Wednesday 30 January 2013

Performance Management is an unnecessary evil - guest post by Derek Duncan

This is a guest post by Derek Duncan an accredited Mentor of the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.

Performance Management is an unnecessary evil.  Is this the dominant thinking in your organization?

It is in many organisations, where the annual performance review meeting is dreaded by both the employee receiving the review and the manager conducting the review.

Next to perhaps a layoff, a performance review is probably
 the least eagerly anticipated event in the office, both for the manager and the

Few find this a pleasurable experience nor feel that there is much benefit from the experience, so why not forget the whole thing?! Unfortunately HR require that I do this and my performance will be impacted if I don’t get it done.

Or maybe performance appraisals just get in the way of getting other things done? There are lots of other “things” I could be doing instead of spending time doing this (performance appraisal).

Most ignore the shortcomings of performance appraisals and suffer through it, but that’s hard to do once you realize how incredibly expensive the process is. In 1996, Frederick Nickols estimated the cost at just under $2,000 per employee.

This cost estimate is probably conservative as it didn’t take into account the up-front preparation time required. Even attributing a real cost to the process hasn’t encouraged managers to approach the process as diligently as they approach other business processes.

It’s not too difficult to find a long list of what is wrong with the performance review process and yet most companies still have a process, even if they think it’s not very good.

However, the vast majority, about eighty-five percent, report that their system is at least moderately effective. … Instead of wasting our time debating whether to eliminate performance appraisals, we should be talking about how to make them more effective.

The challenge is to make the process simpler, more effective and less intimidating for both participants.

The Enhancing Their Gifts System™(ETGS) approaches the problem of providing feedback to inspire improved performance from a different perspective – performance leadership.

Performance appraisal is important. It serves a vital and irreplaceable function… Every person that works for an organization wants the answer to two questions; (1) What do you expect of me? and (2) How am I doing at meeting your expectations?

ETGS inspires employees and managers to answer these questions in meaningful ways through a formal conversation every 90 days about what’s worth celebrating and what could be better. Outcomes of this conversation are translated into a performance possibility plan for the next 90 days.

The key however is the informal conversations about performance that happen every day using the individuals possibility plan as a reference point.  ETGS helps people to master the skills of candid conversations beginning with The Double A Technique that simply involves performance partners asking questions which act as a catalyst for honest and authentic discussion, not to make judgments nor rate the employee versus his/her peers.  Using The Double A Technique teaches people to appreciate others and to be accountable and over time eliminating the need for appraisal.

An important step in building the connection between the manager and employee is first to consider and agree with the employee’s personal objectives and demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in them.  Then consider the objectives of the business and how the employee can best contribute to their achievement.  This is what the what’s worth celebrating conversation and the performance possibility plan creation greatly assist in - building real and lasting connection between employee and manager and other performance partners.

Very soon the formal conversation every 90 days takes a few minutes and is an enjoyable and meaningful exchange because the employee, manager and other performance partners have continued to build rapport and relationship through their everyday informal conversations which of course develops the interconnectedness that builds personal commitment between people that drives improved performance.

The Problem with your Performance Review Feedback. Charles Jacob.  February 1, 2010. (
Top 50 Problems with Performance Appraisals. Dr John Sullivan. Jan 31, 2011 (
Performance Appraisals are Dead, Long Live Performance Management.  Edward E Lawler III. July 12, 2012. (
How to be good at performance appraisals. Dick Grote 2011 (page 11)
Changing What’s Normal (page 165), Ian Berry. 2011

Derek Duncan can be contacted on + 61 419 670 233.

Derek will be in the room and a part of the changing what's normal candid conversation with Helen Kerrison and myself about character and high performance at 8 pm Melbourne time on February 5th. 
Details here

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Who are you... really? - guest post by Helen Kerrison

Helen is my very special guest online for this years first changing what's normal candid conversation. 

We will be discussing character and high performance.  
Details here.

 I was having a conversation recently and during the discussion the topic of ‘character’ came up.

That got me thinking!

It’s funny, because what came to my mind was not the idea of a person having character in the sense of honesty, strength, integrity, justness and other admirable qualities, but rather the idea of a person acting a character, playing a role, pretending... taking on a persona.

You see, most of us spend most of our lives being someone other than who we really are.

How does that happen?

When you compromise who you are in order to fit in, you are not being you.
When you take on an identity and play that character in order to feel accepted, appreciated or approved of, you are not being you. 

You may not be consciously aware of it because it’s become so normal that it feels like the real you, but it’s not who you really are.

We have numerous different roles in our lives and we adopt multiple identities and particular characters in order to play these roles.  Yours could be the role of parent, spouse, partner, business owner, employee, sister, brother, child, friend or many others.

However, living with multiple identities is very confusing.  You start to lose touch with who you really are and, because it takes energy to keep so many characters on the go, it’s also incredibly tiring!

The real you is deep within, shielded by the layers of multiple identities and characters you play on the outside.  The real you is your essence, your being, your light, your truth; it is your true character and when it shines through, everyone sees it, feels it and is bathed in its light.
So, why does expressing the real you feel so dangerous that you need layers of identities to protect yourself from it?

What if you could leave behind the masks you wear, the roles you play, the characters you adopt and the stories you tell and show up as who you really are? 

How amazing would that be?

Tempted?  Then, here are a few questions for you...

When do you decide to hide what you really feel and think?
What masks do you wear and what characters do you play?
What is that creating in your life?
What stops you from letting go of the masks and the acting and being you?

The real you has only one character.
The real you is waiting for you to question what, up until now, you have accepted without question...

Helen Kerrison
Transformational Coach & Consciousness Expert
How to Love Your Life Now

Details here of the changing what's normal candid conversation with Helen and myself about character and high performance at 8 pm Melbourne time on February 5th. 

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Sunday 27 January 2013

"Play the status quo against itself."

This weeks sparkenation.

"Play the status quo against itself."
Randy Gage

From Randy's great book Risky is the new safe which I have added to my recommended reading list here.

More sparkenations here.

Have a great week.  The first month of 2013 is almost gone.  Are you where you want to be?
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Thursday 24 January 2013

The Hard, Simple, and Joyfulness of Great Work

A few years ago my wife and I completed the restoration of a 100 year old property that took us several years part time.  We cried as our friends and family shared the joy of the finished product.  It was amazing to see the old house with a fresh coat of paint they said. 

What was unmentioned was the untold hours of back breaking work and the preparation to get ready to put on the finishing touches of a coat of paint on that made our home look so grand.

All great work is like this.

I meet many sales people today not making enough sales.  I know why their sales are down.  Not enough preparation in the hard work of building relationships and giving value in advance and therefore insufficient number of appointments.

I meet many people with great ideas that are unexecuted.  I know why.  It takes a lot of energy to turn information into insight into inspiration that can turn an idea into innovation.

I meet lots of business owners not grasping the great opportunties that downturns present.  I know why. These folk are doing what they have always done and therefore are being out done by those working harder and particularly wiser.

I have a crest in my office.  The Latin words underneath translate “Nothing without labour”

We believe this was the creed of our family from a very, very long time ago.  Marketing people never invented tag lines!  Whether it is our families credo or not I certainly learned the value of hard work from an early age.  Barely a teenager with my brother four years younger, we built our family home (all except the bricks and tiles on the roof) with our parents and with our bare hands.  I remember once my football coach saying to my Father  “Your boy has a great work ethic.” My father surprised at the remark simply replied “He knows the value of hard work.”

Do you really know the true value of hard work?

Working hard is the first step to success. The second is to follow a simple path.
I know none simpler than having the right intentions, overcoming resistance, having great products/services that help other people achieve what they want (thank you Zig Ziglar).

How simple is your path?

Working hard and following a simple path need to be wrapped in joy.

One of the most profound statements I have ever heard comes from the book The Radical Leap by Steven Farber.  He says “Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do”

Are you doing this?

I woke up this morning as I do every morning ready to work hard. I know that nothing of value is created or delivered without labour.  I also know life is actually simple.  We have made it complicated.  I know too that joy is in the moment.  Joy is an attitude, an intention, that we can bring to each moment. As Eckhart Tolle so wonderfully observed “Stress is caused by being 'here' but wanting to be 'there'.

Grasp your mantle right now.  Bring your best self to each moment.  When you fail, learn and go again. Work hard, follow a simple path, be joyful.

And be the difference you want to see in the world.
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the fast track to becoming a change champion.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Performance Leadership is vital to strategy execution - guest post by Paul Lange

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

Strategy is an undetailed plan of action to be implemented over a broadly defined period of time with the intention of achieving a defined (sometimes high-level) goal.  In other words, you want to move your business from A to B within X amount of time and decide you will achieve this through several high-level areas of activity.

But what about the people who will implement the strategy and perform the various activities, general and detailed, to help you achieve your goals? Where do they factor into the strategy equation? The answer is that in most businesses they don’t. The reason is because this has never been perceived nor taught as a part of business strategy, and arguably until the Enhancing Their Gifts System™, there was no framework to connect the business strategy and the chief executors of strategy, your employees.

Most, if not all, business strategy consulting focuses on the delivery of business improvement through strategic change, optimisation, and value innovation. The  key areas of focus are usually operations, leadership, growth and innovation, and finance and performance management. The people who you will need, to utilise their talents, skills and experience, to perform the work necessary, to deliver the improvement are generally bundled together with finance, a very analytical, black and white area of the business.

The traditional approach is that employees are seen as resources, similar to financial resources and computer systems, the performance of which must be measured and managed to maximise output and ROI. Their personal values, likes, dislikes and ambitions are discounted or ignored in the strategy picture, and such things are seen as extraneous to the pursuit and  achievement of the business goals and objectives. For the first time the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ enables business to give dedicated focus to talent and performance leadership as a part of strategic business growth.

Computer systems and financial resources are standardised and finite things with definable outputs on which to establish expectations and measure achievement.  They work best when they are deployed in the way that they are designed to produce maximum performance or results.  People however are unique creations, with infinite potential, each with their own personal and individual motivations, desires, aspirations and goals.

People give their best and maximum performance when they do things that will help them achieve whatever is highest on and most aligned with their values and therefore whatever is most important to them. This is as true in the workplace as it is in personal life.

Many systems talk about the need for employees to feel valued. That is a good starting point and there are many good techniques and activities that can be used to help achieve this.  There is a significant difference however between an employee feeling valued as the result of some external influence (motivation) and aligning their professional performance with what is highest on their values to create internal influence (inspiration).  The Enhancing Their Gifts System™ is the only system that I know of that makes this connection between employee business performance and the employees’ individual value system to achieve the best outcome for both the business and the person.

Business owners and leaders must come to accept that strategic change, optimisation, and value innovation is also needed in respect of the people who will execute their strategies. Performance management as an area of business strategy should  not be bundled with financial management. It should in fact be discarded entirely and businesses should establish in its place a new and separate area of talent and performance leadership.

Enhancing Their Gifts moves the focus from performance management, as a sidebar of the overall strategy program, to talent and performance leadership, as an integral and important part of deploying a strategy and achieving the goals defined by it.

In every organisation employees are key to how well the business strategy is executed. They are the technicians and the managers at the coalface daily. Whether in customer facing roles or back-of-house, the employees are the ones to execute tactically what you as the business owner or corporate leader decided upon strategically with your employees.  Motivation will take you as the leader only so far.  Money and other financial tools like stock options are no longer the only, and in some cases no longer the most important currency in the transaction between employer and employee to elicit best performance. Key is what leads to employees feeling valued.

Phil Libin, Chief Executive of Evernote was on the mark when he said “Happy workers make better products  ….  the output we care about has everything to do with your state of mind”.  Evernote is well known for its advocacy of work-life integration and the benefits achieved by the business valuing what is important to the employee.

If you wish to achieve the maximum output from your employees, it is no longer about giving them a job, a periodical pay-rise, possibly stock options, a mobile phone, company car, portable computing device, and a health plan if you operate your business in a country without a national health scheme. It’s about understanding what is important to the individuals and finding ways to align what they do for you with what they want to do themselves.

The process is not a tactical activity down the track of strategy implementation. It is also not something for which you establish measurement tools to determine the individuals performance based on what the business wants in order to determine what level of perk or pay-rise the employee will receive.  It starts with a decision in the boardroom that acknowledges the need for work-life integration and the need to lead your employees’ talent and performance for mutual benefit rather than simply trying to manage their performance which is a hangover from the industrial revolution and not fit for purpose in the 21st century.

Paul Lange can be contacted on +61 414 317 579.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Easy to implement.
People focused.
ROI tangible, not just talk.

Experience the system first hand here.

Sunday 20 January 2013

Leading people is wise. Trying to manage people is dumb.

This Sunday's sparkenation - Leading people is wise. Trying to manage people is dumb. Previous sparkenations here.

According to Wikepdia the verb manage comes from the Italian maneggiare (to handle — especially tools), which in turn derives from the Latin manus (hand). The French word mesnagement (later ménagement) influenced the development in meaning of the English word management in the 17th and 18th centuries.

How did we go from the above to trying to manage people? Good question.  I don’t know! Industrial revolution thinking and believing people can be treated like machines are part of the answer.  In the 21st century we can lead people but not manage them.  See my article Stop Trying to Manage People here.

"You manage things; you lead people."
Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

"Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."
Peter Drucker

I meet many so called leaders who still feel the need to plan, organize, direct and control (manage) their people.  A better path to travel is to inspire and influence (leadership), have agreed boundaries, co-create great systems and processes (management), and let people loose.

My own definitions of leadership and management:

Leadership is the art of inspiring people to bring everything remarkable that they are to everything they do.

Leadership falters and often badly without management.

Management is the practice of making it simple for people to bring everything remarkable that they are to everything they do.

Get your leadership and management right.  It changes everything for the better in your organisation.  Leadership is fundamentally about people.  Management is fundamentally about systems and processes that are good for people in bringing their best to their work.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 17 January 2013

Why not take the simple path to performance improvement in 2013?

Traditional performance management is often hard.
The Enhancing Their Gifts System (ETGS) is simple. It's about performance leadership.

Traditional performance management systems are often hard for 5 fundamental reasons:

1) They are seen as being primarily about formal performance reviews.
2) The system or processes are seen as being cumbersome and time consuming, perceived to not actually lead to performance improvement, and therefore provoke cynicism, skepticism, frustration and even downright anger
3) A lot of people think performance management is the processes followed to let go people whose performance is less than acceptable.
4) There is a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty.
5) There is a hangover from all of the above and many people are feeling and thinking this is all too hard.

1) Formal performance reviews

Formal performance reviews are hard when they are conducted infrequently.  The norm is once a year and many people still refer to the process as the annual appraisal.  Often the process and the filling out of lots of paperwork and/or online inputting is seen as something that has to be done rather than something that is integral to great work.

Formal performance reviews/appraisals are mostly done for the purposes of documenting performance perceptions and often more for legal and compliance reasons than performance improvement ones.

The exponential speed of technological change and the digitization of business processes and relationships means almost everything is fast and instantaneous and so to leave anything to a once a year exercise is a recipe for no action and the perception of being a waste of time and energy.

In fact formal performance reviews are a great idea and essential to performance improvement.  They only work well however when there has been meaningful, valued and continual informal exchanges about performance .

In the Enhancing Their Gifts System (ETGS), formal performance reviews take a few minutes and are held every 90 days. They are a positive, uplifting and productive experience because they are a moment in time capture of what’s worth celebrating and what can be better around already known and agreed performance factors.  Such conversations are possible because the focus of ETGS is on conversations about performance being integral to every day work that happen informally every day.

2) The system or processes are seen as being cumbersome and time consuming, perceived to not actually lead to performance improvement, and therefore provoke cynicism, skepticism, frustration and even downright anger

The ETGS framework means only one piece of paper is ever in use and it is completed candidly and joyfully because of everything that happens before and after it is completed.  This means any feelings of being cumbersome and time consuming are eliminated and all traces of cynicism, skepticism, frustration and anger are gone.

3) Letting people go whose performance is less than acceptable

Focusing on managing people we want in and managing those we don’t want out is a common approach in business.  This approach many have observed is like herding cats.  It’s hard! What if people can’t be managed?  See my article Stop Trying To Manage People.

The ETGS leads people and provides a framework that enables people to lead themselves which means the right people stay and those who fit somewhere else leave with dignity.

4) There is a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty.

Soft skills are NOT hard to learn, especially when accompanied by an easy-to-implement model or system. Unfortunately, most people are never given the opportunity to learn the soft skills essential to effective leadership.  ETGS makes such learning possible.

ETGS is people focused. Enhancing the gifts and talents of your people is a key way to let them know that they are valued. People respond, engage more fully, go the extra mile, and do everything they can to enhance the work of your organisation.

One of the most critical soft skills of leadership is the ability to hold difficult conversations with employees about perceived performance gaps.  The ETGS and associated mentoring helps people to learn and apply such skills.  Over time the framework eliminates the two biggest reasons for human conflict - a disagreement on where we’re going and the most prevalent, a disagreement on how we will get there.

For more some great insights into soft skills I highly recommend a book by Maree Harris, an accredited mentor of ETGS.  It’s called Soft Skills The Hard Stuff of Success.  You can download the introduction and chapter 1 here.

5) There is a hangover from all the negatives about performance management and many people are feeling and thinking this is all too hard.

"Every talent management process in use today was developed half a century ago. It's time for a new model.” said Peter Cappeli in Harvard Business Review article "Talent Management for the 21st Century" (March 2008).

The ETGS is such a new model.  Rather than focusing on old style management which most performance management or talent management systems do, that of planning, organizing, directing and controlling, ETGS unleashes talent and enables people to do their own planning, organising and directing in alignment with business directions and goals.  The ETGS allows people to control their own destiny while at the same time bringing their best to their work and in so doing helping you achieve your destiny.

Why not take the simple path to performance improvement in 2013?

Begin by experiencing part of the Enhancing Their Gifts System here and then get in touch with an accredited mentor or myself.

Be remarkable

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Leading Through Values Instead of Performance Goals - guest post by Steven Howard

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

"A business that only makes money is a poor business."
Henry Ford

Without a doubt, this quote from Henry Ford is more true in today's world of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), multiple constituencies, more knowledgeable customers, and a highly mobile workforce than it was during the glorious Industrial Age of the 1900s.

Likewise, the management philosophies and tools of the 20th century are no longer as useful for leading a 21st century workforce.  In fact, many leader observers believe the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of the management ethos of "what gets measured gets done" and setting SMART goals.

While still valid practices, the core philosophy for business owners and leaders is best built  on the fundamental core values of transparency, excellence and caring for one another.  How these core values are expressed through action and behaviour differentiate one organisation from another.

The Supreme Court in the United States has pronounced that "companies are people" with the same First Amendment rights and protections as individuals.  While not every jurisdiction will go this far in granting organisations human qualities, the best business owners and leaders do see their organisations as living and evolving entities driven by shared values.

Each person on your team has their own inherent set of values.  It is an unwise business owner or leader who expects his or her employees to park their individual values at the door upon arrival at work each day.

The astute business owner or leader, on the other hand, coalesces his or her staff around a set of shared values that set the context for individual and collaborative behaviour.

Motorola Solutions is one such entity, with a clearly defined set of shared various:

We are innovative
We are passionate
We are driven
We are accountable
We are partners

These values not only drive the decision-making process and collaborative efforts within this global, multi-cultural organisation, they are also used as important criteria in the company's recruitment and talent development processes.

Values are the catalyst for behaviour.  Basing collective and individual action on value goals, rather than stated performance objectives, has three important benefits for the organisation:

1) it helps to avoid wrong actions that lead to devastating consequences,
2) it helps everyone address dilemmas where there is no obvious, clear black and white correct path to take, and
3) it helps employees respond to the sentiments of others when strongly held opposing views come into play.

A few years ago, the high powered leadership team at Enron were known as "the smartest guys in the room."  But their lack of values based performance led to the collapse and destruction of Enron, and carried the corpse of accounting firm Arthur Anderson with them.  It also led to prison sentences for several Enron executives.

Values set the context for behaviour.  By understanding the values your people bring to the table, and then aligning these with the vital values of the organisation, you create teams of people more able to collaborate and work together to produce the results desired.

Great leaders know to monitor and measure the processes and behaviours producing results. They also know that when they modify behaviours that have slipped beyond the edges of the organisation's agreed and stated values, their people performance and results return to the desired path and destination.

Values based leadership is about sometimes taking the hardest path.  It is about seeing the company's purpose as more than just a profit producing machine.  It also means putting people and values before profits and short-term "shady" tactics designed to meet quarterly or yearly numbers.  As the great investor Warren Buffet said, "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it."

Without a values-based leadership approach, your organisation's clock is permanently set at five minutes before disaster.

Likewise, a report a few years ago titled Reputation Assurance: The Value of A Good Name, from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, stated, "A single-minded focus that seeks only to satisfy shareholders may ultimately lead to crises and erosion of shareholder value."

When business owners and leaders actively demonstrate strong values, they are better able to:
  • create meaningful relationships with stakeholders to drive high performance as they build and develop internal talent, and
  • inspire and energise their employees and peers, by demonstrating what is expected of the team, and then simultaneously building and developing internal talent.
Dov Seidman, author of HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything…in Business (and in Life) believes there is a link between enlightened corporate behaviour and performance.  He argues that the most successful businesses of the future will also be the most moral ones, not as a result of formal Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives and programs, but what he labels sustainable values.

Unlike situational values, sustainable values are ones with sustaining human relationships built into their day-to-day practices and behaviours.  In Seidman's view, how an organisation is led, governed and operates is equally as important in its future success as the products and services it produces.

In fact, values are such an important item on the leadership agenda that astute leaders are now actively seeking new systems and methodologies for cascading critical values throughout their organizations.  This is one area where smaller and medium sized businesses will have an advantage over monolithic, huge enterprises as it is much easier to cultivate consistent values-based behaviours across a workforce of 200 than 20,000.

This is one key reason the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ was created, to enable leaders to drive performance improvements through sustainable values built into day-to-day operations and practices.

Once this easy-to-implement system is in place, organisations not only start living the desired values of its leaders and staff, but recruiting mistakes are minimised as future hiring decisions incorporate a shared values element.

Values are also very important to employees. In fact, the most recent PWC Annual Global CEO survey reports that 59% of workers say they will seek employers whose corporate responsibility behaviour matches their own values.  This was higher than the 52% who said they are attracted to employers offering opportunities for progression.

Numerous other studies have shown the importance of values and good corporate citizenship to consumers.  For example, in the 2011 Cone/Echo Global CR Opportunity Study, consumers worldwide want a higher level of corporate social responsibility, especially from those with which they engage with or purchase from.  Over 10,000 consumers in 10 major countries were surveyed, with 94% saying companies must analyze and evolve their business practices to make their impact as positive as possible.  93% also agreed that companies must go beyond their legal compliance to operate responsibly.

Values are important to employees. Values are important to consumers. Values are important to society.

It is little wonder that incisive and wise business owners and leaders are now deliberately and purposely using shared values as one of the best levers for optimal people performance within their organizations.  As a result, they are creating great businesses that deliver significantly more than just money. Henry Ford would be proud.

Steven Howard can be contacted on +61 417 281 388.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
Creator of The Enhancing Their Gifts System™ - the simple framework that profoundly unleashes employee talent.
Please register for the next demonstration clinic here. 

Sunday 13 January 2013

Lead measures matter much more than lag measures

This Sunday's sparkenation.

"There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow...It goes without saying that no company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it."
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE

I agree with Mr. Welch however employee engagement, customer satisfaction and cash flow are outcomes or lag measures, as are energized employees.  More important, in fact vital, are what leads to these outcomes.

Please read my article Lead measures matter much more than lag measures here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Thursday 10 January 2013

The New Normal or is it really the same old stuff repackaged?

I see a lot of stuff on the web (particularly social media) about the new normal.  I even saw the phrase ‘The New Normal’ in my local newspaper yesterday in an article about interest rates! Not another buzz word I thought.

Most references to the new normal look to me usually! as the same old sh.. repackaged.

Changing what’s normal, particularly when normal (the status quo) no longer serves humanity, is another thing altogether.

The following line from Seth Godin has a permanent place on my desk.  It reminds me every day to change what I can in ways that really makes a difference.

“The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organisation we care about”

Forget the new normal if that means the same old stuff meaning the same old outcomes.

Instead, change what’s normal.  And begin with yourself.

PS In my Changing What’s Normal book I write about why all change is personal first.  Relationship change follows personal change.  Organisational change is a distant third.

You can buy my book or get if for free here.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

The beginning of a new year is not about resolutions

The beginning of a new year is not about resolutions, rather it is about reflection, reset, and resolve and rituals.


Looking back is valuable particularly when we think about defining moments of the past year, the lessons we learned from them, and how we are living these lessons now.

My weekly sparkenations may help you to reflect.  Spend an hour checking out my 2012 short sparkenations here.  Then remember your defining moments and how you are living the lessons you learned.


Every 90 days as a part of following my Enhancing Their Gifts System in my own life and work, I write down what has been worth celebrating in the past 90 days and what could be better in my personal and business life.  I then reset my personal and business possibility plan (PPP) for the next 90 days and detail how I am going to keep doing what's worth celebrating and deal with what could be better.  I always have the long term in mind, my goals, resolutions if you will, yet my focus is only on the next 90 days.

Resolve and Rituals

My PPP is my resolve in writing.  It is what I am actually going to do.  It is also the document I share with my performance partners who will appreciate me when I follow my plan and help me to be accountable when I fail to fulfill my promises. 

Following my rituals keeps me on track.  You can download a copy of my rituals here.  Create your own rituals document and share them too with your performance partners.  We never achieve anything of real value alone.  The more we share with our performance partners the more meaningful conversations about our performance become.  A result is an increase in our ability and willingness to consistently perform at optimum levels for us.

2013 can be your best year yet. Reflect, reset and act on your resolve by following your rituals.  And enlist the support of performance partners willing to have regular and meaningful conversations about your performance with you.

Be remarkable

Thursday 3 January 2013

When are you going to stop pretending that you're not special?

I read a book a week in 2012. It's a habit I have now been following for over 30 years.  My love of books and writing is undiminished!

There were 9 standouts for me:

Abundance by Peter H. Diamandis, and Steven Kotler.

Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth by David C. Korten

Global Citizens by Mark Gerzon.

Intentionomics® the impact of your intentions on living a happy, flourishing and prosperous life by my friend and colleague David Penglase.

Resilience by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy.

The 10 Second Philosophy® by Derek Mills.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Wilful Blindness by Margaret Heffernan.

Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz.

I also re-read Do the work (twice!) by Steven Pressfield which is the book that helps me greatly to welcome, fight, and overcome resistance.

My book this week has been Seth Godin's latest The Icarus Deception - how high will you fly? which like all of Seth's work has got me thinking and further ignited my passion to bring my art to the world and to help you bring yours.

One line from Seth jumped out at me "Stop Pretending You're Not Special."

Like every person You're Special.  Will 2013 be the year you bring everything you've got to everything you do?  And why not?  Stop pretending!

May my story below inspire you.

Be remarkable

PS You can download my full recommended reading list here.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

3 key actions to make 2013 your best year yet in your business

I trust you have recharged yourself in the last few days and are ready to have a red hot go in 2013.

I suggest 3 key actions you can take to make 2013 your best year yet in your business; expect more, do less/achieve more, and make the shift from performance management to performance leadership.

1) Expect More

The naysayers tells us that the higher our expectations, the greater our disappointments.  For me Michelangelo was on the money:
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

The Expect More From 2013 ebook may help you to aim high. I was delighted to contribute to this ebook produced by my friend and colleague Gihan Perera for the seventh year in a row.  You can download it here.

One of my clients Peter Merrett from Jones Lang La Salle achieved outstanding results in 2012 by expecting more and achieving what he set out to.  Congratulations to Peter for winning the Leadership Award from The Wow Awards.  Details of Peter’s win here.

2) Do Less, Achieve More

One of the catch cry's of recent times has been to “achieve more with less.”

I believe this is a truism for many aspects of our lives.  I know for example that my garden is no worse off due to less water from having permanent water restrictions where I live.  It has just meant better water management.  And I haven’t minded the significantly less amounts of my water bills either!

For many people fortunate to be working however the achieve more with less concept has meant doing considerably more work for less recognition and reward.

I help my business owner/leader clients to do less and spend more time and energy working on their businesses and less time in the business except for investing more energy in appreciating what other people do and teaching them greater self-accountability. 
Often in my work I do a remarkability review with my clients where we look at everything and objectively answer the question How remarkable is this?  Usually such reviews involve critical examination of structure and looking at everything that happens through so what? and what if? eyes.  Always this exercise, just one of 96 I undertake in remarkability reviews, leads to the elimination of tasks once thought to be sacred.

I promise you this that if you review all the transactions and interactions of your business and put them under the so what? and what if? microscope you too will eliminate much of what you and your employees do that isn’t remarkable.  Do the exercise and stop doing anything you currently do that isn’t remarkable in the first quarter of this year.  In the process you will stop doing a lot of unnecessary stuff altogether.

One of my clients, Tony Ainsworth, the General Manager of the WaiveStar Group, has found himself with 20 hours a week he didn’t have before by doing this exercise along with implementing and embedding my Enhancing Their Gifts System. I very much enjoy working with Tony.  He is willing to be vulnerable, get out of his comfort zones and live on the leading edge.  Of course Tony’s willingness means his unique gifts are beginning to shine and I have the joy of helping him enhance them. Tony is making the most significant shift any business leader can make, the one from performance management to performance leadership.
3) Make the shift from performance management to performance leadership yourself.

I have put together a short paper on this topic.  You can download it here.

The paper looks at 4 big problems, that are suffocating most workplaces when it comes to improving performance.

Almost everyone is time poor
The majority of your employees are not performing at their best on a consistent basis
There is a reluctance to have conversations about performance particularly when there is conflict, disagreement and/or difficulty
Systems and processes have been cumbersome and/or ineffective in the past or are now, therefore there is cynicism and skepticism about changing them
Making the shift from performance management to performance leadership is so important for personal well being and that of your business that I am on a mission this year to personally contact at least one person every single day to discuss it! 

Happiness is a state of mind, a decision, an intent.  I wish you well as you take your best happy self into this year. 

Make life simpler for yourself, your family, and your colleagues by taking 3 key actions this year: expect more, do less/achieve more, and make the shift from performance management to performance leadership.

Be remarkable