Triangle PerformanceTriangle Performance






Printable Version


Click here to download an easily printable, PDF version of this newsletter.


View Kevin Berchelmann's profile on LinkedIn

From the Top

Wow... is this year already hurtling by, or what? Maybe I'm just getting older (I said, "maybe"), but it seems that every time we blink, another month or quarter rockets past us. Then, a year... then, several years.

Do we plan for this? Do we really set our sights on the future, envisioning where we could go, making our own direction, and executing a plan to get us there? Hopefully, yes. If not, we should be. And for those chronic procrastinators (see you at next month's meeting), yes, you can start planning now.

You needn't beat yourself up because you didn't do it last year, or wait for year-end, mid-year, the start of Qx, or any other logical-sounding but poor excuse for deferment.

Plan now. 'Later' is infinitely closer than you think...

A new year marks a new beginning. Let's take advantage of that now.

Use this as the impetus to do something bold.

  • Implement real performance management;
  • Align your compensation and incentives appropriately, no matter how big the sacred cow; and/or
  • Start developing those leaders today, before even more time passes.

To borrow a Texas rodeo term, "Come outta the chute runnin' " in 2011.

Do something bold.

If I can help you with your planning - strategic or operational - or you feel your leaders' skills may need improving, or your comp plans need tuning, don't hesitate to call. Or email. Or Skype. Or Tweet. Or... never mind, you get the idea...

Triangle Performance LLC's 2011 Survey of Senior Leadership begins now! You should also receive the survey link in a later email, later this month. This will be our fifth annual survey; the participant rate continues to grow, as does the validity of the data presented. Click here to take the survey.

Many thanks in advance to all have participated so far, and please do take the time to complete it when you receive the email later in June. It only takes a few minutes. If you're interested, you can click here to see the results from the 2010 Survey of Senior Leadership.

My recent client efforts include executive and management coaching, executive and staff compensation planning, and numerous facilitated sessions on various topics of leadership development, management, employee engagement, trust, and more...

Some newsworthy mentions:

The Houston Chronicle interviewed me for a business-section article on Planning and Goal-Setting (quite apropos given my comments above), and you can read that article here. Wooty "dissed" me about my foreign-language goal, but she was fun to talk to nonetheless...

The Air Force Times interviewed me for their article on Mission Planning, an aid to service men and women interested in starting their own business. My input? Simple... plan for less revenue, more costs, longer time-to-profitability than you think wise. interviewed me for an article on Compensation, specifically asking for expert input on 2011 pay increases, longer term trends, pay-for-performance, and google's ridiculous 10% across-the-board increase. You can read that here.

IMC-USA (a consultant gaggle) printed an article I authored, appropriately titled "But that's just me..." It focuses on the myriad ways we can do almost anything, and that many experts, especially those ordained as such merely because of their "tribe," well, aren't...

The Houston Business Journal featured my firm (and a large, multi-year client) for an article on team-centric executive development.

He speaks... (apparently I have a message that resonates with some... who knew??).

I delivered keynote addresses to San Antonio's Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), the Human Resources Association of Treasure Valley (HRATV) in Boise, and will do the same soon in Louisville (tentatively scheduled for April; the folks there were kind enough to reschedule after my end-of-year "events" took over my schedule).

I'm scheduled to keynote at ASSE's East Texas Expo in March, in Longview, Texas.

I'm also confirmed to speak to several additional groups in upcoming months, including:
-- **Corporate event on Leadership, another on Executive Presence,
-- **Leading the Business from the Back of the Bus, to a group of support services staff,
-- HR's Role in Leading Business to Economic Recovery and Growth for SAP's HR2011 conference in Las Vegas.
-- ...and others.

Speaking of speaking... I continue to present two favorite topics:

Sit Down, Shut Up, and Color!
Breaking through employee entitlement...

Leadership is Easy... until it isn't.
Successful leadership in challenging times...

And my newest, Leading the Business from the Back of the Bus, designed specifically for those support and related "back-office" functions that don't actually drive the train or blow the whistle, but still catch heck when the darn thing jumps the track...

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:

New! Back to the Future... I've got me some tea leaves...,

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

New! Money Matters -- Fair compensation in turbulent times, and

New! Strategy, Compensation, and Leadership... The business success trilogy.

...and don't forget to check out my blog;some interesting (I think) posts, like Self confidence, Incentive compensation, and HR Compliance in 5 easy steps (must-read)... 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

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Does Leadership Development
-- Leadership development that works

This is always an interesting and pertinent topic to me, as the beginning stages - creation, if you will - of leadership development efforts are where success/failure is determined. Implementation is simple, as is (generally) curriculum development.

"How" and "Why," then, are easy; the tough part is "What?" I've got leaders, I've got the resources to apply, what skills, then, do we "develop?" My take:

1. It's not the economy, stupid. Yes, current events and environments matter, to some degree. But don't let a full development plan be overly influenced by current, uncontrollable events, or fads created by some renegade consultant or academic hawking a new book.

The only things that matter are those that directly and specifically impact your organization.

2. Don't ask, don't tell. Don't ask potential participants "what do you think you need?" They don't know, from an organizational perspective. Speak to and interview those leaders' boss if you want to know what behaviors work. Those folks feel the pain of under-developed leaders.

Discover what behaviors they wish their subordinates had, and why it would make a difference.

A major hospital system client had "challenges" within their senior team. Recent acquisitions and expansions left them with the "old" guard and the "new," and determining - and supporting - what was really important to that group took multiple conversations with stakeholders above and beyond those directly affected. We can be too close to the forest...

3. Line 'em up! This is crucial: make sure that any leadership development efforts align closely with business goals and objectives. If we missed some last year, what behaviors caused us to do so? If we have big, honkin' goals for the future, what skills and behavior will our leaders need to reach them?

These are the things that matter.

And don't forget - any effort like this requires some metrics in place to determine success. Before and after snapshots can help show "change," as well as available business measurements.

Leadership development is crucial, though not necessarily difficult. Stay focused on what matters, avoid hype and fluff, and showcase the results. Everyone wins...


Success According to Karl
-- The broader impact of performance management

"The ability to make good decisions regarding people represents one of the last reliable sources of competitive advantage, since very few organizations are any good at it."
                                                      -- Peter Drucker

Two senior managers are competing for a coveted job or responsibility. Both have solid, well-known B-school credentials, blue-chip resumes, and social/personal skills that make them a real pleasure to be around. On their staffs, one of them has one A-player, a couple of B-players, and the rest Cs. The other has a handful of A-players, 2-3 B's, and no Cs.

Who wins?? The answer is simple, isn't it...? Hiring and firing well, though not for the faint at heart, are at the center of every successful executive and organization.

Hiring Well
When hiring. determine what an "A" player looks like for you and your firm, and don't settle for anything less than that. If you are diligent in that regard, the worst case is you end up with a high "B" employee, not some bottom-feeding loser.

If you can't find any of those, simply do not hire. The cost of hiring poorly is so much greater than the cost of not filling any position, including those deadly sounding "lost opportunity" costs. If your candidate pool doesn't offer up a hirable option, blow them all up and start again, versus picking the best of the bad. Remember, even if you got the pick of the litter, you still got a dog...

Develop a new-hire profile that outlines what the candidate must look like, including skills, knowledge, and proven ability, and then add in "characteristics." It's usually those characteristics that divide the good-looking from the good-performing.

Fire Well
This one is so much tougher since we feel some degree of failure for that employee's substandard performance. Rightfully so.

Truthfully, however, we probably "hired" wrong more than we "managed" wrong. In staff development and evaluation, it pays to be critical and resolute; decide what performance is required, coach as necessary, even get them additional help... but at the end of the "period," whatever that is, hold them personally and completely accountable for delivering - or not delivering - those results.

Then act accordingly. Even when it hurts. We're a business, not a social services agency, and we can't fix everyone.

The problem with keeping deadwood or sub-standard performers is that it does exactly the opposite of what you may think. The deadwood loves you; the sub-standard performing crowd calls you a friend.

Your superstars, however - those whom you are relying for the current and future success of the organization - see your lack of action as a direct slight to their abilities. You pay the sub-standard performer $XX dollars per year; you pay the superstar, hopefully, $XX+Y. You are screaming to your superstar that the sole difference between them and the deadwood is that small delta between the two of them.

And we wonder why they leave??

A story... I was recently at O'Hare, in the Hertz bus going from the terminal to the car lot. The driver, Karl Levi, was nothing short of outstanding. Those who travel frequently know that those shuttle bus drivers are frequently... well, "less" than outstanding. I struck up a conversation with Karl (easy to do - he's a "talker").

Karl had been with Hertz for 18 years. Folks, that's a long time for a job that historically has high turnover. Since he was obviously good at his trade, I asked him why he stayed with Hertz all these years. His reply? Three things: (1) "They take care of me - they appreciate and recognize my work;" (2) "They are good people; those in charge seem to care;" and (3) "They don't put up with poor performers."

Think of the significance; this guy has been there 18 years, known me for about 3 minutes, and is responding to a reasonably personal question. One of his three reasons -- over 18 years of employment -- is that they don't tolerate poor performers.

Keep the best, churn the rest (see encore below).

Thanks, Karl.

...An Encore

I usually only include two articles in my monthly At C-Level, but just felt moved to include a third. Don't worry, there's no extra charge...

Keep the best, churn the rest

Over 80% of your employees will be looking for other employment shortly, and damn little you can do about the whole 80%. It stands to reason, that even with the most well-intentioned efforts, you won't be able to keep them all.

So, would you rather keep the key employees, the high-potentials and "A" players, or would you prefer to hold on to those mediocre walking zombies who always manage to do just enough at work to keep from losing their jobs??

No, that's not a trick question. Think about it... with whom do you spend the most time today? Mentoring, coaching, and motivating your "A" team, or fixing, scolding, and wondering about your "B" and "C" players?

Two words: STOP IT. Six more words: Keep the best, churn the rest.

In today's environment, few of us have the time, resources and wherewithal to coach and mentor someone "from scratch;" they need to bring something to the table to begin with. It's like living on an island and looking for something... it's an island; if you didn't bring it here, you won't find it here.

Work- spend the time, effort and money - on those things that could otherwise cause high-potential, key employees to leave. In the process, you'll also be keeping the upper fringes of those "B" and "C" players who may be demonstrating some future value.

What about the "rest?" God bless 'em and good luck. The positive part about mediocre performers is they just aren't that hard to replace, in any market. Let them stay, if their work continues to be at least satisfactory, but don't spend money and time to keep them, and don't regret their departure.

Keep "churning" those semi-performers, and continue improving your quality of replacement hires.

In other words, upgrade. Do it constantly and consistently. Spend your effort and money where it matters.

But, that's just me...

© 2011 Triangle Performance, LLC