Triangle PerformanceTriangle Performance

MARCH 2010






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From the Top

Month #2 - 17% of the year 2010 - is gone.

How are your goals, objectives, and plans for the year holding up? Have you decided what the year should actually end like for you? Are you clear on your assigned strategy, and do you have a plan for accomplishing?

If so, now's a great time to look at your timeline, to ensure you're on track for success.

Have you looked at your compensation plans recently? A lot has changed in our environment; market-based pay means you actually know what - in general - the market is paying. And you can't get that from employees or free websites. If only it were that easy...

Do your incentive plans actually motivate specific behavior? And are you getting that behavior for the dollars spent? Incentives, bonuses, any extra payments... tend to become an extended part of base salary if not careful; make sure they really do motivate performance beyond that expected from an employee.

Speaking of compensation, how's that sales force working out? Are you paying for the things you want and need, and not paying for things you don't want or need? In sales, from a compensation standpoint, we need to focus more on results and less on process or tasks. Yes, sales is a numbers game; but while you manage to the numbers, you pay for results.

Remember, that which is rewarded is repeated. It's basic human nature. Also remember that you don't get what you wish for, hope for, plan for or think about; you get what you pay for. I'm not necessarily advocating mercenary behavior as much as identifying the realities in compensation, particularly with incentives.

Are your leaders capable of executing to your strategy? Do your managers have the necessary skills to motivate staffs, likely leaner than in the past, to higher levels of performance? Do your senior leadership groups play well together?

Osmosis and emulation may sound like good career development tools - they aren't. Real, usable leadership skills are developed specifically and purposefully.

Leading and managing are skills; don't expect them unless developed.

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. New clients in Energy and Financial Services, here in the Gulf Coast and out in California.

Some newsworthy mentions:

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...

I've been invited to speak at the 2010 NRECA HR Conference in San Antonio this summer, where I'll present on strategic Human Resources and its levers on successful business today.

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:

Making Generals... or at least Captains -- Developing leaders in challenging times,

The Dearth of Management Talent -- Wherefore art thou, leader? and

Team-Based Leadership Development -- Why together is better...

...and don't forget to check out my blog; some interesting (I think) posts on the leaderless TSA, how reading is making you dumber, and the importance of manufacturing... 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
Triangle Performance, LLC

Strategy & Leadership

Back to the Future...
-- What do the next 10 years look like??

So, what will it look like for the next 10 years...? This is major crystal-ball stuff. Everyone from Oprah to the Wall Street Journal is opining on this, so I figured I'd just jump right in.

I was going to title this "In the year 2525..." but worried it would clearly reflect my age. Younger people right now are saying "Wha??" and people my age are trying to remember the lyrics past "...if man is still alive..."

Fortunately for all, I decided against it.

Regardless, the workplace is in the beginning stages of some fundamental shifts, and the next 10 years could likely be quite a ride for leaders. For instance:


Span of Control.  There's a growing dearth of leadership (see article link above, same topic); baby boomers are retiring, and many in younger generations don't see the need of necessarily rising to management ranks as a natural career move.  This isn't necessarily a "bad generation thing," just a fact we must deal with as we move forward.

Accordingly, we're likely to see flatter organizations and more direct reports than in recent years.   Yes, that means even more people reporting to you than today.

Leadership roles will grow, both in scope and accountability. They must, given the increased span of control, and the lack of informal leadership that historically has provided a sort of proxy for most management positions.


Pay for Performance will become de rigueur... And I don't mean just potential "upside;" more pay will actually become "at risk," whereby a certain level of sustained performance will be necessary to make what was once considered base salary.  Gone will be the days of continued upward pressure on base salaries.

Strangely enough, we actually want more performance for more money. Some crazy thinking, eh? Crazier is that we really just started realizing this, and understand why it's so essential for future sustainability.

We see this beginning in infancy now with the emphasis on CEO compensation.  Rest assured that will filter down.  Fast.


Continued, and increased, employee dissatisfaction.  We've seen the recent survey results, and it ain't pretty.  Well, prepare yourself, because it's going to get even uglier.  The two items above will produce less personalized attention, with more demand for productivity - a losing combination for employee contentment if done ham-handedly.

Organizations won't allow themselves to get caught flat-footed with another 2008 or 2009, so expect staffing changes (read "layoffs") to occur much sooner, at just a whisper of an economic or industry hiccup.

This dissatisfaction isn't the end of the world, but it will take skilled, thoughtful leadership to direct systemic disenfranchisement toward a more productive and purposeful end.

Big changes are coming... will continue to come.  Leaders will have their hands full, employees will be required to produce constant, measurable results, and they'll also be looking intensively outside their employer for personal satisfaction.


Hey, Where'd Everybody Go??
-- When poaching comes in vogue...

I've had several clients and colleagues ask about impending staffing challenges; more specifically, what happens when opportunities for key performers begin appearing again in ready form?

We are staring down the barrel of impending poaching opportunities; most down-sizing has distilled talent down to key performers, and when hiring needs renew, you can bet other firms are going after them.  It's coming...  What to do? Some things to consider:

1.  Anybody who tells you money doesn't matter... they'll lie about other things as well.  Money isn't a motivator for most; it's seldom even a satisfier, but it can be a dissatisfier... People expect to be paid what they are worth, and if another, reasonable organization offers them 25% more, your pay is the issue.  Fix it now.  Get market lines on your compensation, and act proactively - it's simply too late after they've received an offer.

Once and employee receives an offer, you're on borrowed time.  Even if you convince them to stay for the moment.

2.  YOU know they're good, but do THEY know that YOU know??  Top performers know they are top performers.  Not necessarily egotistic, they do, however, have solid self-awareness.  The question most have is, "do you recognize the value that I bring to this organization??"   "Do you give me the recognition that value deserves??"  And not just money; there's personal recognition, peer recognition, intangible rewards, and professional development investments.  All of these tell top performers that you know they are top performers..

3.  Ask Them!  To quote Tom Peters, "This company had a unique way of communicating; they talked to each other!"  Want to know what those top performers really need?  Do something really whacko and ask them.  That's right, plain, simple English.  "Say, Top Performer, I've been wondering.  You do such a good job around here (remember, s/he know this already), I wanted to make sure we were taking care of you properly.  What can we do so you will continue to really, really like working here for us?"  Top performers are generally reasonable; you won't hear "double my salary," or "give me 10 weeks of vacation."  You may hear, "Well, I'd like to spend some time working in R&D;" or "I was hoping to start my MBA, but I'm not sure if the schedule will work..."

Then, to coin a line from Picard, "Make it so."

Keeping top performers isn't nearly as difficult as we sometimes think it is.  It's a function of being aware of their value, and ensuring that THEY are aware of our knowledge of their value.  Then, do right by them.  That's your best bet in immunizing them against the coming poaching epidemic...

Bonus Round

Lessons Learned...
-- I'm not nearly as stupid today as I was back then...

I usually only deliver two articles per newsletter. I could certainly write more, as I have opinions on most things, but I figure that's about all most of my reading audience will tolerate of me in a single burst. This month, I'm providing a little lagniappe.

Recently, upon hitting the big 5-0 (and I don't mean "Hawaii"), I recollected on the travails I had experienced and what I could have done better. I even blogged about it at the time. Recent events have had me resurrect that information, as I believe it has relevance for current leadership.

Having said that, I offer the following tidbits of what I've gleaned about human nature, behavior, and how I could have done it better, had I just known then what I know now...


I gotta be me. Sammy Davis Jr. nailed that one a long time ago. Any successes I've had in life -- personal or professional -- have come from "me being me." There's little value in trying to be something I'm not, though like most people, I've tried that a few times.

Some people like the "real" me, and that's good. Some don't, and that's, well, their loss. To coin another old song, "It don't matter to me." As I've matured, I've decided that I really don't care what others think of me. This isn't a license to offend intentionally, of course, just an observation.

Leadership Lesson: Authenticity is rewarded and appreciated. Be real, be honest.


Tell it like it is. We spend way too much time talking around things as if everyone comes to the party damaged, and needs us to patronize them so they won't be offended. I say be direct and to the point. You can clean it up later if needed.

This politically-correct garbage we see today is pure bunk, and I'll have none of it. If we would all "tell it like we see it," then people would know more about us, trust would be increased, and we'd communicate better and more frequently.

Think public pane of the "Johari Window" for the behaviorists among us.

If someone is offended by unoffensive language or conversation, they have an issue, not me. (may want to re-read that sentence, it's important)

Leadership Lesson: Be direct in communications. Clarity is akin to gospel. Help spread the word.


People will disappoint you. Get over it. This includes me, family, and friends. We allow our expectations to grow beyond reality, so we set ourselves up for routine disappointment in others. Friends are friends; family is family. Neither are anointed with some "I am perfect" super-powers or intuition.

We can't hinge our satisfaction or value in relationships on some arbitrary (and fairly capricious) standard of performance and behavior that we levy on others without so much as a word of warning.

In work parlance, we would at least insist on "setting and communicating performance expectations." We should do the same with our relationships, or even better, just realize that people will disappoint, and not intentionally.

Heck, they probably don't even know it most of the time.

Leadership Lesson: Set clear expectations. Performance management requires frequent, face-to-face communications, not some software program.


We don't listen nearly enough. I'm not talking about "hearing," but really "listening." Tuning-out-distractions-focusing-on-the-present listening. Working hard at understanding what others are saying, without thinking about all those things our minds feel inundated with due to the stupid quantities of information we screen today.

I facilitate several leadership groups, all levels. One of the most common "ah-ha!" moments, from a year-long curriculum, is usually the art and value of active listening. Try it sometime. Sit next to someone speaking to you; tune out everything else, and try with all the fibers of your being to "get" what they are saying. Don't think about your next conversational volley, or judge the speaker's content prematurely. Just listen.

You'll be surprised at what you "hear."

Leadership Lesson: Listen. Pay attention. Learn how to do it right. And well.


There's always a mountain to climb. I have a small statue of a German mountain climber on my desk given to me by Roy Van Cleave, my graduate professor in Management. Dr. Van Cleave was a retired Marine Colonel, and one of the smartest men I'd ever met. He gave me that statue when I told him I was leaving the Air Force, saying I would always have a "mountain to climb."

He was right.

Sometimes big ones, sometimes just mole hills. There's always something big and bodacious staring right at us. Such is life...

Leadership Lesson: Life... business... employees... present one challenge after another. It just "is." Don't take it personal, don't make it life or death. Deal with the challenges as they come, and be grateful they are indeed manageable.

But that's just me...

© 2010 Triangle Performance, LLC