Triangle Performance
FEBRUARY 2010
In this issue
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FROM THE TOP
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STRATEGY & LEADERSHIP
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Leading Strategically...
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MUSINGS
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KITA May Be Dead...
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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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The Houston Business Journal
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Featured Speaker
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Sit Down, Shut Up, and Color
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Compensation Trends
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Applied Strategic Planning
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7 Ways to Deal with a Malcontent
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Berchelmann's Blog
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Request Additional Information
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Survey: More Americans Unhappy at Work
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Employee Layoffs
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View Kevin Berchelmann's profile on LinkedIn

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From the Top

By the time you read this, almost 10% of this new year has already passed by.

10%.

Are you 10% of the way toward accomplishing your established goals and objectives for 2010? Have you established goals and objectives for 2010?

I'm not talking about resolutions here; I'm referring to well-thought, well-planned, goals and objectives that serve to directly support and further our envisioned strategy.

If you've yet to establish that strategy, and the subsequent action plan (goals and objectives) to accomplish that strategy, read the first line above one more time. Then call me. We've got work to do...

Now is the perfect time for execution. No, I don't mean lopping off some employee's head - even if you feel they are deserving of such an act; no, I'm talking about execution that means we've taken action. That we've made a decision. That we are committed to a course, a direction, a vision.

Now is the perfect time for execution.

If I can help with your strategy, action planning, or crafting a course for real execution, just give me a call. Remember: a strategic plan, no matter how well thought and crafted, is useless without the operational planning and skilled, competent leadership - at all levels - to make it work.

This edition of At C-Level is like December's, in that I've included an email from a colleague/friend regarding the value (if any) of some new leadership styles.

Current efforts in my world include new and existing client efforts in leadership & executive development, a lot of compensation planning, and continued efforts around strategic and operational planning.

We're mentioned in the news:


This is a repeat, just because I like it... The Houston Business Journal featured my firm (and a large, multi-year client) for an article on team-centric executive development. Appeared on page 5B of the April 24th print edition of the HBJ.

I've been selected as a featured speaker at the 2010 Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) national conference in San Diego, July 23. It's billed as a MEGA SESSION, and is titled: HR Leadership is Easy... Until it Isn't; Successful HR Leadership In Challenging Times.

Speaking of speaking... I've presented several times recently on one of my favorite topics: Sit Down, Shut Up, and Color! Breaking through employee entitlement...

If you have a corporate or association event, I'd certainly enjoy speaking to your group. You can see more information regarding topics and details on my website.

Further, feel free to download and read a few articles that may be relevant today:

Compensation Trends, Circa 2010,

Applied Strategic Planning: The Corporate Reality Show, and

7 Ways to Deal with a Malcontent -- What's that pain in my neck??

...and don't forget to check out my blog; some interesting (I think) posts on meetings, cell phones, and the stupidity of many performance ratings... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

Berchelmann's Blog

If you'd like to know how I can assist you, your organization, or a colleague of yours, please fill out this form and I'll send you some specific information, articles, engagement results, and so forth.

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way, and feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may be interested. (Really!) I appreciate your referrals.

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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Leading Strategically...
-- And NO, this isn't more consultant-speak...

You know, "strategically" is probably one of the most over-used words in business today. Most of the time, it's interchangeable with "important," or "necessary." Neither, of course, really represents the word well. In fact, most should just stop using it altogether. For many reasons.

Leadership, however, can be strategic. It should be strategic. Alas, it's not always strategic.

Why not? Well, let's first define "strategic." In the simplest form, strategic simply means having to do with your strategy. This, of course, presupposes a specific strategy exists. It also presumes that the mentioned action or effort is necessary to achieve that specific strategy.

Lots of presumptions in that, eh? Alas, our world is filled with presumptions... but I digress. Strategic leadership, then, is simply leading in such a way that specifically supports your affirmed and proactive strategy. Stay with me, I'm on an adjective-roll today.

So, how can leadership actually support an evolving, dynamic, organizational strategy?

Actually, much like leadership in general, it ain't all that hard. Just remember:

1. Blocking and tackling. The Super Bowl is a week away, so I can't complete a newsletter without a football metaphor. Blocking and tackling means to make sure the basics are in order. Make sure you've got a foundation from which to build something bigger and better, from which to catapult to greater successes.

The day-to-day, routine, sometimes-monotonous tasks that we all must do are as necessary as those really fun, far-reaching things we try to do. In fact, those basics must occur before anything - anything - can change or advance in the organization. Don't forget 'em. And don't forget the people who do 'em.

2. Make the ordinary extraordinary. No, I don't mean "blow it out of proportion," or "create a mountain out of a molehill." I mean give purpose and meaning to those you lead. Tie their activities, efforts, and accomplishments directly to the organization's strategy, and the more specific, the better.

Give purpose to your folks by helping them understand your vision, and know your direction. If they know where they're going, they will be better at making on-the-fly decisions necessary to get there.

3. Execution. Your specific strategy should have action plans to drive results. Most of those plans were developed and thought through during calmer times, and should be used as the target until proven to be something different. Don't second-guess during the action phase - execute ruthlessly toward stated objectives.

We're looking for success, not perfection, and we expect to make an occasional mistake along the way. I used to work for a man who told me that "if 25% of your decisions aren't 'wrong,' you're simply not making enough decisions." I like to think the math may be different, but the concept is sound.

Think, plan, act. In that order, but don't make the "act" phase so agonizingly slow that your decision-making ability comes into question. You've got the plan, you have the relevant information, and the timing is right... Decide, then Act! Good people can effectively "clean up" a less-than-perfect decision, so let them do their jobs.

Face logic here; you have a strategy (or should have one), you have leadership (and it should be effective); combining those two should realistically create Strategic Leadership, better aligned to drive the organization to success without tripping all over ourselves in the process.

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Musings
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KITA May Be Dead...
-- But are we really any better off??

I received an email from a friend/colleague of mine, a CFO here in Houston. He questions whether we've really accomplished much by becoming a "kinder, gentler" leader...


"Hi Kevin,

I read with great delight your candid and practical ideas and suggestions. However, I'm struggling with trying to grasp something that perhaps you can dedicate a blog topic to.

Many decades ago when I was open-eyed MBA student of management, I was instructed on many of Maslow's philosophical ideas and the many new concepts that sprouted from his ideas during that time period. Since that time, there have been dozens (or many dozens) of novel key managerial/motivational concepts and hundreds (or many hundreds) of books written on how to improve management and motivation techniques and thousands (maybe millions) of seminars on the topic. The common denominator is that they all want to develop an approach that makes management operate better, improves leadership qualities, strengthens morale, and enhances worker satisfaction.

So, Kevin, when I read the article Survey: More Americans Unhappy at Work, I begin to wonder. I started to question whether all these key philosophical movements, all these books, all these seminars, all these consultants - how are they actually having a beneficial effect if the trend seems to be going nowhere but down?

Prior to Maslow et al, there was the "KITA" approach ("Kick In The Ass") method to management. That basic method (like the three R's in school), seemed to work fine. Actually, it seems as though it wasn't until a bunch of "softies" with touchy-feely motivational attitudes entered the arena, that we started having problems.

I know, Kevin, that you are not like many of your brethren. I admire how you frequently advocate "whacking" someone who doesn't measure up and respond appropriately. So, you can probably see the dilemma that I have (and probably many have held the same question in their mind also). Do you think you could devote a blog or article to appropriately respond to this? I really would like to hear your take on it!

Thanks, Kevin - and I hope this new year brings you continued success and prosperity!

Phil


A great question, and an interesting conversation to have. Strangely enough, I do have an opinion here. My response:

Phil,

Great to hear from you, and Happy New Year!

I, too, read that article, Further, I blogged about this earlier in July (just FYI) upon seeing a similar survey. And don't worry about me "taking it personal;" remember, these surveys reflect directly on you (as a corporate leader) more than me...

I'll gladly write about this, as I stand firmly on your side with most of your opinions on the subject. Some additional thoughts:

1. The "new and novel" ideas you mention, well, aren't. Leadership principles, concepts, and relevance haven't changed much in 2,000 years. Some applications may evolve based on demographic, but those moves are minor. 4-5 (or 40-50) times per year, some consultant or academic needs to sell a book, so they repackage an old idea, give it a new, glitzy name, and off they go.

This explains your amazement when you read these new wonder tomes and think, "Hey, I must be pretty damn smart! I've been doing that same thing for 20+ years!" There's little new under the leadership sun.

2. Admittedly, part of the issue is with consultants and academics, behaving as carpetbaggers hawking a solution in pursuit of a problem. The other half of that supply & demand equation, however, is that many corporate managers aren't willing to do the "heavy lifting" required of authentic leadership today. They want quick fixes; silver bullets that they can "fire and forget." They created the demand for nefarious service providers to thrive in the first place.

Leadership and management takes effort, work, learning, and thick-skin to make hard decisions (I know you know this; I'm preaching to everyone else). Many aren't willing to slog through all that to legitimately succeed - hence they hire people to give them the appearance of instant leadership success.

3. Productivity per employee has multiplied exponentially since KITA passed on. The advantage of that method was ease and simplicity; the disadvantage, of course, was that employees knew they were "just employees," and work was a daily, necessary event that people robotically attended, doing exactly what they were supposed to, and damned little more.

There weren't many real under-performers (KITA, remember?), but there also weren't many over-achievers. Productivity was at a stagnant level, and would remain so. More production simply required more employees, but the costs of those employees was beginning to skyrocket. No one knew if workers were happy/content or whatever because, frankly, we didn't care, so we didn't ask.

4. Enter "motivation" as a management tool. In one fashion or another, we had to find a way to get employees more productive at their existing work. The way discovered was to treat employees more as people, and less like a piece of equipment. Initially, it was a grand thing. Productivity soared, employees were generally happy, and all was right in the universe.

5. Then, a terrible thing happened. Since we empowered employees to actually think about their work, their leaders, their environment; these same employees started expecting these things to be favorable. Leaders, of course, weren't prepared for this new level of personal accountability, and certainly didn't like the microscope this put them under. We began an era of conflict between managers and employees, where leadership felt all those "nice" things mentioned above were "extras," and employees felt they were "entitlements."

Again, given this degree of difficulty and apparent conflict, "new" ideas (old ones revisited) started springing up, and managers began clamoring for the easy fix. Charlatans (fancy descriptor for many 'consultants' and 'academics-posing-as-consultants') emerged, solutions in hand. Supply and demand at its best.

We have seen the enemy, and it is us. In other words, we created this "mess." Under intense pressure for increased productivity, we created employee expectations that sometime seem untenable; in reality, though, employee engagement - and likely satisfaction - is simply the anecdotal result of effective leadership.

We created this, but the "fix" is easy: it's simply successful leadership.

But that's just me...

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© 2010 Triangle Performance, LLC
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