Triangle Performance
OCTOBER 2008
In this issue
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FROM THE TOP
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STRATEGY & LEADERSHIP
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Rippin' Good Feedback!
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MUSINGS
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Unionosauras Rex
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Printable Version
PRINTABLE VERSION
Click here to download an easily printable, PDF version of this newsletter.
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LINKS FOR THE MONTH
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Senior Executive Survey
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2007 Survey Results
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2009 Payroll Survey
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"Teamwork Sucks"
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Triangle Articles
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Berchelmann Blog
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Berchelmann Blog (airline)
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From the Top

October is a big month. It marks the beginning of the fourth quarter (Q4) for the year; if you haven't made near-complete progress on some of those objectives, you're rapidly approaching "it's too late."

If there's a goal not yet achieved, either make a full-court press, blow it off and refocus, or "change the simulation," as Captain Kirk would say.

If someone working for you continues to be a roadblock, morale-buster, or all-around "problem-child," make a vow to yourself: Don't end the year with him still on the payroll. Change him or whack him. Tell him it's coming "unless," then follow-through. And though I used "him," this applies equally to "her."

The economy is on everyone's mind. My most successful clients have realized (maybe I just realized -- they probably knew all along) that developing and motivating their leaders and managers is the best way to attack this situation; we need them active, decisive, and exercising values-based judgment. We don't need them cowering, defensive, and trying to protect their jobs.

Now's the best time to make them more effective.

Next, I'd like your input on a couple of things:

First, many of you received the survey link for the 2008-2009 Survey of Senior Executives. If you haven't yet responded, there's still time, and I would appreciate your input -- here's that link. For those still wanting to see the results from 2007, you can download that here.

Also, as many of you know, I create an annual survey (and evaluate other such surveys) on projected pay increases. Again, I'd sincerely appreciate your input, and will publish the results in a couple of weeks. That survey is here.

Feel free to read my recent article, Teamwork Sucks, and as always, I welcome your perusal and gratis downloads of the new and relevant material (articles, papers, etc.) on the website.

...and don't forget to check out my blog; please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard. Some interesting posts on a stupid WSJ article regarding performance management, and my "Life's Lessons" that I posted on my 50th birthday (I told you... October is a big month!).

Berchelmann's Blog

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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return to top
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Rippin' Good Feedback!
-- It's not just the words...

WARNING: Colorful metaphors, including PG-13 language
follows. Don't read if easily offended since, generally, I try
so very hard to never offend...!

So, I've got this client... (as my friends know, most of my really good stories start this way). Anyway...

I'm working with their leadership teams (multiple levels), and during a recent mid-manager session, one of the participants commented that it was great to have a "common language" for all the managers.

This, of course, is music to my consulting ears, so I ask him to elaborate.

He said well, we can discuss things now like "empowering employees," "resolving conflict," and "active listening," and the term means something to us, as opposed to (in the past) not really being able to verbalize these concepts.

Now, I'm really jazzed, so I ask for specific examples. In retrospect, this could have been an error in judgment on my part...

So, this participant then says, "Well, everyone now understands what we're talking about -- what we're doing -- even when getting "chewed out." He says, "It's not an "ass-ripping" any more, it's "feedback."

"It's not an ass-ripping any more, it's feedback." You gotta admit, that's funny. I could hardly catch my breath I was laughing so hard.

After normal conversation resumed, however, it became clear that what he had said, though funny, was actually quite accurate. And it isn't just a play on words.

Taken out of context, with no management or leadership process in place for continued communications and real feedback, an "ass-ripping" is just that. Used in the productive context of regular and frequent communications and clearly defined expectations, within a defined performance management process, it really is, now, "feedback."

I learned a valuable lesson that day (well, TWO lessons if you count "don't ask stupid questions like that" as a lesson): Words matter, because that's how we frame situations within our environment. It's not a simple play on words if the new frame of reference is different than the old.

This "common language" thing can really make sense.

How about in your organization?? Are you still "ass-ripping" or are you "providing feedback?"

Think about that.

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Musings
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return to top
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Unionosauras Rex
-- Maybe this economic "ice age" will kill them off...

Unions today. The poster child for "irrelevant."

Can anyone doubt that these anti-competitive monoliths have long outlived their usefulness?? They had their place... in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, our new-fangled "Industrial Revolution" increased the need for (and numbers of) industrial workers. Using outdated management practices, we (corporate USA) just weren't very good at leading a workforce with compassion and empathy.

We forgot to take care of the people who made us money, so unions stepped in to take on that role. And for a couple of decades, they did that... well. They increased working wages (to something close to livable), increased safety standards, and reduced the tenuous nature of employment security (do it this way, and now, or you're fired).

For better or worse, unions came on the scene, and served a real purpose.

That was then. This is now. And even if it was the unions that created this system of employment laws, standards, and new management practices, they still have no value today.

None at all.

In fact, their presence detracts value significantly. Some examples? There are plenty...

The steel industry has been all but decimated in this country, and that obliteration is squarely on the backs of union leadership.

In 1982, U.S. steelworkers were the best-paid industrial workers in the world. In the 12 preceding years, hourly employment costs in the steel industry rose 12.1 percent annually, while the industry's productivity grew barely 2 percent a year. There were, at one time, almost 700,000 employed in the industry; today, about 150,000.

The auto industry is on the verge of an industry-wide melt-down. Why? GM pays over $70.00 per hour -- direct pay and benefits -- for a janitor. Yes, you read that number correctly.

'Nuff said there...

The airline industry... where to start? I blogged on this topic a while back. The industry is the worst of all worlds: mediocre leadership, and multiple, ego-driven unions with divergent agendas. The only surprise is that they don't go in and out of bankruptcy more frequently than they do.

Now, my favorite: Aircraft manufacturing. More specifically, the idiots running Boeing's International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Let me see if I have this right: The economy is "stressed," to say the least; unemployment is up, jobs are becoming more valuable. These striking Einsteins are costing Boeing $100M per day in lost revenue.

And for what?

Boeing has offered an average of $34,000 per employee over the next three years, including absorbing a 12% increase in benefits costs and 6% in increased pension costs. These agreements will increase costs of IAM employment by almost 25%.

Could your business survive that?

The sticking point? Job security. The unions, surprisingly, want Boeing to GUARANTEE that they will not outsource more parts deliveries, subsequently cutting some of those $80,000+-a-year machinist jobs.

I own Boeing stock, and would gladly buy more if that would help them somehow stay the course. They seem to have the resolve, and I hope they hold the line.

Before they become the steel industry. Or the auto industry. Or the airline industry.

Here's to hoping that the Unionosaurus Rex dies the death of dinosaurs in the past. Tar pits, meteors, or ice age...

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© 2008 Triangle Performance, LLC
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