The Three-Month Rule
post # 326 — March 8, 2007 — a Client Relations, Managing post
Plans and reviews ought to be conducted on a once-every-three-month cycle.
Once a year is, of course, too infrequent. Saying Iâ€™ll accomplish something in the next twelve months is like setting New Yearsâ€™ Resolutions — the pressure for accountability is too little at the beginning of the year, and too intense at the end. Examining whether I did what I promised only after 12 months of effort is unlikely to ensure that I stay on the diligent execution path.
On the other hand, meeting with me and reviewing plans and activities once every month is micromanaging and doesnâ€™t allow for unforeseen circumstances. I canâ€™t ABSOLUTELY promise Iâ€™ll get something done in the next 30 days. Who knows what existing client demands will change, what new client opportunities will arise, what staff emergencies and ill-health will affect output? Or (to be honest) how the ups and downs of personal intensity will flow — as my clients keep telling me, you canâ€™t be a dynamo, learning new skills, every month.
But three months is ideal. Itâ€™s long enough to work around the worldâ€™s unpredictabilities both at work and in peopleâ€™s personal lives. Itâ€™s a long enough leash to make me feel that I have a lot of autonomy in allocating my time, while still keeping me accountable in a period of time that wonâ€™t let me go off the rails.
On the other hand, to make it work, the three month-review system mustnâ€™t slip. It must be scheduled, planned for, actionable commitments made and the review actually held. If you want to treat me like a true professional, hold really thorough reviews with strict accountability for action promises made every 3 months — and get off my back in the intervening time period.
Ban monthly budgets!
Abolish annual performance appraisals.
Manage to a 3-month cycle!
(By the way, this rule works on client relationships , too.)