Triangle PerformanceAt C-Level

From the Top

Happy New Year!

Seriously, I hope your new year has started well, and that you have well-defined, forward-looking plans and strategies for the year.

Oh yeah-and the existing or potential leadership to pull it off.

I've been busy (in a good way), and no travels this past month has made me a happy consultant.

I post something like this each year on my blog, to help us all keep our eye on the ball:

How'd you do last year?

Did you get the things accomplished that you set out to do at the beginning of the year? Most of them? Some of them? Any of them??

If so, great. If not, why not? Now--right now--is the best time to answer the following questions:

  1. Regarding those things successful last year, what made them so? Was it because of me and my leadership, or in spite of? For those I lead, have I appropriately recognized their successes?

  2. If we failed to accomplish some of our plans, goals, or objectives... why? Was it because we failed to do something we could have done, or were there really-really--circumstances beyond our control (honesty is important on this one)? For those I lead who performed less than satisfactorily, am I addressing that performance appropriately?

While you're asking questions, how have you performed as a leader? Have you asked anyone... like those you lead? If not, now's the perfect time. And I don't mean just "hey, Jane, how am I doing as a leader?" Strangely enough, that might not actually elicit a meaningful response.

Nor do I mean some über-elaborate 360-degree feedback effort that has everyone wishing they were never born. I'm talking about just using something simple, like Start, Stop, Continue.

Sit down, one on one, with those you lead directly. Tell them you want-need--their feedback to improve, and to make their jobs better (and likely easier). Tell them you'll be asking three questions, and you would like at least one input or response for each question. Then ask...

What should I Start doing that I'm not doing now?

What should I Stop doing that doesn't seem to help you or others?

What should I Continue doing that you feel is positive?

Ask the questions, then shut up while they answer. No defensive drilling down, no "but what about...?" comments, nothing but "thank you for that input."

If you'd like a simple worksheet for this, you can download one here.

And don't forget to follow up with them in a few months to see how you're doing with their inputs.

And if I can help with the leadership development, compensation planning, or strategy parts of your efforts, you know how to reach me.

Triangle Performance LLC's 2013 Survey of Senior Leadership is complete! If you participated, you know this, since you recently received an advance copy via email. For those who didn't participate, you can download the Executive Summary here. I discuss the findings in the first article below, and will elaborate more in future editions of At C-Level.

Freebie Alert...Last Call
I'll be finishing my 2013 pro-bono plan soon, and I have room for one more organization/input. This is a major part of my consulting practice, and a necessary part of my personal life. Please contact me if you know of a worthy, charitable not-for-profit that could use some help with leadership, strategy, coaching, or similar challenges. Yes, pro-bono means free.

On Stage...! New video, this one is the final segment in a three-part series on "Leading from Anywhere," this brief clip discusses leadership beyond the reach of a simple business card or "Title.".

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.

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

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

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, given we're approaching the times for compensation and strategy planning:

Compensation Trends, Circa 2013--Is that all??,

Needing Mo' Leaders...The "make" or "buy" decision..., and

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

Are you social? Like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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






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Strategy & Leadership

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Surveys, Statistics, and Damn Lies
-- Hey, the numbers don't lie!

< my best Richard Dawson voice...>

"Survey Says...!!"

Ok, if you don't know who Richard Dawson is, keep it to yourself.

We just finished compiling the results of our annual Survey of Senior Leadership: 2013 Business Challenges. Once again, the response rate increased for this, our 6th year of surveying business leaders on a few significant topics.

What came from a simple client request to ask a few other clients what was going on in their world (thanks, Roy!), has grown into a substantial piece of survey data, used by more than just a few for benchmarking and "calibrating" their current directions, focus, and efforts.

And the results continue to be interesting.

Since 2010, the top five business challenges have remained substantially the same as a group-though their relative standing fluctuates somewhat. Revenue/Earnings Enhancement has led the list now for three straight years--no shock there. Management Development/Performance, equally unsurprising, continues to come in a reasonably close second.

Interestingly, Strategy, Vision, Direction very nearly dropped off the Top 5 this year, narrowly holding on to the fifth spot, lagging well behind Employee Benefits Legislation and Costs. Talent Acquisition, Retention, & Management has moved from off the list in 2011, to #4 last year, to this year's #3 spot.

Conclusions? Clearly, hanging on to and increasing revenue/earnings continue to be near and dear to our hearts. We obviously feel that our manager's performance could use some shoring up (probably in pursuit of the revenue/earnings mentioned above), and overall talent management and retention is becoming top of mind.

These things, of course, are quite interrelated.

Looking at the Top Issues you said you faced individually, New Business and Revenue took the #1 spot from Clear Vision & Strategy, pushing it down to #2, though the percentage of supporting respondents actually increased; very telling in that new business must really be a major topic for us all.

Management Skills, Cost Reductions (G&A, healthcare), and Talent Retention rounded up the top five personal concerns faced by survey respondents.

Finally, and most notably, Staffing Plans for the next 12 months changed significantly. Only 37% of you said you were planning on increasing staff size in 2013, a 36% drop from last year. Just as telling-those not planning on changing either way increased by nearly 85% year over year, to almost half of all respondents.

The silver lining continues to be those reducing headcounts-down to 14% this year, the lowest since we started asking (2010).

Clearly, we're not out of the woods yet, regarding both realities and perceptions of our economies and progress. I see good things when strategy stays to the forefront, and the recognition that leadership talent is what drives our successes.

Thanks to those who participated, so that we can all enjoy the results and get some degree of value from them, and I hope you all have a great 2013.

If you missed the link above, you can download the 2013 Survey of Senior Leadership here.

Leadership Assessment:
-- Well, it's getting better...

Recently, I was working with some mid-and senior-managers of a client of mine. We were discussing how far senior leadership had come since we began down the path of change, evolving from a more "controlling" environment to a more empowered one, with resulting communications, performance expectations, etc.

It's been an interesting ride, to say the least.

Anyway, when asked "So, are we making progress?" One manager participant offered the comment, "Well, it's getting better."

In leadership parlance, folks, that is a rousing success. A standing ovation. The "wave" at a football game. We reached that par-5 in two...

"We're getting better." That's the key to this whole thing, isn't it?

There's no simple, three-line memo that we can send out that says, "Effective Tuesday, we'll become better leaders." There's no 12-page "Definitive Guide to Leadership" that provides solutions to all challenges. If there were, I would have written it, sold it for a bazillion dollars, and be living on my own island near Tahiti. In all likelihood, you wouldn't be invited.

No, it's a process, and success looks like a series of small victories in succession. We've got to work--proactively--at becoming better leaders today to be capable and ready to deal with whatever changes tomorrow brings. And... there will be changes.

Are your folks saying--when you're not within earshot--"we're getting better."?

They should be...


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Compensation: Pay Attention Here!
-- Across the board isn't good enough...

So, with a CPI hovering around 1.7-2.0%, U.S. annual inflation rates less than 2%, and most surveys showing 2.5-3.0% increases in salary budgets for 2013, life's a breeze, right? Just add the percentages into the Excel formula, press "Enter," and you're done, right?

Actually, Einstein, that's wrong. Never mind the de-motivational aspect of such mind-numbing practices to your high performers, or the sheer ecstasy felt by your substandard slugs when they realize they found new money with no additional effort, or even the general fear from your sales staff about having to make up that cost delta in customer margins...

Enter "wage inflation."

I'm going to avoid the economist argument that higher wages do or do not cause inflation. That's just not our relative concern here. What is clearly our concern is that our currently unstable economic growth stymies general employment. This, theoretically, can cause businesses to hold a lid on the price of labor and (hopefully) pass through higher costs from other areas in the form of higher prices (and increased margins).

If only it were so easy. As the CPI and U.S. inflation rate shows general inflationary trends (e.g., our product/service cost increases), wage inflation is an additional cost on top of inflationary pricing. In other words, it's a potential incremental cost.

Now, again theoretically, profit-conscious firms aren't going to hire employees at a rate of pay more than his utilitarian or marginal value, or more than the additional revenue earned. Hardly rocket science, right?

The reality, however, shows that sometimes wages do increase faster than general inflation, particularly for individual functions, positions and/or jobs, rather than an overall employment market.

Enter compensation planning. It's easy to get in a cyclical rut: analyze the jobs, survey the market, and establish a range. Then adjust for inflation a couple of years and start all over again.

That's simply not enough.

We must pay close, specific attention to the inflationary movement of key positions within our organizations and adjust accordingly -- or at least be acutely aware of the disparity. No reason for a surprise here.

Sometimes compensation planning is simply a couple of cells in a spreadsheet; other times, it takes foresight, analysis, and a real awareness of what's going on in the world.

Don't get caught napping...

But that's just me...

© 2013 Triangle Performance, LLC