Posts Tagged 'performance'

All Behavior is a Function of it’s Consequences!

Ever hear that line before? Sound like psycho-bable? Shrink speak? Well, BINGO! That is precisely what it is. And, oh…by the way…it happens to be true!

Just back from a consulting visit with a good client. The owner and senior manager are very interested in improving management and staff performance. They want things….like customer service, to work better for the company. They want fewer customer complaints, fewer lost customers, and greater lifetime values. That’s what they want.

Reviewing recent issues, situations poorly resolved or left dangling for a later day….I did what I always do…I called it as I saw it…warts and all. Nobody disagreed. In fact, everyone felt my analysis was spot on…to use an MBA phrase for an accurate description of what is what!

Then, the good part. I laid out a couple of options, things that could be done to create improved performance. Each involved confronting the realities of today, to bring about a better tomorrow…for all. Each option required management to draw a line in the sand and commit to changing the status quo. Each would mean that what is wrong today, will be gone tomorrow.

Guess what happened. To quote senior management…”We don’t want to go that far”. Huh? Then why am I here,  I wondered. “Just do the best you can to explain the right way to do things”, was the direction given to me. “OK”, I replied..and that is what I did.

What will change? Nothing. Why? Because behavior really is a function or the result of how we, as leaders, repond to it. Not complicated. When unacceptable behavior is met with a “discussion” of what should be…but no other reaction, the message is “we think you ought to change your behavior but..if it’s uncomfortable for you…fine.” And so it goes.

My mesage today is…first, don’t begin initiating change unless you are willing to follow through. But, if you are, you can change behavior with your serious and ongoing reactions to what you see happening. And your reaction to poor performance cannot be a suggestion; your reaction must be a declaration in word and deed that, from this day on, some of the things we do, will be done differently. No big deal; no revolution; just modified behavior. Then, as you take each small, easy step toward improved behavior, you celebrate and reward it! Your positive response will keep the changes going. Behavior will improve because the consequence of doing it old way will be corrective action in the form of a negative and unswerving response from leadership.

Honest, can be done. But you must be less willing to put up with unacceptable behavior than you are to confront reality. I can tell you this…people like to be led. Leadership and positive direction will, over time, be met with improved behavior. But, you can’t stick your head in the sand and expect a consulting to make it happen!

Sorry to rant but…as I learn over and over again, wishful thinking has never and will never change behavior. Your reaction to the performance of your staff must be real, serious and continuous.

Good luck!


Smart Managers Learn To Delegate

Talked to a client yesterday….about an upcoming consulting visit.  After explaining his needs, we talked about the fix.

I asked the man whether or not he’d like to be involved in our initial meeting with the lead supervisors. He declined, saying “Nope, not me. I delegate that to my supervisors.” I made sure I understood, asking “Do you mean you don’t want to listen to what I tell them?” He affirmed his intention to let me do my thing and let his front line supervisors take the responsibility for using the information. “If there is no improvement, we won’t repeat it”, he said.

I hope some of you will understand that this senior leader was not shirking his managerial responsibility. He was simply demonstrating the level to which he’d developed the art of delegation. And, it really is an art.

As my client learned long ago, delegation starts with staff selection. You don’t delegate anything to anyone without first determining that they will likely succeed. They want the responsibility and they have the trainaing and skill to succeed. Knowing this, you delegate small responsibilities. Based on success, you go farther.

All I can tell you is that this particular client believes in his people and knows how much they want to do the job right, the first time. His confidence in them is rewarded daily by the continuity of his operations and bottom line success…even in a recession.

If you want to grow, learn to delegate. If you don’t, you will spend your management life as an army of one..and an army of one never went anywhere!

Tell me what you think.

Marathon Thinking Develops People

I don’t know about you, but if I had $10 for each time I’ve heard “nobody wants to work anymore” or “there just aren’t any good people in this business anymore,” I’d be rich.

Let’s set the record straight. First, neither statement is true! There are hard workers out there and there are lots of good people. The negative perception about workers is driven by two main factors: first, in today’s Green Industry, we tend to ask more of our people than in the past. Second, we fail to adequately prepare our people to multi-task at desired levels.

Why has this happened? The basic cause is that we have been forced to stretch as never before to make a decent profit.

Costs are higher; profits are shrinking. How does one recoup the deteriorating bottom line? Simple: Get more for each labor dollar.

The thought process has gone like this: “Gee, I can’t make a bag of fertilizer go any farther, and I can’t get nursery stock any cheaper. My fuel costs are stable now, but still way up and equipment costs are still growing. But labor, my people — that’s got to be the answer. No, I can’t lower their pay, but I can increase my expectations, set goals higher and get more out of them.”

It has happened gradually, sort of a creeping escalation of goals and added activities. At first, we told ourselves that if we eased it on them — the higher goals, the more and different tasks — people might grumble. But since they don’t want to lose their jobs, they’d adapt.

For a while that strategy seemed to work. But there is a breaking point beyond which people just won’t go. In many companies, that point was reached and surpassed years ago. The result was predictable: higher turnover and, as word spread about the changing work environment, inability to recruit effectively. Over time, many of our best players left the industry. Hence, “there just aren’t any good people anymore.”

The question to be answered is this: How do we rebuild quality teams, filling chairs with motivated, productive workers at all levels — management included?

I believe in people-centered “Marathon Thinking.” The strategy is to build a true people culture in the business. The focus is on developing the people who deliver our services consistently, not on maximizing short term productivity. The term Marathon Thinking refers to a mind set and development process that begins with well-planned recruiting and training, goals based on individual skills and daily management aimed at achieving small, reachable daily goals followed by consistent recognition. It’s a matter of behavioral conditioning — and it works! You develop people, not in a week or two but over time, one controlled step at a time.

Sign up for the marathon
The premise is that a person who wants the job and understands how to perform tasks successfully, in a supportive world where recognition and appreciation are ongoing, will succeed. That early success will drive the motivation, then to do even more and better work.

Below are plan requirements that will allow you to win with your employees using this strategy:

  • Commit to re-focusing your business model on achieving goals through people. People must become your key resource and drive results. Without this commitment, you’ll waste your time.
  • Plan human requirements farther ahead. Evaluate current staff twice annually and be ready to upgrade in the fall, before winter hiring. Do not keep non-performers or negative people.
  • Establish an effective recruiting plan that communicates the good things about your business. Over time, build your company reputation locally by participating and supporting local events and letting people know your jobs are good jobs.
  • Build your training program to focus on just what the employee needs to know first. Do not try to teach more than the new hire can learn easily. Appoint a trainer who wants the job.
  • Follow initial training with repetitive on-the-job coaching, enhancing gradual learning.
  • Recognize and reward consistently.

For more information, contact me at