May 2017

Can Family Wealth Last Longer Than Three Generations?

“From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” is one of those proverbs that has proven so accurate across so many different scenarios and cultures that variations on the theme can be found in many different countries around the world.

Originally thought to be the American translation of an old Lancashire proverb, “There’s nobbut three generations atween a clog and a clog,” the saying can be found in Japanese culture, where it translates as, “Rice paddies to rice paddies in three generations,” in Scotland, where they say, “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells and his son begs,” and in China: “Wealth never survives three generations.” Other versions can also be found in both Italian and Spanish culture.

What it essentially means is this: In family businesses, there is a tendency among the third generation to squander the wealth obtained by the first, so that the fourth generation ends up in shirtsleeves again, starting from scratch.

In an article that appeared in the Minneapolis StarTribune in May last year, Jackie Crosby wrote this telling paragraph:

“Money managers know all too well the truth behind the proverb, “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.” Research shows that affluent families lose 70 percent of their wealth in the second generation and a stunning 90 percent by the time the grandchildren die.”

What factors are at play here to make this such a common occurrence? Essentially, it’s this: people assume that your personality has nothing at all to do with how successful you are. Surely if you’ve grown up in the family business, and maybe even have some kind of business or management degree, that’s enough to ensure you’re the one to take the company to bigger and better things?


Three generations ago, that pioneering entrepreneurial grandfather had a mix of drive, impatience, confidence, hard work, focus and pure chutzpah, which meant he was prepared to take risks and chances to pull himself and his family up and out of their humble background.

But personality traits and chutzpah are not inherited, so the sons and daughters of entrepreneurs rarely have the same work ethic and hunger for success. When things are good, the business will probably continue to survive, but as soon as things get tough, second generation owners might not have the same stomach for a ‘fight’ as their fathers did. By the time they retire, the business could be on its knees, and it’s up to the next generation to pick up the pieces.

A perfect example of this is Toyota, probably one of the best-loved car brands in the world until declining sales, worsened by a subsequent recall scandal, rocked the company back in 2010. Toyota appointed Akio Toyoda, grandson of the company’s founder Kiichiro Toyoda, as President and CEO to help the company ride out the storm. On his appointment, he made the following tearful, and telling statement:

“We pursued growth over the speed at which we were able to develop our people and our organisation, and we should sincerely be mindful of that,” he said. “I regret that this has resulted in the safety issues described in the recalls we face today, and I am deeply sorry for any accidents that Toyota drivers have experienced.”

Today, Toyota is rapidly gaining back its lost reputation and trust and the company’s faith in its leader was publicly acknowledged by his recent appointment (in addition to his CEO role) as head of Toyota’s newly-formed electric car division, thus indicating their commitment to taking the company into the future with strong and confident leadership.

So here’s the bottom line: If you want to succession plan your family company or your organisation, you need to ask yourself what capabilities make the current incumbents successful. Then measure your pool of potential successors for those capabilities. Without assessing the personality, habits and track record of a potential incumbent, you run a good risk of appointing the wrong person to succeed.

Steve and his colleagues are passionate about helping you find the right people for the right jobs. Their data-driven techniques take the guesswork out of finding the best candidates for your company’s future. They’d welcome the opportunity to work with you to solve your succession planning or capability measurement challenges.

To find out more, please email Steve or call him on +27 82 308 7627.

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Developing Capability to Covet – The Secret Sauce of Successful Performance

It’s useful to understand the difference between characteristics and capability. A characteristic is a quality or feature of a person that is typical of them and which helps identify them. For example “Frikkie is outgoing and chilled” or “Sibongiseni is assertive and hectic”.

Capability, on the other hand, is a set of characteristics that have been developed beyond their individual definitions. In the form of capability, this set of characteristics now has an impact at home, at work and at play.

For example, one of my clients is an entrepreneur: he’s confident and direct, introverted and task focused, impatient and driven, risk averse and detail oriented. By themselves, just adjectives describing a personality.

Developing CapabilityBut together, they create an impact much greater than the sum of their parts just as mayonnaise is far tastier than egg yolk, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and oil will ever be individually!

His confidence and drive led him to start the business while his introverted, task focused, risk-averse, detail oriented personality traits led him to build a business based upon conservative promises, accurate results, professional service and a no-nonsense, right first-time culture.

Consequently, the business is not well-known because marketing is a fluffy and unpredictable ‘science’ as far as he’s concerned. His mantra is ‘deliver, the clients will follow’. I have no doubt he has annoyed many people due to his direct, assertive and sometimes aggressive style. But the people who have used his company’s services know that when he says “X will be delivered on Y date at Z level of quality”, it will be so. And that’s why he’s in business. He developed and combined his personality traits into a tangible capability to start and run a successful business.

Naturally, it’s not just about personality. Other important characteristics to look for in entrepreneurs, leaders, managers and staff (to name but a few in this article) include:


It’s a certainty of life that things go wrong: Clients change the goal posts, new competitors arrive, strikes stop production, politicians forget the economy…

Distinguished University Research Mathematics and Physics Professor James Yorke wrote: “The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B”. But how can we predict who’ll be flexible at the required time?

The answer will often lie in the following traits: Responsiveness, innovation, simplification, problem-solving and conceptual fitness – people with strengths in these traits are likely to be able to be flexible when situations warrant it. They find new ways to solve old problems. They literally change the world. They have a Plan B.

People with good flexibility respond to challenges by automatically working out Plan B to reach their goals despite the setback. There’s no moaning, no blame shifting, no postponing, no excuses. Which leads to the second important characteristic …


The concepts of Accountability and Responsibility are often thrown around loosely and interchangeably, but they measure different things.

A simple example: your staff member misses an important deadline for a client. He was responsible for the deadline, you are accountable. When the client meeting starts, the very worst thing to do is to blame a staff member and tell the client that you will discipline them. The client doesn’t care. Your company failed and you’re accountable for that. Something a few politicians might like to try.


Capability then is a collective noun for education, knowledge, experience, technical and behavioural competency. Excellent capability including strengths of flexibility and accountability lead to outstanding performance at any level.

One of the best examples of outstanding capability is personified by Captain Chesley Sullenberger, the commercial airline pilot who famously – and successfully – landed a passenger jet on the Hudson River in 2009. This incredible feat was achieved through the Captain’s unwavering confidence in his years of experience and training. He didn’t stop to think about what wasn’t possible. He made a decision to be accountable for saving his crew and passengers and backed his capability to follow through.Developing Capability

His incredible execution of an untested Plan B saved the crew and passengers on US1549 and probably a large number of people on the ground as well. They have no idea they could have been in the path of the plane had Captain Sullenberger not been that capable.

How many of your people have built their capability so well that they can execute Plan B out of nowhere? If you’d like to explore this, we can assist you to measure the capability of your people and define ways to improve it for each and every one.

In some cases, we might suggest that you have the wrong people in the job. Moving people into the right jobs is itself, a massive capability, job satisfaction, and performance enhancer.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, it’s always appreciated.

Steve Rogers is a passionate advocate of capability as an indicator of future success. He’s an expert at helping you reduce the guesswork and increase predictability.

Steve and his associates welcome the opportunity to work with you on your recruitment or capability development challenges. To find out more, please email Steve or call him on +27 82 308 7627.

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Tricks of the Trait – Why Personality and Cultural Fit Are So Important

Hyper Island is a company that specialises in showing companies and individuals how to adapt, grow and stay competitive in an increasingly digitised world. They released a fascinating study entitled “Tomorrow’s Most Wanted” in which they surveyed over 500 top CEOs, Managing and Creative Directors to determine what skills and qualities they believe new employees need in order to be ready for future challenges.

The study showed an overwhelming majority (78%) of respondents saying personality was the most desirable ‘competency’ in an employee. This was followed by “cultural alignment” at 53% and “Skill Set,” at a comparatively low 39%. Most people surveyed believed a combination of drive and creativity will prove to be the hallmarks of success for tomorrow’s top employees.

This noticeable shift in focus away from pure skill and experience comes in tandem with two rising employment trends: an increasing number of Millenials are entering the workplace, and those who are already there are being promoted to management positions at younger ages. When it comes time for them to recruit new people for positions, they are more interested in getting to know how the candidates behaves and thinks, rather than what they can do.

Interviewing for personality is very different from interviewing purely to determine past performance and skills. Suddenly, that often-neglected paragraph entitled ‘Other Interests’, which usually comes as an afterthought at the very bottom of your CV, becomes a lot more important. Your lifestyle, hobbies, digital competence and social media habits can give a savvy recruiter valuable insight into the way you tick.

Unexpected interview questions such as “Describe yourself in hashtags,” or “Who do you follow on Twitter, and why?” are becoming more commonplace as interviewers attempt to get beneath the surface of potential employees to find their true personality traits.

These traits are the natural reflexes that form a person’s character, and they’re essential for interviewers to understand. They help predict how a candidate will behave and interact with other people, and how well they’ll cope with the tasks and responsibilities needed for the position.

Soft skills are also great indicators of personality, such as communication skills and emotional intelligence. Does the candidate have good social skills – do they make good eye contact and give detailed answers to questions? Honesty and enthusiasm are also valuable.

Increasingly, employers are finding that placing a higher emphasis on personality and cultural fit not only attracts top talent but also helps to retain it. Companies that value employee satisfaction and happiness tend to have lower turnover rates and greater employee engagement.

Steve Rogers is a recruitment and assessment specialist, passionate about helping you find the right people for the right jobs. His data-driven techniques take the guesswork out of finding the best candidates for your company, and he would welcome the opportunity to work with you to solve your recruitment or capability development challenges.

To find out more, please email Steve or call him on +27 82 308 7627.

Thanks once more for reading this article. It’s always appreciated!





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Stopping The Sabotage – Here’s How To Get The Most From Candidate Interviews

In a fascinating article published in the Psychological Bulletin, skilled researchers Schmidt and Hunter analysed over 85 years’ worth of data to identify which employee selection methods were the best and worst predictors of job performance. Although the article was published in 1998, it still holds water today as it used a method called meta analysis to reveal the overall patterns revealed by the weight of evidence rather than the particular idiosyncrasies of individual studies.

What their research revealed, in a nutshell, was that in general, job interviews are pretty poor predictors of the future job performance of the person being interviewed. This conclusion was later backed up by two other respected researchers, Higgins and Judge, who, after following 100 university students trying to get their first job, found that the main deciding factor in whether or not to offer students jobs was if they appeared to be nice people!

Managers don’t appear to be making the most of their time spent on candidate interviews. A pity as interviews, when conducted properly, are great opportunities to really get a feel for whether a candidate has what you’re looking for.

So how can we stop the sabotage? What can managers do to get the most out of an interview?

Fight The Fatigue

Relentless rounds of interviews are taxing for even the most seasoned interviewer. After the fifth interview in a row, it’s natural that the shine will have gone out of your day and you’re increasingly less likely to give the next candidate the proper attention they deserve.

Fight interview fatigue by taking advantage of Skype, FaceTime and simple telephoning to streamline large numbers of applicants, reserving only a pared down shortlist for physical, face to face interviews. This pre-screening also makes it easier for working candidates, as they don’t have to keep finding excuses to take time off work.

Consistency is Key

Candidates interviewed in the morning when managers are still fresh are often viewed more favourably than the later applicants. Potential employees interviewed over lunch rate differently to those interviewed in a conference room.

It’s very important to keep interview styles, techniques, locations and times as consistent as possible in order to be able to make accurate comparisons between candidates.

Remember You’re Not a Psychologist

Well, most interviewers aren’t, anyway! Yet all too often, they act like psychologists, asking probing, irrelevant questions and making snap but inaccurate judgments about candidates. They might, for example, reject someone because they seem shy or nervous, using their perceived psychological expertise to decide that this is indicative of an underlying weakness – even though the job doesn’t require the opposite behaviours.

So less psychology by focusing less on a subjective ‘fit’ assessment. There is little to suggest that untrained managers can accurately access a candidate’s cultural ‘fit’ within the confines of an interview situation. And check your ego at the door – giving preference to applicants who remind you of yourself is a common trait, but one that may well ignore the best candidate for the job.

Steve Rogers is a recruitment specialist who is passionate about helping you find the right people for the right job. His data-driven techniques take the guesswork out of finding the best candidates for your company, and he would welcome the opportunity to work with you to solve your recruitment or capability development challenges.

To find out more, please email Steve or call him on +27 82 308 7627.

Thanks once more for reading this article. It’s always appreciated!

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Beyond the CV – What Employers Really Need To Know

In the war for talent (and companies should view it as a war for talent with governments criminally neglecting public training and education), it’s imperative that organisations are skilled at identifying high potential employees, from beyond the CV.

It’s easy to look at qualifications and experience, the bread and butter of a CV but these don’t predict performance, they simply let us know the candidate is in the ballpark: he or she has a ticket to the game.

The more important task is to look for potential, commitment, suitability and desire.

When an applicant makes the comment “I’m passionate about retail” but the CV shows a background in banking and manufacturing, something’s off.

When the applicant says they’ll be committed to the company but their average tenure to date is 13 months, something is off.

We need to see beyond between the words in a CV to understand the applicant’s capability and desire to do the job and do it well.

As an example, we received an application from an internal candidate for a customer relations role. Her CV indicated no experience in customer relations so why did we interview her?

It started with the CV: She studied for a certificate in sports management. Not huge by itself, but simultaneously she worked as a volunteer sports coach in a community centre. An initial sign of commitment beyond a student simply studying. After completing the certificate, she carried on with a sports diploma and became a member of the management committee for a non-profit sports development organisation. After completing the sports diploma, she joined the school as a sports coordinator whilst being head of a sports league and deputy head of another event. What I’m seeing so far is a person keen to develop themselves and give back to their community. A positive start by the age of 25.

After leaving the school arena, she took up positions in outbound call centres with a research organisation and a media company before taking up a role with my client and beginning her studies for a BA degree.

Having learnt the ropes in my client’s business, she applied for the job as a customer relations role.  The feedback from her manager was positive. So we profiled her using 2 tools I’ve written about before: the PPA and Shadowmatch. The PPA indicated that she is goal orientated, assertive, has a high drive to succeed, is venturesome, willing to accept responsibility, challenges current thinking, explores alternatives, is forward-looking, adventurous and capable of bypassing convention. Given this client relations role is a brand-new role and requires someone to take charge of it, the results were seen as very positive.

Her Shadowmatch result indicated that she owns her work, is resilient, open to change, can handle frustration, is team inclined, self-motivated, a problem solver, responsive, proactive to building relations with people, disciplined, able to handle conflict proactively, altruistic, self-confident and leadership oriented.

With these 2 positive assessment results on the table, it became obvious that we had, at the very least, an interesting candidate.

So we interviewed her and she didn’t disappoint. Arriving on time and well dressed for the occasion, the candidate was articulate, forthright and positive. After she left the meeting, the interview panel deliberated and considered the following:

  1. a strong propensity to develop herself as indicated by 2 previous qualifications and her current attention to a 3rd
  2. evidence in her CV of being involved in her community beyond the average
  3. evidence from her assessments of a proactive, goal-oriented, problem-solving, people focused, action taking set of behaviours
  4. evidence from the interview of the person we expected to meet: forthright, well spoken, aware of her mistakes, handled herself well in the interview.

So she was offered the job.

Not just because of her qualifications and experience (in her case, lack of experience!) but because of the total package: her qualifications and behavioural competencies, her commitment to go beyond the job, to develop herself and build a career from a low base.

If you’d like to know more about this approach, please contact me.

Steve Rogers is a specialist in finding the right people for the right job. He is a passionate advocate of capability as an indicator of future success and is an expert at helping you reduce the guesswork and increase predictability.

Steve and his associates would welcome the opportunity to work with you on your recruitment or capability development challenges. To find out more, please email Steve or call him on +27 82 308 7627.

Thanks for reading this, much appreciated as always.

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