January 20, 2019

5 Tips to Develop Faster Using “FYI for Your Improvement”

Ian Rowe

Ian Rowe
Owner/North-West Expeditions

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Many organizations use, or at least have access to, Korn Ferry’s FYI FOR YOUR IMPROVEMENT. At Apple Retail this tool provided the backbone for employee and leadership development.

But, in my 12+ years at Apple, it was clear that the tool was often misused, ignored, or at least misunderstood by both employees trying to improve and leaders trying to help them.

Getting the most out of the tool essentially breaks down into basics we all already know, but do not necessarily do:

  • Read the Manual
  • Do the Work
  • Growth/Development is Something You Do, No One Else Can Do It For You

If you are considering implementing this resource, or have it available, here is a 4-minute overview on how to get the most out of it. Korn Ferry has much more on their own site.

This memo was written while I worked at Apple post review season. The intent is to help managers and individual performers get more out of the feedback they have received by leveraging this tool.

Note: I do not work for and am not compensated by Korn Ferry. Developing myself and those around me has always been my not-so-secret weapon at work.

MemoHow to use Lominger FYI: For Your Improvement 
a five-minute read.

Work anniversaries and reviews are often times for reflection.

At these times Competencies we have been asked to work on (Dealing with Ambiguity, Composure, Approachability, Time Management, Peer Relationships, etc … sound familiar?) float in our heads, or jump off of a piece of paper.

Unfortunately, we are not always sure of what to do with these competencies we need to get better at, or what the competency-based feedback is really about.

After 12 years at Apple I can tell you that the best resource here is the Lominger FYI: For Your Improvement Book.

In my first few years at Apple I did not use this resource. Then I read the introduction, started using it, and my growth and fulfillment sped up dramatically.

Here are 5 tips to make “FYI For Your Improvement” work for you:

  1. Read the introduction (pages 9–18). It explains how to use the book and the science/methodology behind it. Here’s my favorite part. “We also find that people who do take personal responsibility for a need but lack motivation, drive, urgency, or energy to do anything about it won’t be helped by what’s in this book.”
  2. Focus on one or two things at a time. 
    More doesn’t help. It overwhelms. Prioritize. You can get better at other stuff later.
  3. Develop the easy things first. 
    If you do a card sort or meet with a couple leaders or peers you may end up with a list of more than two competencies to work on. Start with the easiest one or two things to develop.

Things that are easy to develop are tangible behaviors you can practice frequently. The frequency of practice is how we get better at basically everything in life.

Some Examples: 
To improve “Composure” you have to be in a lot of situations that trigger you to lose your composure. This can be rough. Maybe you can find a root cause that you can practice more often (with lower emotional consequences) that will positively impact composure or reduce how often it appears (Ie. Time Management so you are less stressed, Conflict Management so conflict is easier for you).

Approachability” is a fundamental skill for anyone who works on teams (heads up that being approachable doesn’t mean you think you’re approachable, it means that other people do. We all think we’re approachable, but often we’re wrong). Good news, this is easy to work on. It’s probably easier than “Building Effective Teams” or maybe you’ve been told to build relationships, but don’t know where to start. You can work on this just by saying hello and goodbye to everyone you work with when you come and go. Easy. You’re developing and all you’ve done is come to work.

4. Use the remedies
Every competency has 10 remedies suggested in the book. These are the best place to start. Read them and choose one or two that most apply and are easiest to practice (frequency of practice is key).

5. Practice, Reflect, Practice, get Feedback 
and then reflect, practice, practice, practice some more. It takes time and repetition to get good at stuff.

Once a remedy is second nature to you, move on to another, or if that has solved the low skilled use of the competency, move on to the next one.

Again, start with the next easiest thing.

A personal example: I am an introvert.

At a party I can easily hide next to the bar, or latch on to the friend I am there with. This shows up at work too, and means “Approachability” is something I have to actively work on.

This is especially important since I lead teams of over 100 and we help thousands of customers daily. Hiding is not really an option. Not acknowledging the people I work with is not an option. I need individuals and teams and customers to come to me, to present the truth, to share and to solve.

Luckily, there are a couple remedies -that are easy to practice- and work well for me. In this case, all 10 remedies for “approachability” are personally helpful.

I listed one remedy above, and it is where I encourage most people (especially leaders) to start. It turns out actively saying hello and good-bye to everyone you work with is something that most people aren’t doing, and also it is a nice way to start and end your day.

Here are two (slightly edited) remedies that I still actively use:

“4. Not a fan of small talk? Make connections. 
Approachable people work to know and remember important things about the people they work around, for, and with. Know three things about everybody. … If you ask a few questions, you’ll find you have something in common with virtually anyone. … go beyond strictly work transactions. … The point is to forge common ground and connections.”

Excerpt from: FYI For Your Improvement, Michael M. Lombardo

This has helped me realize and enjoy the importance of small connections, sharing a photo, asking about a weekend, a holiday, family and more.

It wasn’t easy for me, but doing it has enriched my life by helping me to know others more deeply and (I’m told) made me more approachable when they need my help/ideas at work.

“8. Need to get out of your shell? Overcome shyness
Trouble with appearing vulnerable? Afraid of how people will react? Not sure of your social skills? Want to appear?—?while shaking inside?—?not shy? Hand first. Consistent eye contact. Ask the first question. For low-risk practice, talk to strangers off-work. Set a goal of meeting 10 new people at a social gathering; find out what you have in common with them. Initiate contact at your place of worship, at PTA meetings, in the neighborhood, at the supermarket, on the plane and on the bus. See if any of the bad and scary things you think might happen to you if you initiate people contact actually happen.”

Excerpt from: FYI For Your Improvement, Michael M. Lombardo

So now I am in a number of clubs (Book club, Vinyl club), Head Coach of my son’s soccer team and am the Vice-Chair on the Parent Advisory Council for his school.

I love all of these things. It takes work to get out of my shell, talk to strangers, make them feel welcome and get to know them. But I’m getting better at it.

Please take some time this quarter to use the FYI book in this way. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

End Memo

If you find this useful please reach out to let me know how you have used the advice to develop yourself or others.

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