Triangle PerformanceAT C-LEVEL - March 2008
In this issue
Beating Tiger...
I'm Thinking of a Number...
Printable Version
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From the Top

March marks the beginning of the end for Q1 2008. A good time to take a hard look at your plans for the year, measure against current progress, and adjust where necessary. Don't easily dismiss those things that were originally planned for a Q1 completion, that may not be successfully completed.

Many have used the "There's plenty of year left" rationale, and been bitterly disappointed.

Also... "It's the bad economy" only works as a baseline reason for unsatisfactory performance in a very few industries, and then only when no one else in that space is succeeding either. In other words, if some are succeeding - even thriving - in your industry or market space, then "it's not the economy, stupid," to paraphrase a better known mention.

Make sure you've got the right talent on board, pointed in the right direction. Further, make sure that talent has the real skills they require to get the job done.

A crime is to have an otherwise capable manager, sitting in a role for which s/he is unprepared, and doing nothing to improve the situation. Leadership and management are learned skills; let's ensure our managers are given that opportunity to succeed.

As always, I welcome your perusal and gratis downloads of the new and relevant material (articles, papers, etc.) on the website; recent additions include: Leading Leaders: 5 Steps to Effective Executive Leadership, and What's this Pain in My Neck? Dealing With a Malcontent.

And take a moment to check out my new and improved blog. Too darned hard to keep two with relevant material, we've got just one now, with a better look, and now you can comment on my blog postings. Be nice... Current musings include Smart Coffee and COLI (and no, that's not E-Coli).

As always, I hope this finds you well, both personally and professionally; drop me a line or email if I can ever help you in any way.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
Triangle Performance, LLC

Strategy & Leadership
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Beating Tiger...
-- Applications for Leaders?

Ok, like every other frustrated golfer on the planet, I enjoy watching the tournaments on television. Last weekend, they held the "World Golf Championships" series; this time, the Accenture Match Play Championship. To spoil the suspense you surely must be experiencing right now, Tiger won the event. Handily.

There's a shocker for you.

Tiger is like the 800-pound gorilla in golf. In fact, a real 800-pound gorilla probably trembles a bit seeing Tiger on the tee box beside him. Really. He's that much of a dominant force on the PGA Tour. Anyway, back to my story...

So, sometime during the final round on Sunday afternoon, as Tiger is simply trouncing Stewart Cink into the ground, Frank Nobilo (professional golfer-turned-mediocre-analyst) had something of a revelation... he decided he knew the keys to beating Tiger.

In fact, quite creatively, he called them "The Keys to Beating Tiger." Go figure...

These keys, I realized, aren't so different than what we face in our leadership roles today, so I thought I'd share them here, with some comments on how we can use them for business and leadership success. Here goes:

#1. Play like there's no tomorrow. In business leadership, there really IS no tomorrow, if we don't find a way to compete effectively against dominant players in our market. We need to realize that, no matter how critical we see our long-range plans (and they are certainly important), the most important day is always today.

As leaders, then, we should develop our plans (like "practice" in our golf analogy), then when we are ready, we must Execute. And successful execution happens in the here and now - it happens today. So, play that part of your game - the execution part - like there's no tomorrow.

Screw up today, and there may not be a tomorrow...

#2. Be prepared to take one on the chin. No question, as leaders we hate to lose. Even a short-term battle. That's part of why we're successful, and why we hold the roles we do.

But we simply must realize that, as leaders, we will occasionally take a punch or two. In fact, sometimes we feel we're doing 8 rounds with Mike Tyson or Sugar Ray Leonard (sorry, mixing my metaphors in this newsletter).

The issue isn't whether we do or don't occasionally get whacked on, it's what we do with it when it happens. The key, here, is to take the punch and get right back in the thick of things.

It's not the end of the world, so take it on the chin, so to speak, and move on to the next challenge.

#3. Try to irritate him by being unafraid. Ok, this one doesn't translate well, I must admit. So, let's turn it around so it does:

Make sure we don't take things personal; business and leadership can, at times, feel incredibly personal. In many ways that's a good thing. In other ways, if we find ourselves believing that emotions are driving bad decisions or behaviors, we need to step aside, realize that this whole "leadership" thing is a process, and bring those emotions back down to manageable levels.

In heated or otherwise emotional moments, we have the opportunity to demonstrate real, personal leadership. Take the high road; there's damned little traffic up there.

#4. Punish him for any mistake he may make. Now, out of context, this would seem to be a harsh and, well, mercenary approach. In the context of effective leadership and performance management, however, maybe "not so much."

For example: Assuming we set reasonable, achievable performance standards, then we must manage appropriately when those standards are not met. Maybe not strictly as "punishment," per se, but we must make it crystal clear that this is a performance standard (emphasis on the standard), and we expect that standard to be met or exceeded.

No exceptions.

It's a minimum performance threshold, and as such, any performance or behavior below that threshold, or standard must be addressed. Again, it's not necessarily punishment, of course, but it is, in fact, a non-negotiable element of our relationship.
(Work with me here - I needed to make it match up to the whole "Keys to Beating Tiger" thing!)

So, Frank Nobilo may have intended his "Keys to Beating Tiger" to be a set of principles to succeed against the greatest golfer in the world; we can also use them, if we squint the right way, in our quest to become and remain successful leaders.

I took a picture of the "Keys" above with my cell phone while they were still on the television screen. My son, Stephen, obviously thinking I'd gone off the deep end, asked, "So, is that so you'll remember when you play against Tiger?"

Never mind the sarcasm, son. At least I'll be ready...

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I'm Thinking of a Number...
-- between 0 and 10. Yours may be "0"

Many of you reading this, including current clients, downloaded my article on average payroll increases for the upcoming year.  Another whopping 3.9% or so.

I've been asked by several leaders and managers, "How in the heck do I reward today's performance, and motivate future performance, with a meager 3.9%??

My answer...? "You don't."

No one - and certainly not higher performers - will feel very rewarded or motivated by receiving a 3-4% increase in base salary. What...? Then why, Kevin, did you tell me to increase by 3.9%??

Short answer - I didn't.

I told you that payroll would increase by 3.9%. How you allocate that increase is an entirely different matter. Let me make a bit of an unusual suggestion...

Average performers shouldn't receive much of an increase, unless the market range for their position has truly moved. And that doesn't happen like the clockwork of annual increases. Make sure you know the market, and decide accordingly.

Sub-average, even slightly sub-average, performers should get 0%.

Zero. Nada. Nothing.

If their performance trend is improving, comfort them, let them know you're watching them closely, and hope to be rewarding them with their own pay raise in the near future. They aren't yet doing what they're paid to do, but they're making positive progress.

For those with a negative performance trend today, tell 'em to pound sand. Not only do they get the goose-egg for an increase, but we need to be making motions to help them get better, or help them get out. The adage holds true... If you aren't fired with enthusiasm, you may be fired with enthusiasm. Do the job you're paid to do - all of it.

This shouldn't be an extraordinary expectation.

You can't afford to placate marginal performers at the expense of your high performers. Speaking of high performers, we haven't addressed those yet; what do we do?

For those truly high performers, realistically no more than 10% of your workforce (and quite possibly less), we consider 7-10% increases to base compensation, assuming we have at least some room within our compensation scheme.

That's right, as much as 2X or more of the scheduled payroll change for these hard chargers.

And we calculate these top players first. Before we even look at our average and below, we determine how much we need to provide these broad-shouldered business-makers. When we've done that - parceled out to those most deserving - then, and only then, do we take a look at the masses.

They get what's left over. Some won't even get some of that (see above).

Unusual approach? Maybe. Harsh? Depends on who you are, now, doesn't it?

With only 3-4% to play with, it's likely that someone may be unhappy with their "share of the booty" (never able to use a pirate metaphor until now); who, exactly, would you prefer to be upset...?

My vote's on the low-performers.

Just think about it. That's all I'm asking.

© 2008 Triangle Performance, LLC