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Business Performance Pty Ltd


March 2011

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Welcome to the March edition of our Business Performance newsletter. We have quite a few new subscribers this month. Thank you for joining us. This month, we bring you up to date with the latest developments in the world of management and answer a couple of thorny questions on employee incentives and motivation in our popular Q and A section. Enjoy!

Management News in Brief

A recent survey by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) and the American Management Association (AMA) focused on the importance of concentrating on customer needs. The survey reveals that high performing organizations are 22 times more likely to hold at least one corporate officer responsible for the customer experience. The survey also reveals that nearly 7 out of 10 high performing organizations build a customer-focused culture, compared with less than half for low performing organizations. Read more about the customer focus study.

Todd Thornock of the University of Texas, Red McCombs School of Business, recently conducted experiments to find out the best time to give people feedback on their performance. He found that giving feedback immediately led to worse performance outcomes compared with waiting a short while. Waiting a long while led to the worst performance of the three scenarios. Read a summary of Todd's paper on timing of performance feedback.

In response to the fact that in 2010, only 12.5% of the members of FTSE 100 company boards are women, Lord Davies' Women on Boards report recommends a voluntary target of 25% female membership of boards by 2015. The report, released in February, opted for a voluntary approach as opposed to a compulsory quota. Download the complete Women on Boards report.

Bersin and Associates latest study on learning trends in the US shows US companies increased the size of their training staffs by 6% last year compared with the year before. During the same period, training expenditure leveled whilst training hours per employee rose by nearly 7%. Access the full Corporate Learning Factbook 2011 report.

Training Tracker Do you need to keep on top of your training providers, program participants, budget and schedules? Are you getting lost in a mound of paperwork and reports? Check out our affordable training management software. With Training Tracker you can easily track all of your employee training with up-to-the-minute automated training activity and expenditure reports and charts. Find out more and download the free demo version from our Training Tracker web page.

Stay Up to Date

Keep up with all of the latest news and commentary by regularly visiting our Business Performance blog. This month, we treat you with a series on BlessingWhite's latest global survey on employee engagement and what the results mean for us all. So, check out some of our recent blog posts and join the discussion:

Facebook We also encourage you to ask questions and contribute your experiences. While you are there, click the button to follow our blog. Twitter Are you getting our daily online management and training tips? Follow us on Twitter and become a Business Performance fan on Facebook to get your regular dose of sage advice and information tips.

What kind of incentives should we offer our employees?


We are a small firm and want to get the best from our employees. What kind of incentives should we offer them when money is not an option?


Fortunately, money is not always the most effective option when designing an incentive program. You should at least be paying market rates to your employees. Anything less than this will most likely lead to employee demotivation. Pay is what Frederick Herzberg, a seminal researcher on employee productivity, regarded as a hygiene factor. If you don't pay the minimum expected for a fair day's work, your employees will get "sick" with apathy or anger.

Beyond the minimum acceptable pay rate, there are things you can do to lift employee motivation and performance that don't involve money. Here are some strategies that your managers and supervisors can use to lift performance to the next level:

  • Clarify each person's role and how their work contributes to the larger organizational goals.
  • Sit down with the team to discuss and agree performance goals for the near term and to share ideas on how the work can be done more effectively.
  • Meet with each employee individually at least as often as fortnightly to discuss progress towards the goals and any concerns they may have.
  • Reward the team and individual employees when a milestone has been reached. Use non-monetary rewards such as certificates, going out to a restaurant together and receiving a memo of thanks from a senior manager.

Just as importantly, avoid the demotivators. These include criticizing individuals in front of other team members, going back on something that was promised and speaking abruptly or disrespectfully.

I have one word of caution. Before going off doing "funky" things that you think will create a buzz, find out from your employees why they are not motivated. Find someone they trust and get them to sit down with each employee and ask where they would like to be in three years time. Ask them what they like about their job and what they would change if they had the power.

If there are low levels of trust within your organization, call in an outside consultant to facilitate discussions with employees or get someone to design and conduct an employee satisfaction survey. The key point here is to not have a "knee-jerk" reaction to fixing low performance problems. Take the time and effort to really find out what is going on in your business before you act.

Succession Planner softwareAre you looking to provide a career path for your employees but don't know where to start? Do you have people in your organization that you want to help progress into their next role but are not sure on how to manage the process? Our Succession Planner software will help you manage your entire succession planning effort. From initially identifying your succession positions through to analyzing and reporting succession progress, this tool does it all. The familiar Microsoft Excel format gets you up and running as quickly as possible. Find out more and download the free demo version from our Succession Planner web page.

"I wanted to thank you for coming up with this tool. I presented our information to my manager's boss and he liked it so much he has asked me to spearhead this for the rest of our business unit at the corporate office."

Amy Sidney-Banks SPHR, Human Resources/EHS Manager

What role do trainers and coaches play in motivating employees?


Isn't it true that trainers and coaches are professionals trained in inspiring employees to be the best they can be? How can we best use these resources for lifting the morale of workers?


Trainers and coaches do play an important part during a training or coaching intervention in enthusing employees to do their best. However, the long term source of employee motivation is the employee's immediate manager and the overall company culture and systems. A number of studies have shown that the most common reason an employee leaves an organization is because of a poor relationship with their immediate manager.

Largely relying on trainers to provide motivation is a sure-fire recipe for failure and one that poorly skilled managers turn to all too often. At best, trainers can provide a short-term boost to motivation. However, when an employee returns to a toxic work environment and a supervisor with poor leadership skills, the time and money spent on training will be wasted.

Skilled coaches can also be of great value to an organization. However, without the supervisor's support and encouragement to apply new skills, the time and money would be best spent elsewhere. The critical role that supervisors play in motivating and keeping their staffs is validated by a number of studies. Towers Watson, Gallup Inc, BlessingWhite and Wilson Learning are just four research organizations that have explored this link extensively. The key message here is: If you are a manager, don't rely on trainers and coaches to inspire your people. That job rests with you.

High Impact Training GuideDo you want to help your managers get the most benefit from the training programs you run? Are you tired of sending employees to expensive training sessions and seeing no real change in results back on the job? If you are, then check out our high impact training guide, From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance. Learn proven strategies and techniques for finding performance roadblocks, aligning training to real needs, developing training partnerships, engaging learners and maximizing learning transfer. Find out more about From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance and download the free introductory chapter today.

"The persistent failure of training programs to create lasting changes in workplace performance costs organizations billions of dollars annually. The performance improvement process described in From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance is on-target. It describes a practical systems approach that involves all the key players to get the job done. An essential reference."

Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer, Performance Support Systems, Inc.

Visit our web site at www.businessperform.com for lots of expert guidance and practical tools designed to help you get ahead of your competition. Also, be sure to pass this newsletter on to friends and colleagues who want to stay up with what's on. From all of us here on the Business Performance team, we wish you a productive month and look forward to communicating with you again soon.


In This Issue
Management News in Brief Stay Up to Date What kind of incentives should we offer our employees?What role do trainers and coaches play in motivating employees?
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