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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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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How To Make The Best Use Of Society’s Bull Terriers

It’s possible that on Tuesday when I wrote about losing customers because you leave them in the hands of assertive, formal introverts, some of you (assertive, formal introverts) may have been offended!

So, before I’m lynched, let’s qualify my views.

Of course, assertive, formal introverts can provide service. But we’re not talking about occasionally. We’re talking about every day!

Generally, that’s tiring for assertive, formal introverts.

But here’s the thing: without assertive, formal introverts, the agreeable, informal extroverts would have nothing to do.

That’s because most products and services are invented, designed, tested, processed, produced and taken to market by … you guessed it, assertive, formal introverts.


Because assertive, formal introverts believe in themselves, focus their creativity and attention on the problem to hand which results in the invention to solve the problem. They don’t get distracted by what other people are doing. They focus for longer, they solve problems and don’t miss important details.

But once the invention is born, then the agreeable, informal extroverts get their turn in the sun: to sell, to service, to build relationships, to handle the PR, deal with difficult customers and socialise past midnight without looking at their watches.

It’s the reason so many successful businesses start with 2 people who had a dream. The dream is fulfilled through partnership. Think Bill Hewlett & Dave Packard (HP), Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google), Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak (Apple), Evan Williams & Biz Stone (Twitter), Bill Gates & Paul Allen (Microsoft). The list goes on: Ben & Jerry’s, eBay, Intel, Proctor & Gamble, Yahoo.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to have a partner to be successful. But complementary talents can multiply effort by 3, not 2. And having the right people in the right jobs elsewhere in the start-up multiplies the chances of success.

The good news, of course, is that we can measure all of the above. Let me know if you’d like to find out more.

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Do You Chase Customers Away Without Realising It?

I view life through the prism of behaviour and almost every day presents another chance to witness the results of the wrong person in the right job. It’s so amazingly common.

We enjoyed a cooking course a while back. We prepared the food and then enjoyed the fruit of our labour on the stoep outside with a few glasses of wine.

One of our party hadn’t booked on time but decided to come along for the ride anyway. So when we arrived, we started with drinks and snacks. Our table could comfortably seat 10 but we were only 9. Dave joined the table and, as informal extroverts often do, quickly found himself in conversation with a few people (He was careful not to eat the snacks or drink the sparkling wine!)

But our teacher for the day found out there was an ‘extra’ at our table. In true formal, rule-bound introvert style, he suggested Dave leave and go down the road to a café.

Technically, he was right. Dave was an unpaid ‘extra’ hanging around. But given the venue was not over-full, how much easier to say: “If your table doesn’t mind, would you like to join us, it’s R500 for the day?” Dave would happily have paid and, knowing Dave, he would have sung the praises of the school across Joburg! That’s what informal extroverts do.

This stuff is really simple, but if you leave your customers in the hands of (what looked like) assertive, by-the-book, introverts, you’re going to find yourselves with customers who say “Whatever!” and don’t come back.

The good news, of course, is that we can measure these things quickly.

Let me know if you’d like to find out more. For just R4,950 (USD495)* per applicant or potential promotee (Ed – no such word!), you can save hundreds of thousands in wasted salaries, training, institutional costs, management time and lost business.

* Prices subject to change and currency fluctuations. Correct as at 19 Feb 2018.
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Defining Work Personalities: Interesting, But Pointless?

We think. We talk. We assess. We debate. What we really need is action.

There are hundreds of assessment tools on the personality assessments

There are hundreds of tools in your local hardware store.

Common denominator?

In the hands of unskilled users, they’re dangerous.

In the hands of casual users, they have no impact.

Psychometric Testing

I’ve often met people who’ve pulled out a neatly filed psychometric test, personality survey (a favourite is Myers Briggs or MBTI), some form of career test or any of the multitude of personal profiles available in the market.

I ask a few questions:

  • Did you think it was accurate?
    • “Yes, mostly, a few things I thought were off …” is a common response.
  • What did the result mean to you?
    • “It was interesting.”
  • Did you change anything as a result of the assessment?
    • “I thought I might … go on a course … get some coaching … study further …”
  • So, what’s changed since you did the assessment?
    • “Nothing really. It was really interesting though … very accurate … my husband / wife / kids / friends laughed about how accurate it was …”

And herein lies the problem.

We feel quite comfortable to buy and complete assessments. The feedback reports or sessions reveal interesting pieces of information about us that we instinctively knew. Now, they’re confirmed by a ‘neutral third party’: the assessment. The reasons for our behaviour, competency, habits, and styles are exposed for discussion and debate.

But so what?

Click here to request a work personality assessment for your team

Examining Your Personal Profile

Great, you’re an extrovert, a detail freak, risk-averse, resilient, confident, impatient, altruistic, task efficient, conceptually fit, co-operative etc.

So what?

It’s one thing to run assessments that range from R400 ($30) to R20,000 ($1500) per person. Another to extract value.

Value is a function of Action.

We assessed our team and discovered that 7 people don’t fit their roles. So far, we have moved 3 of them into new roles, 2 have left the company and the remaining 2 remain in situ for various reasons.


Besides moving people, we need to find new people. We remain focused on growing our workforce with the right people in future so that we begin to improve our organisational capability.

Then we check that performance has begun to improve. Typical measures include:

  • People Cost as a % of Revenue: is it dropping? This either means revenue is rising or cost is dropping or both.
  • %Conversion of Proposals into Business: are we getting better at closing deals?
  • The number of months without a SHEQ incident: are we improving our safety record?
  • %CCMA cases won: are we improving our labour relations process and compliance?
  • %Project completed OTIF on or under budget: are we delivering good projects within time and cash budgets?
  • %Turnover and Ave Tenure of Top Performers: Are we keeping our best people for longer?
  • %People meeting their targets or more YTD: are we improving productivity?

If these and many other measures are improving, our use of assessments and other interventions might be creating value.

Work Personalities vs ROI

Unfortunately, too often, the assessments are done, read and forgotten. So too is the improvement work to be done. People move, we all get busy and the paperwork is filed.

Interesting but pointless. Without action.

What to do?

  1. Define the preferred improvement measures and targets.
  2. Calculate the resulting ROI of any intervention.

This is key and should get the attention of the CFO at least! This is different to the measures and targets. For example, we could do a project to improve sales performance.

The measure might be Average Revenue per Sales Person. The Target might be: 20% higher than current.

The ROI is the Additional Revenue Generated less Initial Intervention Costs (1st year). Year 2 onwards: Additional Revenue Generated less Ongoing Additional Costs.

  1. Gain interest and commitment to the ROI from all stakeholders
  2. Define the plan, implement and track
  3. Provide regular feedback to all stakeholders to maintain interest and focus
  4. Show value.
  5. Repeat elsewhere.

It’s not good enough to deliver training, do assessments, run projects or write reports if there’s no focus on action.

Without action, it’s all just noise.

Like giving a politician a microphone.

Or listening to the Springbok coach finding the positives in losing 57-0 to the All Blacks.

Noise. Not Action.

Until next week, let’s take action!

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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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When are job hoppers worth investing in?

when are job hoppers worth investing in

Without a doubt, we are living in the Disposable Age.

If something is broken, we throw it away. Fast food, takeaway coffee, clothing fads – it seems like nothing is meant to last.

In particular, this premise applies to secular life. Many companies haemorrhage staff, and many individuals job hop throughout their career.

“Between 1998 – 2011, young adults held an average of 7.2 jobs between the ages of 18 – 28.” This from a US report issued in April 2016 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yes, it would seem that having a new job every other year is the norm – but what are the implications?

What does job-hopping mean to employers?

When a hiring manager is scanning through a CV and they note a pattern of job change every 18 months, a red flag pops up.  It has been said that the way to assess the future behaviour of a person is to look at their past. If this is to be believed, then this particular candidate is very likely to only warm a seat in the office for a year or so before moving onto greener pastures.

Job hopping is especially troubling when the individual is pogoing between disparate careers. For example, a couple of years in sales, followed by an admin post, a little graphic design – and then a short spell of dog walking speaks volumes. While they may have had a hugely enjoyable time doing what makes them happy at that particular moment in time, this may be an indication that they lack direction and commitment. Especially if this pattern continues over a long period of time, and not simply after college while they were finding their feet.

Employers can rightly start asking questions about their maturity levels, strength of character, and work ethic.

Staff turnover is a costly business. Therefore, it stands to reason that companies will want to avoid having to run through this process again and again by hiring a job hopper.

Staff turnover costs the company in terms of admin, temp or overtime coverage, advertising and recruitment, training, and severance pay. However, it also impacts in lost expertise, workflow disruptions, stress-related absenteeism, decreased productivity, and reduced morale.

Having said all of the above, companies are made up of people – and one cannot discount the human element. There are many circumstances where a career can be sabotaged by external factors.

Redundancy is a very real problem in today’s economy and indiscriminately affects great employees as well as mediocre ones. Talented women have breaks in their career when they have children. Caring for ailing parents can also impact an individual’s work record, as can relocation, extended illness, or unexpected financial troubles.

Additional factors can include the possibility that they may be a killer sales person but are leaving a small company due to limited (or nonexistent!) growth prospects.  Perhaps they are really talented and shoot up the ranks faster than their company can accommodate them.

And let’s not forget, the impossible boss …

So what happens when you find a supremely talented candidate … who appears to be a job hopper?

The obvious place to start – if we come across someone with a unique skill set, or with an incredible flair or passion – is to dig a little deeper. Asking the right questions in the right way may uncover factors that are difficult to communicate on a CV or that they didn’t think to include.

It may also be that this person can achieve relative success in most environments, but their true talents have never been explored in the right team. This has resulted in them drifting, with a series of jobs instead of a more focused career.

If you knew the honest answers to the following questions, you may reconsider your initial bias toward a job hopper. Ask yourself:

  • What are they really good at?
  • What do they enjoy most about their job?
  • What is important to them in a role/company/industry?
  • What sort of team will they work best with?
  • What management style will they thrive under?
  • Where are they going?
  • What are their long-term career goals? (And do these align with their value system?)

A Harvard University study found that 80% of staff turnover starts in the hiring process. That means that hiring managers, HR and other senior staff involved in bringing on board new talent, need to rethink their hiring strategies.

If you’re churning through staff, then you’re not putting the right people in the right jobs.

Perhaps you’re turning down job hoppers based on a sketchy CV, when these may in fact be a great fit – in the right position.

A key element of successful hiring is to know your current staff inside out. Why do they behave as they do, and what sort of person will work best with them? Therefore, when you’re hiring someone for your team, you know exactly what personality traits you are looking for.

You’ll be able to make a decision based not on how well this candidate sold themselves or how many letters they have after their name, but based on factual evidence of how they are going to do this job.

Removing the emotion and unravelling the innate traits of your staff often requires an outside perspective. Once you have the facts, the hiring process is simplified drastically – and whether the person is a job hopper or not becomes less of an issue to consider.

That’s what we do.

We uncover the fundamental behavioural traits needed to perform, and we help you to make sound hiring, promotion, transfer, exit and succession planning decisions.

Call us on 083 308 7627 or visit and let us help you find the best fit for your firm – with the data to back it up.


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Case Study: Get the full picture

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One of our clients sells products that need to be sold to customers. They don’t fly off the shelves by themselves. They’re not petrol, chocolate, burgers, or airtime.

Their success depends on the capability of the sales force to build credibility with the prospect, run a simple needs analysis, identify a need that their services can fix, position the company as an optimal service provider and get the order.

Enter James Allan*. A young guy with the right kind of sales experience gained over the last 6 years. At first glance, a good fit. If the client had been desperate enough, a quick interview and James is hired.

After James had been hired, (hard to prove, because he wasn’t), the following issues might have arisen:

  1. He may have left within a year or two.
  2. He may have struggled to close deals.
  3. He may have dropped the ball on responsibilities he was supposed to own.
  4. He may have consistently involved other people in his work and spent quite a lot of time socialising with the team and building relationships when in fact he should’ve been on the road.
  5. He may have spent a number of meetings preparing the client to sign the deal but never actually asking for the deal.
  6. He may have become well-liked in the office, but ineffective in reaching his targets.

Wouldn’t it be useful to find this out before you hire somebody? To have the information you need – all the information – BEFORE you decide whether or not you’re prepared to invest recruitment, induction, training, and management time to hire somebody. Somebody who may or may not be successful. Somebody who may leave in a year or two.

I use three tools as a basic starting point for recruitment and internal assessment projects: viz. the CVS, a four-factor tool such as the PPA, PI or the PDA, and ShadowMatch. In this case, I used the PPA.


If I had used the CVS to summarise the CV, I would have discovered that:

  • James had worked in three unrelated industries before moving into the industry of my client.
  • While James had stuck with one job for three years, he had worked in six other jobs for only 2 to 18 months each.
  • James has a qualification irrelevant to my client’s industry and the sales function.
  • There were gaps between jobs.

No sins here, but the investigation begins.


If I’d used the PPA, I would have discovered that James:

  • Is a cooperative and agreeable person who likes to work for and with a team of people
  • Is outgoing and friendly
  • Is quick paced, and can handle variety
  • Is risk-averse, formal, and strictly follows the rules. This also means that if a prospect says no, James will see this a rejection – an unpleasant experience for him. Thus, he might avoid this by simply not asking for the order.

The job profile requires the following behaviours:

  • Assertive and confident
  • Outgoing and friendly
  • Quick-paced, able to handle variety, driven to succeed, goal-focused
  • Comfortable with uncertainty, doesn’t need a lot of structure, able to work with unpredictable circumstances, and – most importantly – comfortable asking for the order

In summary, my client faced potential danger in hiring James. No doubt, he would have interviewed very well with his friendly outgoing personality. He would have integrated well into the company for the same reasons. And because he pays attention to structure and detail, and doesn’t break the rules, my client may have only discovered the real problem after three (or more!) months of limited results: he’s not a closer.

Not because he’s a bad guy. Not because he’s stupid. Not because he provides bad service. But simply because, at the moment that he needs to ask for the order, his discomfort rises to the point that he simply doesn’t ask for the order. He hopes that the client will close the deal. And, as you may know if you’re in sales, not many clients close our deals for us!


ShadowMatch: team and candidate profiles form a shadow, and the applicant’s profile is overlaid to show visually where the similarities and differences lie

ShadowMatch: team and candidate profiles form a shadow, and the applicant’s profile is overlaid to show visually where the similarities and differences lie

Shadowmatch takes the analysis a step further. It’s a useful tool in that it considers both the candidate and the team he’s applying to join. The best performers in the team are profiled to create a benchmark against which to measure the applicant. Their profiles form a shadow, and the applicant’s profile is overlaid to show visually where the similarities and differences lie (see image). While we would never expect to find someone who exactly matches the rest of the team, the closer the match, the better the result of the hire will be.

The Shadowmatch result for James indicated that he was quite different to the top performers of the company in a few important ways:

  • He has a smaller preference to own his work and greater preference to hand off. For a sales person, out on the road, by themselves: not ideal.
  • He has a very strong habit of handling frustration. The high-performance benchmark is average. What does that mean? It means that long after the prospect has decided not to sign the deal, James may still be trying to persuade the prospect that his company, his products and services, and his own personal integrity are such that the client should reconsider. This will all be done in a low-key and friendly way. James might, for example, suggest that he and the prospect have lunch, see another presentation, do a proof of concept, or involve other people. And the prospect still says no. But James handles frustration. So, on he ploughs, when in actual fact he should have thanked that prospect for his time politely – and moved on to the next prospect.
  • James has a radical habit of working with a team. The job requires that he be on the road, alone, to get the job done. It’s likely that James will find any number of reasons to be in the office, talking to the team. If banned from the office, James might find a good reason to visit the client, visiting a prospect or having coffee with a friend. He needs the social interaction.
  • The job requires a strong conceptual capability: i.e. the successful candidate must have the habit of applying himself to problems. But James is average in this respect. Not a complete train smash. But if he only applies himself to solving 50% of the problems presented to him, his colleagues (who apply themselves to 70% of the problems presented to them in the same time frame) will become frustrated that James doesn’t meet the problem-solving requirement. This is not about being clever or stupid – not at all. It’s about whether or not an individual has the habit of applying themselves to problems: some people do, some people don’t. Our job is to build teams where the team members’ habits are similar, so that people cooperate and find themselves developing a strong team simply because everyone ‘gets’ each other.

The Selection Report

The last step is the Selection Report. This concise 1-2 page report forms the core of what we do at Right People Right Job. It’s where we summarise the findings of the PPA, Shadowmatch, and CVS, and relate those findings to the job requirement and the business of the client. I combine my experience from multiple industries over many years together with the data to come up with a final recommendation.

In James’s case, the recommendation was 1: Not Recommended.

One last thing:

Social Media

I don’t like giving the recommendation of 1 (not recommended) or 2 (recommended with caution), because I always worry that I’m letting the individual and the company down: what if I’m wrong?

In this particular case, social media put the final nail in James’s recruitment coffin. I don’t normally meet applicants as my work is done remotely unless I handle everything from job specification to advertising, response management to shortlisting, interviewing to selection. So as a last step, I searched for James on LinkedIn and Facebook. Both his profiles were incomplete, if not bare. To make it worse, on one profile, he was still in a job from four years ago and in the other profile, he was in a different job from six years ago. Ergo: he hasn’t updated his social media sites for years. So he blew any chance he had of persuading me and the client that, despite his CV and his assessment results, there was a passion for my client’s industry or the profession of sales. What he really wants is a job. Any job.

There’s a lesson for all of us in this example: at the very least, we should update our social media profiles on LinkedIn and Facebook quarterly. Preferably a lot more often. When your CV is average, you don’t help your case when your social media presence is weak.

To find out how to use these tools for your next hiring decision, call me on +27 83 308 7627 or email me on

Thanks for reading this. May your July be warm and successful!

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Death of the Performance Review? Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water

Some high profile companies have decided that performance reviews are passé. For example, Accenture, with over 300,000 employees, announced last year that they would end performance reviews and rankings as of this September.1

General Electric made a similar announcement2. So did Microsoft … and Dell3.

Riding the wave, it quickly became fashionable to deride performance appraisals as writers took up the burning torches and pitchforks on behalf of both managers and staff who hate the process4,5,6.

Get Rid of the Performance Review - Samuel A. CulbertThe things is, these companies and commentators are not alone. A short search will reveal many more vocal opponents of the performance review in their camp … There’s even a book on the subject! A quick perusal of Samuel Culbert’s “Get Rid of the Performance Review!” 7 would inspire many of us to join their ranks.

To be frank, in many ways I agree.

Those traditional twice-a-year performance reviews (the inaptly-named “performance management” process we’ve all come to loathe) can be tedious. Especially when your manager expects you to define your own development – which is iced as soon as it’s filed.

Even more disheartening for the overachievers among us is when a 5-point scale is reduced to 3 points because no-one scores either a 1 or 5. Even then, most people score 3. There’s just a sprinkling of 2s and 4s to legitimise the farce.

The challenge is taken to the next twist on the spiral to purgatory when you’re saddled with a manager who has the communication skills of a rhino – or (worse) – a fish. Either he’s in your face all the time, charging you into a corner, Or the mouth is moving, but no sense is reaching you.

prevailing management communication styles aren't always effective

And finally, that sickly cherry on this putrid dessert: when there’s no objective scoring mechanism for the appraisal process, and no link to the outputs of the department, division, branch, or organisation.

What is the point of it all? We ask in despair.

Some companies and authors talk about more frequent feedback and conversations.

Herein lies the rub.

If managers struggle to appraise performance effectively once or twice a year, how will this improve if they try to do it more often? Practice makes perfect? Well – maybe.

In most cases, though, the problem goes deeper than simply not talking often enough. In order for the performance management process to become more effective, there are two fundamental problems to fix:

1. Performance Measurement

The performance being measured needs to be relevant to the outcomes required of the team. In my experience, many performance scorecards are too complex, too subjective, too vague – and not linked in any tangible way to the outcomes of the department, division, or organisation.To fix this problem, the leadership of the organisation needs to define the objectives of the organisation and how those objectives will be measured (KPIs). This gives everybody has a clear view of what must be achieved. Once defined, those objectives are cascaded to the appropriate jobs in the organisation.

In other words, everyone knows what the business is trying to achieve, and what role they play in achieving those goals.

Secondly, the organisation achieves its strategic objectives through the execution of processes. Most of the staff of an organisation work in processes. It must be clear to each individual how their process work is to be measured (again: KPIs).

Finally, once each staff member is clear about how their work will contribute to the achievement of the organisation’s objectives, we have two last tasks:

    1. to set targets for each KPI on 4 or 5 levels so that it is clear what must be achieved to score a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. This deals with one of the biggest problems of performance appraisals: subjectivity.
    2. to weight each KPI so that we appreciate the priorities that should occupy most of our day

2. Management Skill

Once we have a clear picture of the work to be done, the second (and tougher) job becomes important: the capability of the manager to execute effective performance management.The celebration of the demise of performance reviews will be short-lived. The people in an organisation still need to be assessed for their contribution to the organisation. There are no better examples than in the worlds of sport, commerce, and education. Imagine for a second if we scrapped scoring teams that compete against each other because scoring is too mechanistic and doesn’t take account of the contribution of each player. Imagine scrapping share prices on the stock exchange because the share price is too mechanistic… Imagine scrapping school marks because school marks are too mechanistic… It would be ridiculous.

Scrapping performance reviews is solving the wrong problems. The problems don’t lie with the review process per se, but with the objectivity of the process, and the competence of those managing it. It’s certainly easier to scrap performance reviews than to upgrade the skills of managers – but it’s not a long-term solution.

If organisations define and communicate their objectives and KPIs to the people of an organisation – and if these are cascaded to jobs clearly so that employees are able to see the links between their work and the organisation’s output – we are halfway home.

With that foundation in place, the coaching community has a fundamental role to play in assisting managers to improve the following fundamental skills:

    1. communication
    2. providing negative and positive feedback
    3. coaching
    4. problem-solving
    5. reducing personal bias
    6. managing the emotions related to performance, especially when the manager has the tough task of communicating negative feedback
    7. building a constructive relationship with staff that doesn’t depend on rank, popularity or nepotism

Twenty years ago, the topic of coaching barely existed. Today it has become a thriving international industry as organisations and people recognise that no matter what technical skills they people bring to the table, it is their behavioural skills that remain the largest challenge.

It is incumbent on consultants and coaches to demonstrate the importance of the problem … and the value of the solution.

Sick of painful performance appraisals that just don’t deliver? Call me. Let’s talk.

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