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From the Top

Captain's Log, Stardate August 3, 2010. These are the voyages of the Starship <fill in your name>...

OK, a hokey start, I know, but relevant. We're starting to run out of year. Make certain, as we wind up for the second half of 2010, that we accurately determine and catalog what we have done, what we haven't that we wanted to, and the reasons for both.

Also, as we begin making initial plans for 2011, remember to consider:

a. Plans (strategic, of course, but don't forget functional plans as well),

b. Leadership needs (now's the time, not after you realize you have a need and scream "holy crap!"), and

c. Compensation. Make sure that we get what we pay for, and that we pay for those things that make our organization successful. There's a relevant article on this topic here in this month's At C-Level.

Our 2010 Survey of Senior Leadership is complete, and my sincere appreciation to all those who responded - almost 300 this year, making the results as credible as just about anything out there, though I still make no claim to scientific rigor.

A brief overview is linked below, and I'll discuss the results in more detail in future letters; suffice to say for now that your major concerns include

Revenue /Earnings Enhancement, and
Management Development, Performance, and Motivation.

Here's that brief overview of Triangle Performance LLC's 2010 Survey of Senior Leadership.

More surveys... Many of you have asked for this again, so I'm opening the 2011 Survey of Compensation Trends today.

This will be our fifth consecutive survey on the topic, having completed them in 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007. There are just a few brief questions for this one, taking you just a minute or two, and you can find that link here:

2011 Survey of Compensation Trends

Some newsworthy mentions:

Repeat mention: Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) was recently ranked the most admired company in the food production industry for the second year in a row by Fortune magazine. ADM (Cedar Rapids) has been a Triangle Performance client for several years; they are a dedicated group of really good, hardworking people -- congrats to them for continuing their successful efforts!

The Houston Business Journal featured my firm (and a large, multi-year client) for an article on team-centric executive development. Appeared on page 5B of the April 24th print edition of the HBJ. recently updated and reposted my article on "5 Laws of Leadership You Must Never Forget - a leadership skills survival kit."

Interesting blog posting a while back on Punk Rock HR on employee engagement. Laurie's thoughts on the topic are damn close to mine, so I opinied.

I spoke in June at the 2010 Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM) national conference in San Diego. It was billed as a MEGA SESSION - just me and 800 or so of my closest friends; have received tons of positive comments, most around the "No Whining" rule, and my version of Larry, Curly, and Moe: The Three Stupids.

I also spoke recently to an annual gathering of Project Managers on the topic If it Hurts, Stop Doing it.

Speaking of speaking... I continue to present two favorite topics:

Sit Down, Shut Up, and Color!
Breaking through employee entitlement...

Leadership is Easy... until it isn't.
Successful leadership in challenging times...

If you have a corporate or association event, I'd certainly enjoy speaking to your group. You can see more information regarding topics and details on my website.

Further, feel free to download and read a few articles that may be relevant today:

New! Backseat Driving: Leading the business from the back of the bus,

New! Change is Inevitable... but necessary? Different doesn't always mean better, and

Incentive Compensation During Challenging Times... Bonuses: boom or bust?

...and don't forget to check out my blog;some interesting (I think) posts on coaching advice for high-performers, and stupid should hurt... please comment, complain, or scream at me if you agree, disagree, or just want your opinion read, seen, and heard.

Berchelmann's Blog

If you'd like to know how I can assist you, your organization, or a colleague of yours, please fill out this form and I'll send you some specific information, articles, engagement results, and so forth.

As always, I hope this finds you well, personally and professionally; please give me a call if I can ever help in any way, and feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may be interested. (Really!) I appreciate your referrals.

Warm Regards,

D. Kevin Berchelmann

D. Kevin Berchelmann
Triangle Performance, LLC

Strategy & Leadership

BP's Leadership Alchemy
-- Management crude into Leadership gold?

Ok, maybe "into Leadership gold" is a bit of a stretch, but can there be lessons for leadership in the wake of the BP oil spill?

I think so. But in the interest of full disclosure, I believe that most incidents (good or bad) contain valuable learnings for leaders... the BP tragedy is no different in that regard.

What occurred in the gulf is nothing short of horrific; that BP, no matter how "wrong" or "negligent" they are, has actually stepped up and admitted responsibility -- both in words and resources -- speaks to leadership traits that are valuable.

Acknowledging and accepting personal responsibility and accountability for leadership missteps is an attribute in chronic short supply today. Granted, BP screwed up. Royally. But they (via their resident rocket scientist Hayward) could simply have done what most do today when "caught":

Obfuscate. Distract. Blame "collective" and/or aggregate entities and events. BP didn't do that, and there's a lesson in that.

Next, after BP accepted responsibility, they also accepted the onus for making their mistake "right." They screwed up, said so, then waived any semblance of defense for financial culpability. Many pundits think the only righteous ending is a failed BP, which I believe to be so incredibly short-sided as to be intellectually ignorant.

So, there's another leadership lesson here... we're all going to make mistakes (some small, some world-rocking big); how quickly - and forcefully - that we show a willingness to "make it right" matters to those around us, watching.

Finally, most culture change is borne of crisis. If there's a final lesson for leadership here, in my mind, it's for us to get better at evaluating the magnitude of events so we can better determine when that culture-changing crisis is at hand. For BP, for example, it should have occurred during the Texas City explosion, but did not (at least in full measure).

It likely will now, and contrary to what many think (and I live in the Gulf Coast area), it is better to be late than never.

So, let's take what we can get, when we can get it, regarding leadership lessons. We make mistakes, we learn from them, and then hopefully we don't repeat those mistakes again later.

We just make new ones... but that's another article.


Money Matters
-- Fair compensation in turbulent times

I hate to use the word "fair" when discussing compensation, or actually when discussing anything regarding the employer-employee relationship.

I generally tell people looking for "fair" that it comes to town once each year, and they have Ferris wheels, cotton candy, and shysters trying to get you to toss a penny into a dish 20 feet away for a kewpie doll.

We don't actually even want "fair," per se. We want "correct," and correct depends entirely on our organization's plans, objectives, and specific needs for various skills and abilities.

It's always important to make sure our compensation process or system (it's not a "program") works for our needs. It's critically important during turbulent times, for myriad reasons. Key talent attraction and retention, specific performance needs, and the ability to adapt to constant changes in our world all require our compensation process to be hitting on all cylinders.

So, how do we do that? I mentioned it was a "process," so here it is:


Evaluate positions. The most important step, and it's more involved than most give it credit for. It's vital here to know what specifically the incumbent is doing and for what that position is actually accountable.

Not what's listed in a job description, necessarily, and certainly not what seems like a self-explanatory business card.

2. Survey the market. Again, more complex than we usually give credit. We must find credible sources of data that shine a light on the specific responsibilities and activities we've identified above. These sources can include:


Paid aggregate surveys - these include those purchased from well-known providers like Towers-Watson, Culpepper, and so on. It can also include trade and industry surveys, if collection is rigorous enough.

People always ask about "free" sources. Give it up, they simply aren't valid enough for sole sources. Ask me for details and I'll explain "why." Suffice to say I'm reminded of the sign at the cleaners: "Fast, Cheap, Good - pick any two."


Custom data. Here, we go to competitors and others that employ the skills we need, asking what they pay for similar skills. Many feel this is the "gold" standard for data - it's not, necessarily.

First, asking what another company pays for a position ignores the real question: how much do they value that position. Next, a company's process may look nothing like yours, regarding philosophy, legacy employees, etc.

Finally, be cautious here of anti-trust issues. There's really no way for in-house resources to effectively survey competitors and not run afoul of anti-trust precedence.

c. "Other" data. Free sources, resume databases, job boards, etc., can all provide an information source to validate what you already have. I'm ok with that, provided we aren't using this as a primary or valid source.


Finally, we set our process. Here's where we take the skills and abilities we need, and compare against the data we've collected; we make relevant calculations for unique positions that don't fit someone's single role (important). We determine the total compensation "mix" of base, incentives (long-term and short), benefits and perquisites. We clearly identify the process for merit and performance increases.

And we make absolutely certain of two things:

a) That our compensation process and related results accurately reflect our desired compensation philosophy, and

b) That our compensation philosophy and process work positively toward our goals and objectives.

"Fair" is often an illusion, but "correct" compensation is not only well within our reach, but something we should strive for, making sure it works for us, not against.

And this, of course, is even more crucial during changing, turbulent times.

But that's just me...

© 2010 Triangle Performance, LLC