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Getting Progress Reviews Done Right

Getting Progress Reviews Done Right

Webcast Details

  • Gallup Called to Coach Webcast Series
  • Season 8, Episode 49
  • Gain insights into what constitutes an effective Progress Review, and how these and other manager-employee conversations can foster employee performance and engagement.
  • Interested in learning more on this topic? Read more about how to improve teamwork in the workplace.

Dr. Ben Wigert, Director of Research and Strategy for Gallup's Workplace Management Practice, was our guest on a recent Called to Coach. Dr. Adam Hickman, Gallup's Content Manager, was the host. Ben and Adam shared Gallup's insights on the Progress Review, something most managers struggle with. They talked about the optimal frequency of these reviews; how other developmental conversations can support them; how an employee's successes can be a starting place for reviews; and how to use reviews to inspire and improve employee performance and engagement. Learn more about performance management in the workplace article Get Progress Reviews Right During COVID-19 (and After).

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, including time stamps. Full audio and video are posted above.

Jim Collison 0:00

I am Jim Collison, and live from our virtual studios around the world, this is Gallup's Called to Coach, recorded on June 10, 2020.

Jim Collison 0:18

Called to Coach is a resource for those who want to help others discover and use their strengths. We have Gallup experts and independent strengths coaches share tactics, insights and strategies to help coaches maximize the talent of individuals, teams and organizations around the world. If you're listening live, love to have you join us in our chat room. Right above me, actually, is a link, if you're on our live page. So if you're at, right above me is a link to the YouTube instance that has the chat room embedded in it. Many of you made it over there, but if you haven't yet, click on that link; love to have you in our chat. You can ask questions live; we'll be watching that as well. If it's after the fact and you miss the chat, it's OK. You can send us an email: Don't forget, if you're on YouTube down below there, there's a little Subscribe button. If you subscribe now, you'll get a notification whenever we post something new. Hit the notification bell and hit "All," so you make sure you get all the ones that they publish. And then don't forget, this is a podcast as well. So any podcast app, just search "Gallup Webcasts," and you'll see all the podcasts that are available. Dr. Adam Hickman is our host today. Adam's Gallup's Content Manager and one of my best friends at work. Adam, welcome to Called to Coach!

Adam Hickman 1:20

Thanks, Jim. Great to be back.

Jim Collison 1:22

Well, we have a fabulous guest today. Why don't you take a second and introduce him?

Adam Hickman 1:26

Sure. Dr. Ben Wigert is with us today; he's our Director of Research and Strategy for Gallup's Workplace Management Practice. Dr. Wigert has, has assessment of talent management needs, designs for point experiences, strategies, really for organizations across the globe. Ben's an IO psychologist by trade, and specializes in helping organizations improve their talent acquisition, their development, their engagement and their performance management. We're gonna talk a little more about this piece here in a second. His most recent work, so if you read articles -- and I hope you do, if you're subscribed to the Gallup at Work Newsletter, you're going to see things coming out with his name attached to it really tied to burnout, the manager experience, so what are the perks -- and I would say nonperks -- of the job, how do you help your managers through those, how do you coach through there? And then one of my all-time favorite papers that we have out there is the Re-Engineering Performance Management. Ben's Top 5 is Achiever, Strategic, Ideation, Analytical and Input. And to give Ben a little recognition here, you will hear Analytical today like you have never heard before. We get in trouble -- Ideation is my No. 1; I think that's where we end up in long conversations and I wait for Ben's Achiever to say, like, OK, so now what do we do? And which direction are we going? And by all means, when I think of Input, Ben, I, I would say, I've seen this, but what I think you provide to the world is your Input of what you've researched, and what you've contributed. And no difference today; we're going to get into that exact topic. So Ben, welcome.

Ben Wigert 2:51

Thanks, guys. Pleasure to be here.

Jim Collison 2:52

Ben, good to have you. Hey, let's do a quick little "Focus on You." How long have you been at Gallup? And what's your favorite part of the job?

Ben Wigert 2:58

Oh, man -- that's -- those are the hardest. I hope that's the hardest question today.

Jim Collison 3:03

For sure.

Ben Wigert 3:03

Jim, I've been here for almost 8 years now. And my favorite part is I get to research what's on the minds of employees every day, and I get to help organizations all over the world improve that employee experience. So, you know, it's gratifying to me to see organizations improve, managers improve, individuals improve. And, like Adam said, I'm a huge nerd. So getting to spend my day in the data and the writing, you know, that's, that's the best day at work for me, for sure.

Jim Collison 3:30

Yeah, I think for some listeners, they're gonna sympathize with that. They really enjoy that analytical piece as well and the research that goes into it. It's a pretty, it's a pretty magical job when we get the right person and the right fit, who enjoys that research. Would not be my favorite thing to do, right, all day. I love to do this. But, of course, it's my job to make you guys a big deal and to really highlight the work that we do. So, Ben, thanks for joining us today.

Jim Collison 3:59

Adam, we're gonna start with you. And we know, performance reviews are really, really hard for most managers. And as we think about the audience of primarily coaches, and a lot of our Certified Coaches, but we may have some managers in here, and we're going to speak to you as well. These often don't get done very well. And they are -- managers don't like doing them, and employees don't like getting them, and there's lots of things; we're going to kind of highlight that as we talk about that today. We've spent -- not, not new to us, we have spent a bunch of time over the last couple years really researching this, looking into it, writing about it. And so I'm excited today to kind of bring that -- Adam, bring some numbers and then we're going to quiz Ben on these numbers as well. Bring some numbers to the equation. What do we know about this, when -- this, this idea of a Progress Review? What do we know about it?

Adam Hickman 4:51

Yeah, it's a great point, and it's June. So it's Progress Review time, right? We're halfway through; we're going to get to what the -- when that is as well. And as you think of it folks that are -- we're coming back to the workplace or maybe staying still remote, the idea is not to stop having Progress Reviews, although the conversation likely is to change. And if you've been a part of a Progress Review, if you've led one, hopefully it wasn't just communicating metrics and correcting problems, but it was more of How do you have an engaging Developmental conversation that's grounded, really, in the well-rounded view of their performance expectations that matter most to you, to them? That's a key piece to it.

Adam Hickman 5:27

So if you think of Jim's question of, How are we doing today? Let's get, let's give some perspective here. 19% of employees strongly agree that they have -- that they reviewed their greatest success with their manager in the past 6 months. If you've read our research, if you've been a part of the Gallup band, things that we say, or if you've read It's the Manager -- similar to what's on Ben's hat -- you know that we anchor a lot in past success. Why? Well, it's back to Don Clifton about what are we aiming at? We're aiming at success. How do you get the most out of that in a Progress Review? Ideally, you anchor that conversation, and we're going to give you some helpful conversation starters today on a past success or success. So 19% is where we're at.

Adam Hickman 6:09

Only 21% of employees strongly agree that their performance metrics are within their control. So if you think of those managers, those leaders that you're coaching around performance metrics, it'd be interesting to say, How many do you think of these are within your span of control? Knowing on the other side of that the percentage is only 21% strongly agree. Ben, anything more you want to add to that or recent statistics that we have?

Ben Wigert 6:33

Yeah, the thing, Adam, that strikes me the most about Progress Reviews as we start with their purpose, it's really to inspire and improve performance, right? I mean, if we really kept it tight on what do we need to get done? We need to get better and help people get excited about being better, know how to get better, right? So a stat that jumps out to me the most is after most performance reviews, that doesn't happen; people are actually less engaged and performance doesn't improve. So about a third of the time, performance actually improves after performance review; about a third of the time, there's no effect -- performance stays the same. And about a third of the time, performance actually gets worse. So that kind of tells you right there that that's failing the purpose.

Jim Collison 7:19

Ben, how close is this tied in our Q12 assessment? "I know what's expected of me" is the very first question. How close do these tie, and what do we know about the two of them?

Ben Wigert 7:28

Yeah, I think, Jim, I think engagement, performance and development are so interwoven. If they don't work together, they're not fully working to their capability -- and potentially against each other too, right? So like, you should always be able to approach your job and your performance in a way that's engaged and strengths-based and continually developing you. Right. So part of engagement, especially the way we define engagement, is being prepared to perform, being enabled to perform and quickly identifying barriers to that performance. So, I mean, they go hand in hand, in my opinion. I mean, if you're not doing things in an engaging manner that moves the needle, you're not really getting it done.

Jim Collison 8:13

Why is that so hard? You know, you'd think you hired somebody, and you would think you'd hired them because you knew what you wanted them to do. Why is that so hard to -- the disconnect between that of I know what I, as a manager, I know what you need to do. And then I need to tell you that. What -- where -- why is that so hard? Where's the disconnect on that between the manager and, and their employee?

Ben Wigert 8:36

Yeah, that, you know, that's an amazing question. We had a really, a really fun conversation this morning about some areas where an organization is doing a good job of selecting high-talent people, good fit to role and things like that, but they're working on continually getting better at, at jobs, projects, any specific task-related things. So even when you have someone who is the right person for the right job, and even when they're engaged, you still have to get really clear on those expectations and those changing expectations and what's needed to support them.

Ben Wigert 9:11

So I think that's the hard thing is even when you perfectly have the right person and they're engaged, you still have to point them at what they need to achieve and how that gets achieved in a way [that] we're all, we're all moving the ball together, if you will. So that's the tricky part is it's not a one-time conversation. It's not a metric. It's not a one-off; it's an ongoing conversation. And it has to be had in a way that's not only making us effective, but it also is meaningful to that person in a very individualized way.

Jim Collison 9:41

Yeah. Part of the, part of the manager's role, and we, you know, we, we talk about this in It's the Manager, is all the pressures they're under. We know our front-line managers, at least here in the United States, are some of the most least engaged employees in a lot of organizations because they're getting hammered both from below and above. Their, their managers are hammering them. They're getting hammered by the folks they're trying to manage. Right? What kind of advice, as we, as we think about frequency of this, Ben, like how -- maybe this is part of the problem is they're not happening frequently enough. What do we recommend these conversations from a frequency standpoint?

Ben Wigert 10:18

Yeah, see, I think you hit the bottom line there too. Is that like, work is dynamic, right? It's not static, especially times like these, when things are constantly changing and where ident -- quickly identifying opportunities and issues and things like that, like, we need to sync up performance management to more fit how work actually happens. Right.

Ben Wigert 10:38

So, I know you've had previous series on the 5 Conversations, and that, and that helps you get there, right? If you're doing your Quick Connect, you're informally understanding what's going on in that employee's world. If you're doing that Check-In at least once or twice a month to really know what's on their plate, what their priorities are, and what these short- and long-term goals are, now we're making a lot of progress right there. Those are the things that are happening now are the Quick Connects and the Check-Ins where we're focused on the the priorities and expectations now, and how they affect our long-term goals.

Ben Wigert 11:12

And then we would also say you need to have a formal Progress Review at least twice a year. We see a lot of clients actually moving to 3 or 4 times a year, often quarterly, because that's forcing, that's forcing conversations about where we're at at least 3 or 4 times a year. And if you think about it, waiting every 3 or 4 months to talk about where we're at is still a really long time. So we're not having those every day, every week, every month conversations that we need, it's still not enough. But what they're trying to do by forcing more frequent Progress Reviews is they're trying to ensure or at least checking in on progress and adjustments we need to make 3 or 4 times a year. And some of the very best are even taking this beyond the manager and the individual one-on-one. They're taking it also to the team. So they're bringing along the team and the employee at the same time.

Jim Collison 12:01

Yeah, I actually, I feel like sometimes this is not getting modeled by the executive team to their managers. So they're not -- those managers are not getting these regular Check-Ins, the Quick Connects, those, right? It's not being modeled to them. And so they're not seeing a positive example that could be modeled down to the work, the team, the work teams, the employees, the folks they're working with, right? That whole, that whole process is being short-circuited. We expected it from front-line managers, but maybe not at the executive level. Do we know anything about that?

Ben Wigert 12:31

Yeah, I mean, you hit it on the head there, like, so think about, think about the problem, right? Like if we, if we just set a goal at the beginning of the year, and it may or it may not be a super well-informed goal. And we pursue it all year without any consideration of what else is, you know, the changes in your expectations, changes in your clients, changes in your, your team, or, frankly, just how things are going. And if we hold people accountable to that goal, and we put a lot of money on that, put the chips on that, people are naturally going to keep striving for that and not make adjustments.

Ben Wigert 13:07

So to your point, that's where the onus comes on. And I say onus -- really it's collaboration between the individual and the manager to make those adjustments. But it starts with the manager saying, "I expect you to help make these adjustments. We're setting these goals in a collaborative manner; we're adjusting them in a collaborative manner. If you will give you, you permission, and I'm asking you to let me know when something needs to change, and we'll talk about it."

Ben Wigert 13:29

It starts, starts with the manager and leadership modeling that; I mean, you can't have agility, you can't have agility, innovation, inclusiveness, any of those things, if you're not listening and opening the channel and setting that as an expectation and having a two-way conversation, right? It starts there. But you have to actually make that happen. And not just tell them, you know. The thing that, the classic thing I see is people give people a one-pager and say, "Hey, talk more often!" And it's just too big an "ask" if that's not how we've been doing things. So you have to work really hard at creating a new rhythm of conversations.

Jim Collison 14:04

Yeah, we know in the steps of creating a strengths-based culture, right, we know that executive buy-in is super important in understanding of this thing moving forward. And I also think, when we think about performance reviews in these conversations, that's also another area, or it's got to -- it has to have support throughout, both up and down the organization or however -- sideways, if your organization is, is laid out that way, however you want to define that. And so the executive team buy-in of understanding this collaborative approach to making sure that goals go up and down, as well. Right.

Ben Wigert 14:37

Yeah, I mean, to your point, Jim, it's -- excuse me -- it becomes a cultural thing really, right. So I mean, we can't just make it a tactic that lives in a performance management process. Like we need leadership to get behind it and say, "This is what we believe in. This is how we work together. This is how we achieve our values and meet our customer needs and be innovative and agile and those things you want to be -- adaptive and resilient." If they don't come out and say, "That's important, so we're going to change how we work together" and kind of create that shared accountability for working that way, it continues just to be a performance management tactic owned by HR. That even if we increase it from once a year to 4 times a year, it's still a check box, right? And not part of how we work.

Jim Collison 15:20

Yeah, I know, for me, the longer I let my budget go, the harder it is to come back to it. Like I get less and less motivated as the days go on. Because I know I got to play all this catch-up, and it's painful. I think it's similar in performance reviews, and that the longer you go without employees being talked to about that, or managers being talked to about that, the harder that conversation becomes; the less likely you are to have it. And so, we recommend at least one to three -- that, that number depends on the organization.

Jim Collison 15:49

But Adam, as we think about this session, based on resources that we have available, we published an article last month about getting Progress Reviews right. We tailored it to the COVID-19 situations happening now. But really, performance management doesn't span across pandemics or crises. This needs to be done, good or bad times. For coaches, what kind of -- what other resources do we have available? You're our content lead on this. What else is available for them?

Adam Hickman 16:21

Yeah, I love the question of when because usually that comes up really quick. When do I have these? The short answer of it is, well, if you're working with an organization, ideally, they have a system set up to say the "when," just to show that you've had that conversation. But if somebody asks me, "When should I have Progress Reviews?" I'd say, "Often and frequent," because -- think of the term "optics," right? So you've gone 6, 7 months without a performance conversation, Progress Review. They know their performance and their progress. And now they're waiting to validate: Does my manager know this?

Adam Hickman 16:55

OK, so flip the script on that. There's been an ongoing Check-In; there's ongoing conversations where you don't necessarily need to say, "The next 15 minutes is all going to be about Progress Review." But you've intertwined some questions, some comments on there that shows past success that you've kind of invited the conversation around Progress Review. And whether, so Brent, I saw your question in there about part-time or gig workers. That's things you can still have both either/or, because it's based on success. It's based on the past to help to predict the show as you make progress. Right.

Adam Hickman 17:30

Let's use Ben's Top 5. If we're having a Progress Review, I'd probably be curious to learn about Achiever's No. 1. Ben, tell me about a most recent success you've had achieving something. Right. I've now invited his talents into the conversation. I'm including him, but in a way that's going to trigger a response where I might not get the mic back, because that's gonna take off on an Achiever piece to it, right? And I'm going to hear those pieces of those, that talents just fall right out. You don't need to wait to schedule that on a calendar with an invite that says, "Progress Review for 30 minutes." It could be any conversation -- it could be on Monday; could be on -- doesn't matter when. The idea is that we know, and based on our science, Ben back this -- change if you need to -- at least twice per year is ideal, right. And normally, organizations have a system set up that dictates you must have this done by now. But if you ask me when, I don't, I don't see why you can't have these interwoven through all sorts of conversations.

Jim Collison 18:24

Yeah, we're gonna, we're going to talk about these 3 things, these 3 items to kind of focus on here in just a second. But Adam, let me reask that question for you. What other resources do we have available to them? What are we posting? What's available to them right now?

Adam Hickman 18:36

Sure. The Re-Engineering Performance Management paper is a really good start. It's got some pieces in there to show you about what are the 5 Conversation models that we're talking about, we've brought up? Ben, Ben has helped build and facilitate those conversations of what those are, almost down to the timing of them that you'll hear as well. That's one really good resource. The article we just talked about was really anchored and focused in on Progress Reviews, even down to courses that Gallup offers around the 5 Conversations model that we have. You'll see a course out there now for Boss to Coach that we offer open.

Adam Hickman 19:11

And then for enterprises, for organizations, we have a Boss to Coach Journey course that really helps ingrain all these principles that we have going across as well. Other pieces that we have out there -- you've got to get into the roots of what this is. So if you think of conversations, look for the articles you have -- or email me; I'm happy to find them for you -- about, you know, we say "conversations," and usually the, the word "meaningful" pops up in front of that. We've given resources out there to say, Well, what does "meaningful" actually mean to your specific person? The short answer of it is, Ask them. Right? But we've got research to say for millennials, it's this. And then so on and so forth. So there's, there's pieces that are out there for that as well too, Jim.

Jim Collison 19:47

Awesome. Appreciate you doing that. Let's dig in on the, on these 3 items. Ben, when we think about each one of them, in other words, being Achievement-Oriented, Fair and Accurate, and Developmental, talk a little bit about that first one. Achievement-Oriented -- it seems intuitive at, on the surface. Is there more to it than that?

Ben Wigert 20:05

Yeah, no, that's -- it's the right place to start, really. Because if you think about what's gone wrong with them, Progress Reviews are famous for leading with criticism, and first and only telling you what you did wrong, right? So you're right, it sounds simple. But we naturally don't start there. Right. So the whole idea here is if we can positively frame it to things that are successful, positive, future-oriented, we've immediately changed the conversation. We've reduced defensiveness, and we've helped people start to own and think about what their best looks like. And maybe that's the most interesting trick in the whole thing. We start with successes, like Adam said. If we pull out successful moments where I can identify my strengths and great partnerships, I can really set the tone for what works for me, my talent, my expectations. And if we contrast that with what hasn't worked so well, we can then pull out, How can I use my strengths and partnerships to be more successful in those moments? And if we set the tone right there, the difficult part of the conversation becomes easier.

Ben Wigert 21:05

So when we start to candidly address some issues we need to get into, we're able to say, "What could your best look like here?" Because people tend to naturally push themselves further and harder than you ever could in the first place. So just by even making that a question, rather than the accusation of, you know, "Is, is this our best work here? Is this your best work here? What could that look like?" You've completely flipped it, where we can be candid about, "This didn't go well," "We need to work on this" or "I see you growing this way." It just opens it up for a more constructive approach. We start with what's working.

Ben Wigert 21:41

And I'll even just say this, like, Progress Reviews are famous for talking about everything except for what employees actually spend the majority of their time doing, because you end up talking to the form and the metrics. And then, employees classically say, "Geez, we talked about everything except for what I actually do every day and that extra discretionary effort, and those big impacts." So just by opening up here, we can make it more dynamic and more grounded in, in their job and their successes, so that we can achieve those more often.

Jim Collison 22:11

Ben, how important is it to, to lead this conversation with strengths? And we did this with you, Adam, kind of did this with you coming in, as we were introducing you. How important is that matter in a manager, maybe knowing the individual strengths of the, of the individual?

Ben Wigert 22:26

It really, it really breathes life into the conversation. You know, if you use "strengths," small "s," and just what do we do best, that's really good, it's helpful. But we still all have a little bit different language and we're not necessarily bringing out those consistent themes and places where we can invest. So when we bring in CliftonStrengths, that helps a ton because we really understand the individual. If you're the, if you're the manager, and you know their strengths, you may even adjust your delivery mechanism. If it were me, you may bring in some proof and some data and some specific facts, right, because, you know that's going to resonate with me.

Ben Wigert 22:58

For other people who are really emotionally tied into it, you may lead more with purpose and things they want to accomplish. But CliftonStrengths is really a supercharger. We see it in the data, by the way, we see a huge lift -- not just from ongoing conversations, but actually adding strengths to it. You know, so it's an evidence-based best practice. But I mean, really, it is your codebook for making these human. And kind of the last thing I'll say is we work with businesses that they brought in a really good, new performance management process. But it wasn't humanized. And they told us that they're like, "We need an accelerator! Like, we're recommending the right frequency; we have good conversation guides. But our managers don't know how to talk to our people in a highly individualized way that gets the most out of them. And that's where we need your help.

Jim Collison 23:46

Adam, based on our research, would you add anything to that?

Adam Hickman 23:50

It'd be great if Ben could show some more signs of Analytical! I wish we could get more of that out of it.

Ben Wigert 23:57

I tried to program a robot for this call, but machine learning and natural language processing is still, still insufficient.

Adam Hickman 24:04

I just -- no, I think Ben's covered the basics. The piece that I'd add to it -- and I'll address some questions before we continue on going forward -- is that who doesn't want to start with a past success? When it's Achievement-Oriented, focusing on the achievement orients you for the future of what's, what's, what's the most challenging that's around it? Because you get to say, in here, these are the things that, that had past success. How do you replicate that with a different task, different project to motivate them going forward? And it's a conversation. It's free, we didn't charge you for that. Like, you just, you just have these conversations. Jim, OK if we move on to the questions to ask?

Jim Collison 24:40

Yeah, let's, let's think -- so this is an area where coaches can help managers. So coaches, as you're listening, if you're a manager, just take the questions. But coaches, these are questions we're giving to you to say, you can pass these along to the managers you're coaching as an opportunity to help them with those that they're, they're, they're managing and doing the performance management with. So Adam, you want to roll through those questions for us?

Adam Hickman 25:01

Yeah, you got it. And the best part is you have to think through how these questions unpack the answer. So if you're high Analytical or Competition, you're racing to get the question in there. And then you're anticipating the response. And like you've, you've already heard the conversation, and even asked the question. What I'm asking you is, don't do that. Use this question and see where the conversation goes. Here's 3 really to get you grounded in the Achievement-Oriented.

Adam Hickman 25:23

The first one is kind of what we've already talked about: In the past 6 months, what's the best recognition you've ever received? If you ask yourself that, you can see how that starts to unpack, uncover all of those things we've talked about about strengths and past success and how you can use that. That's a really good one to get out there for Achievement-Oriented. Two more: The metrics, you know, what metrics provide the best gauge of your success? If you think in the, in the just Achievement-Oriented, you're asking a question that shows that we are going to hold you accountable because that's what we're here for. But also it's a gauge of your success. That way, if you're not "having a Progress Review," they're still able to look at their objective measurements to see how's the success going? Right? So when you ask that question of What's the best recognition? An A+ answer I think would be great is not only that, but you can gauge it based on past metrics as well. The last one here: Who are your partners that bring out the best of you? If you've read our Power of 2, or if you've done any digging -- or even if not, if you're brand new to this -- you know, there are some, some others that just make you shine because of that difference and deficiency of where you're at on your, you know, 1 through 34.

Adam Hickman 26:29

And in our world, you know, with 34, being Empathy for me, I know I've got questions I've got to ask coming out of meetings and things that I just count on my partners for that I say, you know, for me to be Achievement-Oriented every day, I know that it's not always going to rely on me; that there are other partners that can help me achieve that as well and help me kind of build some parameters around how do I do that? So those, those are the 3 questions for that one.

Jim Collison 26:50

Ben, before we move on to the next one, would you add anything to that?

Ben Wigert 26:53

So interesting data point -- know you're gonna be surprised; I'm going to drop a data point. We looked at we looked at our exit data and we saw that about half of the people who left their company said that something could have been done to prevent them from leaving. So hypothetically, half of voluntary turnover is preventable, according to that stat. We dug deeper and looked even closer at that -- half of the people who voluntarily left also said that their manager had not talked to them about their progress, their achievements or their engagement in the previous 3 months leading up to their departure. OK, so obviously, this is the right thing to do to inspire performance, but it's also the reason people can disengage and leave and when we're not dialing into their goal progress, their developmental progress and how I can get better.

Jim Collison 27:43

I think that other No. 2 is that managers account for up to 70% of an employee's engagement in that, right, so really, really important that our managers are armed with this information as well. So we think about some great questions to ask, right? Get, get diving in and making sure this is Achievement-Oriented, successfully driven, positive and it's focused to begin with. Then it's really important that it's Fair and Accurate. So Ben, talk a little bit about what does that mean, Fair and Accurate?

Ben Wigert 28:11

Yeah. So those are the things that we have found to be the most disengaging about performance reviews for people is in -- that's in their words; it's in our survey data: "I don't feel that it's fair and accurate." Well, if we unpack that a little bit, they don't feel like it represents their job well. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it's within their span of control. Sometimes it doesn't feel like the standards they're being compared to are fair compared to other people's, and that's a natural thing in measurement. The more we standardize it and make it consistent across, the less right it is for an individual person, right? So there's a little bit of art there of like, you don't want different rules for different people, but the exact same expectations for people that are in "apples to oranges" situations don't make sense either. So that's kind of the crux of it.

Ben Wigert 28:58

A big part of this too, is it still goes back to clarifying your expectations in the first place, and what success looks like; what's "done" look like; what does "good" look like? And then it kind of folds into the evidence we use to actually show where we landed on that criteria, right? So if we start to look at things, there is no one magic metric, right? The thing you hear the most about is there's a lot of manager bias and judgment and things like that. But the truth is, it's a combination. The truth is there's a combination of outcomes and behaviors that get you to what successful performance looks like, right? So when we set a goal, we're trying to make it, you know, time-based, quality-based, outcome-based -- things like that. But there's no one, there's no one metrics. We have to agree ahead of time: What does success look like? How's it measured? And the better evidence I bring to bear to prove that, the, the better. Cause then you'll see things where, like, maybe the outcome looks good, but the way they got there was ugly. Maybe the outcome wasn't what you expected, but something happened preventing them from getting there. And they showed all the right behaviors. Those are the tricky conversations. Easy conversations are when the outcome's good and the behaviors are good, or they're both bad, because that is what it is. And it just warrants more conversation when those don't align.

Ben Wigert 30:15

So anyway, I think my, my main point here is that it has to make sense for them in the role; they have to agree to it ahead of time. And you really want to clearly define what success looks like. And the further you are from doing any of those things, the less fear that's going to fill, and if you throw pay on top of that, it's going to be even worse than that, right? It's like, pay is kind of like throwing gas on the fire if you're not setting clear expectations and, and measuring effectively.

Jim Collison 30:41

Let's, let's talk about that pay piece for a second, because most organizations manage fiscally on an annual basis. I think it kind of made sense that this, this conversation always popped up once a year, and it always popped up around budgeting time. What's wrong with the once-a-year system, Ben?

Ben Wigert 30:59

Yeah, and that's the thing. It ends up getting reverse-engineered. So even it's a well-intended system, but people know pay matters the most. So sometimes they'll give the rating to justify the pay actually. We don't see a strong correlation between the amount of pay and performance. We see that it affects whether people join a company or leave a company, but it doesn't necessarily translate to performance, because there's also a lot of intrinsic motivation built into that too.

Ben Wigert 31:26

So the trickiest thing with pay is the more you put on a single target, the more you're going to get that behavior. And then there's going to be unintended consequences of not doing the other. So people do want to be able to make a little more money. Of course, they want to be paid fairly. If their total compensation or base salary isn't good, this becomes a bigger issue because they rely on their bonus to get there. But let's say it is good in that market. At that point, what we have to be looking at is am I overincentivizing a certain behavior at the cost of others? And people do want to be rewarded for discretionary effort, but they also love their job and they're gonna work harder to achieve what they're supposed to, right, if they if they see a bright future. So that, that makes it a bit of a balancing act.

Jim Collison 32:08

As an organization at Gallup, we've actually internally separated performance and the pay conversation away from each other. Is that a good recommendation?

Ben Wigert 32:16

Great, great recommendation. Because if you think about it, if they happen at the same time, that employee's sitting there the entire conversation, waiting to hear how much they got paid. And they may not be hearing it; they may become defensive, or they, or they may not care, because if they know they're gonna get their pay, they're not really digging in the conversation. So the point there really is having the Progress Review and making it about goal progress. Like if we can get really focused on your goals, your progress and your development, we're in great shape. And those things carry over to the pay conversation and they inform the pay conversation. But they're disruptive to the Progress Review if they're included. And on top of that, giving pay its, its own conversation leads to other good things. You have a chance to explain the organizational philosophies behind pay; why you got paid what you did now; how you can change that in the future. And it also becomes a little bit of a career planning and development exercise. And that's just a conversation that deserves its own attention.

Jim Collison 33:13

Many employees think the process is unfair, because they're not -- maybe something that happened in February is being talked about in November. Right. If we think about that, does that happen? And are we seeing that in the numbers?

Ben Wigert 33:24

All, all the time. I mean, it's that, that recency-frequency thing is, is a real problem. I would say, to your point, too, about Fairness and Accuracy, they actually may agree with you that we didn't achieve things quite how we wanted to. And then if their pay is docked right away, right there, then they may feel the whole thing's unfair. Where in reality, if we talk about it separately, we could agree that this didn't go well. And then the pay conversation can be separate about, So did that -- am I now getting paid less because that didn't go well? Are we agreeing to co-own, that it wasn't just that person; it was a bigger thing? But when you separate those and we can be more clear about what happened, the goal progress, and then separately, how does that translate to pay? And of, of course, it's going to carry over, right, if you have performance goals. But when you put it all together, a lot of that unfairness is going to come out in the I don't -- 2 in 10 -- 2 in 10 people strongly agree they're paid fairly. 2 in 10.

Jim Collison 34:22

Yeah, yeah, Yeah, no, it's well, and it separates the, the discussion, I think, also it incents managers to have the performance conversation more frequently, because it's not necessarily going to be a conversation. That's, that's separated. And, and if they're having it more frequently, then there's no surprises, right? We're not coming to the end of the year and saying, "Oh, well, sorry, back in February, you did something," right, if that's the only time the conversations being had. Adam, we've got some questions to help out our coaches or help out our managers as well. What are a few questions we can be asking during this time?

Adam Hickman 34:58

Yeah, I was thinking when you said surprises, I was like, No Michael Scott -- like no, no Michael Scott performance reviews. Here's some questions I want to throw in front of there an activity, because I often see in the Facebook site in the community about, Hey, what activities can help land this or to get this started up? There's an -- Karl Duncker's the name, German psychologist from the '30s, '40s era. And he had one called The Candle Problem. If you, if you Google it, you'll find it. And it really is around motivators to why and how you do things. This is something he used early on to show intrinsic motivators as a thing. Earlier times, now Daniel Pink's kind of picked this up and used it throughout time period. But if you want to see a really cool activity to use to help land that's Fair and Accurate, that's a really good one that's got years of publications and peer-reviewed process along the way.

Adam Hickman 35:45

Questions to ask to land that Fair and Accurate piece to it is, What would you like to accomplish in your job by working here? And if you have read our millennial research, if you've read pieces of it through It's the Manager, that idea of "My job, my life" is bigger now more than ever. And if you -- when you can hear that, you can, you can hear the response to say, Well, knowing what you'd like to accomplish, are you in the right role for this? Is it Fair and Accurate to say you can achieve that, right, that "my life" aspect of it in the role that you're in?

Adam Hickman 36:14

Another one is, Are your priorities clear, and do they align with performance goals? Rather than saying, "They are clear, and they do respond to the performance goals," you're inviting that conversation. Because two key points that I hope that we land in the sticks with folks is that employees, they've got to trust that their assessment of their performance is accurate. One way of doing that is pressure-testing, asked through that type of question. But also managers and leaders, as you're coaching them, they've got to use fair, accurate data so they can truly make sense of the experiences that they're having. And you can uncover those things through that type of question.

Adam Hickman 36:50

Last one here is, Are there things that distract you from being positive, productive or accurate in your work? And you'll get, you'll get, you'll get real quick the answer of, Do they trust you well enough to answer that? Because it's one way or the other. Right? It's, "Oh, sure, absolutely. (I don't want to admit that I'm not positive, productive or accurate. I always am, 24/7.)" And I'm not saying that that's not the case. But it invites the conversation to say, Are your performance review, or your performance metrics, are they Fair and Accurate? Those are 3 questions that will really get to the heart of that.

Jim Collison 37:20

Ben, would you add anything to that?

Ben Wigert 37:22

The main thing I would add to it is if we can't tell people how to improve or what "better" looks like, they're also not going to see it as Fair and Accurate, right. So everything Adam said is spot on. And then the big question people have is, you know, If, if I want to do better, what does that look like? If I, if I want to advance to the next role, get promoted, get paid more, change my job responsibilities, you know, what does it look like? So your credibility in Progress Reviews really just vaults when you can clearly define what the next steps should be and what the next outcomes look like. Because then it becomes a contract that we agreed to -- this is the progress I need to make next time, right? Now, now we get the ball rolling. We don't have to sit there and argue about a single metric, a single instance; we can talk about how do we get to the next level?

Jim Collison 38:20

Chad in the chat room asks a really good question. Best question so far, by the way, Chad, so I'm giving you some feedback on your, on your performance so far? So really good. What's the thinking or research around how much of the progress-review conversation should be documented? In a lot of cases, right, HR's governing this, this process, and what, and how much is just between the manager and the employee? Ben, real quickly, I don't wanna go too far off on this, but we have any thoughts on this?

Ben Wigert 38:46

Yeah, very organization-specific. Where I would start is simple and light. I always try to start with simple and light. It's better they have more, have more conversations. I mean, in the bigger picture, it doesn't matter what we do during the Progress Review if we didn't have all the right setup and ongoing conversations. If that review's a surprise, or people dread those Progress Reviews, it doesn't matter because we're not going to get good -- it doesn't matter how well your Progress Review goes, because you're not going to get good behavior after that, right?

Ben Wigert 39:14

So, especially if we're talking like the more frequently you ask them to do something, I would say the less documentation. So if they do like quarterly Progress Reviews, I would really just make sure they're having the conversation. If they're doing the monthly Check-In, would really make sure they're just having the conversation. So the first thing we want to do is make that productive, give them, give them a template, give them training, give them a coaching guide so they know how to have it, and they could write it down. But like, I wouldn't require documentation from the organization -- unless the organization needs it.

Ben Wigert 39:46

There are certain roles in organizations that, for everything from legal purposes to tracking to what they need to work on requires it, but my general recommendation is, go light on the documentation until you really need it. The place you usually really need it is the final -- what is now traditionally the annual review. There's still usually a summary, final performance review of the year that happens before pay decisions and conversation. That's usually when you have to have the nuts and bolts pretty tight by. But everything leading up to that, I would keep it pretty loose and simple unless you need to tighten that up to increase compliance or for legal or process issues.

Jim Collison 40:25

Yeah, kind of on an individual company-by-company basis. I know for me, as a manager, I need some notes because I will forget by November what maybe what I said in February, right?

Ben Wigert 40:36


Jim Collison 40:36


Ben Wigert 40:37

Yeah, you want it happening, right; you want it happening and well-informed. That's, that's the first, the first hurdle to clear.

Jim Collison 40:42

And I need some accountability, just to remind me in some cases of, you know, if I have 25 employees that I'm working with, I may need some, you know, I may need some help remembering.

Ben Wigert 40:51

To that point, with your personal documentation, that's the thing is if you don't pick up from your previous conversation, now these are becoming inauthentic and going through the hoops, right. So I mean, you, you -- you, at least, need enough as a manager or a leader to make sure is -- it's -- there's continuity there, right?

Jim Collison 41:06

Yeah, consistent, continuous, you know, fair, from that standpoint of triggering when I'm -- the conversation I had, so I remember it accurately, for my, for my sake. OK, as we kind of bring this in for a landing, we were gonna think about this third part. And kind of a no-brainer, but maybe not a no-brainer, that these need to be Developmental. What does that mean?

Ben Wigert 41:28

Yeah, you know, that's -- it sounds, it sounds easy, right. But like when you think about what is development, there's the part that people miss is improving performance is development, right? And making goal progress, improving on the way I approach my job every day, learning every day is development, right? So like, these should be Developmental in that way. When they're Achievement-Oriented, when they're future-oriented, we're developing because we're harvesting lessons. We're talking about how to get better. We're making a plan for the future. So in that way, that's where performance reviews have probably traditionally been most deficient. And then there's the more traditional sense of development when we think about, like, career pathing and having a plan for what, what steps need to happen to determine my next achievement -- whether that's key experiences, skills training, getting promoted, you know, what's my clear Developmental path? You need both of those. So, I mean, the one they miss really is the, How do we make the lessons harvested more Developmental? Identifying barriers and opportunities. And then the one that we do but probably don't do well enough is the development planning. And frankly, a lot of times, the development planning is a second-class citizen, an afterthought, if you will. They don't -- those goals don't get taken as seriously as your performance goals. And that's a mistake.

Jim Collison 41:51

We can get some, we can get some team clues to how they're feeling through our Q12, and maybe some questions like, "Someone cares about me." What else in the Q12, what It'd be some clues from a team perspective on those kind of questions of, Are we, are we being more Developmental than less? What do you think?

Ben Wigert 43:10

Well, my quick answer is obviously going to be your, your Q12 survey data, right? I mean, that's one way right away is when we have scheduled action planning around things we care about. I mean, that'll be something that'll jump out in your data right away. Another thing is, if you're losing stars, either they're going to other teams (not because they did great and are ready for the next step, but they were looking for something else). Or you're just having turnover in general. So turnover is often tied to development. It's a very, it's a top predictor of -- I think it's one or two in predicting turnover. So development's an issue there. The other -- I'm trying to think of what you hear from a team too. You might hear a lot of conversation about opportunity for improvement. "We could be better," or "I'd like, you know, I'd like to explore this." When you're starting to hear a lot of problems, a lot of times the answer there is often actually a form of development.

Jim Collison 44:06

Yeah. Would there be another question in the Q12? I was thinking through -- we have a development question in there talking about it, you know, or even Question 3, "I get the opportunity to do what I do best every day," right? Kind of that indicator? How do you feel about managers maybe using -- in a Developmental Review, can I just pull that Question 3 out as a manager? We're going to talk about questions here in just a second. But can I pull that question out and just ask it?

Ben Wigert 44:34

It's a tricky question. So obviously, for the one-on-one, we don't have their individual data, right, so that's not available. Now if you're in a team Progress Review, we could talk about whether the team's high or low on it and what it means, but there's no reason we can't have a conversation around it. I mean, the Q12 really should be a framework for talking about work and your needs. So we don't have to sit there and talk about scores. But, you know, one thing we do in our Progress Reviews is we teach managers to work through those needs of employees, from "expectations" to "do best" to "Am I, am I the manager talking about development often enough?" "Do you feel like you have opportunities to learn and grow?" So I mean, if you can incorporate the Q12 into your performance conversations, it means you're naturally -- if you're living engagement every day in that way, you're naturally having these conversations about is your development good? And the employee should feel more empowered to say, "Hey, I could work on my 'learn and grow' a little bit right now." Or "I could use a little more developmental feedback," you know?

Jim Collison 45:35

Yeah, I hear that conversation a lot at Gallup is because we live that. A couple times a year, where we talk about it all the time, I actually find us phrasing questions that way to say -- you know, I mentioned this in the very beginning of the show -- Q10, Best friend at work, I say that all the time to employees I work with so that they know, Hey, you're very valuable to me as a, as a friend, because that's important in our data. Adam, we've got some questions to help coaches help managers or managers. What kind of questions could we ask during this phase?

Adam Hickman 46:07

Yeah, great. Jim, you're my best friend at work. I just wanted to say that out loud. I've said it and I can check it off.

Jim Collison 46:13

Don't tell Maika I said that. Don't tell Maika!

Adam Hickman 46:16

OK, great. With, with the idea that effective Progress Reviews help employees sustainably grow and improve -- that's the pitch; that's the anchor we're going for from this piece -- here's some questions to ask with that. Who encourages your development? Getting back to that Power of 2, Who else in the company really helps you shine? can help you really land the point where if I know I need to communicate something or if I want to make sure I've communicated enough or more or less, Jim's my call -- right? High Communication. I know he thrives in the space. We were just commenting on prior to the show. His involvement in the Facebook community, and it's just -- I have high Competition; I would like to beat Jim to the punch -- to be able to answer the question. It's never gonna happen. I can't, so I won't compete. Jim, it's all you.

Adam Hickman 47:02

Couple more here. Are there mentors in our organization who you'd like to spend more time with? I'm going to give you my point of view on this one, and it's backed up by years of Don Clifton saying, "Making sense of experience." If you've got high Competition, you probably have found yourself doing this, where you get into an organization and you find who the players are. And instead of just competing with them, I try and look to download as much as I can from them. Mentors are so beneficial and useful in a way that I wish we could do more of that and talk more about it, write more about it, and we should. But for you as coaching managers, coaching individuals, coaching leaders, right, are they setting that up? Are they doing that? And, you know, do you need a full-fledged mentorship program? Sometimes to help to get started. But it's a good nudge in these conversations to say like, that's, you know, good that you want to develop yourself in SPSS. I'd like to introduce Dr. Ben Wigert to help you learning statistical process control along the way. I'll never call you for that, Ben. But it's those people types of conversations you can have that it's a quick fix that encourages the development.

Adam Hickman 48:03

Two more here. Have you received meaningful feedback in the last week? If so, why was it meaningful to you? The bias in that question is we assume it's meaningful, because we're giving it to you and like, right, we're, we're in the manager role or in the leader role. So it's going to be great. But unless you stop and ask that question, is that meaningful, how do you even know if it's meaningful? For example, Scott Miller, you've probably already mentioned in passing on these as well. We've had that conversation and where, you know, he knows from the start with metrics or metrics, I'll see them and he'll see them; we know that. Just get to the point of what do we need to focus on the most? We, we almost skipped the first part of that conversation, not because we don't enjoy it or we don't want to; I've just said what's most meaningful for me in the time period that we have, in 24 hours, wish we had way more hours in the day. Let's just cut right to it. Right. What's, what's the, what's the feedback look like? One for what's that -- that's most meaningful to me.

Adam Hickman 48:55

And then the last one here: Are there barriers to achieving your wellbeing goals? I put this one in here because right now burnout, you know, you've got one of the gurus on here with us to talk through that. But also that wellbeing doesn't just stop in the workplace; it goes all the way around. And this is not a Progress or Developmental conversation that has to stop there. It's how else can you help accomplish those other aspects of wellbeing? I'll end with this, Jim, and it's back to you. This is one of those conversations that you can't "wing it." I love when Jim said, I've got to have some commerce and pieces going into it. Because you should; this should feel very prepared. And almost you can, you could, you know, if you studied athletes, if you ask them, what are they doing pre, pregame, they're playing the game through their head; they're running the plays. Right, use these questions -- that's your pregame. Get prepared for what possibly they could answer with, so you're well and prepared to hit all 3 points throughout.

Jim Collison 49:50

Ben, anything you would add to that?

Ben Wigert 49:51

I would just round it off, saying if you can answer the question, or you can get them to answer the question, What do you want your future to look like in 1 year, in 3 years, in 5 years? We can start to paint a picture of how we get there. Right. And I'll just reiterate what Adam said: We study how managers and employees approach development. Employees often want the manager to give them their options and tell them what's possible. And the manager often wants to know, you know, What would make you happy? What do you think you would be good at? And they have to come together on that conversation, because if the employee just expects the manager to be psychic, we have a problem. And if the manager expects the employee to know what their development should look like, we have a problem. So they need to meet me halfway.

Jim Collison 50:34

Ben, we originally wrote this article for this -- the COVID situation is going on, causing massive disruption around the world. On top of that, here in the United States, we've had a lot of diversity questions kind of come up over the last couple weeks. When we think about this area, in the area of diversity and even in disruption, which, you know, COVID has created global disruption in that, what what kind of final advice would you give especially in the area of diversity?

Ben Wigert 51:02

Sure. I'll take the softball COVID first, then hit diversity. So COVID is been a very interesting experiment in performance management Because anybody who is not going to have their performance conversation, that's, that's a vote of no faith in your process. You can't not have the -- you may not measure to it or pay to it like you normally would, but skipping the conversation at a time when employees need some confidence of what's happening, and we need to be talking to each other, is not a good thing, right. So in time of COVID, the things that become more important than -- or any disruption -- become more important than ever are agile goals. Are we prepared to pivot and have conversations about pivoting; ongoing, meaningful conversations? Are we staying in touch, both for the sake of engaging your workforce and making good decisions and then adjusting accountability in a way that makes sense? So obviously, the, the performance metrics or pay may need to be adapted because of current situations, right. So that's my response to the COVID aspect of it; that's where we need to double down. And really, what, what better time to kind of "burn the boats" on your old way of doing performance management than when, well, you have to do it differently now?

Ben Wigert 52:11

In regard to the inclusivity question, where performance management really plays in there is, this is where "opinions count" is required, right, required. So if you don't begin a two-way dialogue, where you're listening to your employees and having a two-way conversation here, this is, this is literally the place where opinions officially count on paper, right? So that needs to be an inclusive conversation, and people need to feel like they're being heard and things are being individualized to them. The other thing I'd say about performance management is obviously this is tied to promotion and pay, which is tied to where the root of many diversity issues are, of who's getting paid and promoted. You can track that 3-year data, right; you can you can see who has equal pay, unequal pay, is promoted at, at different rates than other classes, right?

Ben Wigert 53:04

So those are the two things. I mean, the conversation should promote inclusivity in general, and "opinions count." And this is where you got to watch the decisions you're making through -- as a result of these performance reviews as affecting who's getting paid and promoted. So that's, that's something you should keep an eye on.

Jim Collison 53:20

Those three topics of disruption, diversity and inclusion are not going away. Like, they're, they're here; they're here to stay. They've actually always been here. We've been talking about them for a while. They're in our data. We have, as we, as we do research on them, we publish and post just as fast as we can to get that information out there and provide the webcasts like we do here. But those are, those are not -- and I hope, actually, they don't go away because that -- they're the, they're the core problems, a lot of times, organizations face. And so while that's happening today, and this information is applicable to today, it will be applicable a year from now and 2 years from now and 10 years from now, because we we need to struggle for better, better impact in those areas. Adam, anything else you'd add before I wrap it up?

Adam Hickman 54:06

No, I think those are all great points. And well said.

Jim Collison 54:09

Ben, anything else that I missed in this?

Ben Wigert 54:12

Like how you concluded on, you know, it's an opportunity to do, to do better and to do the right thing. These are things we should always be working on and we should grab the momentum and push hard.

Jim Collison 54:23

Yeah, no, I'm hoping so. And we've got a great platform to be able to do this. I want to thank both of you for your work in this at Gallup. It's great to, Ben, with your 8 years of work here with us. Adam, with you helping me surface all this content to make it available for individuals, coaches, managers around the, around the globe. Thanks to -- thank you to both of you for joining me today and being a part of this, and appreciate it.

Jim Collison 54:49

With that, we'll remind everyone to take full advantages of all the resources we have available on our website. If you go to, we do have a special Workplace section. A lot of this stuff gets surfaced in our Workplace practice. And it's strengths-laden. So if you think, "Oh, no, I'm a strengths coach." Well, no, actually, you're a workplace coach, because that's where strengths happen. And so, don't, don't miss some of our Workplace section if you want to kind of keep up with all the things that Adam is doing and posting and that team is doing over there; they are rocking it lately. So go to Use the search button while you're there; many of the topics can be surfaced that way as well. And we'd love to have you do that. Specifically strengths-related, go to Can log into Access directly from there, and we continue to push more content that way into our Access platform as well. If you're on any of those pages, you can, you can sign up for the CliftonStrengths Community Newsletter. We do that once a month; great way to stay connected to us. And actually, we've got all kinds of newsletters. Just take a look when you're out there, alerts and the ability to kind of keep up with everything that we're doing out on our site as well. If you have any questions on anything, you can send us an email: If you want to follow our live events, maybe it's the first time you've joined us live and you're like, "Oh man, this was great. I want to see, I want to see more of Adam and Ben!" OK, well, then let -- 1) let us know. But 2) Follow us: as well. We just finished up a very popular virtual summit that happened. And the 2021 Summit now is open if you want to join us next year for that. And maybe you're listening to this and it's just a couple months away; head out to, and you can see everything that's going on for 2021. And actually, the agenda has already been announced and is out there. So Join us in Facebook: On LinkedIn -- maybe you're not a Facebooker, and that's OK -- on LinkedIn, you can join us just by searching, "CliftonStrengths Trained Coaches." We want to thank you for joining us today. We'll hang out for a smidgen of a postshow if you're joining us live. With that, we'll say, Goodbye, everybody.

Ben Wigert's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Achiever, Strategic, Ideation, Analytical and Input.

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