Contribution review

Stewards: Tim Masson, Luz Iglesias and Loree Bennett

On January 1, 2019, all managers at Ian Martin exchanged their “Positional Authority” for the Authority granted via the Teal OS to everyone equally across the company. Because of this shift, everyone in the company now has the Authority to take on any Problem/Opportunity and “manage” it to a decision or resolution via the practices listed on the Teal OS flowchart.

Problems and opportunities related to (y)our own or a co-worker’s role or contribution are managed through a practice called the Role Advice Process. Undertaking a RAP yourself or recommending one to a co-worker makes sense when you can live with your/their existing level of contribution, but you see an opportunity to respond to client needs, tackle a new challenge, and/or get more aligned with the “three-circles of Meaningful Work”.

In situations, however, where you can not live with a co-worker’s existing level of contribution to the organization (i.e. in which you believe someone is not making a Net-positive Contribution to the organization), a higher degree of effort is required to ensure the psychological safety of the participants and the positive outcome of the problem or opportunity.

The Contribution Review exists for that purpose.

It outlines actions by which any co-worker (called the “Initiator”) can raise the problem/opportunity with another (called the “Receiver”).

Initiator steps

1. Choose a Peer Mentor

Choose a Peer Mentor to guide you through the process.

Peer Mentors currently include Emily Schmidt, Meaghan Nowicki, Loree Bennett, Luz Iglesias, Murali Balasubramanyam, and Tim Masson, because of their HR expertise and experience with this practice. [Note: this group has a responsibility to train others so that a wider group of Peer Mentors is available in the future.]

The Peer Mentor will help you think about:

  1. Are you using the best practice? i.e. Are you attempting to address a contribution problem/opportunity or is this something else? Can you live with the receiver’s current contribution? Why or why not?
  2. Has feedback been given to and understood by the receiver? What’s the evidence of that?
  3. What is the immediate and long-term impact to the business if the Receiver chooses to leave?

Often these questions do not have easy answers. Wrestling through them is the role of the Initiator, with the support of the Peer Mentor.

You and your Peer Mentor must also find out from Loree Bennett (North America) or Murali Balasubramanyam (India) what the cost of a Transition Package will be before you decide to proceed (important note: you will not present this information to the Receiver – the Receiver will request this from Loree/Murali directly.)

2. Meet With Receiver

Plan this conversation with your Peer Mentor to make sure that it contains the following elements (and that it is delivered with compassionate candor):

Important note: if you or the receiver wish to have the support of a neutral facilitator, invite one of our trained facilitators to the conversation. The list of facilitators can be found here.

  1. Tell the Receiver that you are initiating a Contribution Review.
  2. Share your reasons for initiating the Contribution Review.
  3. Acknowledge that you may have a limited view of the Receiver’s contribution and that if the Receiver chooses to pursue a Role Advice Process, you will participate as a fair-minded Advisor to their RAP taking the perspectives of all their other Advisors into consideration alongside your own.

Bring with you a copy of the Contribution Review (this document) for the Receiver and walk them through it to help them understand their options for next steps – see below.

3. Document the meeting with an email (that day, if possible)

Follow-up the conversation with an email that contains the following elements (and that is written with compassionate candor):

    1. A statement that you met with the Receiver to initiate their Contribution Review.
    2. Attach a copy of this Contribution Review document with a reminder for the Receiver to review the Receiver Steps.
    3. A reminder of the Contribution Review due date (see 2.A.ii).

4. Participate as an Advisor

If the Receiver decides to initiate a RAP, you must participate as an Advisor:

    1. Offering your perspective(s)/reason(s) for initiating the Contribution Review in a respectful manner,
    2. Considering/listening/learning from the perspectives of all other Advisors, and
    3. Being fair-minded when you decide whether (or not) to give consent to the Receiver’s RAP proposal.

Receiver steps

1. Meet with Loree or Murali

Understandably, it can feel very difficult to be asked to do a Contribution Review, but the good news is you have a voice in the process. In fact, many of the people who have been asked to do Contribution Reviews are still with the company and finding more success than before.

Loree Bennett (North America) or Murali Balasubramanyam (India) will help you with two initial steps. First, they will provide the Transition Package details for you to review. It is important that you understand the package details before making your choice to do a RAP or exit the company. Second, they can help you with step 2, finding a Peer Mentor.

2. Choose a Peer Mentor

To help you along the way, you will need a peer mentor to support you. Choose someone who can provide guidance and encouragement through your process. Note: the trained Resolution Facilitators list can be found here and the Peer Mentor list can be found here. These people would all make great Peer Mentors. Choose someone you trust to be both candid and supportive, someone who knows the steps, and can help you process the feedback/advice you get from others. It’s probably best if your mentor is not also an advisor.

3. Decide whether you choose to do a Role Advice Process (RAP) or Exit the company

At this stage you have two choices, either a. or b.:

A. Role Advice Process

If you choose to initiate a Role Advice Process, simply follow the standard Role Advice Process (RAP) template with guidance/assistance from your Peer Mentor. When completing a RAP inside the context of a Contribution Review, the following Special Conditions apply:

i. Completing the RAP is your top priority

If you choose to do the RAP (which is your freedom within the Teal OS), it becomes your #1 priority to seek Advice and make a Role-proposal that gains consent of your Advisors. There are no limits to the creativity and content of this proposal but here are some examples of past strategies we have seen:

    • A proposal to stay in the same role, with a clear Agreement and Accountability plan to improve your contribution.
    • A proposal to stay in the same role and change your compensation.
    • A proposal to change aspects of your role (or entirely change it) to a role where you can make a greater contribution.
    • Create greater clarity among your advisors about your contribution(s) by exposing your advisors to one another’s perspective(s) via the RAP and, therefore, the current role continues without major changes.
    • A decision to exit the company, but with an extended working transition that mutually benefits you, your team, and the company.

ii. The RAP Proposal Timeline is limited to 14 days

Within the context of a Contribution Review, all involved parties: you, your team, and the company need clarity about the future direction of your role as soon as possible (while giving you a reasonable time to work through the process).

Because you have been given the freedom to make the RAP your #1 priority, it is your responsibility to gain consent for your RAP proposal within 14 days of the date your Contribution Review was initiated (the “Contribution Review Due Date”).  Keep in mind: initial proposals can require changes as advisors respond and give feedback. These changes require reflection and discussion, so plan your time accordingly.

B. Exit the company

At any time after a Contribution Review has been initiated, the Receiver may choose to take a Transition Package and exit the company. The Receiver can either make this choice right away or can decide to do so at any point during their RAP (if/when they decide not to continue with the RAP).

Details about the Transition Package are included in the FAQ below. In the context of a Contribution Review, the amount of the Transition Package must be understood by the Receiver before they initiate the RAP (see 2.A.iii).

If the Receiver is unable to gain consent for their RAP proposal by the Contribution Review Due Date, the Receiver will still have the option to accept the Transition Package and sign the Release. If the Receiver does not wish to accept the Transition Package, the Company will proceed with their termination in accordance with Company Policy and the applicable Employment Standards for that region.


Net-positive Contribution is when everything that someone contributes is greater than everything the organization invests in them.

There is no one, simple formula or approach for making that assessment; it is by nature a complex assessment, taking into account many factors such as someone’s short-term and long-term actual and potential contribution, their compensation and other investments made in them, and so on.

One model that has helped people make this assessment is to compare someone’s Talent (all the contributions they make, the way they make others and the company better, and the resources they bring to the organization) and their Trouble (all the trouble they cause, the investment they require, the compensation and resources they use). Every single person has both Talent and Trouble. The trick is, over the course of your career, to have more Talent than Trouble!

When the opposite is true, when someone’s Trouble is higher than their Talent, the Contribution Review can be a catalyst to reverse the imbalance. Where it can not be reversed, exit is the responsible option.

The Contribution Review applies when one co-worker assesses that another is not making a Net-positive Contribution and so their employment at the company may not be sustainable.

Advise them to do a RAP. The Contribution Review is not needed.

Yes. You can Initiate the Contribution Review process for the CEO if you want to. In fact, the Contribution Review is a key piece of our efforts to maximize BOTH freedom AND responsibility at our company – so it’s very important that everyone understands they can initiate this process for anyone else.

The Initiator has given you a gift by sharing their perspective; however, you too have a voice in the process.  Generally, the best practice is to start your RAP, gather the most candid advice you can get from all your advisors, and make a proposal that everyone can consent to.

Strictly speaking, feedback is not mandatory prior to initiating a Contribution Review; however, it is strongly advised and encouraged. As per Initiator Step 1.b, the Peer Mentor will ask the Initiator about feedback and review the steps they have taken to give feedback to the Receiver, before a Contribution Review is initiated.

At times, a Contribution Review is initiated because attempts at giving feedback have been made but the feedback is not being heard/implemented.  In such a case, the Contribution Review itself is a form of feedback and still gives the Receiver the opportunity to gather further feedback from Advisors after the Contribution Review has begun.

Lastly, there are times when the changing economic conditions of the company simply no longer support a certain role.  In these cases, there may not have been a logical occasion to give feedback prior to a Contribution Review being initiated.

A Transition Package is the financial support offered by the company to help the Receiver transition to a role at another company, if they choose not to pursue the Role Advice Process (RAP) or their RAP did not result in consent from their advisors. 

The minimum Transition Package amount is already detailed in the Termination Section of the Receiver’s Employment Agreement; however, Loree Bennett or Murali Balasubramanyam calculate all Transition Packages to ensure consistency and compliance with Employment Standards – the Receiver must contact Loree or Murali directly to request any details regarding the Transition Package.

No. The company will pay you to work on your Role Advice Process in addition to any amount offered for a Transition Package.  This is one way we try to maximize BOTH freedom AND responsibility within the Teal OS.

Note: Several people who have successfully created their proposal to remain with the company via the Contribution Review have gone on to become top performers – so there is a mutual benefit in giving the Receiver time to complete the RAP without impacting their Transition Package.

No. A Transition Package is only offered by the company in the situation where an Initiator follows the Initiator Steps above and requests a Receiver to begin the Contribution Review. Because the Receiver has the Freedom to refuse to do a Role Advice Process, the Transition Package is the Receiver’s alternative option.

There are circumstances, however, where self-initiated RAPs can conclude with the RAPper exiting the company (although this is a rare – under 5% – and usually a happy case because the person has discovered that their Meaningful Work is elsewhere). To repeat: the RAPper is always free to make any proposal that gains their advisor’s consent. In the past, we’ve had self-initiated RAPs that concluded with exit proposals, such as:

  • Define a mutually beneficial working transition period while the RAPper also attends external interviews and seeks a role that is more meaningful to them (these arrangements have ranged from weeks to years, in different circumstances).
  • Reduced or shifted hours to pursue other interests (the WAAP might also be applicable).
  • Move to becoming an independent contractor, with the company supporting the RAPper as their first client to grow their new business.

Any time your advice for another person is that there is no suitable role for them in the company (whether they are in the midst of a self-initiated RAP or not), you are an Initiator (as defined above) and you must follow all of the steps of the Contribution Review.

For further clarity: In legal terms, when you take the role of the Initiator (and give a Receiver advice they should consider leaving the company), this is called “Constructive Dismissal”.  Therefore, the Receiver is entitled to a Transition Package (and also becomes subject to the Special Conditions of a RAP inside a Contribution Review listed above). This is why the Contribution Review must be followed in such a circumstance. If you have any further questions about this, you should ask one of the Peer Mentors listed above.