Wednesday 31 October 2012

You’re Special

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Monday 29 October 2012

The simple path to performance improvement is normally, sadly, a road seldom taken

Jane and John Doe are your typical employee.

 I began meeting John and Jane nearly 40 years ago when I first began my working life. In fact back then I was John Doe.

Since 1991 when I left the corporate world and began working with business owners/leaders of medium sized businesses and leaders in multinational organisations to help them improve performance, I have met 1000’s of Jane’s and John’s. Regardless of industry, country, product or service Jane and John Doe are everywhere. They are the majority of your employees.  And they are stopping (albeit unwillingly) your business from being the standout it could be.

Jane and John Doe are your average employee. They are neither actively engaged or disengaged.

When I first began researching employee engagement 12 years ago the first survey I looked at was one by the Corporate Leadership Council. It involved more than 50,000 employees from several countries and industries. The findings were “13% of employees fully engaged in their work, 11% actively disengaged and 76% open to persuasion.”

Each of these percentages staggered me. And guess what? Despite billions of dollars spent, and countless hours and tons of energy, nothing has really changed.

Engagement surveys across the world still reveal the same kind of dismal results.

The 2007-2008 global workforce study by Towers Perrin (now Towers Watson) involved more than 90,000 employees from 18 countries. The results: “Only 20 percent of them felt fully engaged ... 40% were ‘enrolled,’ meaning capable but not fully committed, and 38% were disenchanted or disengaged.”

In Blessing White’s Employee Engagement Report 2011 which reflected interviews with 11,000 individuals I noted the following: “Fewer than 1 in 3 employees are Engaged.” And “The Engaged stay for what they give; the Disengaged stay for what they can get.”

What is going on? 
What is going on is that in most organisation's Jane and John Doe are being overlooked.

Jane and John Doe are salt of the earth people. They come to work every day with good intentions, do what they believe is their best, and go home. Very few leaders pay Jane and John much attention because they’re busy pampering those they feel are the so called “engaged” and trying the “fix” the “disengaged.”  

The future success of your business lies with how you see, treat and take care of Jane and John Doe. Jane and John, like every human being, have aspirations. In my experience the trouble is you don’t know what Jane and John’s aspirations are because most of the conversations you have with them, if you have conversations at all, are about your business and not about them as people. You need to have conversations about the personal and your business.  

The magic is in the middle

Most organisations look like this with most employees in the middle.

Political elections are won and lost in the middle.  Just ask Obama and Romney!

You can win more in your business by moving the middle to the left and the right to the left or out the door.

What’s next?

5 actions you can take.

1. Truly get to know your employees who are neither engaged or disengaged.  Find out what really matters to them and what they are passionate about.

2. Help your neither engaged or disengaged employees to identify their unique talents or gifts and work with them to create a one page 90 day action plan to better ultilise their talents or gifts to achieve what really matters to them.

3. At the same time help people to add to their one page 90 day action plan how they can better bring their unique talents or gifts to their work.

4. Teach people to have regular conversations with their team mates about their one page 90 day action plan and how to show appreciation to another when their plan is working and how to be more accountable when, for whatever reason, their plan isn’t followed.

5. Ensure that every 90 days people have a what’s worth celebrating and what could be better conversation with themselves and their team mates and then upgrade their one page personal and business action plan for the next 90 days and continue appreciation and accountability conversations.

I realise the actions above may seem counter intuitive or even silly.

My Enhancing Their Gifts System makes it simple for you to take the above 5 actions.  If there is not significant performance improvement within 90 days of implementing the system I will give you your investment back no questions asked.

What the system does like nothing else available on the planet is engage people in their hearts and minds for the right reasons, unlike most performance management systems that try to engage people in their minds for all the wrong reasons.

See the key differences between the Enhancing Their Gifts System and the rest here and register for the next demonstration clinic or contact me to arrange a private clinic.

“The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (published in 1916.)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

I have been a pioneer in the development and effective use of one page personal and business action plans.  What is truly unique about the Enhancing Their Gifts System is not the one page however.  What is special is the journey before the one page is created and the powerful conversations that follow.  It is a road less traveled.  I promise you that taking it will make all the difference.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Friday 26 October 2012


Long plane rides and train journeys this week has meant lots of reading time for me. I have been digging deep into a great book by Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman called Thinking, Fast and Slow which is about the reliability and unreliability of the intuitive and conscious minds and human rationality, irrationality and other thought provoking concepts.

Daniel’s WYSIATI struck me. What You See Is All There Is. It struck me equally that WYSINATI is also a key part of our lives. What You See Is Not All There Is!

For me WYSINATI is a key to successfully working together.

The songwriter Scott Wesley Brown wrote “No one of us has got it all together, but all of us together got it all.”

Next week be aware of how bias effects your decision making and make a concentrated effort to find out how other people see situations. Then work together to find a shared view of the way forward and go for it.

I am willing to bet that doing the above will mean you will have a happier and more productive week!

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Monday 22 October 2012

Instead of your call is important to us ... how about ...?

Over the last few weeks I have had to deal with the fall out from actions I thought would be simple, putting in a new phone line in my office, getting some frequent flyer points that went to the wrong account in the right account, and changing some facets of how my websites work.

In dealing with each of these I spent an incredible amount of time waiting on phone queues where over and over I encountered:

Your call is important to us ...
We are sorry for your inconvenience ...

In each case I was made to feel that problems not caused in any way by me were actually my fault!

While I did make productive use of my waiting time I also amused myself by writing down the following lines people in call centres could give.

Your call is important to us however because we aren’t a profitable business we can’t employ enough people to answer customer calls so you will just have to wait and listen to some very ordinary music.

Your call is important to us however our company provides no training or learning in customer service for us so you will just have to wait while we read the manuals and try and figure out a solution to your problem that we know nothing about.

We are sorry for your inconvenience however we know we are incompetent, we just don’t have time to learn what we know we should because people keep calling us.

We are sorry for your inconvenience but our systems were created by people who have no real world experience and are designed to reduce our customer numbers so that we can cope.

I am really sorry for your inconvenience.  We have supervisors who can fix this for you however they are all at lunch.  (I am not making this one up!)

Blame, shame, buck passing, no accountability, incompetence.

What would I experience at your place if I called you?

When things don’t go according to plan for your customers how do you solve the problems that you caused and still retain a good relationship with your customers?

What time, energy and money are you investing in ensuring your people are professionally able to provide a customer service experience you can be proud of and that your employees and customers are proud of too?

How well are you tapping into the unique talents of your employees and then deploying them in the best interests of your employees and your customers?

What promises are you making to your employees and your customers and how well are you keeping them?

Some people have heard the talk, don’t believe it and therefore don’t walk the

Some people have heard the talk, believe it, but don’t walk the talk. 

Some people have heard the talk, talk the talk, but still don’t walk the talk. 

Real leaders rarely talk the talk, they just walk the talk. For the sake of your sanity and your personal and business prosperity I hope this is you.

In an online discussion recently I stated that change management is an oxymoron and that what we need is change leadership.  I was thanked for my thoughts by one person who then said “If Management is defined as Planning, Leading, Organising and Controlling/Co-ordinating (Fayol’s 1849), then change leadership is only one (albeit very important) component of a change manager’s role.”

What may have worked in the 19th century doesn’t work anymore.

And clearly a lot of 20th century innovations don’t work anymore either!

What are you doing in your business today that belongs in the 19th and/or 20th century's and not the 21st century?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Monday 15 October 2012

Are you focused on goals or standards, results or rituals?

On the recommendation of my colleague Maria Carlton who is a best selling author and publisher I purchased a book by Derek Mills The 10 Second Philosophy®.  Derek is known as The Standards Guy®

Derek’s book is about having standards instead of goals.  It is a very refreshing read and I have added his book to my recommended reading list.

For many years my focus has been about following rituals, what Derek calls standards.  I know that if I follow the right processes for me then the outcomes take care of themselves.

Is your focus on outcomes or processes, goals or standards, results or rituals?

Some people live in the past, stuck usually with intentions, feelings and a mindset about what has happened.  We can’t change the past.  We can view what has happened with different feelings and new eyes.  We can see failure as a learning opportunity for example rather than as a negative.

Some people live in the future, stuck usually with intentions, feelings and a mindset about what might happen.  We can’t guarantee the future.  We can vision what is possible and take one step at a time towards possibility.

The most successful and happy people who I know live in the present.  We can change the present.  We can control what happens within the sphere of what is in our control, our intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions.  Sure it is important to have direction, goals, targets, to begin with the end in mind.  The trick though is to focus on the now.  This is what processes, standards or rituals can do for us.

The author of another great book, The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle provides the following wise advice: “Stress is caused by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there'.”

Be crystal clear about where you want to go and who you want to become, then focus on where you are now and on being the best you can be right now.

My rituals one pager may help you.  Please download it here and then create your own or something similar.  In his book Derek Mills provides a template for setting standards in personal health and fitness, environmental, relationships, family, emotions, career, and time. Get his book and check it out. 

Whatever tool you use the point is this: Have something that helps you to maintain your focus in the now.

The Chinese philosopher Laozi is quoted as saying - "The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one's feet," often translated “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Focus on the single step you are taking right now.

I have very clear goals in all aspects of my personal and business life written down.  The key is not my goals.  The key is my execution plan to achieve them and sticking to the plan. Rituals/standards/processes help immensely.

What execution plan are you following?

And in your business what execution plan are your employees following?

Is it their own piece of the puzzle?

Most strategies fail to get executed because employees, the chief executors of strategy, haven't yet bought into the strategy or as is more often the case, they don't yet understand or own their unique piece of the execution map.


Some people live in the past.  Their focus is on what happened.

Some people are future focused. Their focus is on what might happen.

The most successful and happy people are crystal clear on where they’re going and their focus is on what will happen in the present.

Keeping standards or following processes or rituals are what the most successful and happy people do.

What modifications/changes will you make to be more focused on the present?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Do we really need “appraisals?” guest post by Steve Harris

This is a guest post by Steve Harris one of the accredited mentors of my Enhancing Their Gifts System™

There are two terms in use in the lexicon of the HR professional which I take particular exception to. They are “performance appraisal” and “performance management”. I realise these systems need a name, but, why not call them a name which shows what your intend as an outcome?

Oh wait…

These probably do reflect the outcomes desired, if indeed, the company’s philosophy towards its people is one of command and control, punishment and reward.  Measurement for measurement’s sake.

A bit strong you say? Recently I was involved with an organisation that was, outwardly at least, committed to a structured and transparent mandatory performance management system.

This system was structured in such a way that when used as mandated, recorded performance and behavioural goals or KPI’s were in great detail, and had review periods that allowed for weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual appraisals (like it is a test hat you must pass, or fail!).

Yet the promised high performance culture remained elusive, and adherence to “the system” was poor at all levels of management.


Put simply, the system was intrusive, demeaning and too onerous for management to use. To prepare for each session, log the details on the system, conduct the interview, log the results and get next level review of the outcomes took, say, 3 hours, a manager who had 10 reports would effectively spend their working week reviewing the staff’s performance.

This seems absurd, and it is.

The real damage though was to staff morale, because what they are presented with is a mix of objective and subjective measurements that could be used as a form of disciplinary evidence, when what the organisation should have been looking to is a system of performance development.  This is where KPI’s and behaviours are designed to suit the individual’s development needs and abilities; and that the system was there as an adjunct to the true needs of the staff. With this improved ability to understand the goals and aspirations of the staff member the management team’s efforts can focus on bringing out the best performance in each and every unique individual.

Better I think to look at these systems as performance development systems, because surely you want to encourage and motivate people to do their best whilst they are work, not monitor their every move and critique them at every turn. Ask yourself, would this motivate you?

Steve Harris can be contacted on +61 438703570.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Monday 8 October 2012

Are you less valuable due to a poverty of attention?

In 1978 Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon said: "A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention."

There is a lot of good that can come from social media not least of which is how quickly people can now gather together to support a cause and bring about change.

There is also a dark side to social media - a poverty of attention.

Paying attention to ourselves, our employees, our customers/clients, all our stakeholders, is a key to delivering value to them that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve, which after all is what business is all about.

Paying attention is also key to living our values, feeling valued and encouraging other people to feel valued. Living our values and feeling valued are critical to delivering value.

I notice and feel a distinct lack of attention in shops and stores everywhere and online shopping is generally a soulless experience particularly when it doesn’t go to plan and becomes a nightmare because great customer service online to solve problems I am yet to experience.

We are all the poorer when people don’t truly engage and pay attention.

There is much I love about social media. Through it we can easily maintain our Google rankings, enhance our credibility and reputation. We can demonstrate our value via great content, spot opportunities for collaboration, and further the power of interconnectedness.

The darker side though is that we can all too easily spend too much time and energy online and fail to properly pay attention to real people in the real world. And we are all poorer as a result and therefore less valuable.

When I first embraced social media in 2007 it didn’t take long before I was spending 20 hours a week online. I would be a minnow today compared to some people!

Over the past 18 months I have really been focusing on getting my in person and online work in perspective and harmony for me. I now spend just a couple of hours a week on social media and my business is booming.

My focus has shifted back to paying attention to real people in real life. My business is better, my life is better. My family, friends and clients see me as more valuable to them. This is what really matters.

How valuable are you really to the key people in your life and your business? 

Could your online and in person harmony be better for you so that you are genuinely being as valuable as possible to the people who really matter in your life and your work?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Monday 1 October 2012

Performance management is an oxymoron too!

I always read with interest the New World of Work newsletter from the great people at Tomorrow Today.

The following in the September 28th issue caught my attention:

“It seems amazing, but many businesses still don’t understand the positive impact engagement can have on their bottom line. For example, various recent studies have found:

- that the most engaged companies have 5 times higher total shareholder return over 5 years than the least engaged companies (Kenexa)

- that companies with high levels of engagement outperform the stock market index and post shareholder returns 22% higher than average.  (Aon Hewitt)

Yet Gallup still reports that 71% of employees are disengaged.”

I am not at all surprised by these sad numbers.  Most people don’t yet get that employee engagement is an outcome of what we think about people and how we treat them. Indeed engagement is a way of life.

Performance management systems are so often a contributor to poor performance because the focus is usually trying to manage people and appraising them.  We need to stop trying to manage people (see my article here.) We also need to stop appraising people.  Appraisals are for houses and cars.  Even then I doubt the value of appraisal.

What we should be doing with people is appreciating them and making it simple for them to be accountable.

Performance management is an oxymoron.  It’s the third of the big three oxymorons that lead to bad business.  The other two are strategic planning and change management.  You can read my thoughts on these two here.

I am on a mission to rid the world of dull, boring, unhelpful, disliked, unproductive, meaningless, useless, valueless, dumb, uncaring, unappreciated, and pointless conversations about performance and the devastating negative effects they have on people and productivity, I am about putting fun, candor, joy and meaning firmly back into such conversations. Authentic employee engagement, optimum performance by the majority of your people everyday, and the guaranteed execution of your strategy are the key results.

Last week I was asked why I do what I do.  I answered in a heartbeat, because more human beings need to be fully alive.

My father taught me that a key to success in life is to be spiritually alive, physically active, and mentally alert.  Over the years I added emotionally healthy and universally aware to my Dad’s three to state what I believe it means to be fully alive.

My work is about helping people to be fully alive.  The results of course take your breath away.

Please set aside 12 minutes and 57 seconds and watch my video You’re Special below.  If my story resonates with you then my work could be a godsend for you.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders of medium sized business and leaders of divisions in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.