Archive for the ‘People Performance’ Category

People: The Key to Sustained Success is Discipline and Rigour

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Management literature constantly tells us that the quality of the people determine an organisation’s success. If this is true then the decline or failure of an organisation is due to a decline in the quality of its people.

This management maxim also means that the life cycle of an organisation is not inevitable ie start up, growth, maturation, decay. Because if an organisation implements effective people processes it can continue to attract, manage performance and retain high quality people and continue to be successful.

If an organisation fails to implement effective people processes, and particularly if it is growing, it will become over reliant on external recruitment. Since talented people are rare, this will result in the organisation having to compromise on talent to fill roles – this is particularly the case in the current environment of significant skill shortages.

The key to an organisation’s sustained success are effective people processes driven by rigorous and disciplined analytics.


Understand roles across the organisation

A rigorous disciplined analytical approach starts with getting a clear and comprehensive picture of what the roles look like across the organisation. This goes far beyond the traditional standard job description approach, particularly the classic one page wish list of duties.

For each role it is critical to understand:

  • What needs to be achieved
  • What achievement looks like
  • How people need to perform to achieve objectives
  • What psychological and knowledge resources people need


The only way that these factors can be clearly understood is by rigorously analysing the complexity embedded in each role.


Understand the interlocking career paths across the organisation

 The interlocking horizontal and vertical career paths must be rigorously analysed to ensure:

  • Critical task commonalities and differences between roles are identified
  • Critical differences in complexity of roles are identified and career path steps properly reflect differences in complexity. This ensure sufficient remuneration incentive for people to want to progress in their career within the organisation


Providing a comprehensive picture of careers across the organisation encourages top performers to stay. Many of the top global CEOs stayed with the one company and eventually became the CEO because they had opportunities to perform in a diverse range of roles across a number of career paths within the company.


A disciplined and rigorous approach to the management of remuneration

 This can only be achieved if there is a clear, comprehensive and valid picture of the roles across the organisation including differences in the complexity of the work across the roles. Without this picture the organisation will match apples with oranges rather than apples with apples when comparing remuneration with published remuneration surveys. Moreover unless there is a clear picture of the roles within the organisation it is impossible to identify roles in the published surveys that are poorly matched and therefore give an incorrect picture of actual pay levels in the market.


Develop disciplined and rigorous performance management and development processes

 Unfortunately too many organisations treat performance management and development as yard work. Human Resources Managers are busy and under pressure from the CEO and senior executives to fix up pay and focus on compliance. In these circumstances performance management and development often gets perfunctory treatment. Forms are quickly developed and distributed, management is given minimal preparation and training and then the performance management/development system is implemented.

Not surprisingly the result is little or no change in performance levels and HR loses credibility.

A disciplined and rigorous approach requires:

  • Position Descriptions to be prepared at the appropriate level of complexity
  • Clear and agreed Key Result Areas and Performance Indicators
  • A simple performance and development cycle which is understood by managers and staff.
  • Performance feedback to be separated from performance appraisal for pay adjustment purposes
  • Learning and development action plans to be developed and there is a direct line of sight from the complexity level of the role to the complexity level of the Learning and Development actions.

Sustained success is the result of the right kind of hard work. The keys outlined above will get you started on the path to an effective disciplined and rigorous analytical approach to people processes in your organisation.

Dallas Burgess

© PeopleAdvantage 2010  All rights reserved

Presentations are embedded in online courses, where teachers can track statistics and assess how the lesson was received


People: Are Your Team Members Typecast and Stereotyped?

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Many team members have been typecast and stereotyped. Usually their personality type has been compressed into four characteristics. This often happens during team building exercises. When people are typecast they are also stereotyped. This can reduce the effectiveness of individuals and teams. Why?

Team Effectiveness

When a person has been stereotyped other team members have a set perception of that person. This can result in misunderstandings and in people no longer listening to what a team member has to say. Often the underlying logic of the viewpoint is missed, and other team members dismiss the team member as simply behaving to type.

Typecasting can actually reduce communication effectiveness between team members. In extreme cases a team member may refrain from expressing a view because of fears of being pigeon holed and misinterpreted.

Individual Effectiveness

At the individual level a person’s career development can be stunted because, not only can other team members stereotype the individual, but the individual can stereotype themselves. Their self-perception and self-efficacy can be severely limited resulting in a failure to fully realise their potential.

Alternative Approach to Team Building

Taking a dynamic systems approach to team building avoids the problems of typecasting and stereotyping. A dynamic systems approach helps team members to understand:

  • How teams develop and change over time
  • How individuals grow as team members
  • How team identity develops and ways of facilitating effective team identity
  • How to understand the music behind the words – this is about meaningful communication and the blockages to meaningful communication

A dynamic systems approach treats people as mature adults rather than a small set of typical characteristics. Telling people they are mature adults is more powerful for enhancing team performance than all the typecasting and stereotyping in the world.

For more information call Dallas Burgess on +61 2 99573511 or visit:

Dallas Burgess

Organisational Psychologist

Copyright PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2009. All rights Reserved.

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How to Manage Dysfunctional and Destructive People

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Here are some tips on how to manage some types of dysfunctional and destructive people.


It is important to understand that this article is not concerned with isolated and/or one off behaviour.  Behaviour is considered dysfunctional only when there is a clear pattern of behaviour, which is systematically and well documented over time.


Passive Aggressive Behaviour


Behaviour Includes:


·         Passive resistance, covert, angry

·         Controlling, undermining, manipulation

·         Resistance, Stubborn, inertia 


 Some Tips:


·         Be careful, don’t blame yourself, use self-talk, be rational, be cool

·         Document the behaviour for yourself; including the experience of other people and/or reports

·         Don’t play the game – this means don’t allow the passive aggressive person push your buttons

·         Be assertive – try to avoid getting angry, or at least displaying anger, and make sure you get the facts right

·         If you manage the person; ensure they understand that you will not tolerate their behaviour

·         Don’t lose your cool; passive aggressives get a “kick” out of you losing control and playing into their hands

·         If they are your boss; aim to get contracts, written agreements, protect yourself!


Bullying Behaviour


 Behaviour Includes:


·         Dominance, humiliation

·         Intimidation, exploitation of power imbalance

·         Behaviour will lack empathy 


Some Tips:


·         Don’t let bullies win; report them to management

·         Talk to your peers and other people, bullies like to divide and conquer and isolate people

·         Respond in a calm non-emotional way, avoid eye contact

·         In a group just ignore the person

·         In a group, you and other members walk away; bullies need an audience; they believe an audience confirms their behaviour

·         Bullying is a complex problem; requires effective organisational policies and procedures to deal with it

·         Dismissal is the only answer for repeat offenders


Workplace Psychopathic Behaviour


Behaviour Includes:


·         Amoral, exploitative, unprincipled

·         Deceiving, dishonest, remorseless

·         Anti-social, lack of guilt

·         Narcissism – very self-centred

·         Bullying behaviour (see above)


It is estimated that 3 to 4 percent of males and 1 percent of females are psychopaths


Psychopaths are very destructive to the organisation and very damaging to individuals.


Some Tips:


·         Psychopaths do not change

·         If you identify a pattern; warn others, collect facts – as many as possible

·         Look for unprincipled patterns; but remember, one unprincipled action does not make a psychopath – it may be inexperience, immaturity, lack of knowledge about organisation policies and procedures etc

·         Don’t cover for anyone you believe is behaving in an unprincipled manner; also copy documents and ensure minutes of meetings outline concerns about decisions, advice received etc

·         Talk to a senior member of the organisation about your reservations and concerns

·         Psychopaths are successful because they “divide and conquer” – it is difficult to get the full picture; each person really only gets a “bit of the picture”. There will be many victims across the organisation.


·         Generally, psychopaths can only be effectively dealt with if they are revealed or there is a threat that they will be revealed

·         So the strategy is to take actions that reveal the unprincipled behaviour pattern

·         This needs to be followed by dismissal




The source for much of this material is “Difficult Personalities – A practical Guide to managing the hurtful behaviour of others” Dr H McGrath & H Edwards: 2000, Choice Books


Also, the following books are good for learning about psychopaths:


“Working with Monsters – How to Identify and Protect Yourself from the Workplace Psychopath”: Sydney, Random House Australia


“Snakes in Suites – When Psychopaths Go To Work”: Paul Babiak Ph.d & Robert D. Hare Ph.d; 2006, Harper-Collins


You can purchase these books at our Organization Renewal Online Store. Go to Blogroll and click onto the store.



© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008  All Rights Reserved

Reality in this 3 part series of articles, a variety of teachers who have used the model do a wonderful job of clearing up misconceptions and sharing lessons learned


Talent Management: A framework to Attract and Retain Talented People

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Many organisations forget the people management fundamentals when struggling to attract and retain talented people.


Here is a framework to help organisations build the fundamentals to attract and retain talented people.


{     Organisation


{     People


{     Role design


1. Organisation:


{     Ensure clear linkages exist between Business/Organisational Strategic  objectives to people strategies (clear line of sight)

{     Ensure competencies are clearly mapped for each organisation level across the organisation

{     Ensure consistency with organisation operational requirements

{     Ensure appropriate organisation structures

{     Identify and eliminate negative cultural factors that adversely impact on the psychological well being of people

{     Ensure leadership and people systems are in place that support your talent and succession management strategy


Eliminate Negative Cultural Factors


Talented people will not tolerate negative cultures. Common negative culture factors include:


{     Blaming

{     Silos

{     Over-control

{     Bullying

{     Lack of recognition

{     Avoidance of responsibility

{     Intra-organisation competitiveness


2. People:


{     Identify the critical factors that clearly characterise high performance

{     Understand how to identify and assess talented people at the organisation and individual competency levels, and at the personality and temperament levels

{     Understand how to determine the readiness of people to progress to the next career level – and how long and what type of development is needed before people can progress

{     Avoid and/or remove dysfunctional and destructive people

{     Ensure reward and recognition strategies, policies and processes support achievement


Leadership and People Systems


Talented people demand effective leadership including:


{     Trust building

{     Acting with integrity

{     Inspiring others

{     Encouraging innovative thinking

{     Coaching


Identify High Performance


Talented people seek opportunities for high achievement:


{     Communicate what and how they need to achieve outcomes

{     Ensure competencies are meaningful – complexity levels of work


How to Identify and Assess Talent


Factors and activities include:


{     Know how the complexity of work changes at each organisation level.

{     Focus on the complexity of the work rather than the specific function to be performed.

{     Understand the key personality and temperament factors that contribute to high performance;

{     Psychological resources required for success change as roles increase in complexity


3. Role Design:


{     Design roles that enable people to focus on critical performance factors that enhance their recognition and development

{     Ensure role description documentation provides for an evaluation of people’s Organisation Citizenship Behaviours (OCBs)


The Need for Competencies


Talented people want to know what is expected of them:


{     Core competencies and performance

{     Functional competencies and performance


Map competencies across the organisation – paint the picture




Management fads come and go. Effective talent management is about establishing tried, tested and proven people frameworks, policies and processes. Forget focusing on yard work. Be strategic.



© PeopleAdvantage Pty Limited 2008  All Rights Reserved

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