Triangle PerformanceAT C-LEVEL - June 2008
In this issue
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FROM THE TOP
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STRATEGY & LEADERSHIP
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Comfortable Being Uncomfortable...
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MUSINGS
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Stupid should hurt...
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Printable Version
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From the Top

It's June -- the like-it-or-not official midpoint for the year.

Once again, I ask the question: How are we coming on those objectives? Two things should be happening now; first, we should have a clear indicator on what plans are likely to succeed this year, and which ones are becoming more unlikely. Second, we should be making our mid-course corrections now, realizing that we have only limited resources to bear, and less than six months now to complete our objectives.

Let's don't kid ourselves into believing we can pull off a year-end goal "coup." Let reality -- driven by available resources and leadership desire for specific accomplishment -- determine which objectives should keep our focus. We risk failure on many fronts if we divide our focus too much.

As always, I welcome your perusal and gratis download of the new and relevant material (articles, papers, etc.) on the website, including Creating the Micro-Manager: If we know what causes it, can we stop it??

...and don't forget to check out my blog; recent entries include "Stupid should hurt," and Micro-Meddling:

Berchelmann's Blog

In the news...
As a frequent source to journalists on topics including strategic human capital, leadership, and related topics, keep an eye out for my "name in print." Andy Warhol is alive and well... My recent "15 minutes of fame" include:
** Ex-CFO topped pay list at Rackspace San Antonio Express-News
** My article, "Leadership Skills Training: 5 Irrefutable, Non-Negotiable Laws of Leadership You Must Know," was picked up by too many sites to mention, as was the article, "From Peer to Manager: 4 Steps to a Successful Transition" article.

A Sampling of Current Projects:
** Leadership development, in construction and manufacturing environments,
** Succession planning, for multiple levels of management,
** Search and recruitment for multiple management positions in technology, manufacturing, and construction industries, and
** More executive-level compensation plan design, and working on a gainsharing effort with a manufacturing firm.

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
President
Triangle Performance, LLC
www.triangleperformance.com
kevinb@triangleperformance.com
281.257.4442

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Strategy & Leadership
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Comfortable Being Uncomfortable...
-- What the heck does that mean??

Change is difficult.

Thought I'd toss out that "duh!" statement to get your attention. Change is difficult, however, and never more difficult than when we move someone from their proven comfort zone to a place "not so much."

Even when promoting talented managers.

I have a client who recently promoted a manager into the executive ranks (as a division-level President). This manager was sharp ("is" sharp), and I had the professional pleasure of this manager in my Pathways to Leadership program with several other mid-level managers of this firm.

Needless to say, I feel a sense of pride when one of my participants is promoted, and this one was clearly well-deserved.

Anyway, I asked him to come in and chat with my new group of mid-managers, and help them understand lessons learned, things to watch for, where to pay attention, and most importantly, how the new job was different from the old.

Now, this guy is bright, and (I like to think) well-trained; his experience was perfect. So, we had all the makings of a successful promotion, and he seemed genuinely up to the challenge. But his most interesting comment about the new role wasn't some specific responsibility, or some new task, or even dealing with P&L responsibility (including sales) for the first time.

No, it was none of those.

His most interesting -- and meaningful -- comment was, "I had to get comfortable being uncomfortable."

What incredible insight from a newly appointed executive. Isn't this the crux of how we feel as senior leaders? We don't always know all the right answers, though people expect us to... We don't always know the best response to a crisis situation, but our people expect that from us... We don't always know exactly why something did or didn't occur, yet the people we answer to clearly want those answers...

How do we manage this chaos? We get comfortable being uncomfortable. Think about it -- it's how we mange to succeed in the realm of the unknown -- in the arena of constantly-changing business, economies, and people.

We start with a good intellect, add some relevant experience to hone our judgment, and couple that with good people around us. And we get comfortable being uncomfortable. We learn to operate on less-than-perfect information; we make decisions on events and circumstances without clear precedence.

We learn from those experiential successes (and failures), wake up in the morning, and start all over again. The discomfort continues, though our ability to deal with the same increases with each passing day.

It's ok, then. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

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Musings
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Stupid should hurt...
-- We can eradicate workforce stupidity in our lifetime...maybe

Disclaimer: This article is rated "S," for repeatedly using the word "stupid." I won't let my 12-year old daughter use the word "stupid." Obviously, then, she won't be reading this article...! I also discussed (very briefly) this topic on my blog.

I was recently involved (as a participant) in a strategic planning event; the facilitator, Alan Pue, (an incredible guy, by the way) was discussing the myriad ways that planning -- and its subsequent implementation -- can go wrong.

In part of that commentary, he mentioned -- as an example -- a firm's inability to adapt to a necessary change in the market, and how that inability adversely affected their performance.  Alan wasn't sympathetic to their plight, nor even empathetic.  In fact, he made it clear that the problem was their own doing, and the resultant pain was of their own creation.

They did it to themselves, have no one but themselves to blame, and these lessons -- though valuable -- can be painful.

Stupid should hurt.

I agree.

He attributed this humorous line to John Wayne. Now, as many reading this may or may not know, I know "The Duke," and use quotes from his movies frequently. Though he never said this quote as mentioned above, he did say, in the movie "Sands of Iwo Jima," that:

Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid.

Now first, I do agree that "stupid should hurt."  But in the latter quote from Wayne, there lies a message for us as senior leaders...

As a definition here, "Stupid" in this context means someone unwilling or unable to adequately grasp new or existing responsibilities.

1. Don't hire stupid people.  By this I mean, hire for intellect, work ethic, and solid fit with your organization.  You can add skills, build experience, and develop abilities.

You can't fix stupid.

2. Don't try to develop stupid people.  Developmental opportunities, particularly of the "Leadership" persuasion, are expensive.  Don't spend those dollars trying to put lipstick on a pig.  Save them -- and spend them -- on someone bright enough to parlay those efforts into further success for you, them, and the organization.

3. Don't keep stupid people.  If/when you discover that this employee has less than a full load of bricks, don't agonize over their demise.  You neither created nor condoned it (did you?), and they'll merely become more frustrated over time, knowing and realizing that they have insufficient "smarts" to perform in their current role, and certainly not enough for any growth.

None of this is to say that we shouldn't spend the time, effort, and resources on developing those in our organizations.  It IS to say that we should limit that development to those who have some potential for absorbing that opportunity, and using it to better the organization.

If we don't do that, and we continue or attempt to develop those with little or no potential to apply that development... well, as Forrest Gump said, "stupid is as stupid does..."

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Happy Independence Day!

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© 2008 Triangle Performance, LLC
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