Published date: January 25, 2018
Last modified: January 25, 2018

The three reasons why Employees under perform

What an ongoing struggle it is to get employees to perform. This topic always seem to be about getting our employees to step up and do great work, but what are the fundamental reasons that individuals and teams don’t perform as we want them to?

Employees feel incapable. Employees who are incapable have core abilities that do not align with the abilities required to complete the activities of the job. Every job has very specific activities that are key to performance and therefore success in the job. For example, the activities of an accountant are to close the books, create reports, analyse performance, ensure compliance with procedures, etc. These activities require a strategic, analytical, methodical and detail-oriented person. If your accountant employee is not that, performance is a challenge. Many times the primary reason for employee underperformance is in hiring employees who do not fit their role – they do not have the abilities that align to the specific needs of the job. Solution: Include the required abilities in addition to skill and experience criteria when defining the performance profile of the job; hire for abilities as well as skill and experience.

Employees feel disconnected. Employees who are disconnected do not share or understand the direction, vision, belief or mission for the business; there is no emotional connection to the business. When employees understand the beliefs and vision of the business and they align with their personal values, they are more engaged, committed and passionate about their performance. Think of the way employees who work at Google feel about innovation, the way employees feel about coffee at Starbucks, the way employees feel about service at Zappos, the way employees feel about the outdoors at Patagonia. Our performance is fueled by our passions and values – and diminished by our lack of interest or connection. Solution: clearly share your vision and belief about the business and source/hire employees who share your beliefs.

Employees are unclear. Sometimes employees do not have or understand their specific performance expectations – they don’t know what a successful or “done right” outcome is; they have no performance standard. Here is a personal example: when my kids were younger it seemed we were always in conflict with them about keeping their rooms clean. The problem was we didn’t share the same definition of “clean room.” So, once the room was cleaned “at expectation,” we took a picture – then taped it to the door. This became the standard of how a room was to look when we said “clean.” We all shared the same expectation or standard and now could hold them accountable for delivering this specific performance. In the workplace, employees need the same guidance about what a successful performance outcome is so that they can be held accountable to deliver it. This clarity lets them use their abilities to determine how to deliver the outcome. Solution: improve the clarity of performance expectations to ensure employees know what is expected and can perform accordingly.

Sustainably high performance requires that employees’ abilities fit the activities required of the job, they share the values, beliefs or mission of the business and they clearly know their performance expectations. We can’t expect employees to bring their A-game if we haven’t set them up to be successful. Once in place, it is fair to expect great performance.

Published date: January 17, 2018
Last modified: January 17, 2018

People Transition – Getting the team from AS IS to the TO BE business – Martin Rafe comments

The rate of change for organisations is not going to slow down anytime soon, and indeed if anything most sectors and industries will probably speed up the rate of change in order to remain both competitive and profitable. But who is going to take such organisations forward – well of course it’s the people.

Even in knowledge of the people resistance factor leaders and managers attempt to drive headlong into a change programme through re-engineering, resizing, cultural change and more, but fail to recognise that it is a change in people behaviours that they need to address to get the results they desire – this means that organisations actually fail to engage their people to want to buy into the change, and then of course wonder why things aren’t working or are taking so long to achieve any results in some cases.

In essence leaders and managers need to get close to why people work for them, what they want and need. Call it the ‘Hertzberg’ hygiene factors if you want but I am talking about the full appreciation that a lack of buy into change will only result in resistance whether it be passive or active, but still resistance.

The most effective people transition programmes look at how managers are going to manage the ‘buy in ‘ concepts ie how they can positively manage making people to feel comfortable during what is a very uncomfortable time, because the natural and physiological reaction to change is resistance which cause delays, productivity declines, absenteeism, extra costs, inefficiencies and more – resistance has costs, it is not free.

Therefore it is vital to manage what you might see as the resistance states ie the now ‘I’m happy with stuff like it is’, the transition ‘what if it doesn’t work’ and the future ‘I’m not sure how or where I’ll be after the change’.

Importantly change resistance doesn’t just happen and organisation change managers need to develop appropriate tactics early on and ongoing to prevent employee resistance. Areas such as clear honest communications, early involvement of people in the change process and listening will all help to get people across the change bridge!

Published date: January 10, 2018
Last modified: January 10, 2018

Time’s up on time management?

Chances are at some point in your career, you’ve felt like there just weren’t enough hours in the day. You are not alone! The clock moves faster than we had realised and we’re stuck frantically putting the final pieces together.

With busy lifestyles becoming the norm and professionals pushing the limits, time management has become a hot topic on everyone’s blogroll and newsfeed.

Over the last couple years, we may have been led to believe that time is something we can control. Seriously consider though, what does time management even mean?

Time is a constant, so can it be managed? The entire concept of time management seems backwards and leads people to suggest that they need more time in a day. In reality, we all have the same amount of time in a day as everyone else, the same as say Bill Gates or Richard Branson. The thing that is distinctive is what we’ve decided to do with our time and what we’ll do with it moving forward.

So, should it really be called self-management? We can manage our own actions, prioritise and allocate our attention. Once we do this, we can begin achieving more in a day and take the appropriate steps to being more productive.

Here are some ways to improve productivity by managing yourself instead of attempting to manage your time:

Control Your Thoughts

Managing your brain is the most challenging but most aspect of self-management. That voice in your head that encourages procrastination needs an off switch. “I’ll do that tomorrow” or “I’ll get to that later” are thoughts to be ignored. Focus on the tasks at hand and turn off the Wi-Fi so you’re not distracted by the flashing inbox or Skype message.

Prioritise Your Work

Planning your workday and prioritising projects provides structure and gives you visual prompts of the tasks to be tackled. Prioritising involves listing what you need to do and rating them in order of importance. For example, you can label your items as ‘important and urgent’, ‘important but not urgent’ or ‘not important and not urgent’.

Be Accountable

Allocate time increments to each item on your priority list. For instance, from 9-10 respond to emails, 10-11 execute task x, 11-11:15 coffee break, 11:15-12:30 build proposal, the cycle continues. Own your accountability by attaching time to action items and cross them off your list when done. Your work should be managed just as you manage your meetings.

Get off email

Email can be the biggest distraction from accomplishing project work. Schedule your email time into your day and close your email to focus on other items. Go the extra step and turn off your email notifications to prevent distraction.

Use Your Calendar

Entering items into a calendar and using it are two different things. Alongside scheduled meetings, add deadlines and personal commitments. Use your calendar to steer your day, track your output and keep you on target regarding productivity. Start each day by looking at your calendar to get a perspective on your day and the rest of the week. Visit your calendar every day and edit it as new projects come in and tasks are completed. Read more at

Published date: January 4, 2018
Last modified: February 21, 2019

The 10 characteristics most common amongst real leaders


  1. Leaders begin with a determination to finish and to finish well

I am yet to meet a great leader who achieved their success by accident. Instead, they determined from the very beginning that no matter what happened they would complete the job. They pushed themselves to deliver the very best.


  1. A leader’s vision is always bigger than their self-belief

Unlike good managers, leaders do not settle for the status quo. Their vision is so big it fills the whole working day. Their task and how it must be achieved matters too much to ever let it be forgotten or ignored when they are around.


  1. A leader is defined by their integrity

There comes a critical moment in every potential leaders life when they have to make that defining choice and decide either to do what is right or do what is easy. Many I have witnessed took the easy choice and having done it once it sadly becomes the natural choice forever.


  1. A leader always says thank you

The reasons staff stay with an organisation are many and varied, however the reasons for leaving fall into a much smaller group, and one of the biggest known reasons for leaving is because their manager never recognised their contribution. Leaders never forget.


  1. A leader invests in their workforce

They work hard at their own career development but not at the expense of their team or workforce. Their relationship with their senior colleagues and their teams is grounded on a ‘commitment to develop’ that goes very wide and very deep into their organisation. They set out with the pre-determined view that nothing they gain through their own efforts is worth more than the outcome of their team.


  1. A leader treats people well

To put it simply, leaders are nice to be around. Their respect for others including those who disagree with them is evident to any who take time to observe. They are seldom rude or impatient. They have track records of strong, healthy relationships.


  1. A leader shares the workload thoughtfully

Unlike good managers, leaders delegate well to ensure their focus is on leading through influence and implanting vision. However, sharing the workload is not the off-loading of activity like many managers do but rather a sharing of the work experience.


  1. A leader faces up to discouragement not down

Everyone gets discouraged at times and leaders are no different. The real difference I have experienced is leaders rarely allow themselves the luxury of wallowing in their despair. They dealt with discouragement before it consumed them. They accepted mistakes got made but were not the end of the story.


  1. A leader has genuine confidants

I have always believed that leaders need to be different but not indifferent, and as such the role can be lonely. Many of the leaders I have had the privilege to work with have had a small but important group of close business friends. This delivers the support system they need. Regardless of what leadership challenges they face, leaders know they are not alone.


  1. A leader has the ability to laugh

While many of the leaders I have worked with have been tough, they have also been able to laugh. In spite of remaining deadly serious about delivering success they also manage to not take themselves too seriously. Putting colleagues and teams at ease through laughter has not compromised their goal of delivering great teams and excellent services.