Recruit the right people. Look for people with independent minds. Hiring "yes men" and clones of yourself could be a recipe for disaster.

"How long did the person work for you?" a former employer was asked.
"About six hours," was the reply.
"But he told us he’d been employed with you a long time."
"Oh yes," said the ex-employer tersely,"he’s been her for four years.

Become a performance coach. Don’t cast your employees in your own image. Rather strive for balance. Refuse to beat your employees "into shape."

"Excuse me, Sir, I think you’re wanted on the telephone."
"You think! Don’t you know?"
"Well, Sir, the voice on the other end said, "Hello, is that you, you old idiot?

People would rather be shown how valuable you are; not told. Assume responsibility for:

  • providing employee training that applies directly to the job:

  • helping employees enhance their careers;

  • helping employees improve their on-the-job performances and;

  • mentor employees to help them become the best they can be.

To become a successful performance coach, go out of your way to build a close and open relationship with each member of your team.

  • People don’t come to work to fail. They come to work to succeed.

Link training to the job. Don’t train your employees in a vacuum. Human Resources professionals sometimes consider the act of training more important than the results achieved. They demand costly and complex out-training courses. They deem attendance a vital. They’re more concerned wit the activity than the result.

To ensure the wealth of expertise that already exists in your company permeates throughout the organisation.

  • Assign new employees to project teams for between six and twelve months. Encourage them to come up with new ideas or better production processes.

  • Encourage your employees to spend more time talking to each other. Promote corporate “rituals” that lead to social interaction and bring people closer together. This bonding process promotes trust and, ultimately, idea sharing.

Like marriage: Although when I got married, it wasn’t by the Justice of Peace, it was by the Secretary of War.
People said to me, "Are you married?"
I replied, "No, I was hit by a car."

  • Gather team members’ ideas and experiences into a corporate "knowledge bank" on the successful completion of a project.

Set key objectives. Concentrate your firepower on the goals that matter.

Too many targets will dissipate the strength of your attack.

  • Management by objectives works if you know the objectives. 90% of the time you don’t.

Throw informal, spontaneous fun parties in recognition of achievements by you or those who work for you. Dish out plenty of awards and slaps on the back. Inject yourself and those around you with a daily dose of happiness.

Create a sense of urgency.

You have to face facts: without any sense of urgency, people won’t put in that extra effort that is often essential. They won’t make needed sacrifices. Instead, they’ll resist initiatives from above and cling to the status quo.

At least six reasons help explain this sort of complacency: 

  1. No highly visible crises exists. The company isn’t losing money. There’s no threat of a big lay-off. .

  2. You hold that meeting in a room that screams success. The subliminal message is clear: "We’re rich, we’re winners. We must be doing something right. So relax. Have lunch." Nothing fails like success.

  3. The managers measure themselves against low standards. Wondering around companies, I hear: "Profits are up 10% on last year." What I don’t hear is "Profits are down 30% from five years ago, while industry-wide profits were up nearly 20% over the last 12 months."

  4. Staff focuses attention on narrow functional goals instead of broad business performance. When the most basic measures of corporate performance are sinking, virtually no-one feels responsible.

  5. Management rigs the various internal planning and control systems to make it easy for everyone to meet their functional goals. A typical goal: "Launch a new ad campaign by June 15". They don’t deem increasing market share to be an appropriate target.

  6. Whatever feedback employees receive comes almost entirely from these faulty internal systems. An employee can work for months and never be confronted by a dissatisfied customer or a frustrated supplier.

Turn up the heat in your company. Eliminate such symbols of excess as a big corporate airforce. Set higher standards, both formally in the planning process and informally in day-to-day interaction. Change internal measurement systems that focus on the wrong indices. Vastly increase the amount of external exposure that each of your employees get. Reward both honest talk in meetings and people who are willing to confront problems.

Organise monthly bright ideas sessions to brainstorm ideas. Summon all the members of your team. Get into a huddle. Examine ways in which you can add value to the experience of doing business with you. Brainstorm at least 10 ideas at each meeting. Reward employees who come up with ideas that add value to the customers’ experience. Generate enthusiasm. Avoid outright put-downs.

Reward long-term customer delight. Give worthwhile rewards to employees who keep customers happy.

Regularly delight your staff by making worthwhile rewards for extra-special customer service.

Write them into your budget.

Dish out rewards to deserving employees once-a-month. Then select an overall winner for the year and shower that member of staff with accolades.

It does wonders for their self-image.

As consultant and author Edward de Bono says in his book Tactics: "I would name self-image as the prime motivator." The key benefit of high-level employee loyalty: customer retention. The benefits of customer loyalty increase with each passing year. So think long and hard before rightsizing, downsizing or re-engineering your business.

Re-engineer with a purpose.

In the nanosecond 90’s, speed is of the essence. Look at each employee’s self-stated result and determine how long their functions take to produce it. Then insist that the length of time be halved within four weeks.

Sure, you may have to update and upgrade your existing technology and implement streamlined new systems. But if it makes you more competitive, do it.

Employees are of ten rewarded more for their position on the hierarchical ladder than for their performance. If this is the system you have adopted, you’re rewarding people for their past achievements. Eliminate rewards based on length of service.

Reward performance and skill, not seniority or position. One way of accomplishing this is performance-based pay. The better they do, the more they get.

In this competitive age, people like you who lead companies, departments and divisions, need to know hot to blow up self-satisfied corporate cultures ... how to sabotage "we do it this way because it’s the way it’s always been done."

Create a sense of urgency ... do something ... before a real disaster strikes.

Create a training roster to break through function barriers. Train each member of the team to work at each function necessary to produce the required result. Insist that each team member attends a 30-minute "class" each week so that he can familiarise himself with what other members do.

For example, it I’m a sales rep, get your receptionist to train me for an hour on the finer points of switchboard operation.

And let your receptionist accompany me and your other sales reps on at least one call a week.

Get the folks in credit control to teach me their functions in the overall scheme of things. Insist that I attend a 30-minute "class" each week until I know how to do what they do.

Don’t use outside experts or the people in your in-house training department to teach us. Rather use the people in different departments themselves to give us hands-on training.

Also get each department to draw up a schedule detailing exactly the steps involved in their functions and how to do them. Ensure that all members of other departments go through the programme from beginning to end.

Action points

  1. Write down the names of 3 of your colleagues. What are their hobbies? What unique attributes do they possess that can impact on the success of the business?
  2. Identify 3 "corporate rituals" which are held on a regular basis for the staff.
  3. Organise a system whereby each player in your team can be confronted by a dissatisfied customer or a frustrated supplier on a regular basis.
  4. Turn up the heat. List 5 higher standards that you can set that will improve the performance of those around you.
  5. List the functions necessary (other than yours) to produce the result stated in Chapter 2 ACTION POINT 1. Indicate by means of a tick ( ) or a cross ( ) next to each item whether you can perform the function or not. Write down the names of the people next to each cross ( ) who will teach you to perform their functions.

1.   Where are you going?
2. How are you going to get there?
3. What will you need to do?
4. What are you lacking?
5. Who is in your way?
6. Who are you aiming at?
7. Who do you need to assist you?
  Have Heart
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