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It's nearing the end of the year, which is also the time to conduct performance reviews.


In case you are on the receiving end of a performance review, and for some reasons your boss is not exactly excited about your performance this year, here are some practical tips on how you can become the employee that bosses love to work with.


And no.  We don't advocate sucking up.  After all, if you work for a good boss, good bosses hate flattery and sucking up from their team members.  While there are aspects that you can improve your interactions with your boss on a personal level, there are also equally important aspects that you will need to address at a business or organisation level.


Hence, this month's topics:

  1. How to Become the Employee that Bosses Love to Work With? (without sucking up to them); and

  2. Evaluative vs. Developmental Feedback

This issue's main article is on "How to Become the Employee that Bosses Love to Work With? (without sucking up to them)", and we like to draw your attention on some of the issues that bosses care most about, and how you can help your boss achieve those.  If you also happen to be a boss too, here are some suggestions that you can give your staff so that they could work better with you.


In brief:

  • What are some of the priorities your boss has, and how you need to make those your priorities too;

  • What are the primary working styles of your boss, and how you can form a better team with your boss;

  • Ways you can win your boss's trust in a shorter time.  Read on... ...

To read the rest of this newsletter, pls. click here ( or read the Singapore Business Review version here.

How to Become the Employee that Bosses Love to Work With? (without sucking up to them)


by c.j. Ng



When Malcolm first joined his new company 3 months ago, he had regard this new position as a great opportunity to realise his full potential.  The company was well-known for launching highly entertaining and imaginative cartoons and stories that entertain audiences young and old globally.


However, a few months into his job, Malcolm realised that this wasn't the case for him.  Not at least under his boss.


Instead of allowing Malcolm a free hand in creating new story and cartoon characters. Malcolm's boss gave very mundane and detailed work to Malcolm.  Not only did Malcolm dislike the work he has been given, meticulousness wasn't one of Malcolm's strengths, and as a result there were a lot of mistakes in his work.


Being a stickler to details, Malcolm's boss was quite upset with the mistakes that Malcolm made, and with the increasing amount of work given to Malcolm, the more mistakes he made, and the angrier the boss got.


In addition, whenever Malcolm went to his boss to share a creative idea, the boss would either shoot the idea down, or made sarcastic remarks that Malcolm hadn't even pass through "kindergarten" in their department and hence was not worthy to contribute ideas.


While Malcolm saw the potential that his company could give, his boss was making him feel like quitting every single day.  Malcolm was committed to do  a good job, and no matter how hard he tried, it seemed futile.


(Note: Case study inspired by John Lasseter, whose first job was with The Walt Disney Company, where he became an animator.   He was fired from Disney for promoting computer animation, and joined  Lucasfilm Computer Graphics, later renamed the Pixar Graphics Group.  When Disney purchased Pixar in April 2006, and Lasseter was named chief creative officer of both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios)


Understanding Your Boss' Priorities

While it may be true that in the above case, Malcolm and his boss had mismatching work styles which led to an unproductive work relationship, Malcolm could have improved the situation IF he had understood the priorities of his boss.
In short, there are 2 types of priorities that a boss or any decision maker in an organisation could have:  official/ business  and personal priorities.
It will be rather easy to list the official or business priorities.  These are either the goals or strategies that the organisation or the boss' boss wanted the boss to achieve, and could include:
  • Achieving high quality by achieving zero defects (which could be one of the priorities that Malcolm's boss had);
  • Achieving operational excellence by improving delivery schedules and process improvements; or
  • Reduce the amount of downtime and reworking; etc.
It should also be known that the boss' priorities could seem to run against the corporate culture of the organisation, especially when the organisation is restructuring or re-strategising  to move in a different direction.
In terms of personal priorities, typical bosses are thinking:
  • "If you mess up, I’ll get blamed"
  • "I earned this position in the organisation, and either I need to keep my position, OR I need to figure out how to get to the next level!"
  • "I hope nobody figures out that I don’t have all (or any) of the answers!"
    (Note: above quotes courtesy of LeadershipIQ)
Hence. it can be understandable if some bosses are a little bit more conservative when it comes to trying out new ideas.  It would also be more beneficial if the employee could understand the boss's official or business priorities, and provide the right support so that those priorities are achieved.

Understanding Your Boss Work Styles and Team Role Behaviours


According to the Belbin Team Role Profile there are 9 behavioural roles that one will display in different combinations in a team or work setting these are:

  • Thinking Roles:
    • The Plant: They are creative, unorthodox and are the generators of ideas but could sometimes be poor when communicating with others and fall too much in love with their own ideas
    • The Monitor Evaluator: They are logical, analytical, discerning, makes decisions based on facts, are are good at detaching themselves from bias, but may appear to be slow moving, uninspiring and overly critical
    • The Specialist: They are passionate about learning in their own particular field and strive to improve and build upon their expertise.  They have a high level of concentration, ability, and skill in their discipline to the team but might contribute only on a narrow front and dwell too much on technicalities
  • Social Roles:
    • The Resource Investigator:  They are a rush of enthusiasm at the start of the project by vigorously pursuing contacts and opportunities, and are focused outside the team to either get external information or borrow others' ideas and adapting to their own situation. However, they could be over-optimistic, forget small details and could lose interest if things get "too boring"
    • The Co-Ordinator:  They have a talent for stepping back to see the big picture, recognise abilities in others and are good in getting buy-in for joint or consensus decision making.  However, they can be seen as manipulative and may offload their work to others
    • The Team Worker:  They are the oil between the cogs that keeps the machine that is the team running smoothly. They are cooperative, caring, and sensitive, but may be indecisive when faced with tough decisions
  • Action Roles:
    • The Implementer:  They are disciplined and efficient in implementing plans or ideas to actions, and can always be relied on to deliver on time, but could be somewhat inflexible and slow to respond to new ideas and approaches
    • The Completer-Finisher:  They are perfectionists and will often go the extra mile to make sure everything is "just right," and a strong inward sense of the need for accuracy.  However, they might set their own high standards rather than working on the encouragement of others, and may frustrate their teammates by worrying excessively about minor details.
    • The Shaper:  They are dynamic, goal oriented, and have the drive and courage to take on tough challenges. However, they could be prone to provocation and can be blunt and upset people

In the case above, in addition to Malcolm's boss could be having directives from above to reduce production defects and improve delivery schedules, Malcolm's boss could also have tendencies to "go the extra mile to make sure everything is done the right way as a Completer-Finisher, and could also be less welcoming to new ideas as an Implementer.


On the other hand, Malcolm's tendencies could be that of a Plant or Resource Investigator, and hence was also looking for opportunities to try out new ideas.  Worse still, Malcolm might have the tendency to overlook the small details which his boss places a high priority on.  In any case, having this self-awareness will be a first step in improving communication with your boss or colleagues.


At first glance, it seemed doomed that Malcolm might have found the wrong boss, and could leave the company as a result of not being able to get along well with his boss.  However, here are some tips that Malcolm could do to salvage the situation, and also build great rapport with his boss as well:

  • Instead of providing to his boss of new ideas for new concepts, Malcolm could channel his creative energies to find out what are the better ways that he could help his boss achieve better delivery schedules and lower defects

  • Instead of just telling his boss his ideas, Malcolm could test those ideas on some of his work and get a result to show his boss instead;

  • Instead of trying hopelessly in trying to reduce his own mistakes, Malcolm could partner with a colleague who is good with details but weak in getting the external resources to get the work done.  Malcolm could use his strengths to help his colleague, and get his colleague to help out on the work where he's weak in.

Is this all easier said than done?  YES!

However, there are 2 things that Malcolm could do in his predicament:

  1. Quit and find a new job, and forego future development at this good company that he joined; OR

  2. Try to make things better

If Malcolm quits too much whenever he finds a tough boss, or a boss whose work styles doesn't really match with Malcolm's, he might have a CV that will be very unappealing to future employers.  He could absolutely derail his own career development.


Furthermore, while bosses will prefer to work with employees with the abilities to do what the bosses want, they particularly could not stand employees having a bad attitude.  Rather than showing a negative, problem-bringing attitude, Malcolm could choose to have a positive and problem-solving attitude.


Making Your Boss Trust You


In general, bosses general delegate the most important work to the people they trust most.

Trust, in this case, will have 2 aspects:

  1. Trust in your integrity; and

  2. Trust in your ability

Being an honest employee does not necessarily endear you to become your boss' trusted aide.  While being honest is important, you will need to demonstrate that you sincerely care for helping your boss' goal, and that you don't mess things up and make things worse while you "try". 


Hence, here are some steps on how you can build that trust with your boss:

  • Show you care.  Not so much about the boss' personal well-being, BUT a lot more on what are the goals and directives that your boss is trying to achieve;

  • Show you can.  Demonstrate your abilities that you can deliver as promised;

  • Keep in touch.  Keep your boss in the loop, by providing timely updates, feedback, milestones and results;

  • Honour your commitments.  If you promise your boss something or any deadline, make sure you deliver as promised.  If you could not deliver, it might be better not to make such promises in the first place.  If you have difficulties, alert your boss ASAP.

  • Say positive things.  While it's true that people tend to complain or bitch about their bosses behind their backs, esp. in informal sessions.  Most bosses may not mind, but there could be a few whom could react "violently" if such complaints reach their ears.  Better to focus on positive things, and don't say anything behind your boss' back if you don't have anything positive to say.

The key message here is simple.  Becoming the employee that bosses will want to hire and work with has got nothing to do with sucking up with bosses.  It's got everything to do with how you manage your boss, and how you take the initiative to be an effective team member with your boss,


Need help in improving your work relationship with your boss and develop better careers? Simply e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001 and arrange to buy me a mocha. All information shall be kept in confidence.

Power Breakfast Hour:  11 Dec 2013

How to Become the Employee that Bosses Love to Work With?

  • What are some of the priorities your boss has, and how you need to make those your priorities too;

  • What are the primary working styles of your boss, and how you can form a better team with your boss;

  • How you can win your boss's trust in a shorter time ;

VENUE: Crowne Plaza Shanghai • 400 Panyu Road (near Fahuazhen Road) • 上海银星皇冠酒店 • 番禺路 400 号 (靠法华镇路)

DATE: Wednesday,  11 Dec 2013

TIME: 08:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.




To make this a more conducive discussion, we are expecting a small group of about 15 people only. The room can only take in 18, so please register early to avoid disappointments. Please e-mail your registrations to


Pls. check out our web sites and for more inspiration.

Tips for Managers:

Evaluative vs. Developmental Feedback

Linda Richardson


Most people dread feedback. They often react negatively, both physically (heart pounding, dry throat) and mentally (fearful, nervous, defensive), when they hear they are going to give (or worse, get) feedback. They anticipate criticism, and they feel under attack. Ego goes up and receptivity goes down. This is because people look at feedback as evaluative, not developmental — probably because that is how they have experienced it. Although these two kinds of feedback are interrelated, they are very different..

Evaluative Feedback

Evaluative feedback is what most people think of when they hear the word feedback. Evaluative feedback, often in the form of the annual performance review, is a key element of sales management. It is based on a familiar model of grading found in schools: A through F, a quartile, a ranking of 1 to 5. It allows for comparisons, and it is usually related to compensation.

Evaluative feedback is an essential part of management and comprises the bulk of feedback given during an annual performance review or performance assessment. Some organizations include other evaluations to create what they call 360-degree feedback in which the sales rep gets feedback from people over, under, and next to him or her as well as for clients. The primary goal of the performance review where evaluative feedback is given is to make sure the person being evaluated clearly understands (not necessarily agrees with) what the grade/rating/picture is for the past.

When folks' attitudes, beliefs, and values are in alignment, their behaviours are consonant and supportive of departmental, team and organizational goals.

Developmental Feedback

Developmental feedback is very different from evaluative feedback. It looks forward to what “we” (coach and person being coached) can do to improve and create a better picture for the future.

Developmental feedback answers the questions, “What can we do better to meet/exceed plan?” or “How can we fix …?” Another key difference is that these developmental questions are not asked only once or twice a year, but daily. The time for developmental feedback is always — in a coaching session or in a corridor.


Development happens with developmental coaching. Moreover, empowerment happens with developmental coaching, not evaluative. Developmental feedback empowers because it helps people identify obstacles they face and reinforces their role in removing the obstacles each day. Developmental coaching helps people live and thrive in a Stretch Zone.

The Balance

Both evaluative and developmental feedback are essential to development. In an evaluative session, 90% of the feedback should be evaluative, and in a developmental coaching session, 90%-plus of the feedback should be developmental. The evaluative session and the developmental session are different, and it is important to separate them. However, the two are clearly linked. The evaluation (grades) should be used as a platform for development: The grade is X and the action plan is Y. The grade is the evaluative piece, and the action plan is the developmental one.

Performance review feedback can be emotionally charged because it often is tied to pay and involves assessment. People often get disappointed or upset during a “negative” performance review and are relieved or elated during a positive one. Neither range of emotions is helpful to a developmental session. Since evaluation feedback can overwhelm the developmental part, it is better to separate the two kinds of feedback into different sessions. However, if a person is open to it, the evaluative feedback session can end with a bridge to a developmental session right there and then or, if not, with a plan for a developmental meeting a few days later.

Without ongoing developmental coaching, performance reviews are traumatic — filled with surprises, disagreements, and/or bad feelings. Developmental feedback can change this. Because it is ongoing, the developmental approach takes the sting, anguish, aggravation, and, most importantly, the surprise out of a performance evaluation by making it a summary of what has been communicated all along. Most importantly, developmental coaching sessions make the evaluative feedback more positive.

To learn more about Richardson’s sales coaching training solutions, please click here.

To find out how you develop good feedback skills to be a more effective leader, you can e-mail or call +86-136 7190 2505 or Skype: cydj001


About Directions Management Consulting


Directions Management Consulting is the partner of LeadershipIQ in China and Asia. LeadershipIQ helps more than 125,000 leaders every year through the facts drawn from one of the largest ongoing leadership studies ever conducted is used to help companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved.


In addition, Directions Management Consulting is a leading provider of sales performance, innovation and experiential learning solutions in China and many parts of Asia. is the sales performance arm of Directions Management Consulting specialising in conducting training, research and consulting services for sales managers and their team.


Raybattle is the strategic partner of Directions Management Consulting specialising in experiential learning events and management retreats.


Currently, Directions Management Consulting has served clients such as GSK, InterContinental Hotels Group, Unilever, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Philips Lighting, Carrier, Ingersoll Rand, Freudenberg etc.


Through collaboration with consultancies such as Forum Corporation, MTI, de Bono China, ProWay etc., the consultants in Directions Management Consulting have served clients such as PwC, Volks Wagon, Air Products, Evonik, Wacker, Epson amongst others.


Directions Management Consulting will increase its efforts to conduct leadership studies in China and other parts of Asia, so that more companies apply resources where the best possible results be achieved in this part of the world.


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