Triangle PerformanceAt C-Level

From the Top

Stay focused.

In our currently challenging times, it's real easy to get distracted with things that mean little to our business, but can mean everything to our credibility as a leader.

There's a ton of change going on around us, and that can be disconcerting. As I've mentioned before, only two people really like change: those who personally control it, and those who personally benefit from it. All others need some convincing.

Most of us are accustomed to, at a minimum, controlling much of the change in our organizations. Now, there's a decent amount of change occurring around us, effecting our organization, that we likely don't completely control. I'm not touting "victim mentality" at all; merely that we may have a new degree of discomfort in not having a high degree of control over some of these changes and challenges.

Be cognizant of it -- your staff is watching. Your folks look to you for calm, direction, and demonstrated leadership. They can panic and worry without your help (some are downright good at it)... they need you to be the positive example of leadership, setting the stage and direction for their efforts. Regardless of environmental challenges.

To belabor an obvious point, leading is easy... until it isn't. These times require a special kind of leadership. One that commands attention, respect, and followership.

Be that kind of leader. And make sure those other leaders in the organization are equipped to do the same.

If you need some comparative data for 2012 payroll adjustments, download our 2012 payroll outlook: Compensation Trends, Circa 2012 - the new normal is less than the old normal, so live with it. If you'd like to discuss some of the detail, give me a call or drop me an email and I'll do my best. I have some more specific data for manufacturing, industrial services, energy, Houston, Texas, and Baltimore.

Triangle Performance LLC's 2012 Survey of Senior Leadership will close in a week. You should have received the survey link in an earlier email. This will be our sixth annual survey; the participant rate continues to grow, as does the validity of the data presented. Click here for your last chance to take the survey.

Our 2011 Survey of Senior Leadership is still available; you can download the summary results for your perusal.

Who are you, really?? Take a complimentary assessment. Find out more about candidates; create a benchmark for skills in your organization, and use as templates for coaching efforts. Click here to go to my assessments page; then click on the link to take and receive a complimentary Personality assessment.

So, I have google alerts to help me know when someone publishes something of mine, or otherwise references me online (that's how I find these things). "The most recent was Sujata Khanna's Favourite Quotations." Now that sounds all zen-like and peaceful to me, until I discover the quote of mine she excerpted there was:

"If you aren't certain what to say, shut up. It's OK. Really."
~ Kevin Berchelmann

Well, I did say that, and do believe it's accurate. But zen-like? Not so much.

I'm in the news (in a good way!)...

CEO Online published my article, Becoming A Purposeful Leader. You can read that here. interviewed me for an article on Compensation planning. You can read that here.

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

MARCH 2012





Printable Version


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


View Kevin Berchelmann's profile on LinkedIn

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

I'm confirmed to speak at SHRM's 2012 Annual Conference in Atlanta, on June 27th.

I'll follow that by speaking at the Austin Human Resources Association's Annual Conference on August 24th.

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...

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:

Purposeful Leadership
It's not a technicality

Compensation Drives Business Success
You're going to spend it anyway; may as well get something for your money!

...and don't forget to check out my blog; some interesting (I think) posts, like succession planning - the details, and how to succeed in HR... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

...and don't forget to
check out my blog:

But that's just me...

Check me out on Twitter.

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

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Barnyard Leadership
-- Pig wrestling is alive and well

Leadership can be difficult. We know this to be true. It's incredibly situational, no "one-size-fits-all," and right when we think we've got it all figured out... Boom! We throw people in the mix and screw it all up.


Sometimes, it can get downright scrappy. Mal-intentioned employees (fortunately they are few) can sometimes make our lives difficult. And they do it on purpose.

We don't have to tolerate that, you know. To borrow a phrase from an old movie, it may be time to stand up and say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Now, to be clear, I'm not advocating irrational, brute force leadership as a normal course of business leadership. No, I'm talking about identifying those mal-intentioned employees mentioned above, then purposefully interrupting their efforts.

Who are they? C'mon, you don't really need me to define this, do you? You know who they are as you're reading this. You know them by name, and you're nodding your head... but, this is a written newsletter, so let me offer a few descriptions. There may be more, but my experience reveals at least these three:

1. Purposefully marginal. You know these. They'll always do most anything you ask of them. Then, they stop. They do precisely - and only - what you specifically ask or require.

Not one iota more.

These folks are downright irritating, and like jell-o when you try to confront their behavior. You've got to be clear, have specific examples, and then be prepared to outline what your expectations are going forward in future, similar situations.

In other words, start defining your expectations as more than simply the tasks that escape your lips.

As vague as it sounds to you left-brainers, "Do what you know I mean, not just what I say," is a reasonable communication. Have that talk. Today.

2. Malicious compliance. These, too, are a proverbial pain in our collective organizational derrieres. They will accomplish a task, job, operation or process exactly as described by some formal procedure, a supervisor, instructions, or accepted precedence, even when they know it's wrong, not working, problematic, or will somehow cause harm to the organization.

You'll hear, "...but that's what he told me to do," from an experienced, ten-year employee. Or even better, "My job is to follow the procedures; it's your job to make sure the procedure is correct."

To be sure, these folks are intentionally malicious and should be dealt with promptly.

"John, if I told you to follow a process that you knew would cause you personal harm, would you do it?" His response, of course, will be some version of "no." Follow that with "I expect that same diligence when I ask you to do something that, due to your circumstances, knowledge, or experience, know will harm this organization in any way."

Then, enforce it. Religiously.

3. Pig wrestling. No, this isn't the workplace equivalent of Saturday night mud wrestling on some obscure cable channel. Nor is it an activity where jell-o, whipped cream, or oil is involved.


No, Pig Wrestling happens when an employee (usually of the #1 or #2 above ilk), doesn't want to do something, and uses a valid topic to make an invalid argument.

"Oh, I can't do that, it's unsafe." There's the pig...

"That will take too long; we'll have to work overtime." There's the pig...

"Have you checked with Carol? She won't want us to do that." Carol, in this case, is just a pig...

Don't fall for it. Don't wrestle those pigs. When you do, the pig wrestling becomes the focus, not the task, process, or effort that prompted your order in the first place. Keep your response simple (assuming, of course, that it really is "safe," etc.).

"It's unsafe." You: "No, it's not. Go ahead and do it."*

"We'll have to work overtime." You: "No, we won't. It's easily finished in regular hours. Go ahead and do it."*

"Have you cleared that with Carol?" You: "We're good - go ahead and do it."*

* Feel free to explain further if you feel it's warranted, but end any explanation with "Go ahead and do it."

Don't wrestle with these pigs. You'll lose, and you'll just have to wrestle 'em again later.

These mentioned above are intentionally and purposefully problematic. Don't confuse them with minor performance/behavior challenges, or with those well-intentioned employees who experience momentary lapses.

These folks mean to do what they're doing. Let's put a stop to it.

One of my client's leaders was lamenting one day that they are trying really hard to better intervene when these intentionally obtuse ne'er-do-wells rears their heads. She said, "We're trying to enforce this sort of stupidity, but they keep outsmarting us."

Sadly, most of us know exactly what she means.


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Give it to me STRAIGHT!
-- When bad news is good news

As leaders, we need data and information to make sound decisions. Without them, we are but knee-jerk reactionaries, our direction and focus more resembling a weather vane in the wind than the rock-solid vision necessary for leading others.

So, as we start this new year, let's decide now that we'll do everything within our power to have access to that information. For instance: Do you blow up (real or perceived) when your staff brings you really bad news? Shooting the messenger is the pinnacle of foolish; the bad news continues, you simply don't get it anymore.

The truth is, we should embrace those delivering us bad news. Even if they caused it. we can deal with the performance and behavior later, but right now, the best thing we can hope for is knowledge.

So, what do we say to our folks to prompt such open and forthright discussions? Well, realize first that your words don't mean squat if your actions portray something else, but here are some suggestions:

1. Tell your staff to always be honest and frank with you, particularly when one-on-one. Having to "ask the right question" to get to an answer is no way to run a railroad. Or a manufacturer. Or a construction company.

2. Make sure they don't color bad news positively. Present it "naked," so to speak. As I frequently tell clients, "I'm just going to say this, and probably poorly. Please allow me to clean it up afterward." You do the same. Unvarnished, bare truth first, pretty, glossy, covers later.

3. They need to know that you want ALL relevant information -- good and bad. It's not "horn-tootin'" to let you know of things that happened as planned; it's simply informing your boss of relevant status. Both are important.

4. Tell them you want both sides of any story with known conflict. We can't be interested in a one-sided flow of information; the hallmark of a good senior manager is the ability to see and discuss both sides, even if they personally favor one.

5. Make sure they realize that, if they know the answer, they should say so. Equally, if they don't know the answer, they shouldn't wrap it in so much BS that it appears they do.

These are merely suggestions. It's a new year; time to correct some old "wrongs," establish some new "rights." One of those rights should be positive, accurate communications between you and your staffs.

As a friend of mine is so fond of saying... "This ain't rocket surgery."

But that's just me...

© 2012 Triangle Performance, LLC