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matrix vision newsletter
Performance Management Issue
June, 2009 - Vol 2, Issue 6
In This Issue
*NEW* Survey Software
When People are Not Performing
Managers Can Be The Problem
How Feedback Helped a Manager Improve Performance
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Story of the Month
A retired sergeant major inherited a talking parrot from a recently departed relative who had run a busy dockside pub. For the first few days in his new home the normally talkative parrot was distinctly shy.
The old major, despite his stern and disciplined ways, felt sorry for the bird, and gently encouraged it with soft words and pieces of fruit. After a week or so the parrot began to find its voice - a little at first - and then more so. Responding to the kind treatment, the parrot's vocabulary continued to recover, including particularly the many colourful expressions it had been taught in the dockside pub. The old sergeant major began to be quite irritated by the parrot's incessant rudeness, and after a few more days of worsening profanities, decided action was required to bring the bird under control.
The sergeant major tried at first to incentivise the parrot with the promise of reward for good behaviour, but to no avail. He next tried to teach the bird a lesson by withdrawing its privileges, again to no avail; the parrot remained stubbornly rude. 
Finally the old major flipped into battleground management mode; he grabbed the bird, clamped his hands around its beak, and thrust the struggling, swearing parrot, into the top drawer of the freezer, slamming the door tightly shut. The swearing and struggling noises continued inside the freezer for a few seconds and then abruptly stopped. The sergeant major listened for a while and then, concerned that the parrot's shock might have been terminal, carefully opened the freezer door and opened the drawer to look. The parrot slowly clambered out of the drawer and perched on its edge.
"I must apologise for my rude and disrespectful behaviour," said the parrot, "I promise never to use bad language again. And by the way, what did the turkey do?" 

Feedback Quotes
"It is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises - but only performance is reality."

Harold S Geneen
"Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes." 
Peter Drucker
"It is no use saying "we are doing our best." You have to succeed in doing what is necessary." 
Winston Churchill

"The pretension is nothing; the performance every thing. A good apple is better than an insipid peach."
Leigh Hunt

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."
Sun Tzu


Welcome to the matrix vision newsletter for June.  This month's newsletter is focussed on what is the most important task a manager has to do - Managing the Performance of the people who report to them. 
The messages in this month's edition are about reminders and tools that can help us step up to the mark in terms of this crucial management task.
This newsletter presents reasons why this aspect of management is so important.  We provide some tips and tools on how to do it well.  We have articles including:
  • the four reasons why people don't perform - and it is generally our fault,
  • getting performance appraisal right,
  • the new feedback software that can allow small business people to use the powerful value of 360 degree feedback,
  • The "One Minute" Reprimand
  • the importance of documentation 
  • how to take corrective action and
  • mistakes managers make in performance appraisal

Enjoy your reading and as always your feedback would be welcome!

If any of the information interests you and if you would like to find out how it can help you please contact us.  We would love to talk with you.
As supervisors, managers or team leaders we are judged on how well the people who report to us perform.
There are four major reasons why people fail to perform in their jobs and unfortunately, for the most part we are to blame:

1. They don't know what to do!
A person cannot perform well if they don't have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in terms of performance.  It is our job to make sure that we put in place clear and agreed performance plans.
2. They don't know how to do it!
Even if they know what they have to do, they must have the knowledge or skills to be able to perform.  It is our job to ensure we have a good induction program for new employees.  We also need to establish a structured learning and development plan that meets the skill gaps in their ability to do their existing job.  In short, it is our job responsibility to make sure that people are trained to do their job.
3. Someone or something is getting in the way of their ability or desire to do it!
Just knowing what to do and how to do it may not be enough because obstacles like insufficient or inadequate tools, workplace conditions, interpersonal problems or factors outside the workplace may be causing the lack of performance.  It is our responsibility to ensure that the conditions are in place for each of our team members to achieve what is expected of them.  In addition we need to be able to coach and counsel our employees to enable us to explore the performance issue and be able to help them work towards resolution.
4. They are the wrong person for the job!
The person that we have selected for the role does not have the capability of performing the role or cannot be developed into the role in the short term.  It is our job to ensure that we use effective recruitment and selection processes and put in place appropriate succession planning.
If you would like to build your skills to help your team achieve superior performance CLICK HERE

Typically in organisations we rely on the annual performance appraisal document to reflect the performance of an employee throughout the year.
Unfortunately many managers use this as the only day of the year they provide feedback on performance to their employees.  They save up all their comments on performance throughout the year and unleash them all on the poor unsuspecting employee in the one meeting they have to discuss performance.
My favourite quote on this practice is from Robert Townsend, the author of the book "Up The Organisation".  He observes, in his earthy style, that waiting until the one day of the year to give performance feedback is as effective as "taking your dog and kicking it's arse for all the times it has pissed on the carpet in the last 12 months."
The performance appraisal document is merely the formal recording of an ongoing process.  For performance management to be effective the conversations about performance should take place throughout the year.  There should be no surprises in the appraisal interview.
As you maybe aware matrix vision has been using and selling the powerful, versatile and easy to use feedback software tool - 20/20 Insight Gold for a couple of years.
Only last month the 20/20 organisation released an affordable version of it's powerful software which is designed specifically for the needs of small business.  It provides not only the tools to do customer surveys and employee surveys but gives small businesses access to the most powerful development process for individuals - 360 degree feedback.
Have a look at the software and download a free copy of the amazing e-book "Reading Hearts and Minds" - CLICK HERE

NEW    NEW   Surveys for Small Business   NEW    NEW

Surveys for Small BusinessSurveys for Small Business Software 
If you aren't sure what your CUSTOMERS WANT, you'll never be able to give it to them. And they'll give their money to somebody else.
If you don't understand your EMPLOYEES, you'll never get them to work together as a team.
There is now available a customisable survey tool that makes it easy for you to find out what your customers and employees need. The Surveys for Small Business software, powered by 20/20 Insight GOLD technology, gives you a cost-effective way to discover information critical to your business success. The software comes pre-loaded with surveys for employee opinion, customer satisfaction and individual performance.
Reading Hearts and Minds
To find out how you can be one of the first to get this amazing tool at an incredible special price and to download your free e-book "Reading Hearts and Minds" CLICK HERE
When People are Not Performing
One Minute Manager
When giving people feedback about poor performance Blanchard and Johnson in The One Minute Manager suggested the One Minute Reprimand
The One Minute Reprimand works well when you: 
  • Tell people beforehand that you are going to let them know how they are doing and in no uncertain terms. 
The first half of the reprimand: 
  • Reprimand people immediately.
  • Tell people what they did wrong - be specific.
  • Tell people how you feel about what they did wrong - and in no uncertain terms.
  • Stop for a few seconds of uncomfortable silence to let them see how you feel.

The second half of the reprimand

  • Shake hands, or touch them in a way that lets them know you are honestly on their side.
  • Remind them of how much you value them.
  • Reaffirm that you think well of them but not their performance in this situation.
  • Realise that when it is over, it's over.
 "The One Minute Manager" - Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson
Importance of Documentation in the Performance Discussion
Documents such as disciplinary action forms and letters are an organisation's first line of defence in any legal action whether it be a charge of discrimination, a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit, or some other context in which the company must explain its actions. What's more, time can be an enemy rather than an ally. Your documents will help you recall your actions, and why you took them, long into the future.
Here are some other reasons why you need to document your actions, including all discussions, during the process:
  • To remember what you said to the employee, and what the employee said to you. This will prevent confusion and help both of you define clear, realistic, mutually acceptable goals
  • To demonstrate the setting of measurable and reasonable goals for improvement.
  • To demonstrate consistency of application. Your documents let employees and those outside the organisation know that a process is used, and in a uniform manner.
  • To demonstrate consistency and objectivity. Your documents let employees and outsiders know that everyone is treated according to the same standards, and that those standards hold firm against subjective influences such as personal emotion.
In addition, it is an essential step to have the employee sign the documentation of the disciplinary discussion-verbal, written, or final-and to give the employee a copy of the signed document. In this way, you obtain proof the discussion did take place. Any formal disciplinary document needs the employee's signature.
"Documenting Employee Performance" - Terry Fitzwater
Taking Corrective Action
  1. Point out the difference between present performance and agreed upon expectations.
  2. Describe specifically the negative impact of the employee's performance.
  3. Get the employee's view of the situation.
  4. Ask for ideas on how the employee can correct the situation and add your own.
  5. Explain any steps you plan to take and why.
  6. Agree on an action plan and a date for follow-up.
  7. Express confidence that the employee can correct the situation.
Jack Zenger
We can help you with applying these skills in your business.  Give us a call.
Managers can be the Problem
Dilbert BossA magazine recently ran a "Dilbert quotes" contest. They were looking for people to submit quotes from their real life Dilbert-type managers.  Here are some of the submissions...
  • As of tomorrow, employees will only be able to access the building using individual security cards. Pictures will be taken next Wednesday and employees will receive their cards in two weeks. (Microsoft)
  • What I need is a list of specific unknown problems we will encounter. (Lykes Lines Shipping)
  • E-mail is not to be used to pass on information or data. It should be used only for company business (Electric Boat Company)
  • This project is so important, we can't let things that are more important interfere with it.(UPS)
  • Doing it right is no excuse for not meeting the schedule. No one will believe you solved this problem in one day! We've been working on it for months. Now, go act busy for a few weeks and I'll let you know when it's time to tell them (3M.)
  • My Boss spent the entire weekend retyping a 25-page proposal that only needed corrections. She claims the disk I gave her was damaged and she couldn't edit it. The disk I gave her was  write-protected. (Dell)
  • Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what 'I' say." (Citrix Corporation)
  • "How About Friday?" My sister passed away and her funeral was scheduled for Monday. When I told my Boss, he said she died so that I would have to miss work on the busiest day of the year. He then asked if we could change her burial to Friday. He said, "That would be better for me."  ( FTD Florists)
  • "We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." (AT&T)
  • We recently received a memo from senior management saying:"This is to inform you that a memo will be issued today regarding the subject mentioned above."  (Microsoft)
  • One day my Boss asked me to submit a status report to him concerning a project I was working on. I asked him if tomorrow  would be soon enough.  He said "If I wanted it tomorrow, I would have waited until tomorrow to ask for it!"  (Hallmark Greeting Cards.)
  • This gem is the closing paragraph of a nationally-circulated memo from a large communications company: "(Company name) is endeavorily determined to promote constant attention on current procedures of transacting business focusing emphasis on innovative ways to better, if not supersede, the expectations of quality!"  (Lucent Technologies) 
How Feedback Helped a Manager Improve Performance
20/20 Logo 
Matrix Vision is a value added reseller and a user of the most powerful and versatile feedback software tool available today.
People need an efficient, confidential and anonymous vehicle for giving feedback to each other. State-of-the-art software can simplify the process of collecting multi-source (360) feedback for anyone in your organisation.
20/20 Insight GOLD is the world's most versatile feedback tool. With this system, we can set up surveys to collect virtually any type of feedback-ideas, opinions, impressions, ratings - from any number of people about the performance of an individual, a team or even your organisation as a whole.organisation.
Case Study:  How Feedback Helped a Manager Improve Performance
John* was a newly promoted manager with a major utility company. With his new position, he inherited a team of 13 supervisors. Most were long-term employees, and John was much younger than most of his direct reports. Many of the supervisors thought they deserved the promotion and resented John's appointment.

He soon discovered that the performance of his supervisors was below par. He spent a lot of time working on relationships with each of them, clarifying service standards and trying to build a cohesive team. Despite his best efforts, John encountered resistance; and performance did not improve. He knew that the supervisors were unhappy, but he couldn't get them to talk about their dissatisfaction. When he learned about 20/20 Insight, he decided to use it to ask for feedback about his leadership practices. He hoped that the information gained would provide a basis for dialogue and team building.
Working with a consultant, John selected the behaviours critical to his leadership. The consultant then met with the team and explained how the feedback would be collected. She assured everyone that their responses would be anonymous. After the feedback was collected, the consultant met with John to help him interpret the data and establish his priorities for action. She also coached him on how to respond to the feedback.

Over the next few weeks, John met with his direct reports individually and as a group. He asked them to clarify certain aspects of the feedback. He also explained which priority areas he planned to work on first and why he did not plan to alter some behaviours. 
He saw an immediate change in his team. Resistance decreased, productivity increased and a customer service orientation began to take hold. Over time, he was able to rebuild his team of supervisors. They pulled together to become the only team to meet or exceed all established performance goals for the next quarter. They continued to perform well, and within the year John received a substantial promotion. He attributed much of his success to the feedback process and the open dialogue it produced.
* The name of the manager has been changed to protect confidentiality
To learn more about the power of 20/20 Insight Gold click on the image.

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To talk with us about how you can use feedback to help improve performance, please contact us 

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In July the theme of the newsletter will be "Presentation Skills".
All the Best,
Barry Signature
Barry McMaster
Matrix Vision Pty Limited