The file is green. I suppose it is somewhere inside my desk. As for its contents? Well, I have never looked.
I received the file from a team member leaving the company. One of their direct reports wasn’t going to make it. Or, at least that is what they believed. Taking the file, I thanked them, and placed it inside my desk.
There, several years later, it sits collecting dust.
“Keeping an open mind” is easier said than done, but doing so should be one of the tenets of leadership. While I trusted this person’s opinion to a point, I did not have much personal experience with their direct report. Therefore, it was up to me to get to know this person. After all, they were going to report to me now.
This meant I had to be curious and ask several questions: What direction did they need? Did any aspect of their role need clarifying? Did they know what winning looks like in their role? In other words, was there a specific Key Result Area (KRA) that they, and their manager, had signed off on? Were there performance goals that they had set? Preferably with feedback from their manager? And assuming all of this was clear, how was this person performing to those standards?
A few days after receiving the file, I met with this individual and clarified what I was going to be looking for in the position. Moreover, I clarified what I thought a win would look like, and made sure this person understood. Not only did they understand, they seemed to gain more energy the more we talked. As we departed, I was optimistic about the future. But before leaving, I did one last thing. I looked this individual in the eyes and told them that today was the beginning of a new relationship.
The slate had been wiped clean.
That conversation took place several years ago.
And because of it, I have never had reason to look at the file.