Michael: Hello, everyone, and welcome to HaBO Village Podcast. I'm Michael Redman.
Kathryn: And I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: And this is the podcast that helps leaders like you build Passion and Provision companies filled with more profit and joy so that you can actually grow your company and actually enjoy it.
Kathryn: And your employees too.
Michael: And when you're happy, everyone's happy.
Kathryn: When Mama's happy, everyone's happy, they say.
Michael: They say. And so, that said, today we are going to talk about performance improvement. We're going to talk about this whole idea of what happens when you have challenges and performance problems in your organization? How do you solve them quickly? How do you figure out if they're worth solving? Well, we have a model for you that I learned years ago, actually in college. Wow, my college education gave me something really valuable.
Kathryn: Every once in a while, that does happen.
Michael: And we took one whole semester in one of my classes, just in my advanced classes, to go over this one book: "Performance Analysis and Analyzing Performance Problems" by Robert F. Mager or Dr. Mager. There's a lot of cool stuff behind this that I loved and the degree behind it and everything else. I won't go off on a tangent.
Michael: I'm pulling myself in. Focus, focus, edit, edit.
Kathryn: But the subtitle here, which is helpful, is "How to Figure Out Why People Aren't Doing What They Should Be and What to Do About It."
Michael: Yeah. So there's a flow chart in this book. If you can get this, it's not in normal print anymore, but you can get it with the six-pack and everything. There's six books that go along in this set. You can buy them individually on Amazon, and we will have a link on our show page, show notes page, for this on our website, Habovillage.com, on the podcast tab.
Michael: So we're going to walk through this, and we're going to talk about it because what you're going to see is you're going to see a powerful tool with powerful questions that help solve a lot of your problems, a lot of your challenges that you have in your organization, from something's completely broke to you just want to tune it up and take it to the next level, and you're trying to figure out what's stopping you when you're hitting those walls.
Michael: What we have right now, Kathryn's going to read a list of really great points because there's like six or seven things that this flow chart will help us do when we're talking about those.
Kathryn: Yeah, and so part of the premise going into this is the idea that, oftentimes, when something isn't going the way that we want it to in a company, we blame a person because they're not doing it right. We automatically just go, "That person, they should know better. I don't understand what's happening."
Michael: There's something wrong with them.
Kathryn: There's something wrong with that person. And what is actually true is that people don't perform the way that you're expecting them to perform or the way that you are hoping they are going to perform for a number of reasons. They don't know what's expected is one possibility. They may not have the tools or the space or maybe the authority to do what it is that you are requiring of them.
Kathryn: Maybe you're not giving them feedback about the quality of their performance. It's possible that, when they do it right, you're punishing them, which we'll talk about. That sounds odd, but it's possible.
Michael: Yeah. No, totally.
Kathryn: It's also possible that you reward them when they do it wrong, which is equally damaging. Or they're just ignored whether they do it right or wrong. And then the other possibility is they actually don't know how to do what it is that you think they should know how to do.
Michael: Now one of the disclaimers on this podcast is that we have studied this for a really long time. We're pretty good at it, but it's going to sound like we're way better at it than we actually are as we are sitting here going, "Okay, focus on the flow chart, focus on the process." By the way, there's a cool flow chart in here that can really help you in this book, and the book is written really well in a very bottom-shelf, easily accessible, lots of stories and analogies type of way.
Michael: And so, in the midst of this, there are places where we forget.
Michael: We don't need to learn this stuff. There's an actual delineation between, if you're not doing it, you either never learned it, so you need to learn it, or you learned it, and you need to be refreshed. You need practice or something like that, and we'll talk a little bit about that in the performance analysis. But we know this stuff, and yet we so often either get caught in the stress and the fray of day-to-day business when things are just not going right. There's grenades going off around you, and you're just responding as opposed to proactively acting. You're reacting, and you forget, and you just make these mistakes.
Michael: Or things are going so well, and the company is cruising so much, and you have such opportunity that you're running fast, and you're running too fast. Even in running fast, that stress can really grab a hold of you and cause you to forget again.
Michael: So let's jump into this. When we have a problem, the first thing that we need to do, that you need to do, if you're taking notes or going to come back to this, is just decide what's the problem.
Kathryn: Right. We want to understand what is the actual problem we're experiencing?
Michael: You got to define it.
Kathryn: Yeah, you can't ... So many times, we have a problem, and we want to just apply some sort of a fix, but we've never really understood the problem, right? So what would happen if you went to a doctor and they just applied a fix without understanding the problem?
Michael: That's bad.
Kathryn: That's very, very bad.
Michael: That's bad.
Kathryn: They would call it malpractice. So we often do that. We do that in marketing, but we do that with our people sometimes. We think we know what to do, but we haven't really paused long enough to actually understand the problem.
Michael: Right, exactly.
Kathryn: And that can be embarrassing and lead to a bunch of waste of time and effort.
Michael: So you need to describe the discrepancy. Instead of a problem, we're going to try to use the word "discrepancy" as a language that's not as "We have a problem" or "You have a problem." As long as you're not attacking somebody, whatever word you're using, the goal is to not ... Make sure you're talking about the gap, the performance gap that's happening and that needs to be closed, and not the person and you're wrong and everything else. Sometimes people need to change, folks. We know that. That's a legitimate issue, but we want to make sure that we're only dealing with those kind of issues when we've made sure that it's not anything else.
Michael: And it's not our fault from a management perspective, so describe it. I've found that smart goals, if you know what a smart goal is, it is a really good acronym tool so that you can deal with the specifics. Did you set up a clear ... Are you identifying it clearly in the fact of what needs to be done? Is it measurable, the timeline and stuff like that? So that you really go, "Is there really a problem here or not? And how big of a problem is it? How big has it got?"
Michael: That's step number 1 out of seven. Step 2 out of seven is ...
Kathryn: Is it worth solving?
Michael: Good. The gap was to inspire you to respond.
Kathryn: Staring at me.
Michael: She went into like a deer in headlights.
Kathryn: What? If only you could see the video behind this. I was like, "What? What are you looking at me for?"
Michael: What, what, what?
Kathryn: So what's the problem, and is it worth solving is the second question.
Michael: Yeah, is it worth pursuing? Is the problem big enough to spend your time, or are you into a law of diminishing returns?
Michael: Or is it like, "Okay, look, this is not ..." Yes, it's a problem, but is it a problem because it's really a performance problem, or is it a problem because you're in a bad mood today and you're annoyed by it?
Michael: Which I'm not sure anybody else out there has done this. Anybody listening to this podcast probably hasn't done that, but the other people that aren't listening to this podcast ...
Kathryn: They do it all the time.
Michael: They do it all the time.
Kathryn: Yeah, yeah. You're not doing it the way I would do it, so I'm irritated.
Michael: Is it worth pursuing? If the answer is no, then you're done. Step out. There's a lot of places where you can eject yourself out of this process. But, if it is worth pursuing, then you got to move on to the next phase, the next segment, Kathryn.
Kathryn: Which is can you apply a fast fix? Is there something you can do quickly to just solve it.
Michael: Yay, you responded well. Thank you.
Kathryn: Thank you. No gap in my ... no deer in headlights on that one.
Michael: Good job.
Kathryn: I knew that was coming.
Michael: Yeah. So can we apply fast fixes? This is that place where it's like, "All right, is there an easy way to fix this?" And there are a few questions. That's the beauty of this whole process is it's actually a system where you can think through, and you emulate first and then innovate later. Walking through these in order is actually helpful. Way down the road, when you get really good at this kind of stuff, you can move in and out of it sometimes really quickly and just use pieces and parts of it.
Michael: That said, here's four or five questions that need to be thought about when you're applying fast fixes. Are expectations clear?
Kathryn: Yeah, and if they're not, clarify them.
Michael: That is my number 1 go-to on all problem solutions.
Michael: Before anything else. I mean, we talk about this all the time. Okay, what are the expectations? When I'm frustrated with anyone on our staff or anyone else in my world, I start to ask really quickly, I've kind of taught myself, I've trained myself. The first thing I need to ask is, "Okay, what are my expectations, and are they clear?"
Michael: Did I communicate them in a clear way?
Kathryn: Yeah. I mean, we had a conversation just recently, like Monday morning. We were talking about a process that we're walking through and some work we're doing for a client, and you thought you'd been super clear. And when it finally got fleshed out, it was "Oh, there's a gap between what I meant by that and what you thought it was, and that's legitimate. And now we can fix it."
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Kathryn: And those are very real things. No matter how well we think we're communicating, sometimes the person on the receiving end is translating that with some other thing that you weren't thinking about, and it's legitimate.
Kathryn: And that's when you go, "Oh," and then you can fix it. And by not blaming the person to begin with because you actually are willing to go back and clarify expectations, you're not embarrassed when it turns out that it was actually you.
Michael: Yeah. There's a certain form of humility that must go into this process because it's really easy to go ... There's a fine line ... How do I say this? It's really easy to get upset prematurely.
Michael: It's okay to be frustrated and to actually have to deal with people not paying attention. There's a lot of reasons people don't pay attention, don't catch stuff in today's world, and our electronics are a huge key, whether it's email, laptops in meetings, cell phones, whatever. It's really easy to catch things and not fully hear and listen and process. That could be part of the performance problem that we're running into. Why are expectations being missed so often?
Michael: So we get into this place. We say, "Yeah, I understand that this humility means that I may have to rephrase it different ways because I thought I did it all right. It didn't happen. I have to restate it again. I shouldn't be mad at everybody else because I have to restate it again." Don't go after that unless it's a consistent problem, and you're always running into expectation problems. Then you need to fix ... you actually need to point this whole process at the expectations aren't being caught. They're being missed. So is it worth fixing? Absolutely. Okay, so move on.
Michael: So clarify expectations. The next one is are their resources adequate? These are the quick fixes: expectations. Do they have the resources they need?
Kathryn: Yeah, is there some tool, something you can give them that would help them solve this? Maybe they're not able to do something as quickly as you would like them to be able to do it, and the fact of the matter is they actually could use this tiny little piece of software that's going to cost you $49 a month, and that would solve everything, and it would be really fast because suddenly this thing that's taking them five hours would take them half an hour, right?
Michael: Yeah. So we have a friend who is amazing, amazing. He will not purchase tools. He has tools. He has a lot of tools. He loves it. He's really good with his hands. But he won't go out and buy or use a tool that would save him so much time and energy. He would rather save $5 over here because he has other things he wants to spend more money on, but he'll spend literally 20 hours working on a project that, if he had the right tool, he could actually do in about 30 minutes and do with better quality results. And that happens all the time with him.
Kathryn: It's a tragedy.
Michael: It's like, folks, if you have this ... if you can do this in your office, and it's possible to buy the tool or whatever, buy it or do what you can. So resources that are adequate are super important. Sometimes there are constraints in the world. You can't have the tools that you want, so you do the best you can. Readjust your expectations. That's the truth. That's possible because, if you can't afford the tool, you're going to need to say, "Well, I'm going to have to allow 10 hours for this project that should take 30 minutes."
Kathryn: Yeah, and sometimes adequate resources is as simple as "But I had this other list of things I needed to do, so this thing that you thought I was working on got put at the end of my list because the expectation wasn't clear, and I didn't have the time, unless you help me readjust my priorities." Those are quick fixes too.
Michael: And I agree. In this process ... I will bring a correction here, Mrs. Redman.
Kathryn: Yeah, please feel free.
Michael: Time is not a resource in this context.
Kathryn: Oh, got it.
Michael: It is actually, for the most part, look at the most obvious things first, a resource at some point that you've got to pay attention to. Performance, quality, visibility. Is the performance that you want, is the quality visible? So this is kind of a weird one, but here's what happens. There are tasks in life that are subtle enough, it's hard to see the quality of the product.
Michael: So here's what happens in our business. We have copywriters. They write copy. It looks good. They study, they learn, they have experience. So here's what's hard to know: Is that good copy? Is it good copy or bad copy? Well, the performance of it, the quality of it, some of it you can see if you're really trained and experienced, but sometimes you can't see it easily, and you need feedback, outside feedback. And that feedback sometimes is editors. Sometimes it's somebody that's more experienced. Quite frankly, the best rule of thumb on copy is did it convert? Did it get somebody to do something? And you can measure that.
Michael: But in the process, you may say, "I'm frustrated with the quality they're doing," and they can't see the quality in what they're doing. There's probably something you can imagine in your business, in your world, where you're thinking, "Okay, yeah, it's hard to see the quality, and so they're doing the best they can, but there's nuances they don't yet or haven't seen." Or you're reading it from inside the bottle, and you need somebody outside giving you perspective.
Kathryn: Yeah, so ultimately this section, can it be quickly fixed, is about are the expectations clear? If not, clarify them, and that will fix that issue, and you're done. Do they have adequate resources? If not, can you provide them? In which case, problem solved. Do they understand what the expectation, the quality is supposed to look like? If not, provide feedback to help them learn and grow. Those are immediate fixes, so step 3: Can you quickly fix it?
Michael: Step 4.
Kathryn: Step 4.
Michael: Are consequences appropriate? This is a weird one. We're going to try and get through this quickly, but here's the deal: Is the desired performance ... you have to know, right? That's why we define things up on top. Is the desired performance punishing?
Kathryn: What do you mean by that? Because that's a weird one.
Michael: These are hard ones. Let me walk through the list first. Is the desired performance punishing? Is poor performance rewarding? Are performance consequences used effectively? The last one is, is anybody actually dealing with consequences and holding accountable? And if you look at our five steps to management, accountability is one of them, and this is where that kicks in. You want to make sure that you're holding people accountable appropriately.
Michael: So let's talk about is desired performance punishing. Sometimes there's situations in life where you feel like, you know what, what is stated as the desired performance gets punished. So is poor performance rewarding? Think of it this way: Is laziness rewarded? There are situations in companies where laziness is rewarded. Bureaucracy is one of them, right? The idea that you are a rule-keeper. Hey, the job is keep your head down.
Michael: Here's another one: You can tell in companies, and Stephen Covey, Sr. wrote about this in several of books was the issue of an organization that wasn't customer service oriented. So go to a hotel. Hotel number 1, you walk to the front desk, and you say, "Hello there, I'm here to check into my room." "I'm sorry, we sold out" or "Yes, sir, and here's your two double beds." "Wait a minute, I ordered a room six months ago with a king bed." "I'm sorry, sir, we don't have any of those." "Well, I need you to do something about that." "I'm sorry, sir, I can't do anything about that." Because what they're doing is they're just rolling down. They're not empowered to solve problems, and they're just, one, two, three, they're just making the supervisor above them happy by following all these rules and not doing anything else.
Michael: That is a poor performance based on what somebody at the top of the company ... when the company says, "I want you to serve the customer so that they're happy," but the system itself actually rewards just toeing the line and not getting upset and not upsetting your manager. That's a poor performance is rewarded because the more you do that and toe the line, the more they go, "Hey, you're doing a great job. Hey, I'm going to give you a bonus. Hey, I'm going to give you a raise." Because they make sure that we don't ever have those problems. Does that make sense?
Kathryn: Yeah. And when it comes to this first one, I was just thinking one of the easiest illustrations actually of is desired performance punishing ...
Kathryn: ... is, if somebody does a good job on something, and you're like, "Oh, we're going to give you all of that stuff then." right?
Michael: Yeah, right, right.
Kathryn: So suddenly their workload increases by like 10x because they did a great job, and so you rewarded them by giving them all the rest of those reports.
Michael: It's funny, I wrote about that same example at like 10:30 last night.
Kathryn: There you go.
Michael: I'm like ... my brain just went sideways because it really is "Hey, we're going to reward you. And by the way, we're going to give you all that stuff and not take anything off your plate."
Kathryn: Right. "And then we're going to expect that you do as good a job on all those things because you did such a great job on this one. Yay, you!" And then that person's like, "Well, I am never going to do a good job again. I will be mediocre from here on out."
Michael: The Australians call it the high poppy syndrome or the poppy syndrome, and it's a real deal over in Australia. Australians as a culture don't like to stand out because it's like, well, if you stand up, you get punished for it. And so, if you want to excel or grow, it's the high poppy. The poppy is growing above everybody else, and they come along and lop it off. And it's like we're going to punish you for actually performing higher.
Michael: And as a company, you're like, "I want you to really do great. I want you to think about these things, and I need to figure out how to inspire and motivate those things." And this is where it's desired performance is punishing.
Michael: Then we have this is poor performance rewarding. We talked about that. Really big deal. These are things that you need to spend some time thinking about. And then are performance consequences used effectively? Are performance consequences used effectively? We talked briefly about that in the beginning. So this whole thing here is are consequences appropriate.
Michael: So what's the problem? Is it worth solving? Are there any quick fixes? Expectations were there, resources were there, feedback is there. And then, if you get through all of that, all of a sudden you're like, "Okay, well, let's move to something that's even a little bit harder to find, a little bit harder to see, a little bit harder to describe, but it's there." Let's go to is the performance reward setup right? Are the carrot and the stick in the appropriate places?
Michael: Okay. Then the next one is, okay, so you say, "Well, that's all fine." So you go to the next step.
Kathryn: Which is really is there a genuine skill deficiency? Do they actually know how to do the task?
Michael: Do they know how to do it or not? And if they do, they learned it at some point, did they do it in the past? Is it often used? So are they rusty with it? That's one of the things you're thinking about. And then provide practice. Provide feedback if they're rusty. "Hey, guess what? You're comfortable with this, you've done this before, but your quality is not there." Because you're saying is used often, if it is used often, then you just need to give them that feedback that it's not quite what they want. But if it's not used often, then it probably is they're just rusty. So you go into practice, provide practice.
Michael: That's that fifth spot. The sixth spot is are there more clues? You've gone through all this stuff. You've said, "Yeah, that's there, that's there, it's all good. We're all great." Everything else. Then you go back and you go, "Okay, I've asked the big questions. I've gone through this once. I've asked kind of the obvious ones, the things that are real smart questions. Now I need to go in and just take another look. Can I just make this task easier?" Or are there any other obstacles we're not seeing? Or has a person had ...
Kathryn: Does the person have the potential to actually change?
Kathryn: And if they don't, then they're not the right person.
Michael: And then you just need to replace them because you need to make sure that you have the right people on your bus, the right people on your bus, your bus being your company, in the right seats, the job positions because you want them to work well together. This is something that you may, through performance improvement, finally come to the place where you're realizing they're not the right person.
Michael: But you don't want to jump to these conclusions quickly. You don't want to go, "I need to get a different person." How many times do people replace and replace and replace in the history of the company and a position cycles through all these different people, and the senior leader or the leader says, "I just can't find good people"? And what they haven't done is fixed it. And everybody else around them is like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, you can't find good people." Well, maybe we should put a good person in your spot.
Michael: Yeah. Anyway, that said ...
Kathryn: So, if the person has the potential to change, then it becomes a training issue, right?
Michael: Yes. And then you step in and go, "Okay, well, are we going to decide are we going to train them or not? Should we train them or not?" Are they trainable? Can they change? We've asked that, but should we? Is it appropriate? You need to ask a couple of questions.
Michael: First of all, what's it going to cost to train them? Calculate all the costs. Figure out what's the cost of the deficit, the gap. What's the cost of training? Compare that. Look at the best solutions. Take the best solutions to fixing the problem and then draft an action plan. Say, "Okay, this is what we're going to do" and then implement and monitor the plan and see if it's actually improving things.
Michael: At any one of these points, you may say, "It's not worth it." You kind of hit that place of is it worth solving. You're asking that question again because now you're asking it. Is it worth solving at what it's going to cost for training and the time it's going to take? Some things to train can take hours, some things to train can take months, and some things to train can take a couple to three years.
Michael: The U.S. military, there's lots of different positions where they go, "You've been hired for this position. Now we're putting you in a school for two years so that we can train you to send you there." And that's what happens for, for instance, language school for the U.S. Air Force. When they go to Monterey, California, they are in that program, and that's a two-year program minimum for a specific language. Think about the amount of money for salary and instructors and a facility and everything else that you have to go through. You're thinking through that.
Michael: Now, most of the things in your company aren't going to cost that much, but this model, the seven steps now, rehash the questions, Kathryn.
Kathryn: So the first is what's the problem? So really understanding and defining the actual problem. Is the problem worth solving? Are there any quick fixes we can apply? Are the consequences for any performance deficiency appropriate? Does the person know how to do the task? Are there more clues we need to discover? And then how do we select and implement a solution?
Michael: What's the solution and do we train? Okay, that said, that's the seven steps. That's the big process. It is incredibly useful. For this podcast, we just threw you a giant, giant, giant tool, I want to say bomb, but I don't think we're blowing anything about, that's going to be really effective. This is dense. There's a lot of stuff here, so what we want you to do is we want you to actually think about this. Go to our show notes page on Habovillage.com, on the podcast. You'll be able to see some more notes about this and have a reference to the book. If you can't find it on Amazon, you might be able to find it somewhere where it's out of print or something like that in just bookstores. And Amazon actually might be the best resource for that.
Michael: And then just think about it. If not, worst-case scenario, you go through and start working through just making notes on this podcast and listening to it because I'm telling you, the simplicity of having a seven-step process like this and walking through it, literally you're looking for tools in your tool box that are really, really, really versatile or, when they're very specific, they're very powerful. And this is one of those really powerful tools.
Michael: It's also very versatile. It's a wide, deep tool because you can move a lot of stuff with it, a lot of different types of stuff and look at a lot of different scenarios, but it helps you be laser-focused because real wisdom and real genius is found oftentimes in good questions, knowing which questions to ask. Einstein said once, or it was attributed to him, "Give me a problem that I don't know how to solve, and if you'll give me an hour to solve it, problem solved in an hour, I will take the first 55 minutes looking for the right question and five minutes to solve the problem."
Michael: And this is one of those tools. Any other comments, Kathryn, on this?
Kathryn: No. I kind of ... one of the things I like about [inaudible 00:26:23] kind of what's in it for you if you actually learn this stuff and really learn to apply it is, first of all, you'll be able to identify the cause of your problems. You'll decide which ones are worth solving. You can describe solutions to help you solve the problem and then decide which solutions are both practical and economically feasible for you to solve.
Kathryn: So those are really important things, running a company.
Kathryn: Being able to identify what the issues are, being able to decide if the issues are worth solving, being able to describe how to solve them, and then really understanding can I actually do that, and is it economically feasible? Does it make sense to solve it. So those are very important tools for running a company well.
Michael: Yeah. All right, well, that's it for today. I'm Michael Redman.
Kathryn: I'm Kathryn Redman.
Michael: And we thank you for visiting HaBO Village podcast. If you like this, actually hit subscribe out there. We'd love some reviews on iTunes, but hit subscribe on iTunes. That's actually one of the biggest things that helps us share the word of what it means to have a Passion and Provision company filled with more profit and more joy. And our goal is to continue every week to bring you the resources, topics, and subjects that help just resource you and encourage you and hopefully educate you at times on what different things you can do or remind you to do as you're busy building a business that you want that's going to fulfill all your hopes and dreams.
Michael: So thank you very much. We hope to see you next week.
Kathryn: Or ... see them, I love that you said that. We hope you tune in next week.
Michael: Thank you very much. And on that note, bye, bye.