March 2018

It’s All About Performance

I met Roger Knocker, CEO of KPI Management Solutions before he started his business. Coincidentally, we both started our businesses in 2008.

We are very different people: Roger is quite reserved, steady, detail and quality driven, a thinker, an IT boff and an accountant to boot. And I’m not.

It took us 5 years and a few chance meetings to discover we had a lot in common.

Ten years on, it’s taken the views of co-directors and trusted external advisors to distil a multitude of conversations, presentations, client relationships, meetings, proposals and projects into one word.


  • I profile people, write personal reports for individuals, recruit capable people for clients, run workshops, analyse jobs and advise leaders on people issues.
  • Roger and his team analyse data, build incredible models using smart tools, train people and assist clients to uncover valuable insights in their financial and business data.

We sound like we’re on 2 different planets.

But we both have one purpose: to assist our clients to manage and improve performance.

Using that simple mission, it’s made us aware that it’s too easy to get lost in the software, tools, various models, training and consulting methods we use.

The question for every person alive should be: how do I assist my family, employer, organisation and clients to manage and improve performance?

Of course, we need to define performance first.

It’s not just about # of widgets produced or Dollars made. Performance in the 21st century has to take on a far broader and inclusive meaning than the definitions that brought us the 2008 crash, the Steinhoff fiasco or the disastrous Zuma era.

Would you like to know more? Contact me now.

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I Was Provoked…

We live in the PC age.

How tedious is it to watch videos like this one?

Over the last 30 years, we’ve become a planet of precious and small minded people hell-bent on exerting our rights. But we’re not terribly good at taking responsibility for our actions.

Sadly, her parents decided to defend her behaviour: “She was provoked.”

I must remember that next time a taxi cuts me off. I’ll drive him off the road into a ditch. When the police arrive, I’ll indignantly shout: “He provoked me!”

It’s a dead end. I feel sorry for the young lady who threw the book at the teacher. Her self-righteous attack on the teacher will not serve her future.

Building a successful life, family and career is about discipline and routine:

  • Discipline: The habit of working in a highly disciplined way with adherence to structure, rules, regulations and time-frames.
  • Routine: the habit of behaving according to set structures and behaviour patterns.

If we are not prepared to accept our places (student, subordinate, son, daughter, learner, newbie, manager, leader, boss, parent) in different life phases, we then have to hope we have massive talent to make up for our poor discipline and refusal to knuckle down to the many daily routines that govern our lives. Whether we like them or not.

The good news (Ed – as usual …) is that we can measure these habits and evaluate their impact on a team’s performance. Let me know if you’d like to find out more.

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Evaluate The Human, Not Only Their Education

We live in a country characterised by inequality. The Gini coefficient suggests we remain an unequal country in terms of family income distribution.

One of the most important drivers of income is education. Many South Africans count themselves lucky to get a Matric and a small percentage (11%) have achieved some form of post-secondary school qualification.

Does this mean the end of the road for your career?

Absolutely not!

There are many other drivers of success and when we look at the track record of a person, the following factors are also important.

Is there any evidence of:

  1. Involvement: in sport, NGOs, hobbies or any other activity that could reveal latent talent?
  2. Learning: short or certificated courses indicating technical competency
  3. Consistency: has the employee/candidate built some experience and competency in an industry or have they hopped from industry to industry? Tied to this: do the job titles make sense: junior to senior to supervisor to manager or is there no pattern: they consistently get a job, any job, anywhere? Then lose it.
  4. Tenure: besides industry hopping, is there evidence of sticking to a job for 2-5 years at a time or a pattern of job-hopping every 1-2 years?
  5. Progress: does it look as if the individual is making headway in their career or is their CV a patchwork quilt of unrelated jobs and industries
  6. Achievements: has the individual achieved anything anywhere? We can’t all be Elon Musk, but we can all try to achieve something somewhere.

So, education is important, but if we miss out on education for any number of reasons, we must build a career anyway. We shouldn’t dismiss people just because they’re missing one piece of paper from their CVs. We should look beyond the paper earned at 18 years old and evaluate the rest of the human being.

Especially in a country suffering such high levels of historical inequality, ongoing political stupidity and a massive leadership vacuum on all sides.

What do you look for in your employees or candidates? I’d love to know.

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Here’s Some Hard Data To Tell You Who You Are

I first completed Shadowmatch 10 years ago in 2008. I had come across the tool 3 times in a week which I found extraordinary. So I called the inventor, Pieter de Villiers and asked about it. They sent me one to complete online. Something you can do for free here.

Besides measuring 19 of my habits, it also measured my task efficiency: i.e. how quickly I completed the survey and how accurately I answered 10 riddles that are contained in the survey. I scored well for accuracy and poor for speed.

I recently completed Shadowmatch again. But this time, I was more aware of my poor task efficiency from last time and so I focused on completing the task timeously. Hey presto, my task efficiency improved by 45%. How good am I!? (Ed – not that good).

But what it taught me is how much more we can get done, if we focus on our time.

time management

Naturally, there’s an app for that! A guy called Francesco Cirillo invented the Pomodoro Technique. Today, you can find all kinds of apps, clocks and timers to measure your day into 25 minute periods and 5-minute breaks to focus on the work to be done in bite-size chunks.

Of course, besides the timer, you need to develop a routine and discipline to implement the technique, 2 habits also measured by Shadowmatch.

Try Shadowmatch and tell me what you think of it. It’d be great to hear from you. It’s a powerful and useful tool to build teams that perform.

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Your Reason For Being Equals Career Success

A client of mine took a chance a while back to recruit someone who we classified as a ‘rough diamond’.

He isn’t well educated, comes from a troubled and poor background and before he joined my client had a mixed history of jobs. But, the behavioural tools I use suggested he had potential. He interviewed quite well and, given his family responsibilities, agreed he needed to ‘put foot’ in his career.

So we agreed to hire him and after 2 years of coaching, support, training and mentoring, he failed.

I don’t think he knows what he wants. Herein lies his problem and it’s not restricted to job seekers.

If you don’t know what you want, you’re unlikely to find it.

This is a common problem: we get our first jobs, we move for more money or a better boss, we move again. If we’re lucky, the moves kind of add up to a career path and somewhere in our thirties, it settles into an industry, a career ladder and a more or less successful career.

But for many people (unemployed or not), they’re never satisfied and they never introspect. They never look at their careers to date and they certainly don’t look further than a few months into the future.

We spend more time looking for a car, a holiday or a house than we do in our careers which keep most of us occupied for more or less 50% of our total daytime on earth!

Shouldn’t we spend a little more time asking ourselves crucial questions? In this respect, I like Ikigai1, a Japanese concept meaning a “reason for being”.

It asks 4 questions:

  1. What do you love doing?
  2. What are good at doing?
  3. What will make enough money for you and
  4. What does the world need? (Ed – fewer politicians)

Ikigai is the intersection of these four questions. We do well to answer them as we plan our lives and careers.


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Do Great Leaders Have Strong People Habits?

On two occasions recently, I’ve met people with strong people habits. What are people habits?

Well, firstly, what is a habit: a long, loose garment … no, not that one! A habit according to my ancient hard copy of the 1992 edition of the Oxford Dictionary (Ed – Impressive, hard copy nogal!)a habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice … that is hard to give up … a mental constitution or attitude … an automatic reaction to a specific situation.

So when people have strong people habits, they find them hard to give up, they react automatically.

According to the publishers of Shadowmatch, an excellent tool I use on a daily basis, there are 5 parts to people habits:

Frustration handling, team inclination, people positive, conflict handling and altruism.


  • You positively deal with frustrating circumstances,
  • You’re inclined to work as part of a team, rather than as an individual,
  • You build relationships with people and influence them positively,
  • You deal with conflict with a view towards to a positive outcome and
  • You do things for others without expecting much in return

You’ll be a man my son.

No, sorry Rudyard.

But you’ll take your impact on people seriously every day. You don’t like negative people outcomes. Think disciplinaries / CCMA, think management team conflict/negotiations, think corporate psychopathy, think firing people or suppliers etc. Not fun for strong people habit owners.

The problem for the manager with strong people habits is balancing the need to get things done effectively and efficiently vs the need to have a happy team/reputation.

That’s why effective leaders have more balanced people habits, balanced between task and people.
If you think you’re a strong people habits manager, be aware of this in your daily decision making. Some of your stress might be generated by trying to be all things to all people. Good managers know when to pull in the rope on the slack team member without getting wrapped up in ‘feelings’.

That’s also why very few sales, marketing, HR and service people become CEO. They’re often more emotionally engaged with customers, colleagues and suppliers.

Finance is a natural pool of talent for CEO because they understand the numbers and they’re not married to the people stuff. But they tie themselves into knots when they treat staff as a necessary evil, customer service as discretionary and supplier relations as a war of attrition with one ultimate winner.

The good news, of course, is that we can measure your managers’ people habits and evaluate their impact on organisational performance. Let me know if you’d like to find out more.

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