Where does Poor Performance come from?

What’s at the root of so-called “poor performance”? We tend to look at an employee’s – or friend’s, family member’s, customer’s, a stranger’s – behavior as a “thing,” an entity unto itself. But is it really? We look at an employee’s behavior, whether “good” or “bad,” and call it “performance.” But performance doesn’t come out of nowhere. It’s always based …

The loneliness of the first-line manager

They (whoever “they” are) say that “it’s lonely at the top.” Referring, of course, to CEOs and company founders. The thinking is that these people at the top of the company hierarchy have no one to talk with about their challenges. That may – or may not – be true. But what I’ve heard, over and over again, from my …

The Hyde Effect in leadership

Remember Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? The mad scientist and his evil alter ego? A long time ago, I wrote an article on the “Jekyll & Hyde” effect of being promoted into leadership. It was mostly about how a leadership perspective on everything from strategy to budget is different – and rightly so – from the perspective of the individual …

Unpacking performance problems

Unpacking performance problems can be a challenge for managers. And it’s important to do, because many – most? – all? – performance issues are combinations of multiple employee behaviors and multiple manager frustrations. I had a conversation with a client this morning about a problem he wanted to address. In deconstructing what initially appeared straightforward (an accumulation of handwritten “to-do” …

What’s unreasonable?

The other day, I heard from a colleague that the concept and outline they’d put forward for a leadership development program were considered by the CHRO to be too much to take on. It’s unfortunate, because the program would have been a differentiator for their company in many ways – employee retention, hiring attractiveness, and, of course, leadership strength and …

The closest thing to a magic wand

Leadership and management development touch every aspect of your company. Including “hot topic” items such as burnout and mental health. Think about it. What keeps people happy at their jobs? Their manager. What creates and maintains a good company culture? Leadership from top to bottom. And the first-line manager is where the rubber of the culture meets the road of the …

Ten cats, one mouse

Once upon a time, I had ten cats. It wasn’t intentional – they just kept showing up until I said, out loud and firmly, “Enough!” And yeah, it was very furry. But the ten cats aren’t the story here. The one mouse – that’s the story. At the time, I lived in a rural town in south central New Jersey, …

Pizza, pineapple, and cilantro?

These are three things people feel strongly about: pizza, pineapple, and cilantro. There are those who are adament that pineapple should never be anywhere near a pizza, and then there are those who are fans of Hawaiian pizza (ham and pineapple). And there are those who love cilantro, and those who think it tastes like soap and hate it. I’m …

I never played team sports in school

My brother, ten years (almost to the day) younger than I am, played soccer when he was a kid. I’m part of the pre-soccer generation. Though I was a killer on the singles badminton court, and a crack archery shot in high school gym class. And I hated volleyball. Ugh. That Bitmoji image here? Completely untrue and unrealistic. But the …

My college classes wanted papers, not exams

In college, I mostly took classes requiring me to write papers, rather than taking exams. Which is why I never really “got” the cramming-for-exams thing. Cramming: the act of stuffing things (people, objects) into a too-small container (a room, a box). Or too much information all at once into your head. As adults, we might still be cramming, although in a …