Sunday, November 29, 2009

KPI's for improved performance

Setting Key Performance Indicators and Targets for those who report to you works. Through having a discussion with the person you can define goals and targets for them to reach over a certain period of time.

KPI's are generally used for two things - ironing out small areas of inefficiency or business growth.

I like to set no more than 4 targets for my reports. Any less that and they become too easy, any more than that and the chances of being able to achieve them reduce exponentially according to the increase in targets listed.

Another thing I like to do is set a mixture of soft and hard targets. That is some targets are based on physical actions and outcomes, whereas soft targets deal with relationships and things that can't be measured physically.

Ongoing feedback and communication is vital and important but doesn't provide the necessary formal layout that an appraisal and KPI does. By defining goals and targets (and reviewing them quarterly) you can empower your reports to achieve more.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Feedback and Criticism - the how and when to take it

Being told that you aren't as good as you think you are can be pretty hard to swallow - especially when it comes from someone you think highly of.

So what do you do in this situation?

You can either get upset, get angry and blame the other person for being wrong OR you can analyse what they said and change the way you do things.

It is important that when receiving feedback that you differentiate between the feelings and the facts of the situation and comments. Try not to confuse the two.

Here are some quick fire steps for receiving criticism -

  1. Who. Who said it, do do you respect their opinion, does their opinion count in the current situation?

  2. What. What was said? Was the criticism relevant to the situation?

  3. How. How was it said? Was the person fired up and angry? Even if they were - was what they actually said worthwhile and valuable (after you take all the heat out)

  4. Why. What situation arose whereby the criticism became necessary? Was there a genuine situation to apply the comments to?

After you have evaluated these things then you can choose how to respond or change your future approach or management style.

This is exactly one situation I was in during this week. I knew a particular work setup was working okay but was far from the best. I asked a person what their view was - and guess what - they confirmed my suspicions! I became upset and angry because I knew they were right and I was so wrong.

After a day or two of re-evaluation I have decided to write up a new plan for 2010 that hopefully will begin to correct some of the problem areas. Were the problems huge or personal? No way, they were actually quite minor. However it was what I heard (the way I listened) that was the real problem.

So now I move on and start again next week, with fresh feedback, fresh thinking and a fresh plan for 2010.

"We need very strong ears to hear ourselves judged frankly, and because there are few who can endure frank criticism without being stung by it, those who venture to criticise us perform a remarkable act of friendship for to undertake to wound or offe". Michel de Montaigne.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Employee vs Friend

There is no clear line that separates an employee from being a friend. This is one area of management that is fraught with uncertainty and danger.

A manager can either get this really right or just as easily get it really wrong.

It is important to ensure that a clear distinction is kept between the two to stop problems arising.

When you are managing someone you essentially are there to ensure that they do their job to the best of their ability and to coach them on to higher things.

This works in both positive matters as well as negative. If the manager and employee are unable to distinguish between friendship and work responsibilities - DANGER!

Monday, November 23, 2009


The people who do well in life are those who can see the possibilities and make it happen.

I am not talking about being nice for the sake of it, but rather seeing the good in a situation or person and talking about those aspects.

Yes we must be aware of the negatives and flaws of situations and people - but that doesn't mean we have to talk about them or share them with other people.

What comes out of your mouth does the following -
  • Creates impressions upon others

  • Establishes a precedent

I love this post on the Positivity Blog about Winston Churchill's 6 fundamental lessons for life. Head over and check it out!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Decision Making

The ability to make a decision is what seperates the leaders from the followers.
  • One person may have a full understanding of a situation (analytic view) but don't do anything with what they know.

  • Another person sense's the situation (the hunch view) makes a decision and runs with it.

Who was right and who was wrong? Ultimately this will be proven by the end result. However if the person with the hunch was wrong - they still have time and scope to rearrange the outcomes. And the person who acts is seen to be decisive. Therefire people will be more willing to follow.

  1. Summarise. Look at the decision that was made, analyse what the decision was and how it will affect the future.why it was taken.

  2. Reflect. Ask yourself why did I take that course of action? By knowing your current motivation you can work towards making better decisions in the future.

  3. and Act . If the decision you made was right - brilliant! If the decision you made wasn't so great - by acting early you have given yourself time to a) re-direct your energies, and b) create a fix for the current situation.

Paul from the Idea Sandbox has a great spreadsheet that provides a great template when facing your next decision. Be aware - don't spend too long thinking about your decison - get the facts, make a choice and move.

Luke 14:28-31 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish."
"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crisis - Help!

What do you do when a crisis hits? A crisis provides the perfect opportunity for you to step up and display your leadership skills and prowess - provided you handle the situation correctly.

Try these easy steps -
  1. Breathe. Allow oxygen into your lungs and brain before proceeding any further.

  2. Focus. Stay in control and wait for the air to clear before doing anything else.

  3. Get the full picture. Examine the situation as much as you can as quickly as you can.

  4. Focus on the what first and the who later. In the middle of a crisis - you have to deal with the what. Deal with what is right in front of you.

There is nothing wrong with being in a crisis situation. Crises are sent to test you. You have the choice to become stronger through crisis - or let someone else become stronger instead of you.

Use crisis to show people what you are really made of!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Job Currency

Cur·ren·cy (n. pl. cur·ren·cies )

1. Money in any form when in actual use as a medium of exchange, especially circulating paper money.
2. Transmission from person to person as a medium of exchange.
3. General acceptance or use; prevalence.
4. The state of being current; up-to-dateness.

How do you rate yourself in terms of currency?

Are you worth what you are being paid or should you be receiving more?

To get the most out of your working life -
  • Know what you are worth. If you don't know - ask someone who does.

  • Don't settle for less than your true value (unless you choose to)

  • Don't think you are worth more than you really are. Be realistic.

  • Remember - money isn't everything.

  • Change grow and keep up to date.

Stay current and currency will follow!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Social Marketing That Works

Orcon have very successfully made the move to capturing the essence of the social media forum and have translated it nicely into a new TV advertising campaign.

What did they do?

  1. Hired a big name star to be the face of their campaign.

  2. Asked everyday people to create a video application for themselves.

  3. The 'star' critiqued the applications down to a manageable number = 10.

  4. The star and his new crew video linked together to record the song.

Why does it work?

  1. Brand leverage. By using a popular cult music star people became interested.

  2. Offering people an opportunity of a life time. At what other time could the average person interact with or even record a song with their star?

  3. Interaction. Everyday people interact and create history.

This was a fabulous idea that perfectly captures the move towards social media advertising. The best part is Orcon have merged social media advertising along with television advertising.

10 out of 10!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Use Your Strengths

Every person has various abilities, strengths and weaknesses. If you want to move ahead in life it pays to know what abilities you have, what your strengths are and just as important is knowing what your weaknesses are.

Maximising your strengths is a good thing. Strengths are just that - strong points are the levers you can pull to get ahead. use them to create momentum, build credibility and

Weaknesses aren't a negative or a blight on you. Rather they are areas that you can either choose to develop and grow in, or find others to work with who have the strengths you need.

"My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength." Michael Jordan

Don't become obsessed with correcting your weaknesses to the point where you discontinue to work on your strengths. Rather know your weaknesses, do some correction work - and become a more well-rounded manager.
"If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome." Michael Jordan

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trends - Predict them before they happen.

There are a few keys to winning and remaining sustainable. Here are a few generic ones -

  1. Predict what's around the corner.

  2. Plan to change to match what's coming.

  3. Pass on your knowledge to others.

What will 2010 bring? Read the newspapers in 2009 for a decent place to start thinking about it.

Also try this article by David Armano who outlines what he thinks will be the six big social media trends in 2010.

In life as well as business, you have a few options -

  • Ignore the trends and hope they will go away,

  • Follow the trends and keep on playing catch up


  • Create your own trends!

The choice and the power is yours.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Don't listen to people who drink Haterade!

Such great advice. Be careful who you listen to! Others perceptions and opinions can easily cloud your judgement and ruin your day.

You reap what you sow and if you are negative - you will get all that negativity coming back at you!

Kathrien Ahn wrote this really cool manifesto on Change This! about positivity. Check it out!

Main points -
  • Life is unfair
  • Don't compare yourself to others
  • Accept yourself for who you are
  • Don't look to material things
  • Find your escape
  • Make time - love, family, friends
  • If you don't feel positive - fake it
  • Be grateful
  • Laugh

And the BIG one -

  • Dig deep, find your talent, and dream big.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Staying On Top Of Things

There are two kinds of stress at work - good stress and bad stress.

Good stress is the type that motivates you and gives you the edge to work smart, hard and better.

Bad stress is the kind that is demotivating, harmful and ultimately very bad for you.

How do you tell which is which? And how do you get better stress while avoiding bad stress?

  1. Which is which? The best way to tell which stress you are under is to reflect on where you are at and what is taking place internally. Good stress creates a drive and pull factor within you to get the job done. Bad stress causes you to become frustrated, upset and often times will make you irritable and restless.

  2. How do you get better stress? Simply - time management, delegation and understanding your role and the task.

  3. How do you remove bad stress? There are times that projects and tasks will just not be completed properly or on time. There are also times that you will receive requests and extra work without knowing about it first. What do you do about it? In the short term - cope. In the long term - point out to the person who dumped the task on you that they could have manged the task better and it wasn't fair on you to have to pick up the pieces.

You can't avoid stressful situations - but you can learn to manage them and manage them well!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Personal Leadership Branding No.2

Great products are easily recognisable and easy to spot. Take Coca-Cola for example. With a significant and consistent brand they have been able to achieve market domination.


  • A Coke logo can be easily spotted in a crowded arena of fridge,

  • You know what you are getting when you open the lid,

  • It still tastes the same as the last time you opened it.

How does this apply to you?

  • Can you be spotted in a crowd? (And I don't mean just by wearing loud clothes)

  • What will someone hear you say when they ask you a question?

  • Are you consistent in your approach and style?

Try doing this test so see where you at -

  • How can I make myself stand out in a crowd?

  • What sets others apart that people notice?

  • What have I learnt recently?

  • Am I recycling old thoughts and habits or am I developing new patterns?

  • Am I consistent in my conversations with others and with what I tell them?
If you are aware that you don't stand out and you need to create your own brand, the best to start is in reflection.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lessons University Never Taught Me - No. 2

Delegation works for some people and not others. Learning how to let go and let others take over can be a tough ask.

I have found the problem wasn't the letting go - it was the follow through and ensuring the job was done properly. Different staff members complete tasks in a variety of ways. The progress some staff make on a task is very visible and easy to see. Other staff members complete the tasks just as well but not as visibly.

So who does a better job? Generally the results are pretty much the same.

What needs to change is the managers approach to how the task is being done. The manager needs to create a communication strategy/channel with the person the task has been delegated to.

What channels work? Try these examples -
  • Verbal feedback and updates. Just ask. Ideally you would go and see the person but a telephone call can suffice as well.

  • Tracking. Outlook Express and other computer programs have task tabs and job lists for tracking projects. These work better where distance exists or where a project is so large it needs a lot of people working on it.

  • Visual aids. I posted on using Lego as a visual aid for time tracking in August 2009. A similar thing could be done for delegated tasks.

  • Project posters (example - robot). Each team member is assigned a task and as more and more of the task is completed - the staff member adds more bits to the picture. This will give a visual presentation and a way for the team members to keep each other on track.

Delegation requires trust and communication to work properly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


An interesting situation has occurred in New Zealand politics. In a time where the public and consumers want transparency and honesty - some politicians go and do the opposite.

The public have said through their voice in the media and talk back radio that free perks should not be squandered or abused by the politicians. Especially not by persons whom have previously railed against such abuses of power. However it is only now that those same persons behaviors are in the public arena, whereas previously it was all hushed up.

What can we learn from this?

  1. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword. Be careful what you say about others and how you go about saying it.

  2. You reap what you sow. If you use the system to your advantage (even lawfully) someone else will most likely do the same to you in the future.

  3. Integrity and a good name is all you have. It is easy to lose a good image and very, very hard to get it back.

  4. Work hard to maintain your credibility - friends are more fickle than family.

What should these politicians do? Be more honest in the future, don't take advantage of the system and never forget that they are in the spotlight at all times. It's hard being in a position where you are visible all the time - hence the need to be so much more careful.

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