Do Your Staff Have The Capability To Do Their Jobs?

I’ve noticed a trend.

Ten years ago, I selected the term capability as a collective noun for education, knowledge, experience, technical & behavioural competency and track record. I’ve written about this before.

The idea of focusing on scoring capability was new and a bit off the beaten track: interesting but not critical. People spoke about training and development, competencies, skills development, team building, formal education, workshops, seminars, certificates, on the job training, coaching and so on.

But no-one spoke about capability or scoring capability. Performance was scored, training was a possible outcome of a development discussion. The outcome of the training was assumed to be positive.

And we all know what assume stands for.

We have to measure performance and capability to answer a fundamental question: Do your staff have the capability to perform in their current jobs?

And in the recruitment, selection, transfer and promotion space: does this person have the required capability to perform in the role we have in mind for him or her?

The short answer is: we don’t know. We guess, we hope, we think, we estimate, we trust but we don’t measure.

Recently, I’ve noticed that capability is coming of age. From nowhere 10 years ago, the word is creeping into HR and management lexicon. I write this today because an article about tax breaks in the US mentions an increased focus on training and development, not salary increases. Interesting.

I suspect though that the investment will be disappointing while training companies make lots of cash. Why? Because the ROI for millions of training options remains subjective and unmeasured.

It’s time to measure capability per person per job and to implement focused capability development options to improve specific, job-relevant capabilities.

If you’d like to know more, please click here and I’ll contact you. All best.

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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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Who Do You Hire To Serve Your Customers?

We celebrated our friends’ daughter’s 19th birthday last night at a local restaurant. Yet again the service was ordinary and slow. The traditional birthday song and gift arrived after the bill had been paid which itself took 30 mins to arrive.

A while back, we popped into an Italian restaurant in Kyalami, close to where we live and the waiter arrived, slapped the menus onto the table, simultaneously barking “What do you want?”. He over-estimated our extrasensory perception and speed as the slapping and question followed each other in quick succession.

Last Friday, we went to an Asian restaurant in Montecasino. We ordered from a disinterested waitress, the food arrived, we enjoyed the meal (nothing else) and asked for the bill. Then, unbelievably! The waitress started to pull the tablecloth and motioned for us to lift our arms up so that she could remove it – they were closing!

It seems that many restaurant managers and their staff miss the entire point of a restaurant. Yes, the food must be good but I can cook good food at home (well, think I can!). The whole point of a restaurant is to enjoy good food, great ambience, excellent service, entertaining company and … no dishwashing!
But restaurant owners mostly put the wrong people into the right jobs. People who think that their job is to serve food and clear dishes miss the essential point of Serving the Customer. Serving the Customer implies being:

  • other centred, not ego centred.
  • people positive: enjoying building relationships with people
  • altruistic: looking to give to others without an expectation of anything in return
  • able to handle conflict and frustration: when things go wrong or customers are difficult, people with this talent handle and resolve the resulting conflict without losing the plot
  • patient: restaurant work is repetitive. You need patience and to be happy with routine work to thrive house worker/manager
  • attentive to detail/respectful: remembering a customer’s name and that they love a whisky to start means you’re one up on people who can’t do that

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

Contact me if you’d like to find out more about the people who serve your customers. It’s a killer advantage over competitors when you get it right.



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Are You Boring, Lazy Or Stupid?

Impatient people tend to be critical of patient people.

Instead of adjectives like steady, calm, relaxed, stable and consistent, they might use words like slow, stupid, lazy, dull or boring.

This is patently unfair.

The world revolves around the successful operation of millions of systems. These systems are developed, perfected, operated and improved by patient people who take the time to think things through.

Without patient people, a lot of the systems and services we rely on would break.

How about the paramedic, fireman, doctor, nurse, teacher, ambulance driver (any driver for that matter), lifeguard, security guard, policeman, bookkeeper, accountant, pilot, air traffic controller, air steward, professional sportsman and woman, psychologist, counsellor, help desk operator, ICT programmer, tool and die maker, machinist, machine minder, dietician, pharmacist, shop assistant, receptionist, waiter, cleaner, plumber, electrician, gardener, PA, researcher, miner, data analyst …

There are thousands of jobs that require patience and/or attention to detail and/or a preparedness to work for the team or the greater good.

Business owners, leaders, managers and supervisors need to understand the requirements of the work they manage in order to understand how to manage the people who excel in these jobs.

Failure to do this results in poor performance and staff turnover unnoticed at the top. 


Because these same people expect leadership and they don’t see it as their place to question its absence. They lose interest and then one day they leave for reasons unrelated to the truth.


Featured image courtesy of Mark Lord Photography
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Behavioural Competency: HOW We Do What We Do

We’re into Week 4, the penultimate week of the 5 part capability series in which we challenge ourselves to become more capable. This week:

Behavioural Competency

This is the most underrated and most impactful category of capability!

Behavioural competency is about how we do our work.

Last week, I said it’s crucial that we understand whether or not people can do their work, can do what their CV says they can do.

But if they do their work in such a way that frustrates everyone around them because of the way they behave, then the do talent can be completely overshadowed by the how or behavioural execution.

Case Study

For example, I worked with a successful multi-disciplinary team of people. But there was one person who consistently seemed to be obstructive. Initially, I thought he had an odd sense of humour but over time, I could see that his colleagues would glance at one another during a meeting: anything from eyes to heaven or a quick raised eyebrow.

Technically, no problem, he was well qualified. He had been with the firm for a long time and he occupied an important role. I used the same two behavioural assessment tools that I’ve used for nearly 20 years for the entire team.

The tools suggested that a majority of the management team had a generalist approach to work: i.e. they were confident in themselves, were task efficient, conceptually fit and didn’t really want to know too much about the detail. They were comfortable with some risk, they weren’t sensitive to criticism and preferred the big picture. If they could delegate the detail, they would.

But this same manager had a specialist profile which meant that he was more of a co-operative person who wasn’t comfortable with excessive risk and prided himself on knowing the detail and making fact-based decisions. He was also not as conceptually fit and task-efficient as the rest of the team. He was less people positive and more task focused.

Nothing wrong with any of that.

But when you’re surrounded by generalists, it’s possible that specialists can feel as if they’re surrounded by a bunch of crazy risk takers who ignore important facts and figures key to quality decision making!

And this is the thing about our personalities: we see the world through our own eyes, biased by our own personalities and experience. The assertive and confident person can’t understand why the less confident and more co-operative colleague won’t consider what they see as legitimate opportunities, not ridiculous risks!

Likewise, the extroverted maverick finds it simple to jump on a stage and make an impromptu speech while the shy and reserved specialist (risk averse) hides away from the same microphone.

So back to our manager: over time, the specialist took it upon himself to study the detail, do the research and he took this very seriously. He was also shy and reserved so when it came to presentations, he wasn’t the most entertaining speaker and his slides were hectic with tons of sentences in a relatively small font so that people experienced death by powerpoint.

Also, his research became a personal passion, so much so in fact, that he would deviate from the mission at hand to investigate anything related to the main topic. And when the company started improvement initiatives, he’d dive in with both feet (Ed – can one dive in with both feet?)

Over time, he became known as slightly ‘eccentric’, hence the rolling eyes and raising of eyebrows. But eccentric was an unfair exaggeration. He was just a different person compared to his colleagues.

So, what did he do wrong?

Well. Nothing!

He was:

  1. educated,
  2. experienced and
  3. technically competent (remember the last 3 episodes of this current series).

But his behaviour drove him in a certain direction, a direction which at his level of management, wasn’t 100% appropriate. Not his fault, just his way of working based on his perception of the world.

But that way of working moved him off the main management road onto the eccentric side path and from there, any thoughts he had of becoming a senior leader disappeared.

Funnily enough, that was a good thing.

Choosing The Right Path

Why? Because a shy specialist is going to hit two important non-work obstacles at higher levels of leadership:

  1. Politics: As people rise in an organisation, their ability to negotiate their way around the organisation and its stakeholders becomes much more important, while their technical speciality should be delegated to others. But as he rises, he begins to detest the politicking and social manoeuvring that happens as talented and confident people jostle for position, power and reward, especially in larger companies. Exactly what is happening in my beloved country right now as the good and the bad jostle to gain / keep control of our beautiful country and its wonderful resources.
  2. Risk: At higher levels of leadership, the variables that affect success become less tangible, less obvious and less predictable. For the risk-averse specialist, this isn’t fun. His way of dealing with risk then is to investigate, to check and re-check. If the company, the market and the competitors give him time, fine. But naturally, in the real world outside of NGOs, government, SOEs (state-owned enterprises) and monopolies, your competitor wants your lunch. So, pressure builds and the potential for burn out is high.

So, am I saying, tough Mr Specialist, your career stops here?

No, I’m saying, choose the right path. The management path to the top is not the right one for our specialist. The path to the summit of his career is via the domain specialist route: further academic study, further specialisation and the building of deep experience and knowledge to become a sought-after expert/advisor, paper/book writer, conference speaker, lecturer. Plenty of success to be had from that career path.

Next week, we’ll talk about the last capability category: Track Record.

If you’re going away, please pay extra attention to the safety of your families and yourselves. It’s horrific that 1700 people died in December last year! Drive defensively and have a wonderful holiday!

Thank you too for reading my blogs this year, much appreciated. All best.

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Technical Competency: A Badly Executed But Essential Capability

We’re into week 3 of the 5-part capability series in which we challenge ourselves to become more capable. This week:

Technical Competency

Technical competency is the most badly executed and most important category of capability!

Technical competency covers what we can do.

That’s why it’s the most important category. It’s all very well to have a degree or a diploma or 10 postgraduate short courses under your belt. It’s all very well to have 10 years of experience. But the core issue is what you can do.

Amazingly, many organisations don’t check that people can do what they say they can do.

The conversation goes like this: “I see you worked for X company for 5 years, so you must be familiar with Y technology / processing / philosophy / practices?”

The candidate has two choices.

Choice 1: “Actually, although I worked there for five years, I never really worked with Y technology / processing / philosophy / practices.”

Choice 2: “Yes”.

Which do most people choose in the interview situation when you want the job? Obviously, the yes answer can be followed by a more in-depth conversation about Y technology / processing / philosophy / practices. But how do we score it?

Typically, if it’s scored at all it’ll be Management Opinion: 3 out of 5.

What does that mean? It means that the manager is satisfied. But what if that manager is incompetent? Problem. What if he leaves and a new manager reckons it’s 2 or 4?

Replacing Subjective Assessments

So instead of wasting our time with subjective assessments of technical competency, shouldn’t we focus on objective measurement for jobs that matter?

  • Shouldn’t the bus or truck driver demonstrate his driving skills?
  • Shouldn’t the Microsoft Excel user who rated himself as intermediate, show us her technical competencies?
  • Shouldn’t the salesperson be given an opportunity to do a presentation demonstrating her technical competencies?
  • Shouldn’t the individual who has to use VIP Payroll, Qlikview, SAP, Lotus, Abacus, QuickBooks, Oracle, Corel Draw, Flex Cube etc demonstrate his skills?


Creating Capability Scorecards

But whenever I work with a client to compile a capability scorecard, the client has no measurement method for the technical competencies. Most clients tell me they can create one: a simulation, an in-basket, a written test, a scenario, a case study. But we’re all too busy to get it done.

It’s a big hole in our recruitment, development, performance management and succession planning strategies.

We assume competence until it’s too late and the person is in the job.

The work to build a technical competency assessment is once off. Either we can choose an online test or an assessment provider or we can develop our own internal assessment which is likely to be much more relevant to our business environment and industry.

Here’s an example: Microsoft Office is probably the world’s most ubiquitous piece of software (Why can’t they improve Outlook to be a real mail, contact, task and calendar system? Odd!).

And yet, very few people have ever been on a formal Microsoft Office training programme. The investment has to be worth the cost and time. I can only talk for myself and my own incompetence with Excel, Word and PowerPoint. I am completely self-taught and now and again, I will struggle for 30 minutes to find a way to do something probably quite basic. If my experience is representative of most people, that means billions of hours are lost around the world every day because people simply don’t know how to use Microsoft Office properly.

HR and training departments should have a deliberate strategy to build the competency of their staff to use the basic software tools that drive their functional and organisational effectiveness and efficiency.

If an applicant or a staff member fails a technical competency test, it’s not a deal breaker. It simply means that the company knows that that particular competency must be developed for that individual, failing which, we set ourselves up for hundreds if not thousands of lost hours at work.

This should be a no-brainer for any organisation that values and measures productivity.

Next week, we’ll talk about behavioural competency. Until then, be happy for the multiple rain showers if you live in Johburg, spare a thought for our friends in Cape Town. I had dinner in Cape Town recently and part of the discussion was about water tanks and pool covers. Not even the pretty mountain that Capetonians love so much can assist with that problem! It’s OK Cape Town if you pass the medical this time, we’ll invite you to Jo’burg!

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Experience Vs Competency. Which One Equals Success?

Last week I started 5 episodes exploring our own capability. I wrote: “Let’s challenge ourselves and our children, friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters to become more capable. There are 5 steps.”

This week we are

Unpacking Experience

This category of capability is just the worst when defined badly. Most line managers will specify a job along the lines of “Must have at least 2-10 years of management / industry / operations / finance / international / sales / ICT / etc experience.

But is this adequate?

Well, no.

The core question should be “Why do I want this person to have this type of experience?”

We want them to have experience because we expect that during their time getting experience, they would have gained competencies!

Aha! So, we’re not really after “experience.” We’re after competency.

It’s assumed that a sales manager with 10 years of sales management experience will be good at sales management. But what if he or she has 10 years of experience at failing in sales management. Was Robert Mugabe a good president because he had 37 years of experience? I know that’s a rhetorical question but should we assume that anyone with 5 / 10 / 15 years of experience is competent to perform?

If we are to do a good job of finding the right people to put into the right jobs in our organisations, we need to analyse why we want that experience.

Experience vs Competency

The better way to handle experience is to think in terms of the number of times that something has been practised by the individual. For example, is it better to know that our sales manager has 10 years of experience or:

  • trained over 500 people
  • managed at least 50 people with at least 60% of them on or over target
  • written over 10 sales plans
  • achieved sales targets for at least five financial years
  • prepared and presented papers for at least 2 sales conferences
  • presented his or her employers’ offering at least 50 times
  • coached salespeople to success at least 50 times

“Years of Experience” is a poor proxy for what we actually want.

Interview Questions to Determine Competency

experience vs competency

The list above also provides us with content for the interview or promotion discussion:

  • Tell us how you define optimal training?
  • How do you manage people to success?
  • Can you walk us through the essential elements of a sales plan you wrote?
  • Tell us about your success in achieving sales targets?
  • Have you presented papers at any conferences? Can you share the paper and why you were asked to present?
  • Can you show us a typical sales presentation you’ve done?
  • How do you coach people? Examples of success and why you think it was successful?

I think these questions help us to find the right people better than saying “10 years of …”

Next week, we’ll talk about technical competency.

Until then, have an excellent weekend with just the right amount of weather, a convincing win from the Springboks for a change and much success to Zimbabwe as it comes to terms with a new era! I hope the new leader successfully fixes what his predecessor broke.

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How Education and Knowledge Impact our Personal Capability

Last week I suggested that we should manage capability instead of performance.

So this week, let’s get personal: what about our own capability? Let’s challenge ourselves and our children, friends, colleagues, brothers and sisters to become more capable.

There are 5 steps.

This week we’re discussing:

Education and Knowledge

This category of capability is less about competence to do something and more about a ticket to the game. If you don’t have a CA, you can’t practice as a registered accountant. If you don’t have the requisite medical qualifications, you can’t practice as a doctor, psychiatrist or orthopaedic surgeon no matter how you rate your skills with a scalpel!

But having the qualification doesn’t make you a good CA or Doctor. A lot more than an education is required to deliver excellent performance and build a great career.

Likewise with knowledge. I can read 50 books about rugby, meet 50 Springboks, watch 50 games (not Ireland again please …) but none of these activities will make me a good rugby player (I was a member of the fighting fifths at school so I know all about not being a good rugby player!).

Education and Knowledge support personal development.

I might read about a tactic and I can try to practise that tactic. I might read about a fitness regime and put it into practise. I might discover an app which changes the way I work. Then I move from Knowledge to Technical Competency as I practise using the app.

But here’s the foundational problem: people don’t read.

Apparently, only 14% of South Africans read! This is vastly different to the US where 72% of adults read books. Australians vary by gender and type (32-65%) and Europeans vary wildly (from 29% (Romania) to 93% (Iceland)). China comes in at 55% (I’m aware of the adage: lies, damn lies and statistics, but a cursory search of the internet revealed these numbers instantly and none are as bad as South Africa. As a proud South African, I welcome any correction).

education and personal capability

We have a reading (education) challenge.

Instead of waiting for government to do something, we must do something, lest we die, waiting.

The University Challenge

In South Africa, our universities are under threat from a minority of politically motivated students and non-students whose goals are not about improving education. What has happened on campuses countrywide over the last three years is entirely unacceptable, made worse by a weak, mumbling excuse for what should have been a critical government response to the crisis. I’ve just finished an excellent book by Jonathan Jansen. “As by Fire” chronicles the experiences of vice chancellors across the country from 2015 to 2016. It’s safe to say that the people screaming obscenities, destroying buildings, removing statues and burning art, were not trying to improve education for all. In fact, Prof Jansen concludes in the final chapter that the universities as we know them may be beyond repair as has happened in other parts of Africa.

Cart before horse?

But let’s ask a different question: what should we do about our education and development?

We can start by taking responsibility for what we choose to study and where. There’s a bit of an obsession to go to university as if it’s a guaranteed ticket to success. Is it? I’m not sure that choosing psychology, sociology, history, anthropology or English are necessarily great choices to build a career in business. They’re possibly courses that we choose because we have no idea about our future career. So a BA is a safe fall back in the event that we “must” go to university but have no idea what to study.

Where does career planning factor?

What if students (and adults) spent a little more time on understanding their strengths and preferences in order to choose a career? From all the CVs I’ve read, it seems that most people don’t so much plan their careers as fall, by accident, into their careers.

We spend more time and money on choosing a car or a holiday than on choosing a career.

What if our colleges and universities built all their curricula to prepare students only for specific careers? What if colleges and universities required compulsory academic, interests, motivation and competency assessments and then advised you which course to take (if any) and for which career that course would prepare you?

I know it’s far better today than 20 or 30 years ago, but should there be a general BA, BSc or BCom? Shouldn’t it be compulsory to pursue a degree/diploma in a specific field: e.g. BA or BCom HR with predetermined curricula that organisations can rely on to provide fundamental work-relevant skills and competencies?

The professions do this well: Law: BA LLB; Medicine: MBBCh; Accountant: BCom Accounting Hons, CA; Architect: BAS. But why do many HR Managers have no HR qualifications having found themselves in HR at some point? Why is there no Sales degree (what is a business without sales?). The crazy fact that so many people ‘fall’ into sales and would never think about sales as a career at school is to ignore the most fundamental purpose of a business: finding, satisfying and retaining customers.

A non-specific university education is expensive, time-consuming and can end with unemployment.

We, the paying students of higher education, need to choose our options carefully and not assume that a degree is a ticket to success, especially when we’re not academically oriented and we don’t know what we want to do with the piece of paper afterwards.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this, especially if you’re an education expert. Quo Vadimus?

Next week, we’ll talk about the role of experience in capability. Until then, have an excellent weekend!

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Summarise and Score: What Does “Capability Data” Mean To Your Bottom Line?

Correlating Capability and Performance

Four weeks ago, we started exploring a key topic for all organisations: How to improve sales?

Last week, I demonstrated a Capability Scorecard. I developed this scorecard because we talk so subjectively about people. We use anecdotes, feelings, interviews, 360s, assessment tools, simulations, opinions and references to measure people.

But we don’t summarise and score.capability data

We make a decision and we move on. If the decision proves to be wrong, well, that’s life. If the decision proves to be right, excellent. But we don’t often interrogate or store the data for future reflection. Managers move, HR people move and all the intelligence gained during one generation of staff is lost for the next generation of staff.

Maybe we HR and training people, consultants and line managers could learn from finance. Companies can review past financials and compare to the present. Finance runs on a continuous track of data that can be historically analysed at any time. But HR? What do we know about the success of our appointment, transfer and promotion decisions last year?

Capability Data

We might know what our staff turnover rate is. But what does 5, 7 or 9% tell us? Wouldn’t it be far more interesting to have this number broken into 4 numbers:

  1. Capable Performer Turnover: 2%
  2. Incapable Performer Turnover: 2%
  3. Capable Non-Performer Turnover: 2%
  4. Incapable Non-Performer Turnover: 3%

Isn’t that more granular?

  • Should we stress about number 1?
  • And applaud number 4?

But if we have no capability data, we can’t stress or applaud anything. We can guess: I think Joe’s talented, let’s put him on the fast track. Why? He’s a good guy. Why? In whose opinion?

The Capability Scorecard enables an interrogation of our opinions.

And enables a correlational analysis. See Figure 1 below.

Capability and Performance

Figure 1: A graph correlating capability to performance. Each dot, an individual.

The correlation doesn’t suggest causality. It simply says that people who score higher on selected capability factors tend to score higher on performance. And those who score lower, score lower on performance too. In a perfect world, the correlation would be 1. But in our imperfect world, the correlation will always be lower than 1. But that’s ok. We’re building information about people, our most valuable (and expensive) asset.

If we can establish causality between capability data and performance data, what does mean for:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Promotions
  3. Transfers
  4. Succession planning
  5. Training and development choices

It should mean a lot. It means we have the beginnings of a predictive model which assists us to make better people decisions. And if we keep building and correlating the data, we improve the model until one day, we have a clear understanding of what it takes to consistently recruit, develop, transfer and promote capable people who perform.

And that’s good for the bottom line, for morale and for the people themselves.

I’d welcome your comments. If you think I’m smoking my socks, please let me know. Thanks once more for reading this blog. We change track from this series next week. I finish the week in Windhoek and look forward to a family reunion back in Joburg over the weekend. Cheers!

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The Secret Sauce. What Success Actually Looks Like.

Measuring Capability

Three weeks ago, we started exploring a key topic for all organisations: How to improve sales?

Last week, we converted some of the questions we need to ask about sales people into what I call a Capability Scorecard.

I suggested that the 25 questions we could ask about sales people can make the task of building this information too daunting and tiring to bother. Especially for sales management! When you’re an:

  • assertive,
  • target oriented,
  • extroverted,
  • impatient and
  • big picture, low detail kind of sales manager
  • with less interest in conceptual problem solving and
  • more interest in meeting the current target,

developing a long and time-consuming scorecard is unlikely to be interesting. I’ve seen sales managers go glassy eyed when I present summary findings. That’s funny. I’ve done all the leg work and all they have to do is look at the summary findings for 45 minutes!

But I get it. I’ve worked in sales by default for decades and my own preferences are similar to those above. I’ve just learned though that avoiding analysis work can lead to chasing your tail because you don’t understand the drivers of success. And in sales, that’s crucial.

So, a compromise: the scorecard below has two purposes:

1. demonstrate the structure and
2. content of a capability scorecard

I’ve only used two capability factors per category to provide us with 10 items in total, down from the 25 that could be used based on the questions we posed last week. It’s better to start with the core issues and to build data over time as it becomes obvious. When you start with too many factors, people get tired, the data is often more subjective and the impact on performance less obvious. More is less.

Click on the image below and you can download a copy for yourself to edit and play around with. Feel free to change the KCAs and KCIs to suit your environment. If you edit and score it for one of your people or yourself, send it to me. I’d be interested to see your effort!

An example of a Capability Scorecard for Sales

(Naturally, you could create a scorecard for any role)

Click on the image below, or you can download a copy for yourself to edit and play around with. Feel free to change the KCAs and KCIs to suit your environment. If you edit and score it for one of your people or yourself, send it to me. I’d be interested to see your effort!  PDF | Excel

Example capability scorecard1

So here goes: The scorecard above has the following columns:

  • KCAs: Key Capability Areas: the areas of Capability we’re focusing on
  • KCIs: Key Capability Indicators: the measurement chosen for that area, preferably in objective numbers or words/statements, not long descriptions as is often the (subjective) case.
  • 4 columns of standards: Most of us are used to 5 point scoring systems. They’re fine. I just prefer 4 point scorecards because they force a view away from average up or down.
    1: The individual is not capable
    2: The individual has some capability but it isn’t up to standard
    3: The individual is capable
    4: The individual is highly capable

Technical note: You’ll notice that KCI 5.2 has a scale of 0%, 80%, 100% and 120%. This simply means that any score:

  • below 80% is a 1,
  • between 80% and 99.9%: 2,
  • between 100% and 119.9%: 3 and
  • 120%+: 4.
  • Weighting: How much do you think the item should influence the overall score? You’ll notice that I’ve rated education at 5% but discipline at 20%. Why? Simple. Sales is a numbers game: prospects to calls to appointments to proposals to deals. Get slack anywhere in the cycle and your numbers hurt. Being educated won’t fix that no matter how you game the system. I’ve met people in sales who aren’t well educated, who don’t look very professional, who don’t present very well, who people may not even like. But they do the numbers. Religiously, week in and week out. And they’re the top performers.
  • Score: the rubber hits the road here: The score is not the number in each row. It’s the column number from 1-4. So if Gerhardus got 8 for Shadowmatch, he scores 3 in the score column. If Busi has been in sales for 7 years, she scores 2 in the score column. The maximum score is 4. You can get fancy with decimals but that’s not our purpose here. We simply want to show you that a person can be scored for his or her capability.
  • Comment: I’ve used the comment column to make points about the KCIs. You can use this for anything.

 If you struggle to use the form, send your version to me at with a note about the problem. I’ll assist you.

I hope this has been a useful blog post. Thanks again for reading it. I always enjoy writing the weekly blog and appreciate your comments even more. I mentioned a trip to the bush last week. Had a fantastic break at Mongena in the Dinokeng Reserve just north of Pretoria. Shout out to Matt and Johannes who hosted us and gave us great memories to take away with us. See a collage of the weekend below.

Next week: Correlating Capability and Performance to build a Predictive Model to save us time, money and pain. The whole point of the process. Until next week: Cheers!

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