Reflections
On Performance Issues - Look Upward To Find The Cause Of The Problem
Most people show up to work each day and make a legitimate effort to do their jobs well.
Plenty strive do an excellent job. And sure, there are some who really don’t seem to care. But the vast majority of professionals want to succeed and are doing all they can to achieve that success.

If business performance at your company isn’t what you want it to be and your people aren’t behaving the way you want them to, look at leaders a level or two up from your “problem children” within the organizational hierarchy. This is where you’ll likely discover the causal factors of their underwhelming performance.

Performance challenges are usually related to one of the following scenarios. And if you are leading a team, you have an outsized impact in controlling or addressing these factors:

  1. Competing priorities or too many priorities diffuse efforts (e.g. advancing a dozen priorities by inches instead of 2-3 priorities by miles.)
  2. Expectations are disconnected from your team’s reality (e.g. you want an increased result despite not investing in capabilities or providing resources to achieve that result.)
  3. Lack of clarity on expectations regarding successful outcomes and processes to achieve the results you want.
  4. Saying one thing and doing another, such as presenting a vision for the future but consistently making contradictory decisions that distract from achieving that vision.

Now comes the tough part: for many of you reading this, you’ll be looking at your own row or position on the Org Chart. It’s important to keep in mind that examining leadership decisions for upstream issues doesn’t mean you’re not going to hold underperforming employees accountable for their shortcomings. The idea is to look for potential cause, not to cast blame. Leaders must examine their own choices first, then coach and mentor underperforming employees to drive positive change. Addressing these factors at the leadership level has a dramatic impact in every organization I’ve worked with.
Are you launching a new product or service offering? Perhaps you need to reinvigorate your existing portfolio of services to more effectively acquire new clients or expand your work with existing ones? You may find my latest article for Forbes, How To Ensure The Success Of Your New Products and Services, to be useful.

Last year I worked with Thyssenkrupp Elevator to launch a new product for the Mid-Rise market (buildings with 5-12 storys). In the first year since this new elevator was introduced, it’s gone from zero to nearly 30% of the company’s sales and pushed the total revenue of the division to $1B. Thyssenkrupp achieved this great success by applying several principles I mention in the article and by being very strategic about the launch. You can hear Pete Nelson, Vice President of New Installations, talk about it on my site here .
A Slice of Life Balance
For most of us, it’s difficult to sit still. With so many tasks to complete, so much information to absorb, so many people counting on us, it’s hard to justify taking time to pause. But if you routinely feel overloaded or feel you are running at a breathless pace to get it all done, that may be exactly what you need. You can meditate, talk a slow walk, or simply sit and monitor your breathing while you let your mind wander with no agenda. Try 5-10 minutes of “pause” at least once or twice throughout your day. Do it consistently and you’ll have more energy, more clarity about priorities and feel - at least a little - less stressed