Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Tag: productivity

What is Performance Management Company

What is PMC – who are we?

Founded in 1984, PMC is dedicated to collaborating with an international network of trainers and consultants to help create applications to impact engagement, teamwork and organizational performance.

Performance Management Company was founded in 1984 by Scott Simmerman, Ph.D., who is Managing Partner. Back in the old days, performance management referred to “behavioral engineering” kinds of applications, focusing on alignment, feedback and contingent reward systems to generate peak performance for individuals and organizations. That is our heritage, continually looking for what we can choose to do differently to improve performance, generally through increased employee engagement and intrinsic motivation.

Through the years, the company’s base has evolved from consulting to creating and selling products supporting management and organizational development. Sales are worldwide, to organizations and individuals looking for simple tools.

PMC is dedicated to collaborating with a network of trainers and consultants to help create new ideas and applications for products. I continually try to do more than the customers expect, which comes from my 20 years of working on service quality improvement.

The more formal bio says something like this:

Combining work experience in business consulting and retail management with a doctoral degree in psychology and university teaching from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Scott initially created Performance Management as an organizational consulting business. However, the focus of the business changed to designing and selling resources because of a single cartoon called simply, “Square Wheels One.”

From that, Scott created the interactive Square Wheels® illustration series consisting of over 300 cartoons now packaged in different Square Wheels® toolkits, available as complete training packages. Also developed were two different Square Wheels – based team exercises.

Square Wheels One copyrighted V1 small

One of Scott’s premises is that if people enjoy a learning experience they will more readily retain key points.

The fun, fast-paced, “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” game was created with this belief in mind. Serious learning points such as collaboration, communication and quality are all entwined with participants having a good time while playing this team building game. It has, hence, become one of the leading team building exercises in the world.

Our materials can be readily reviewed at the Performance Management Company website. My older site — www.SquareWheels.com — has a lot of articles and other supporting information, but it is also a bit dated and not maintained. And, in addition to this blog, I also added the “Poems on The Workplace” blog where I am approaching 200 different poems, quips, business quotes, haiku and all sorts of other simple things about people and performance, illustrated with cartoons and other images. Check it out!

Scott and Joan Simmerman operate PMC as a home-based business since the late 1990s, keeping our costs low and work environment conducive to high quality and responsiveness. All products sold and presentations come with a satisfaction guarantee or monies are returned. PMC works enthusiastically with purchasers of its products to help support their success and satisfaction. And, we get great testimonials from users as well as clients:

Speculand LDGM Testimonial

and

Client Testimonial on Dutchman team building game

Users of PMC products include a global mix of Fortune 100 companies and multi-national organizations as well as small businesses, schools, universities and independent consultants.

Total PMC Client Logo Compendium

Scott is only occasionally available to do speaking engagements and facilitations these days, but people remember his presentations because they are unique, interactive and engaging. This adds up to his consistently being a top-ranked and internationally recognized presenter. His topics include themes of Change, Team Building, Motivation, Productivity, Innovation and Communications, all within a general framework of leadership. Visit his presentation website at www.ScottSimmerman.com.

Since Scott began sharing Square Wheels and his other products, he’s delivered workshops, retreats and seminars in India, South Africa, Egypt, England, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, The Philippines, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Mexico, Canada, Mauritius, New Zealand, Dubai, Japan, South Korea and all around the U.S — 38 countries in all thus far.

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Motivation, Collaboration, Engagement and Dis-Un-Empowerment*

Dis-un-empowerment: The removal of those performance-influencing factors (real or believed) that are thought to be un-empowering by the individual or individuals.

And we can define Motivation as the absence of de-motivating factors.

The concept of empowering people is really a difficult one – lots of things have been written about it over the years but it requires the active involvement of senior managers, a whole lot of trust between managers and employees, and often some significant changes in workplace culture.

Plus there is the reality that one cannot really empower someone else – try it with a teenager if you need any proof of this!

I posted my first article on this subject back in 2006 and got a lot of interesting feedback about this simple but effective approach to involving and engaging people in an activity to improve morale, motivation and real performance.

We take the simple and somewhat obvious position that most people are far from actually being empowered or more properly, acting empowered. There are tons of statistics that support this notion.

So what are we actually talking about here? Let me start with a few simple examples of engaged and motivated people:

1) At a major hotel chain, employees are wearing buttons that say, “Yes I can.” I ask the front-desk clerk if she could give me a button because I am speaking that next morning on customer service and she says, “No, I can’t.”

She really did want to give it to me, but she said wearing the button was required as management’s policy, that they were expected to have one on, the hotel didn’t have extras and that she would be yelled at by her boss for not having a button. Caught in a dilemma, she was not able to do what the company or customer wanted her to do. (I did persuade her to give me the button and I used it in my session, explaining the dilemma she faced. Heck, I even invited her boss to sit in for free (but he did not!)).

The paradox is that management is telling her to act one way while asking her to follow a policy that blocks this request.

2) At McGuffey’s Restaurants, employees and managers wore buttons saying, “The Answer is Yes.” Unlike the above, ask anyone for a button, and they’ll give you their very last one, knowing this response is the expectation of top management. The employees are simply trusted to act appropriately. This attitude infected all kinds of behaviors, with waitresses making a quick run to McDonalds to buy a customer’s kid a Big Mac, raising money for charities or driving to the grocery store to buy anchovies for my Caesar salad.

Top performers, the ones who build positive long-term relationships with customers, will often bend rules and make decisions for the long-term good of the customer relationship when necessary. They tend to retain customers and build loyalty. At the other end of the spectrum, many people will blindly follow policies, procedures, systems and all those constraints that they believe are imposed on them from all over the place, significantly impacting performance.

Many people in the workplace are un-empowered and thus un-responsive and roadblocked by their perceptions of what the organization wants. Or they are roadblocked by their own beliefs about their capabilities. Or, they simply do not know how to get things accomplished.

My answer to performance improvement is simple and straightforward – let’s remove those things that individuals and groups feel are blocking their responsiveness and performance. That is not to say that we change all the policies and procedures, but that we discuss the approach of the top performers in the context of the organization.

If people are un-empowered, then let’s remove the things that might be blocking performance. Let’s work to limit the perceived roadblocks and provide some useful strategies and tactics to work around things inhibiting better results, on an individual and group basis. Thus,

Improvement is all about people; people dis-un-empowered to make decisions to the benefit of the customer and the company. And we know from decades of behavioral research that peer support can work wonders on individual performance, if we allow or encourage it.

What is Dis-Un-Empowerment and how do we Implement?

There are two issues to dis-un-empowerment, the organizational ones and the personal ones. Personal dis-un-empowerment issues are sometimes less clear, while it is easy to get consensus on common organizational ones.

Astronaut Scott Carpenter gave a nice analogy about walking in space. Years of training, simulations, and practice in weightless conditions as well as hundreds of hours of discussion and preparation did not adequately prepare him for the reality of standing in the doorway of the spacecraft with black infinity in every direction. He thought he could do it, but he froze. Wouldn’t you? There are direct parallels to dis-un-empowering people.

The American Society for Quality Control reported that while two in three workers said they had been asked to become involved in workplace decision-making, only one in seven felt they had the power to make those decisions. And if they don’t feel dis-un-empowered to make decisions, they won’t make them. And a Sirota Survey of 2007 found that 85% of employees say their morale declines significantly after spending 6 months on the job. 

Why don’t most people feel able to make improvements? Because they are uncomfortable doing things differently than they have done them before. Most people will resist change.

“The only change people like is the kind that jingles in their pockets.”
my friend, Jerry Brown

“Change is good. You go first.
Dilbert Principles

Note that almost every organization has a few top-performing employees doing exactly what is necessary to generate results. They are the people that have the highest productivity and profitability.

Exemplary performers manage roadblocks much more effectively and tend to have clearer perspectives and focus on what your customers require. They also tend to focus on doing the small things that truly make a difference in building a client relationship with the customer. But also recognize that they often bend the rules to do what is right — thus delivering the highest perceived value.

A few years ago, Frank Navran had the opportunity to observe the role that perception plays in people’s ability to manage obstacles. Frank was involved in a performance improvement project and asked to observe a work group to identify the behavioral, attitudinal and/or skills and knowledge differences between the exemplary performers, average performers and poor performers.

The intent was to identify those differences so that an intervention could be devised to make the average and poor performers more like their exemplary peers to raise overall unit performance levels.

What ensued was rather frustrating for the consultant and the client. Aside from the actual performance results there were no noticeable behavioral differences. The only apparent difference was the workers’ response to the question, “What is keeping you from performing at a higher level?

  • The exemplary performers said they had fewer than 3 perceived roadblocks to higher performance levels.
  • The average performers identified 6 roadblocks each.
  • The poor performers cited 12 or more reasons why they could not perform at a higher level.

Their significance was twofold:

1. As all employees worked under near identical conditions nothing differed except their perception of the number of obstacles to exemplary performance facing them.

2. The differences seemed to be more perceptual than real. This lead the consultant to the hypothesis that in this client’s organization the performance difference might be related to the employee’s perceptions about his or her own power to remove the roadblocks to higher level performance.

Further testing proved him right. In addition, the consultant observed that employee perceptions fell into four sets or categories that could be generalized and applied to other cases. These can be drawn as a Square, of course:

Category 1 – BRICK WALLs

Some roadblocks are truly unalterable. There are things in the real world facing people that inhibit their performance which they are not likely to change: the effectiveness of a foreign competitor’s product, the slumping national economy, the international exchange rate, the organizational structure at the organization, the funding and paperwork processes for new product development, etc. These are all factors which affect employee performance but are well beyond individual or collective control. Characterize these as brick walls: immovable and real.

Category 2 – PARTITIONs

The second category of roadblocks are those that can be managed through with effort, time, money and/or additional personnel, or other resources. The individual employee might make some degree of progress in overcoming this particular inhibitor to performance. Often a small group of employees can make even more progress collectively. And, most importantly, this type of roadblock can be managed in large part or totally, if supervision or management gets involved. This type of roadblock is characterized as a partition, since a partition, if pushed from the bottom, might move slightly, but if pushed from a higher level will often topple. These are real roadblocks which the employees require assistance to remove.

Category 3 – PAPER WALLs

The third category was reminiscent of a football game where the home team burst through a paper barrier to the cheers of the crowd at the start. Until tested, this roadblock often looks impenetrable. Workplace examples are common, and include the belief that the boss will not approve, that it won’t be supported by another department, that it is “policy” or the way things have always been done, etc.

But people discover that these beliefs aren’t true when they test these perceptions. Others have done things differently and are doing things differently. But, unless tested, this roadblock is just as effective in preventing performance as the first two. These are manageable, but also real.

Category 4 – MINDSETs

This type of roadblock is the most troubling to management. It represents the untested beliefs and perceptions. When people believe they can’t, they are correct. These roadblocks are de-actualizing and restrictive, yet arbitrarily so in that they really do not exist. Interestingly, these are generally the most common of all the different types and the ones that block the below average performers from improvement.

Using the Model

It is always fascinating to observe how different employees manage the different roadblocks they face. Top performers, as a group, are generally not impeded by many of the things that get in the way of average or poor performers. Their model of how things really work appears to be more proactive and behaviorally-oriented. They are generally more willing to test the roadblocks to see which are which and are often quick to refer the Category 1 and 2 roadblocks to management whereas they push through the 3s and 4s.

Average performers, on the other hand, are sometimes stymied by roadblocks in many cases. Some may stubbornly push the 1s and try to get them to move even though they do not have the power to do so. They may often spend a lot of individual time on the 2s, trying to generate change and feeling good when they manage to get past them; this behavior, while well-intentioned, may not be time and energy effective!

Poor performers can generate long lists of roadblocks that get in the way of getting things done. They face innumerable hurdles in their everyday job and can constantly point out the things that cause their performance levels to be low.

How to deliver the theme:

So, here’s an empowering exercise that you can easily do to help reshape the thinking of the poor performers and generate new alternative behaviors among the average ones.

Use a flip chart and masking tape and start a meeting with the question, “What are some of the roadblocks to getting things done around here?” or similar. Allow the group to brainstorm and write everything down.

(Note: You might want to set the Rules as, “All comments are okay, everything gets written down and we discuss the specifics of each idea when we complete the list. No negative reactions are allowed in this part of the meeting.”)

Capture all of the ideas without reframing or rewording, since changing wording might change the meaning or it may be perceived as a “put-down” to an employee with less than perfect language skills who might then not participate any longer. You can also ask for clarification after you write it down, making notes on the page.

Ask individuals, if necessary, to generate the participation of everyone, but expect more roadblocks to come from the average and poor performers. Write them all down. You may also prompt, when the going gets slow, by saying something as, “How about the interdepartmental things?”

Post up the sheets as they become filled and do not be surprised to get 10 or more pages (my personal record: 22 pages!). The more the better. Really!

Once the list is essentially complete, share the model of Roadblock Management with them, describing the categories and the general frameworks of each.

Now, go back through this list and have the group categorize, as best they can, the nature of each of the roadblocks. Let THEM do this — that way it is their list and not yours!

What you will discover is that 80% of the roadblocks will be 3s and 4s and that the top performers will often offer everyone suggestions as to how to manage the 2s more effectively. The Category 1 roadblocks are those that you should volunteer to escalate and some of the 2s might be addressed by a team of your people, including some of the poorer performers.

Celebrate any ideas for improvement and attempts to address specific problems. And be sure to get out of the way as the group and individuals now engage in some dis-un-empowerment.

© Performance Management Company, 1998 – 2010 All Rights Reserved.

Scott small pic

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Thoughts on Teamwork and Engagement

This is about issues and opportunities around people and performance.

Maximum organizational effectiveness comes from aligning people to work together on shared common goals and providing them with the information and resources to get things done. In most cases, organizations function reasonably well within departments, with managers meeting goals and expectations. There are issues, but they are not departmental because shared goals and measurements as well as group expectations by management tend to give reasonably good levels of performance and innovation. People tend to be good problem solvers and will work together fairly well.

There are a variety of statistics clearly demonstrating that team-based behavior can offer a wide range of positive impacts on organizations of all kinds:

  • Globally, only 1 of 5 workers is giving full discretionary effort on the job. We often call these “exemplary performers” but they are simply engaged
  • Almost 4 of 10 workers are disenchanted or disengaged – they are not performing to their capability
  • In the US, only 3 in 10 feel engaged and the same number feel disenchanted or disengaged – they are not contributing much nor getting satisfaction in their jobs
  • Only 1 in 10 respondents agreed that senior leaders in their companies actually treat employees as vital corporate assets
  • The more engaged employees are more likely to stay with an organization, but 40% are “passive job seekers.”
  • Fully half of the disengaged have NO plans to leave the company nor are they even passively looking for other employment! (scary!)

There are strong connections of engagement to company results:

  • Companies with high employee engagement had a 19% increase in operating income and a 28% growth in earnings per share
  • Companies with low levels of engagement saw a drop in operating income of 32% and a decline of 11% in earnings per share  (from a TP one-year study of 50 companies)

Moreover,

  • Companies with high engagement had a 3.74% increase in operating margin and a 2.06 net profit margin
  • Companies with low engagement had a -2.01% decline in operating margin and a -1.38% net profit margin (from a TP study of 40 companies)

Can we hear a Thump Thump? Are we really making progress?

There are lots of statistics around clearly demonstrating why we need to improve. In other posts, I will share some ideas for making things improve. There are many things we can do.

Scott Debrief

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Thoughts on Teamwork and Engagement Part 2

This is about some ideas and solutions around people and performance and it is about Teamwork and Collaboration!

Typical recommendations about what to do tend to go along the same lines, like these Top 10 Drivers of Employee Engagement Globally (from TowersPerrin, 2009):

  1. Senior management sincerely interested in employee well-being
  2. Improved my skills and capabilities over the last year
  3. Organization’s reputation for social responsibility
  4. Input into decision making in my department
  5. Organization quickly resolves customer concerns
  6. Set high personal standards
  7. Have excellent career advancement opportunities
  8. Enjoy challenging work assignments that broaden skills
  9. Good relationship with supervisor
  10. Organization encourages innovative thinking

Note that the above says little about how teamworkand especially cross-functional or interdepartmental teamwork, can help involve and engage people in shared goals and missions.

Yet we know that people working together – actively engaging with others to focus on accomplishing an important result – is a very strong motivator of individual performance and something which generates collective engagement. Peer support is a powerful driver of accomplishment, so doing things to generate more acceptance and a shared mission among people can be really helpful. Corporate team building is a missing ingredient in many organizations work process improvement strategies.

What is surprising as well as disappointing is that 42% of US HR executives – today — still have “reducing headcount” as their top priority!  (from Deloitte’s Talent Pulse, July 2009) We hear this in reading about the lack of senior management support for recruitment efforts, for example. We see it in the way training for workplace improvement is budgeted.

“Improving organizational performance” was not even on the list of things to do! Yet 65% of these HR Execs are highly or very-highly concerned about losing high-potential performers in the year the recession ends and many see it now (26%) and many employers have done NOTHING to plan for when the economy recovers and few HR execs seem to understand the negative impacts! (Deloitte)

Companies are spending on new hire training to get them up to speed on systems and processes. Little is being spent on workplace improvements and little is being done to involve people in generating ideas for improvement. The former National Association of Suggestion Systems is now the Employee Involvement Association (http://www.eianet.org) and the website was copyright 2006 and no meetings were listed on their website. It still exists, but there does not appear to be a LOT of activity around involvement and improvement.


Collaboration generates better ideas as well as engagement 

Employers need to demonstrate to the workers that people are important in their organizations and that it is important that people feel part of the team. Pay and all those other attractors are important, but as attractors. To generate performance, people need to feel that their efforts are appreciated and recognized.

The real leverage comes from improving teamwork and collaboration between departments. That is where lots of improvements in overall effectiveness can be found, but capturing these opportunities and implementing change and improvement is difficult as well as political, in many cases.

Interdepartmental Collaboration is an oxymoron – two words that do not go together well.

Interdepartmental Collaboration color yellow

Interdepartmental Collaboration is an oxymoron in most organizations

Today’s organizational complexities make it very difficult for even highly effective leaders to motivate people and effectively implement improvements with team involvement. It takes team perspective and alignment to get things done in most cases. But pressures to produce will often lead to tops-down initiatives driven into the workplace – behaviors known to generate resistance and a variety of other negative impacts.

What to do? Here are a few ideas:

  • Discover some initiatives that support inter-disciplinary or cross-functional teamwork and engage people in a vision and focus on accomplishments.
  • Ask people to define what inter-departmental initiatives might have significant performance improvement impacts.
  • Identify the key steps in implementing results and develop some form of checklist of critical activities. A variety of these exist but the best will generally come from an analysis of the key steps taken in the most successful previous successes in your own organization. Each culture is different and there is no silver bullet in terms of how things get done within each company. The best predictor of future success is the successful past behavior.
  • Minimize the perceived risk of involvement and allow the activity to generate peer support and recognition
  • Provide for a variety of intrinsic motivators. Do not just rely on extrinsic ones.
  • Look for a myriad of ways that management can show support – both the managers of the group as well as the managers of the managers. Get lots of recognition for the activity of trying to improve.
  • Look to manage the roadblocks and anticipate the problems that they might have in implementing changes.
  • Find some budget for support. Don’t allow financial needs to delay movement forward, since momentum and enthusiasm will be lost.

What are YOUR ideas about making these improvements?

Scott small pic

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Executive Compensation, Employee Motivation, and The Future

I was going through some old transparencies (really!) and came across some old statistics from an April 15, 1991  issue of Time Magazine. an article that I used in some training presentations.

  • American CEOs typically make two to three times as much as their counterparts in Canada, Japan or Europe.
  • Top executive pay rose 12% to 15% last year as profits of the Fortune 500 dropped 12%.
  • CEOs at America’s largest companies made 160 times as much as the average blue-collar worker in 1989.

Today, it looks more like this:

  • US: 300:1
  • Europe: about 25:1
    Japan: maybe 10:1 in general.

What’s amazing is the arms race to the top which we have witnessed in the US; look at how CEOs have used the system to move ahead over time:

US, 1965: 24:1
US, 1980: 40:1
US, 2009: 300:1

This is combined with a paradox which they have created whereby they screw up, drive down stock prices and get paid nonetheless, with golden parachutes and the like, all while installing “pay for performance” for the troops (Carly Fiorina at HP and many others). Executive comp guru Graef Crystal did a study in 1997 with over 800 mid and large companies and found that 98% of the variance in pay had nothing to do with performance…unbelievable, and only worse since then.

The average CEO in the US made 262 times the pay of the average worker — oops, I almost said “earned.” Lots of people have not tied earnings to performance.

How about these:

Thomas M. Ryan at CVS Caremark: $30.4 million (2009 Compensation)
Starting Cashier: $8/hour, $20,800/year
One CEO gets the salary of 1,461 entry-level employees

(Ryan is now gone and Larry J. Merlo is now CEO. His package is about $15 million – stock is up 36% and he owns $44 million of that! (Forbes data) )

Randall Stephenson at AT&T: $29.2 million (2009 Compensation but down to only about $23,000 in 2011…)
Starting Sales Associate: $10/hour, $26,000/year
One CEO = 1,123 entry-level employees

Robert Iger at Walt Disney: $29 million (2009 Compensation)
Disneyland Hotel Housekeeper: $10/hour, $26,000/year
One CEO = 1,115 entry-level employees

Apple CEO Tim Cook looked to make about $377 million in 2011 after making only $59 million in 2010 — but much of that was in restricted stock. His salary is a mere $900,000…

The highest paid executive in Japan is Carlos Goshn who used to head Michelin here in Greenville, SC. He made about $10 million as President of Nissan, about 162 times the hourly pay. Nissan is certainly a global company.

Forbes had this to say (4/10/2010):

For the second consecutive year we have a new name atop our list of the most valuable bosses: Jeffery H. Boyd of Priceline.com. Over the past six years Boyd has been paid an average of $2.9 million per year, while delivering a 46% annual return. Since he took office as chief executive in August 2002, Priceline made an annual 49% return to shareholders, which is towering over the 6% annual return of the S&P 500 over that period.

At the bottom of our performance/pay rankings is Joel F. Gemunder of Omnicare, showing a six-year annual return of -6%, lagging in comparison with its sector, and with an 8% annual return since he took over as top executive in May 1981, which trails the S&P 500. Over the past six years he has been collecting a paycheck averaging $14 million a year.

Frustration in the workplace is pretty high and affects employee motivation. At what point does the pin hit the balloon for the average worker?

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman has been Managing Partner since 1984 and states that his total compensation, including stocks, lunches, automobiles and all other perks is much less than those people mentioned above.

He admits to liking the business and having fun.

 

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

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Performance Reviews and Coaching – Benefits of Square Wheels

One of the main issues in any performance review is “residual.” Past reviews will most certainly color a current review and many people will come into that meeting with feelings of dread or discomfort from their personal history of “constructive criticism” (an oxymoron, for sure).

So even a perfect plan and process is no guarantee that the other person will graciously accept what they feel is criticism of their performance and sometimes a “justification not to give me a raise.”  I am a big believer in separating performance reviews from discussions of salary, by the way, and I am really in favor of using performance feedback as a tool for motivating people intrinsicly.

As my friend, Frank Navran, has repeatedly said, “Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled.” Trust builds up only slowly over time…  Performance feedback builds credibility and allows the coach / manager to appropriately address issues of workplace performance without the Blame Frame that so many perceive to be in place.

This Blame Frame is the perception that many managers have about their performance reviews, that the meeting is simply an excuse to frame all the behavior negatively and to ignore the positive aspects of what the performer accomplished. And performers often see such reviews as the excuse to deny them wage increases, promotions, more training, etc.

Reality is less important than the perception of reality.

A number of people have given us positive feedback on a spin using my Square Wheels cartoons. The basic idea in the illustration is a wooden wagon being pulled by “a guy with a rope” who is generally seen as the leader. It is being pushed by people from behind, who generally are seen as the workers. The wagon is rolling along on wooden Square Wheels, which work but do not work smoothly.


The cargo of the wagon are Round Rubber Tires – better ways of doing the job.

The reality of using this cartoon as a diagnistic tool for individuals and organizations is that the viewer generally sees him/herself at the back of the wagon, pushing hard but not being clear about where the wagon is going. It is not a motivational view and the hands on approach of the pushers allows them to know that things are not working well. But their limited perspective is problematic to suggesting or implementing solutions, especially when the puller is viewed as isolated and communications is difficult.

From a coaching or conversational perspective, showing the illustration and allowing the people to project their beliefs onto the illustration, as one does with an inkblot or Rorschach Test, enables some creative thinking. By labeling some of the current behaviors as Square Wheels, either by the employee or the manager, it allows a more arms-length and unemotional discussion about the search for some Round Wheels.

Since solutions to these issues are often generated by the employee, it is not perceived as pushing; it is more about eliciting the ideas.  Often, we will find that the top performers of any workgroup are already using Round Wheels in the workplace.

Through dissociation, we reduce emotionality. We put the performer in the situation of looking at their own behavior in the workplace along with the concept that there are different and better ways of getting things done.

Square Wheels are but one tool someone can use to generate perspective as well as considered alternatives. We can only select from those considered alternatives in order to implement any personal or organizational change and improvement.

Managers need to view their people from the lens of possibilities, seeing what they can become rather than where they are performing. This future-oriented view also helps to reframe the situation positively.

The idea is around how we can get our wagons rolling downhill in the future and how we can involve and engage people in performance improvement. The goal is to see potential and possibility in others.

It’s more fun that way, too!

 

 

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

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Encouragement and Motivation through Feedback, Not Manipulation

While responding to a post by Dan Rockwell called, “No encouragement is discouragement” it got me thinking about the issues of performance and coaching and rewards and feedback and extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation and all those kinds of things.

So, my “short” response kind of expanded itself the more I wrote and thought things through. Here is that response, with some additional expansion of ideas:

Once upon a time, I was consulting in the arena of Performance Management when the term meant Behavioral Engineering or Reinforcement Systems Implementation.

It was the use of reinforcement theory into the business / workplace (essentially Skinnerian Operant Conditioning from the psych literature of the 1960s). Proponents were people like Tom Gilbert and Ed Feeney and others (I worked for Ed). Basically, the approach was to implement reward systems in businesses and my particular efforts were heavily linked to high-impact, profit-improvement focuses. We got some really great results, all measurable stuff. High ROI and all that…

However, it quickly became apparent that it was NOT the rewards part of this that was driving behavior but the feedback system improvements that were implemented that were making the impacts. People were responding to the measurement systems, peer pressure and reachable goals and objectives, kind of like the MBO approach that proceeded it. Reaching a goal was in itself rewarding–intrinsically so.

I used a model / checklist of how a feedback system should operate. The reality, even today, is that few measurement programs are very good at giving effective informational feedback.

Most people are in a situation analogous to learning to play the piano with them hearing only 1 of every 4 notes and those being delayed by 5 seconds or so. (Just try to learn piano playing in such a situation, but that is commonly how the workplace works!).

So, I see the “encouragement” thing as an extrinsic or added external reward and thus out of the locus of control of the individual performer. Sure, who does not like to get praise and reinforcement for a job well done? But once one DEPENDS on that, and it does not occur, we get into a more difficult performance situation or environment.

The idea of encouragement as a process improvement strategy compares it to the “theme” of empowerment that we used to hear so much about (now, I think the term used in so many workplaces is simply “survival.”). To me, this push for “recognizing” employees does not seem sincere on its face — it is just one more thing the boss wants the supervisor to do to get more productivity. I don’t think that it will have all that many positive impacts and people will simply wait for this fad to pass, also.

Personally and professionally, I think one cannot empower someone else and also that most people are actually un-empowered; most people let things interfere with their behavior, things we often call roadblocks.

So, my framework is that managers need to act in a way that I call Dis-Un-Empowerment — managers need to use coaching and expectations and other tools to remove the things that people perceive as roadblocks. Google “Dis-Un-Empowerment” and you can turn up some of my writings on this.

So, maybe just maybe, we could also view the typical worker in the American (as well as other) Workplace as un-encouraged. And maybe we need our managers, supervisors, team leaders and others to look for ways to remove the “un” from this, doing Dis-Un-Encouragement.

Being circular in my thinking, I think that if we provide clear goals and expectations and then very effective FEEDBACK systems, we make it more likely that workers will be self-encouraged. People need to see where they are going, how they are performing, and what they need to do to correct behavior and reach the attainable goals. Goals need to be theirgoals, not the manager’s.

Having managers provide this external encouragement is a great idea. But more likely, they will continue to do theconstructive criticism (oxymoron) and other kinds of behaviors that have gotten us into the motivational mess we find in so many workplaces. You think by TALKING about this stuff, we are really going to make a change in how people manage other people?

Geeze, how many copies of One Minute Manager did Blanchard and Johnson sell, anyway?

Encouragement is a GREAT Idea. Getting it accomplished is markedly less likely, methinks.

Motivation Get to Top
People need to feel like they have accomplished things in order to feel rewarded and self-satisfaction is one of the keys. People do NOT want to feel that they are controlled or manipulated, something that praise may do if it is not sincere and meaningful to both parties.

I am working up a new Newsletter (March, 2012) that will share my thoughts and ideas about Feedback in deeper detail. It will share a checklist you can use to compare performance feedback in your organization to an ideal model of what is possible.

Have FUN out there.

 

<a rel="author" href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123">Scott on Google+<a>Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

Social Media, PMC.com and All Sorts of Changes!

Change is continuous. I initially posted this blog up as I was getting into social media. But as I look back on it, it really was pretty simplistic. We moved our shopping cart at PMC two different times, with each move offering new benefits. I am hoping that the new vendor will keep making its own improvements, more than the old one did. I was on Facebook and now have numerous pages there. Twitter, Scoop.it, Pinterest all get some of my time. Then there is this blogging on WordPress and all my activities on LinkedIn. And, there are others including YouTube, List.ly, Discus, Digg, and more.

In a word, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.!!!!!!

(…if that is a word.)

The Square Wheels in getting this stuff done have been everywhere, from having the new CSS template default to medium gray letters on a dark gray background to having the links back-linked and stuff like that. And, changing the shopping cart also meant that we changed all the page urls, so we needed to do all that forwarding of old to new, since there are lots of links from my old blog posts to the old pages on the old site that are now new pages on the new shopping cart.

There is that, “Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.!!!!!! again.

The most difficult thing was the converting the old page names to the new page names, which meant a few hundred changes here and there on my other pages that used those as links (that used to have working links to the pages on the old webpage). Making them a few at a time, and running the software that checks all the links from all the places was also a great deal of fun (not).

I know that we have old backlinks from other people’s sites that used to connect back to articles and the like on my site(s) that will not work any more.

In a word, “Square Wheels really ARE everywhere!”

Hope you are having some fun, too.

Oh, we also added our cute video on innovation called, Godzilla Meets Bambi
to the page — this is an animation done for me by my associates in Mumbai. EduRiser is now working with me from their offices in Mumbai, India and it has been fun to work with them. They took a short screencast I did and made it into a flash animation that is really cute! Check it out by clicking this link above.

We also have our  Innovate & Implement game that you can see here and we are updating our Collaboration Journey games to use our LEGO versions of the game board wagons.

Collaboration Journey LEGO wagons

I&I

And we posted up The Moose Joke at this place on the home page.

Download the Moose Joke from PMC

And we are adding a whole lot of videos and similar to our YouTube site at PMC864

Here is one about our testimonials on our Lost Dutchman team building game:

testimonials for Lost Dutchman Gold Mine slideshare

and here are some thoughts on employee engagement that I am curating on Scoop.It.

Social Media is forcing this old guy to be more social, I guess…

Have fun out there, for sure…

For the FUN of It!

Dr. Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s quips and quotes on Poems on The Workplace is here.

Square Wheels® is a registered trademark of Performance Management Co.
LEGO® is a trademark of The LEGO Group

 

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