Performance Management

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.

Read more →

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
Read more →

Staff Performance Management: The Embarrassing Truth And The Simple Fix

Performance versus Person. Doing versus Being.

Over the last 5 weeks, I’ve written about Capability.

When I started my first consulting project in 1990, the emphasis of the work was on performance. We didn’t question the capability of the staff to perform. We simply asked the question: “How well should you perform?” Then we calculated workforce size based on scientific management principles.

The emphasis was on workforce efficiency with a view to cutting the size of the workforce. While this is sadly necessary when businesses are struggling to survive, what strikes me today is that the work focused on what people were doing, not on who they were themselves.

staff performanceIt’s embarrassing to reflect that we never asked these simple questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you know?
  3. How experienced are you?
  4. What can you do?
  5. And can you show us your track record in this work?

The analysis was simply about how many people had a particular job title.

There was some training but mostly focused on general management principles and exciting things like Maslow’s Hierarchy.

But even today, I get calls or emails from organisations wanting performance management, never capability management.

We can argue about which is more important but let’s go with a tie on that one.

Is it Just About Staff Performance Management?

Isn’t it obvious that each staff member should have:

  1. A personal capability score
  2. A personal performance score
  3. A personal development plan to improve both scores?

While you’re lying on the beach, trekking through the bush, hiking a trail, reflecting on how much you’ve eaten so far, putting on jersey #6 in Europe/US/Canada or simply while you enjoy Johburg’s perfect Christmas weather and empty roads; think that simple concept through.

Then call me in January to implement it!

And at this time of year, following Divali a few weeks ago: Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or simply have a great holiday if none of the above apply!


Read more →

Performance Management Measures the Past. But That’s Not Where We’re Headed.

How Often Is Our Performance Management Successful?

performance management2I had the good fortune to go overseas for four years in my 20s. I became a tour guide for Contiki Tours and had a blast touring Europe with 50 strangers who became friends over 21, 32 or 52 days, depending on which tour I was taking. It was an extraordinary experience in European geography and history, human behaviour and fun. It taught me a lot about service, people, motivation and the importance of a slick operation. When I was a tour guide, there were some 50 coaches on the road on any given day in the summer. That means Contiki had to transport, feed, water, accommodate and transport 2500 people every day without incident. In that season, one coach driver bumped his side view mirror. It was, and still probably is a very well-run organisation.

We also had the performance management system waxed. Head office in London required their tour guides to receive a rating of 10 out of 10! Now we all know that most people don’t offer a perfect 10, even if they have had a blast and the time of their lives!

So it was simple: towards the end of the tour, we would introduce the performance appraisal (not me obviously, other tour guides …) and let people know how the scoring worked. We told them that 0 – 9 was shockingly bad and 10 was ok!

Regardless, we still got 8s to 9s and would invariably end up with a nine-point something final score which HO would accept without too much fuss.

This was my first exposure to performance management and obviously not a terribly impressive one.

But Don’t We Need Performance Management?

Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of attempts at performance management. They range from abysmal to in very few cases not bad. Very very few have all the key requirements ticked.

In recent years, it’s been fashionable to diss performance management as out of date. Top international companies have scrapped performance management.

So, let’s join the party. Today, I’m going to bat for the anti-performance management team.

Performance measures the past. Capability measures my potential for performance in the future.

What if we managed capability instead of performance?

I write quite a lot of personal reports for recruiting candidates, internal transfers, promotions, performance problems and career coaching. I like the work because it’s positive: you are here now and you have the potential to go there later. It’s about the future, it’s about possibility, it’s about growth and hope.

The accounting profession has done a great job of this. On popular radio stations, you’ll hear adverts suggesting that if people are looking for solid career paths, look no further than accountancy. Join SAIPA, join SAICA, do a CA. CAs are punted as integral to the success of a business. Anyone who has completed a BCom Accounting (Hons) or variations thereof, a CTA and a CA almost has a perfect career ahead of them. This is similar for the all the professions: medicine, dentistry, law, architecture, engineering, psychology, teaching and many others.

But the professions account for a minority of jobs. What about the rest of the population?

The rest of us need to think about our capability in more dimensions. I suggest the following:

  1. Education and Knowledge

While it’s not essential to have a formal academic qualification such as a school leaving certificate, a post-school certificate, a diploma or a degree, it makes sense to try as hard as you can to build some level of formal education. It’s not good enough to say that you were deprived as a young person which is why you have a grade 10, but by age 40, you’ve made no attempt to finish Matric or complete any form of part-time education resulting in a certificate or a diploma.

  1. Experience

By its very definition, experience takes time to build. They are two types of experience: the weaker option is the number of years of experience under the belt. The better type of experience measures the number of times you’ve done something. It should be fair to say that a human resources manager who has been directly involved in resolving 20 strikes probably know something about successful strike resolution. It’s also possible for a human resources manager with 20 years of experience to never have handled a strike.

  1. Technical Competencies

This is the toughest of the capabilities because so few organisations actually test the technical competency of their people. The classic example is Excel. Quite a few people rate themselves as intermediate users of Excel but on closer examination, what people are really saying is that they’ve used Excel for quite a few years which makes them think that they’re capable. But if all you’ve been doing with Excel is using it as a calculator, then your competency is Beginner at best.

Carrying on with Microsoft Office products: it should make sense to organisations to send any computer facing staff member on extensive Microsoft Office training. The huge amount of time that we lose because people just don’t know how to do something must be phenomenal. I know this for myself when I fiddle with File, Home, Insert, Design, Page Layout and View in Word looking for some arbitrary command that I forgot!

Most importantly, organisations should invest heavily in building the technical competencies of their people, assuming that the organisation knows what technical competencies make a difference to performance. But these investments should be tied to a competency assessment that follows the training. I’ve experienced too many courses that are enjoyable and interesting but, once complete, are soon forgotten. Anybody attending training should complete a competency assessment/simulation thereafter.

  1. Behavioural Competencies

This is my favourite subject and the heart of my work. The basic starting point is that one should hire for behaviour and attitude and train for competency. Behaviour is the framework within which performance occurs. If the behavioural framework is incorrect, performance suffers. I remain amazed at the amount of money that is thrown at recruiting and firing salespeople. Some companies lose 80% of the sales staff every three years which indicates a level of churn that has to be frustrating for sales management and the company in general.

I remember working in a particular sales company: the admin manager and her staff were totally disrespectful towards the salespeople. I wondered why until I learnt about the turnover of staff. Why would any admin manager or staff member have any respect for people that arrive and leave like visitors to a toilet?

When I look at sales teams, there’s always a wide range of behavioural profiles which indicates that the organisation is not paying any attention to behaviour as a factor in sales. And yet there is no the profession in which behaviour is a more fundamental differentiating performance factor.

  1. Track Record

When I read CVs, I’m looking for clues in the same way that an accountant might look at a balance sheet or a doctor might look at medical results. Each fact by itself is not terribly useful. But when you add them up together, they mean a lot.

If the candidate or staff member is in their 30s and 40s with an average tenure of less than 1.5 years, it raises a question. When the last time that person attended some form of formal training was at school, that raises a question. When they’ve chosen to drift from banking to retail to building to government to a non-profit, it raises questions. When their job titles change from lackey to assistant to supervisor to assistant to administrator over 10 years, it raises questions.

There are many economic, situational and personal reasons for not having a good formal education. But once you leave school, you have the opportunity to catch up. Any good recruiter or talent manager is on the lookout for people who differentiate themselves from the rest by applying themselves to extra studies, overtime work, additional duties at work or at home, extramural activities and community work.  I see so many CVs with reading and television as “extramurals”.

To summarise: capability management might be the more important activity for HR professionals and line managers. Capability management looks forward to growth and reflects on performance. It is a much more positive conversation to have with somebody than reflecting on a subjective statement of performance. If the individual does nothing about their capability development, then they probably have no interest in their performance either.

Your thoughts are always welcomed.

Until next time, have an excellent week 45. Can you believe, just 8 weeks separate us from 2017 and 2018? And just 6 weeks to go for a few people to decide to wreck the country or not. I trust not!  All the best.

Read more →

Training and Development: What Is Your ROI?

Staff Training Programs: What Are My Options?

Search for “Training” and you will find  2,220,000,000 results on Google!

Search for “Training ROI”, and you will find 79,6m results on Google.

Is this significant?

The Problem with Training Courses

“Why is performance poor?”

“We need training!”

It’s the most common solution in the book.

Training will fix our sales/ops/finance/SHEQ/teamwork/IT/management/leadership/skills problems. We hope.

But let’s look at the training model for a second. Training companies have a single commercial KPI: bums in seats.

There are predictable variable costs to providing training services: the trainer, venue, food and drink, training materials, IP and licensing costs, sales and marketing, admin and support.

From a pure business perspective, training is a good business opportunity. The costs are predictable, the model is stable and profitability: good.

training and development

So training probably attracts its fair share of entrepreneurs who like to make money. Nothing worse for an entrepreneur than a complicated business.

But when the training company sells off-the-shelf training courses, are they focused on the needs of the trainees or the number of seats they need to fill?

If the company pays a salesman a great commission to sell courses, what is the salesman more focused on? Improving the capability of your people or their own commission?

To make matters worse, what about the recipient of the training? HR gets a request from sales: “We need a training program.” Or the PA gets a note from the boss: “we need a training course.” During a sales meeting, the sales manager complains that “the quality of people HR sends through for interviews is terrible. We need employee training, we need skills development training, we need employee development …”

Okay, detail?

Training programs – One size fits all?

Here’s the second problem. We’re not sure. Sales are off target. Is it bad management, poor marketing, a bad market, poor product, bad prospecting, poor closing, bad service …? Or a combination of some or all of the above?

And should everyone get the same training? Not sure. Probably not.

So when the training salesperson arrives, it’s possible that some companies are sitting ducks for a good spiel, well-presented sales materials, a good looking curriculum/qualified faculty and lots of complimentary references.

So, it’s possible that we simply shortcut the process by rationalising that the course being offered by the training company is probably going to be “good for everyone” anyway? I present the solution to the requesting manager (who’s busy anyway), and if he likes what he sees, we’re on our way.

If the training company is marketing savvy, the venue will be attractive, the food: good, the presenter: funny and the certificate: smart. Naturally, the content must be good too.

What training course do YOU need?

So think about your company: What training could you or your people use right now? If you did a thorough training needs analysis, you might find a number of needs quite specific to your company. They could be related to your products or services, your industry, people, processes or management.

But if you search for employee development, you’re unlikely to find a solution that fits like a shirt in a shop. You’ll be provided with smart brochures, curricula from which to choose, venues, dates and volume pricing options.

But if the company hasn’t done a proper needs analysis and the salesperson is good at selling his or her training services, the chances are that the company will receive a standard off-the-shelf-course which may or not deliver the expected outcomes which themselves may be poorly defined.

What is the solution?

  1. Define the capability requirements per job in your business. See my post on this topic here.
  2. Score your people: how capable are they?
  3. Identify the gaps
  4. Source development options to close the gaps
  5. Implement the development plan
  6. Post-development, score your people
  7. Measure ROI

Find training solutions that specifically address the gap. This means customisation which implies that the training provider (internal/external) needs to pay attention to your needs in some detail, not just sell an off-the-shelf product like the ubiquitous ‘Finance for Non-Financial Managers’ (‘Finance for Non’ fetches 179m results on Google) or Microsoft Excel Training (over 90m results on Google).

The key KPI for training budget holders should be Training ROI.

If that can’t be measured, we’re simply guessing that the training pays.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against training or training providers.

I am for Capability Measurement, Gap Analysis and Training ROI. It’s a topic that should be reported on at board level. It’s no longer good enough to report that the budget was X and we spent it. People reported that the training was good. Management is happy. Not good enough. Given the massive investment that companies make to employ, develop, manage and retain people, we need a comprehensive ROI measurement on that spend.

Two good KPIs to start the discussion are:

  1. People: Total Cost of People (incl. the HR and Training Departments) as a % of Revenue over time
  2. Training: Total Cost of Training as a % of Revenue over time.

The trend is the important issue.

Changing topics to finish: My favourite sport is rugby by a village mile. So watching the Kiwis succumb to the Aussies this last weekend was sweet to say the least. The world cup in 2019 is going to be a humdinger. Boks and Aussies on the up, Kiwis overdue for a slump. Just for fun: my prediction: Springboks v Aussies in the final at the world cup! All best until next week.

Read more →

How To Identify Top Performers

Identifying top performers should be easy.

But it isn’t.


Because we lack data.

Think sport for a second: Take a player the Springboks are sorely missing at the moment (57-0 sore … eina!) – Warren Whiteley. A quick search for Warren yields the following: a herd of pictures. Obviously.

Top Performer Warren WhitelySource: Google

And we’ll quickly find general biographical information as well.Warren Whitely 2

Source: Google  

Warren Whitely StatsGood start, but no help in terms of performance. Dig a little deeper: thanks to Wikipedia for these stats. Now we’re getting somewhere: now we know he’s appeared 149 times for provincial and franchise teams and scored 125 points or 25 tries between 2008 and 2017. Pretty good!

He’s also represented his country 17 times and scored 15 points or 3 tries.

But the data so far doesn’t let us know why. It describes his track record in simple terms. But why did the selectors select him? Why at number eight? Why at Captain for the Lions and his country?

To understand this, we need to know more about his competencies, his habits, his personality and his leadership capability. This article hasn’t the space to explore all of these in detail but let’s dig a little deeper. That’s the incredible beauty of the internet. With the click of a few buttons, we can learn so much.

 We really get to know about Warren, when we read what the journalists, players and coaches have to say: for example, in SuperSport’s Insider column we get a glimpse of the reason that Warren leads the Springboks. The article is littered with praise for his rise to become the 58th Captain of South Africa: “… determination … overcoming adversity … proving critics wrong … rose from obscurity … desire to better himself … lead others … respect he earns from players … popular choice as captain … aura of respect … belief among the players that he leads … an ability to impact both on and off the field … loyal … determined to get to the goal that has been set … most consistent performer at number eight … resilient … right decisions under pressure … brings out the best in people … very fine rugby player … family came first … leads through actions … no grey areas … does everything at full pace … character … very calm person … cares a lot about his players … friends with everyone … has time for everyone … respects everyone … people’s person … good speaker … how calm he kept … doesn’t let the circumstances of the game take over and get him down. He stays in his character and he believes in the team, in the systems we have in place. He stays calm under pressure … calmness in pressure situations …”

And I’m only halfway through the Insider article!

What about harder facts? Look no further than this link and you’ll find Attacking Stats, Defensive Stats, Kicking, Error and First Phase Stats which tell a numbers story.

So why all of this in an article about identifying top performers?

Isn’t it obvious by now?

We need data.

It’s not good enough to talk to a few colleagues / managers / staff. It’s not good enough to look at historical performance ratings which you know are subjective numbers anyway.

We need data. And we need to build it consistently and thoroughly. By doing that, we identify the top performers, the middle and weak performers, the bad surprises and the hidden gems.Then we can begin to focus on retention strategies, talent management, employee engagement, human resource strategy, employee motivation and capability development.

But without the data, we’re just playing around like kids playing touch with a rugby ball at the local park.  We have no serious intent.

Thanks for reading this far. (If you got this far, you deserve a prize!) Until next week when we talk about employee retention, have a great weekend! Let’s trust that our Springboks will do us proud on Saturday against the also struggling Aussies! Cheers!

Read more →

Design Your Capability Scorecard – Improve Sales by 20-30%

Measuring Capability

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

We talked about a simple calculation to understand whether or not our sales force is shooting the lights out. Typically, we could all improve. Maybe a lot.

The question is how?

Last week, I suggested a bunch of questions that sales and HR managers could ask of their sales people.

This week, let’s begin designing a scorecard to enable a somewhat objective scoring of capability.

Taking the same questions: Let’s create 5 categories:

  1. Education and Knowledge
  2. Experience
  3. Technical Competencies
  4. Behavioural Competencies
  5. Track Record
# Category Same Questions from last week A Capability Measure for each Question
1 Education and Knowledge Do they have a certain level of education? Matric, Certificate, Diploma, Degree or Post Grad? Level of education achieved
2 Education and Knowledge Have they attended specific certificated non-sales training that you think makes a difference to their performance? Relevant non-sales training certificates achieved
3 Education and Knowledge Have they attended specific certificated sales training that you think makes a difference to their performance? Relevant sales training certificates achieved
4 Experience How many years of experience do they have in your industry or in a similar industry? Years of experience in your industry or in a similar industry
5 Experience How many years of experience do they have in sales? Years of experience in sales
6 Experience How many years of experience do they have in your company? Years of experience in your company
7 Experience How many prospecting call sessions do they attend monthly? Number of prospecting call sessions attended monthly
8 Experience How many sales appointments do they complete monthly? Number of sales appointments completed monthly
9 Experience How many proposals do they write monthly? Number of proposals written and submitted monthly
10 Technical Competency How well do they present to an audience of a few people or more? Presentation Simulation Score
11 Technical Competency Are they particularly professional in their approach to work? 360 Feedback Score: Professionalism
12 Technical Competency Do they keep their promises and deliver OTIF (on time, in full) most of the time? 360 Feedback Score: Delivery: On time, in full.
13 Technical Competency What technical competencies do they have? Internal Company Sales System Score / Product Knowledge Test Score / Various sales simulation scores etc
14 Technical Competency What software tools are they proficient in using? MS Excel, Word and Powerpoint / PipeDrive / SAP CRM / Fusion CRM / MS Dynamics / FreshSales / Insightly / SugarCRM / amoCRM / Zoho etc competency scores
15 Behavioural Competency Do they adhere to company systems, processes and values? 360 Feedback Score: Company systems, processes and values compliance
16 Behavioural Competency Are they confident, outgoing, impatient, target oriented, happy to ask for the business, not scared of rejection? Job / Person Fit Score for tools like the PPA, PDA and PI
17 Behavioural Competency Do they lead, own their work, handle conflict and frustration, solve problems, build relationships and solve problems? Benchmarking tools like Shadowmatch and ThinkSales
18 Behavioural Competency Are they quick, resilient, responsive, disciplined, altruistic and self-confident?
19 Behavioural Competency Are they co-operatively or assertively involved at work?
20 Track Record Do they have a track record of prior performance? Proof of historical performance
21 Track Record What did previous employers say about them? Ref Check
22 Track Record What do colleagues in the sales team say about them? 360 Score: Colleagues (Sales)
23 Track Record What do staff from other departments say about them? 360 Score: Colleagues (Other departments)
24 Track Record What do clients say about them? Client Survey Feedback Score
25 Track Record What does the boss say about them? 360 Score: My boss

What you’ll also notice is that we’re at the beginning of a process of building data. To collect 25 sets of data multiplied by 50 sales people is hard work! So, next week, let’s finish the scorecard and limit the data overload to create a simple scorecard that measures the capability of sales people and enables the development of a customised training strategy focused on results.

Thanks again. I always enjoy writing the weekly blog. A little late this week as I was preparing for, and interviewing, candidates this week. Have a great weekend! I’m off to the bush for some R&R tomorrow.

Next week: A scorecard with standards and weights to score your people. There’ll be a downloadable excel version for you to try out too. Until next week: Cheers!

Read more →

Measuring Management: Tools to Improve Performance

% Sales Target Achieved or % Monthly Improvement in Ave Sales Performance Per Sales Person?

Last week I wrote that Sales is the most important function in any business: No Sales No Business.

I also wrote that HR is the second most important function. Some of you laughed! Fair enough.

Let’s combine their importance this week.

Sales managers know about sales. They know about their products and services, their customers, their lost and new customers, their competitive strengths and weaknesses and most importantly how to close the deal.

But what do sales managers know about people?

According to sales managers: a lot.

According to the data: not such a lot.

Take a simple thing I learnt a long time ago from my boss at the time, Ben Venter. He asked some of his clients to rank their sales people from best to worst. Then he calculated the average sales performance of the top, middle and bottom thirds.

Then, he divided the top third into the top third to get 100% as a base measurement point, the middle third into the top third and the bottom third into the top third. This created a curve that showed the drop in performance from top to bottom. Let’s call the curve a Sales Productivity Curve (SPC) (I can’t remember if we called it that then).

The basic hypothesis was that a sales team staffed with people with optimal sales capability would enjoy a strong SPC. A curve like this one:

Sales Team Management

So, HR business partner or sales manager: what’s your curve? It shouldn’t take you longer than 15 minutes to calculate it. If you’re on or about these numbers, great job: your sales team is doing well!

But in our experience then and since, a typical sales force generates an SPC somewhere in the region of 100%, 50% and 25%: The red SPC below compared to the ideal blue SPC.

Sales Productivity Curve

If those numbers are closer to your SPC, then you have some work to do. The good news is that it might be possible to improve the performance of the team by 20-30%. Which under-budget sales director or MD would like that? Duh! as my daughter would say.

So back to last week’s blog and strategic HR.

I wrote that strategic HR people assist their line managers to ensure that:
• the right people are in the right jobs
• jobs are structured correctly
• recruitment and selection policy and practices allow only the best people to join
• training and development policy and practices ensure only the most functional, relevant and measurable training and development is implemented
• performance management tracks and drives performance rewards the best performers and isn’t a tick box compliance exercise
• retention and succession policy and practices engage and keep/promote the best people

A strategic partnership between HR and Sales has a big impact on performance.

Sales management knows about sales. HR knows about people and jobs.

Put the two sets of talent together and set targets to improve the capability and performance of the sales people.

If you’d like some help to tackle this, please contact me. I can work remotely anywhere in the world.

Thanks for reading this. If you have time to comment, please do. It’s the comments each week that lead my direction with the blogs in order to add as much value as I can.

Next week: What to do if your SPC ain’t lookin’ good.

Read more →

Astonishingly Simple Management Techniques Unleash The Best Team Performance

Making simple changes in attitude and management style to build team performance and commitment

Last week I wrote about two distinct organisational roles:

Type 1: I am responsible for my work

Type 2: I supervise, manage or direct the work of other peoplebusiness strategy

Now let’s focus on how Type 2 bosses can frustrate the performance of their Type 1 people!

I see the mistakes again and again and they’re easy to fix. We’re all guilty of seeing the world only from our own perspective, but it doesn’t have to be that way when we manage people. In fact, it shouldn’t.

If you understand the incredible value of having people with Type 1 personalities, you’ll hold one of the vital keys to building morale, team spirit, commitment and performance.

We often use negative terms for personality traits. Co-operative becomes weak, introverted becomes boring, extroverted becomes loud mouth and patient becomes slow.

This week, Part 1 …

Patience is a virtue


How do Type 2 Managers Frustrate their Staff?

Type 1 individuals are patient and steady and require a fairly repetitive or stable work environment with a fair amount of certainty and predictability.

Type 2 managers are mostly comfortable with change, variety, a little chaos and uncertainty. They like to work at a quick pace and get bored quite easily.

So think this through: Managers may change their minds, change priorities, reset tasks, move deadlines, make fresh decisions which change delegated tasks and disrupt workflow. What does that do to your Type 1 staff member’s day?

Simple: It messes up their basic requirement for a stable work environment with a fair degree of predictability.

When managers get a reputation for chopping and changing things without obvious reasons, Type 1 staff begin to question their capability. Rolling eyes follow.

What’s the Solution?

Stop for a minute while you ask yourself if disrupting the work of your people is worth it, especially when we know that patient people take time to build steam and fire on all cylinders. Once trained and given time to practice, patient people will outperform impatient people doing Type 1 work easily.  It’s a case of the hare and the tortoise.

Take four minutes to marvel at these great examples of patient people who’ve perfected their disciplines through practice and repetition. The manager who doesn’t understand that it takes patient people to work like these people do fails to hire patient people because either he (or she) can’t measure patience or he may perceive patient people as slow and therefore lazy.

When he hires an impatient candidate who flies through the interview with lots of passion, quick answers and apparently a ‘fast’ work ethic, he runs the danger of hiring a short-term solution who will resign when they realise the work requires patience.

To summarise: When managers see patient people through their own impatient (Type 2) eyes, their natural bias can blind them to the value of people who can maintain a high work rate for long periods of time without tiring.

You’ll notice from the YouTube video that the people performing their work at incredible speeds weren’t talking much. Next week, we’ll talk about task focus and how extroverted managers try in vain to get their patient, task focused (boring?) people to come out of their shells and join the party!

The tools and methods to understand these issues are readily available. They’re not expensive, but they’re definitely underutilised or misunderstood across the board.

Have you been critical or unappreciative of a patient person? Or have you been unappreciated? I’d love your feedback.

Thanks for reading this and for the useful and insightful feedback you send each week. It’s always valued.

Read more →

How Many People Actually Have The Potential To Become Managers?

Many of my people conversations with clients contain 3 questions:

  • Which of my people can be developed into management?
  • Why is my manager so involved in the work being done by her people?
  • Why is my manager not managing the performance of his people?

The answers are often easier to understand than we think.

At the risk of oversimplification there are two distinct organisational roles:

Type 1: I am responsible for my work
Type 2: I supervise, manage or direct the work of other people

Here’s the thing.

The essential behavioural requirements for these two types of work are completely different. Yet organisations promote Type 1 people to Type 2 roles due to their good performance doing Type 1 work.

What can possibly go wrong?

Should I be a manager?

Most people spend their careers in Type 1 positions. Billions of people work in jobs with a fairly specific output in a particular area. The development of competency can be a life’s work for most people. It doesn’t mean that their work is menial or less important than the work of managers and leaders. Without Type 1 work, Type 2 work is irrelevant.

To name just a few Type 1 jobs: salesman, surgeon, policeman, administrator, scientist. Dentist, cleaner, gardener, chef, accountant. Self-employed anything, actor, writer, bookkeeper, receptionist, fireman. Psychologist, technician, software programmer, security guard. Musician, shopkeeper, soldier, consultant, optometrist. Career coach, driver, lawyer, store assistant, web developer, artist and so on.

A much smaller group of people find that their talent is not well utilised, specialising in something.

These people are better at managing the priorities and tasks of other people. Let’s call them managers. Some people will remain at the supervisory or team leader level. Others will progress to middle management and some to senior leadership positions.

However, with the requirements for these roles being worlds apart, why do organisations insist on celebrating the great performance of people in Type 1 roles by asking them to take on completely different types of responsibility in Type 2 roles?

What does it take to become a manager?

We underestimate the importance of behaviour at work. We assume that jumping from working to managing is an experience, qualification and competency issue. In fact, it is all of these plus a crucial ingredient: behavioural competency.

Behavioural Competency – Qualities of a good manager

If we don’t understand the behavioural competency of our people, then we blindly risk putting the wrong people in the wrong jobs. Asking successful Type 1s to become successful Type 2s is risky. Some will, most won’t.

Over the hundreds of job profiles I’ve created or read, Type 1 jobs have 3 distinctive characteristics:

Attention to detail, quality and accuracy

A need to comply with standards, laws, rules and regulations. People who become masters in these fields are often known for being precise, accurate, meticulous and careful with detail. They hate making mistakes and take criticism personally. But they deliver such important work from auditing to science, design to production, engineering to manufacturing, PR to marketing. All of these disciplines require these behavioural traits.

Their confidence derives from their competence

It’s often the case that the most talented people in particular fields are self-critical. They’re always searching for more, to be more capable. They tend to be self-effacing. This comes from an essential missing ingredient: confidence in themselves. Instead of saying “I can do this”, these people will say “I’ve been trained to do this, so I think I can do this. I have lots of experience doing this, so I think I can do this”. Promote this kind of person into Type 2 work and they’re likely to carry on doing Type 1 work whilst paying lip service to their Type 2 responsibilities. These micro-managers gain respect for what they can do. Not for what they lead, manage and direct. Problems soon appear. People need to know who’s in charge and in which direction they’re running.

Patience and steadiness

I had a knee operation a long time ago. Speaking to the surgeon just before surgery, he told me that I was number 3 of 18 for the day! (I felt sorry for #18 and I was quite glad to be #3!). But it struck me then that I’d have no chance of being able to focus on a very important piece of work such as a knee operation 18 times a day, 2 days a week. What the specialist had was patience. A comfort with the routine of diagnosing joint problems. Fixing them via surgery and handing off to the physio. Every week.

But if you don’t have the patience to do this work on an ongoing basis. If you don’t have the ability to focus on the same tasks repeatedly for years. If you have a major need to get things done quickly and you need variety to stay focused. Then becoming a specialist surgeon is not going to work for you long term. You’ve heard the stories: young medical graduates who give up on medicine and go into business. They’re probably Type 2 people. The consulting room was their prison.

So the logic follows. When we promote the surgeon to become hospital manager. When we promote the musician to become the music director. The bookkeeper to become the supervisor. The software programmer to become the team leader. The security guard to become the supervisor. The soldier to become the officer. The optometrist to become the practice manager.

We can expect problems. Problems with their origins in behaviour.

The behavioural competencies that mark the capability of people in Type 1 jobs are only partly useful when they enter Type 2 jobs.

I’ve seen it time and again when staff members complain that their boss doesn’t take charge. Lets people get away with all kinds of mistakes or insubordination. Gets too involved in the work, micro manages and rules by the book. What we’re seeing is the result of mistakenly promoting a Type 1 person to a Type 2 job.

So when we promote people to supervisory, management and leadership positions, it’s critical to understand their behavioural capability. It’s not enough to be qualified, to be experienced, to be technically competent, to be respected.

The respect gained for Type 1 work is irrelevant for Type 2 work.

A great employee doesn’t automatically make a great manager.

When we promote excellent Type 1 people, we gain ordinary or bad Type 2 managers.

The tools and methods to understand this issue are available. They’re not expensive, but they’re definitely underutilised or misunderstood across the board.

Have you promoted a Type 1 person to a Type 2 job? I’d love to hear your story.

Thanks for reading this, it’s always appreciated.

Read more →