SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How well did your delivery of end-of-year reviews go?

  • It was great — no surprises and people were good with their reviews: 24.63%
  • It was OK — some surprises and some frustrated people: 30.05%
  • It was terrible — most people were surprised with results and very frustrated: 5.91%
  • I don’t deliver end-of-year reviews: 39.41%

Surprises are bad. End-of-year reviews should never be a surprise. Your job as a leader is to consistently let your people know where they stand in terms of performance. The performance review should be just that — a review of things you’ve already told them. If they’re getting surprised at the end of the year, you’ve been withholding feedback or sugar coating things over the course of the year, which is a disservice to them and prevents you from getting the best performance possible out of your team. For the 40% of you who don’t deliver reviews, I hope that’s because you don’t have direct reports. (read more…)

You’ve been asked to speak at an upcoming business meeting and have learned that some important people will be in the audience. There is a lot riding on this. And the reality is this presentation could open doors for you, including the exit!

Speaking in public is a natural requirement of most corporate positions. It also is a leading fear for many people. Yet, with a little preparation and practice, you can manage that fear and present like a rock star — delivering for your company, elevating your position and avoiding being shown to the door!

Follow these eight tips and you will surely succeed as a first time corporate speaker:

  1. Embrace the anxiety. Most people will tell you to relax before giving a public speech. But that’s easier said than done. Public speaking activates your adrenal glands and creates nervous energy. Take a step back and reassure yourself that what you are experiencing is normal.Harness that energy and make it work for you, not against you.Make a conscious decision to use purposeful movements, meaningful gestures, and direct and continuous eye contact.
  2. (read more…)

We will have published nearly 470 posts on SmartBlog on Leadership by the end of 2013. It sounds like (and is!) a lot, but at an average of just fewer than two posts per business day, the frequency represents our aim of posting only what is high quality and relevant for time-strapped professionals.

How do we know if we’ve hit the mark? It’s not always so simple. A good deal of our traffic comes from our SmartBrief newsletters (chief among them SmartBrief on Leadership) and social media. If I write a boring headline on our e-newsletter summary, I might kill traffic to a great blog post, to give just one variable.

But, considering those limitations. here are this year’s top Leadership posts by pageviews. You’ll probably notice a pattern:

  1. “10 employee conversations that managers hate to have” — Dan McCarthy, June 27.
  2. “Who’s holding you hostage? Mastering difficult conversations, part 1: Conversations with difficult people” — Dr.
  3. (read more…)

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council, an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and e-mail lessons. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

How do you know if your team is really ready for a growth spurt? What can you do to prepare them?

yec_Neil Thanedar1. Grow slowly and build structure early

Hire slowly and focus on culture and processes first. Weekly team meetings, regular performance reviews and efficient communications tools are a great place to start. You don’t have to enforce the rigidity of a 1,000-person company, but preparing for life as a 10-to 100-person company is a lot easier to implement when you’re at two to five and ready to grow. — Neil Thanedar, LabDoor

yec_Patrick Conley2. (read more…)

It’s that time of year when many of us, with the best of intentions will write a leadership development plan, or establish goals for the upcoming year. Unfortunately, most of us will fail to achieve those goals.

Why? We fail for a lot of reasons, most importantly, we underestimate how hard it is to change behavior.

There’s others reasons too. We often set high-level, nebulous leadership goals such as “be more strategic” or “be a better leader” without having a way to measure our progress towards achieving that goal. There’s no accountability, no way to see if we are making progress, and no motivation to keep trying.

I recently attended a conference where leadership-development guru, author and coach Marshall Goldsmith was a keynote speaker.

He shared a technique that’s he’s been using for years that helps him achieve his goals. At the end of his presentation, he asked if anyone was interested in participating in some research (for 10 days) using a similar technique to leave a business card. (read more…)