Monday, August 31, 2009


"Nobody has ever measured, even the poets, how much a heart can hold." - Zelda Fitzgerald

Are you challenging the hearts of your team?

"If the business is not growing its because its not giving!" Bob

To what is your business giving?
Friday, August 28, 2009

Capturing Hearts and Minds

In conversation this week with a client the discussion shifted to employee motivation and the role that compensation has in it. The context was "pay for performance" which is premised on the assumption that professionals are motivated by money. Well, that's not entirely true.

The science is in... professionals are not primarily motivated by financial reward. Of course if compensation is inadequate money matters but beyond that the three key motivators are autonomy, mastery, and purpose. These are the matters of performance that lay the foundation for service, scalability, and sustainability in practice.

Professionals desire independence in the services they provide, they want the opportunity to acquire and to be recognized for superior skills, and to be working for a purpose that is larger than themselves and the organization they work with.

That should come as no surprise but it is an understanding too often overlooked. ... not just by employers but also employees.

With autonomy comes accountability. One must live with the consequences of their choices and actions. Those consequences have clinical, social, and financial implications. Productivity and contribution have consequences pertaining to compensation and job security - those things are inherently linked to autonomy.

With mastery comes commitment, practice, objectivity and the willingness to teach others. One must be willing to sacrifice and invest time and money to earn skill mastery. It's not good enough to claim mastery, it needs to be recognized by others who have the knowledge and experience to recognize mastery.

With purpose comes expectation and obligation. One must find the passion and persistence to make a difference, to take risks, advocate, lead, and contribute by example. One is expected to achieve that which they set out to do. Purpose is not left at the side of the road. Purpose does not go on vacation. Purpose gets one up early on a Monday morning and keeps one up late at night. Purpose means advocating for a cause... standing up to be counted... speaking the truth... delivering value.

Is autonomy, mastery, and purpose critical parts of your business / professional culture? If not, why not? If yes, what can you do to inspire and mentor others to realize their professional promise and potential? Are you capturing hearts and minds?

Coming back to where we started... "Pay for Performance" has high likelihood for failure in many practice environments. The discussion needs to begin around autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Only then can the conversation move toward compensation. The conversation needs to be anchored in the big rocks of trust, value, purpose, principles, and a service with performance culture.

When the time for compensation discussions finally arrives do yourself a favor and focus not on "pay for performance" but rather "variable compensation" based ones contribution to the business and those it serves through autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Only then can heads and hearts be connected! Performance Matters!

All The Best!


(c) Copyright 2009
Performance Builders
Tuesday, August 25, 2009


"You get the best efforts from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within." - Bob Nelson
Saturday, August 22, 2009


I had an interesting conversation with a new client this week about market competition. The challenge was this... The client's practice was in a midsized market with many competitors, plus additional competitors in surrounding communities. The conversation wasn't about how to survive but rather how to grow and thrive! To the client's credit they wanted to grow! I love spunk!

Its tough to grow in a crowded market in which referral patterns and loyalties are well established. It's unlikely they are going to grow using traditional "me too" strategies of yellow pages advertising, newsletters, prescription pads, office calls - you know the drill. Such activities may be an incidental part of one's marketing activities but they are not the seeds for growth when everyone else is doing the same things.

There's an old marketing truth that says, "When everyone else is zigging there can be a lot of value in zagging." What does zagging look like in your market?

For this client we identified two unique high impact growth strategies that taken together hold strong potential for being a game changer in their market. Both were chosen because of their potential positive impact on growth in a crowded market and because they were a good fit for the practice's long term vision, values, and resources. The concept behind the strategies was simple, "If you can't win the game everyone else is playing, create a new game that you are uniquely equiped to win."

Our marketing conversation took place in the context of a larger discussion that included benchmarking the practice's current performance operationally and financially, establishing new performance expectations, implementing a real-time performance tracking and management system, and the formation of a long term marketing strategy. Their team is motivated, competent, and willing to work hard. I think their prospects are good despite a competitive market.

Only time will tell, but I've got advice for this practice's competition - "Keep an eye on your lunch because I know a practice with an appetite that is getting ready to eat it for you!


(c) copyright 2009
Performance Builders
Tuesday, August 18, 2009


"It doesn't matter how much you want. What really matters is how much you want it."
- Ralph Marston
Friday, August 14, 2009

The Loyalty Trap

I've been having an interesting series of conversations over the past couple of weeks with three different health practice owners who share a very common problem in their operations...

The problem boils down to a few not uncommon characteristics that play off eachother within the practice.

1. The practice is small and is structured around friendships and informal business "arrangements"

2. The practice lacks sufficient performance benchmarks and operational controls and thus is not structued for success and doesn't realize it.

3. Finances get tight and it becomes evermore difficult to make ends meet.

4. Loyalties suffer and team members enter into competitive moonlighting business arrangements.

The result is predictable:
> Both parties become frustrated, trapped, and feeling "owed something"
> Trust and loyalty is undermined
> Business and personal relationships erode
> Good intentions and opportunities are lost
> All parties suffer

It is important to realize that this type of situation often spirals out of control It carrys with it the seeds of failure and can easily erode into an abusive business relationship.

It's critical to differentiate the borders between friendship and business. So to it is critical to establish shared business expectations, responsibilities, and obligations, and accountabilites.

Businesses need to be run like a business.

Ideally businesses are set to be run like a business from the start. Too often they are not. When they are not it is important to get them back on track as quickly as possible.

When that is done there is usually some fallout - its regretable but often inevitable. Its likely to get unpleasant before it gets better. Confrontation, threats and harsh words are likely to occur. Procrastination will only make matters worse. The stakes are high.

If you find yourself in such a situation it's important to find a mentor - someone who understands the business and can help you step back and see the big picture, long term and separate business from emotion.

My advice: Face reality. Avoid blame. Get competent advice. Take action. Follow through.

A business that is not structured for success will rarely find it.


(C) copyright 2009
Performance Builders
Wednesday, August 12, 2009


"Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out." - Michael Burke
Friday, August 7, 2009

Between "Yes" and "No"

Getting to "YES" is a classic business book on the art and science of negotiations. It explores various negotiation situations and discusses ways to find common ground, expand common ground, and increase the odds of a successful outcome - i.e. getting to yes.

Of course the title assumes that the parties are not already at "YES" or at least have not realized it. If they are not at "YES", then one must assume they must be at "NO".

"NO" is the word that stops opportunity and possibility in its tracks. "NO" is a word that tests relationships. "NO" is a word that sets up barriers, ends things, shuts things down, begins confrontations, fuels arguments, disappoints, and creates uneasiness. As a result, "NO" often doesn't get said out loud. In some cultures, ethnic and business, "NO" is considered bad manners and is actively avoided not out of dishonesty but out of respect.

Of course not saying "NO" does not mean "YES". In such situations the potential for present tense disappointment and confrontation is traded for the certainty of future tense disappointment and confrontation. It introduces grayness into relationships, a high likelihood for passive aggressive behaviors, and dishonesty.

That reality is where buyer's remorse is rooted. It is where relationships become doomed. It is where growth and forward momentum is ground to a halt and where trust is eroded and lost.

"How can I believe your “YES” until I hear your “NO”?
The implied "YES" always has risks in negotiations and even in casual conversations that may not be immediately recognized as a negotiation - a reality readily evident in family relationships - "well you didn't say "no"."

If your transaction or relationship is important. If the outcome of your interaction has long term implications. If the risk of engagement is significant. ...Then, getting to "YES" and "NO" is equally important. Doing so establishes boundaries, sets up guardrails, and digs the ditches on either side of the road of engagement. It establishes the basis for trust. It shows respect for both parties - the other and yourself.

Sustainable business relationships are founded on trust. Trust is rooted in being able to take people at their word. "YES" and "NO" are liberating. They are the cornerstones of trust. Be sure you say them and listen for them in the interactions that are important to you! There is strength in the space between "YES" and "NO". Find it... exploit it.


(c) copyright 2009
Performance Builders
Monday, August 3, 2009

Mediocre or More

"Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world." - Lily Tomlin

There's an interesting contrast in the fitness and rehabilitation industry. Ask professionals from these market sectors how they would rank themselves against their peers and you will find that about 90% of them rank themselves in the top 10% of providers. Of course this means that respondents are kidding themselves and thus failing to see opportunities for self improvement. Usually along with the ranking are some sort of comments about how what they do is "special" and that they have a "special" relationship with their clients/patients. ...There is also a common reference as to how patients/clients often bring baked goods or special treats. Curious.

In contrast, its also interesting to observe how frequently business performance is benchmarked against the average for the industry as if that were good enough for a high performing professional committed to excellence and continuous improvement. Who cares about average? Why wouldn't every professional aspire to performing in the top 10% from a business perspective. Doing so provides greater reward, recognition, competitive advantage, service capacity, and influence for the good of the community served. Let's face it, most providers don't know what top 10% even is. Honestly, most providers don't know what their profitability is. I know because I ask them.

While the contrast is interesting to note, both deny reality. All professionals are exellent in some areas and not in others. There are dozens of potential points of comparison. In business performance benchmarks alone, I look at over 3 dozen points of comparison. Opportunity and reward may be found in those areas that one is less than excellent. Opportunity may also be exploited in those areas in which one is excellent. What is important is understanding how one actually is performering in multiple dimensions.

Of course there is no shame in not knowing. On the other hand there is no professional rationale or justification for not wanting to know and not taking efforts to find out. In doing so one steps onto the path to top performance.

Are you ready to claim the promise and potential that is within you? Are you ready to claim the leadership role and reward you deserve?


(c) copyright 2009
Performance Builders