sales do not improve, you won’t receive your year-end bonus.”

She had given him ample time to change his course. She had cut him as much slack as any reasonable manager could. He was now facing his last chance.

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Of course, Percy had a different view of the situation. In the intervening months since his last performance appraisal, Percy had assumed that no news was good news. He knew that he wasn’t even close to achieving his goals—for the second quarter in a row—but he was also aware that other people were experiencing similar problems. It’s not that he wasn’t trying. He had put in more than his fair share of hours and had done his best to provide good service to his customers. Surely Pauline could see that. He had expected at least some positive comments from her.

Instead, Percy left Pauline’s office feeling shocked and betrayed. She had been cordial enough, but instead of acknowledging his hard work, she had focused on the poor sales. Didn’t she realize he was doing his best? Didn’t she realize how much extra time he had been putting in? Even when he hadn’t met his sales quotas, he had spent a lot of extra time with customers after the sale to help them install the product and learn how to use it.

Pauline is as unpredictable as an unguided missile, Percy thought. As he looked toward the future, he concluded that it would be increasingly difficult to work in an environment where the capricious and unpredictable behavior of his manager placed his compensation—and perhaps even his job security—at risk.

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In contrast to Percy’s feelings of betrayal, Pauline was simply confused. Percy had actually seemed surprised when she told him in a very calm, friendly way that his work was not satisfactory. After all, they had mutually agreed on clear goals that had not been met. In reality, he had not even come close. How could he have been surprised?

As unpleasant as the meeting had become, she still hoped Percy could turn himself around. It would take considerable time and money to find another employee to replace him. By the time the new person was up to speed, another year of vital new account sales development would be lost.

Pauline was confident that she was a good manager. She had high expectations for her team. She set challenging goals for herself and for her people. She encouraged them to come to her with problems and offered them her support in numerous ways.

She believed in empowerment, too. She let her salespeople take initiative and encouraged them to work directly with anyone within the organization to solve problems and respond more effectively to customers. She was the kind of manager she wished she’d had when she was a sales rep years ago.

As she reflected on her encounter with Percy, she determined that she would have to reinforce the company’s goals as clearly as possible during his performance appraisal at the end of the year.

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Pauline just doesn’t know how to manage, Percy thought. I do my best, but my best is not good enough for a manager who doesn’t know what she wants from her people.

Had this been an isolated incident, Percy might have simply dismissed it as the result of Pauline’s grumpiness on a bad day. Most managers have those every once in a while—as do most people. But he had heard from too many of his colleagues about similar incidents. As a result, the company had lost many valuable and talented people.

Just two months earlier, Mandy had complained bitterly to Percy about a run-in she had had with Pauline. Her sales figures had shown improvement over the preceding months, yet Pauline had called her and had spoken sharply about an isolated complaint she had received from one of Mandy’s customers. While Pauline had made a valid point about the problem with that customer, she hadn’t made any mention of the hundreds of satisfied customers Mandy had worked with over the past several years. In fact, Mandy had become so de-motivated by Pauline’s phone call that she abandoned a new system she had developed called “personal selling excellence,” or PSE. Her sales—and her enthusiasm—continued to decline until one day she was gone. Percy had no idea where she went.

Meanwhile, Sena, another of Percy’s counterparts, always seemed to be spinning his wheels. He was capable and motivated but had never been in a sales position before. He worked hard and was enthusiastic but didn’t know the first thing about selling the company’s products. Percy could see that Sena’s job would be in jeopardy if someone didn’t offer him some friendly advice on basic selling techniques. Percy had considered talking to Sena himself. Here was a real tragedy in the making—a potentially great salesperson was failing because he didn’t know he was going about his job in an entirely ineffective manner. Percy decided it really wasn’t his business and he didn’t want to intrude. A few days later, Sena was gone.

Finally there was Greg, the top salesperson in the organization. Percy didn’t know where Greg ended up when he left the company, but he did know that Greg’s departure, too, had been entirely unnecessary. When the company had downsized its sales force about two years earlier, the sales force was shocked to see two of the hardest-working salespeople get pink slips. While it was widely known that two other salespeople, Carrie and Yvette, had missed their sales quotas and were generally lazy when it came to helping their colleagues and customers, they had remained in the company unscathed while two spirited performers had been asked to leave. Greg had watched this process carefully and wondered if he could be next. This led to so much insecurity on his part that he decided to move on.

Pauline was taken entirely by surprise on that one and expressed her regret that the top salesperson in her organization was leaving. She even offered him a bonus to encourage him to reconsider, but he left nonetheless.

Percy recalled that when the layoffs hit, Greg had confided in him. He had said that he had no confidence in the integrity of the company’s feedback and reward system. He knew he was excellent at what he did and would have no trouble finding another great job. As much as he liked the company, he felt that in the event of another downsizing, his job would be as much at risk as anyone’s. He wasn’t sure how much he was valued, and he didn’t see any connection between who performed and who was ultimately laid off.

As Percy reflected on some of these recent incidents, he again wondered whether he should look for another job himself.

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As puzzling as Percy’s response had been to their conversation earlier in the day, Pauline had to admit that it wasn’t the first time she had been caught by surprise by one of her people’s reaction to the feedback she had provided. She believed she was skilled at guiding them. She worked with them each year to set challenging yet attainable goals. She tried to avoid giving negative feedback, but if matters got too bad, she would meet with individuals privately so they wouldn’t be embarrassed. She also held regular meetings with her staff to benchmark and discuss organization progress. And as much as she hated the process, she spent an inordinate amount of time preparing for and conducting the company’s formal performance appraisals at the end of each year. What else could she reasonably do to communicate her position to people when matters were not going well?

Admittedly, Pauline loathed the whole idea of performance appraisals—nasty pieces of paper that had to be filled out in great detail. Even so, she had considered changing from annual reviews to semiannual reviews. She thought perhaps this would help keep her team on track. After all, the annual approach didn’t seem to accomplish anything meaningful.

On her commute home, Pauline decided that there had to be a better way to give her employees feedback. And she was determined to find it.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Inadequate and inconsistent feedback leads to frustrated people and managers alike.

• Without a proper context, even well-intentioned feedback can result in shock and defensiveness.

• The formal performance appraisal system is usually not an effective vehicle for providing regular feedback to people.

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Endorsements

"Formula 2+2 provides a key building block for leaders at all levels of the organization to be effective coaches and teachers. Great leaders teach their organizations to win--2+2 is a required tool to get them there."
--Noel M. Tichy, author of the bestselling The Leadership Engine (with Eli Cohen) and The Cycle of Leadership


"Read this book. Practice the concepts presented. I guarantee it will make a difference in the way your organization operates. The 2+2 feedback and coaching system will build enthusiastic people that will better serve your customers and contribute to your organization."
--from the foreword by Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager


"Formula 2+2 shows managers and employees alike how to dish up regular doses of encouragement for everyone on the job: encouragement balanced with suggestions for improvement. Each becomes more meaningful with the other. 2+2 is the best approach to performance appraisal I've seen."
--Jack Canfield, coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Soul


"If you think managing and evaluating employees is frustrating, time-consuming, and exhausting, then read this book--right now! You will find out how to help employees be more productive and you'll help them to learn at a faster rate. And your own job might become more satisfying in the process. While you're at it, buy a copy for your boss."
--Dorothy Marcic, faculty member at Vanderbilt University and author of Managing with the Wisdom of Love


"Formula 2+2 addresses one of the most difficult human resource management challenges facing Chinese managers: giving effective performance feedback to employees without causing a loss of 'face.' The 2+2 system allows managers to address both positive and negative aspects of performance. This balanced approach encourages direct feedback with a constructive spirit."
--Xu Erming, Dean, School of Business, Renmin University of China, Beijing


"Homebuilders always emphasize quality. Formula 2+2 adds a powerful tool to the construction managers' 'toolbox' as they seek ways to coach their employees and hold them accountable for doing a great job."
--Chuck Shinn, President, Lee Evans Group Management Seminars for Homebuilders

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