Produce & Promote

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I started back to work yesterday after the holiday break to realize I was a little behind on the feeds I have sent to my work email since I managed to actually not open it after December 29th.  Many bloggers had posted a #YearInReview piece including this one from Seth Godin.   What an amazing list.  I have been following Seth’s Blog for almost two years now and nearly every post resonates with me as if he is reading my mind and sending the message specifically for me.  If you haven’t read LINCHPIN you need to go buy it right now.

Anyway, back to the point…


These lists reminded me of a key element to leadership that I wanted to share.  Its another point of balance that requires a leaders attention.  Unfortunately you cannot just churn out results and always expect them to receive the right level of recognition with out a little promotion on your part.  I spent quite a few years early on in my career plugging away at overperforming and creating value with a purist attitude that the efforts of myself and my teams should just be recognized without any promotion on my part.  I considered promotion of my teams accomplishments “flag waving”.  This stance didnt put me all the way down in the “martyr” circle of the included diagram but it most certainly had both myself and my team in the “productive but frustrated” quadrant.

Over the years I came to a realization that just being productive wasn’t going to be enough.  I was going to have to call out both the current and planned achievements of my team for them to receive the recognition they deserved.  My number one responsibility as a leader was to be their biggest advocate, cheerleader, and quite simply PR person.

Now be careful – you can go to far as depicted in the diagram.

  • Too much promotion and you are “full of yourself.”
    • You have to balance your teams productivity with the level of promotion you apply to their accomplishments.  Its not a 1:1 ratio or you are just a “flag waver.”  Focus more on productivity and then with the increased momentum start talking them up.  Be justified in your promoting.
  • Promotion without productivity results in being nothing more than a politician.
    • All rhetoric and no results?  We have enough of that in D.C. – Stop talking and MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!
  • Simply flying under the radar with neither productivity nor promotion.
    • Make sure you don’t lose those photos or you are going to lose your job!


Here is one way I promote my team a minimum of twice a year (there are many others I will share later).  I recommend you do some version of the same for your teams sake.  At the middle and end of the fiscal year I send my team what is basically a #YearinReview (or #midyearinreview) thanking them for all their hard work and accomplishments.  I list a sampling of their accomplishments thus far for the mid-year or in total for the year end communication.  I also list a sampling of our agreed to plans for future success reminding them of where we are headed and how we intend on maintaining the momentum.

Now here’s the trick – its complex – pay attention – you may need to print this out to refer back to as you attempt this for yourself.   Are you ready?

I copy my boss and his boss on this communication.

It’s that simple.  The main purpose of the communication is to let my team know that I recognize everything they do and that I am grateful for their efforts.  If you don’t honestly feel that way then don’t do this or the insincerity will be very apparent.  The copy to my boss and his is secondary to the true purpose.  And never copy further than one step above your own manager.  You most likely dont have much interaction higher than that and honestly it will just appear creepy and absolutely self serving.  If there is a reason for it to go higher up the chain it will be forwarded by them.  That is if they are a good leader and promote their teams.

Where would you place yourself on the matrix?

Have you thanked and promoted your team lately?  If not, do it because they have earned it!

If you wont be their advocate, who will?

One thought on “Produce & Promote

  1. “Promotion without productivity results in being nothing more than a politician.” – BRILLIANT! Great post, Mike. I’ve found that an effective way of balancing flag waving and obtaining results for my team is gathering after a seminar, workshop or presentation for either and starting out with, “What didn’t work and how can we improve?” and “What did work?”, followed by congratulations (for both) and focusing on what worked and how to grow and improve for the next one. I don’t put energy on either which allows everybody to take ownership without the judgment that one is “wrong” and the other is “right.” Great job with the bliggity blog and keep ’em coming!

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