business process redesign

Aug 8, 2016

Work Performance and the Perils of Comparison

Let me take you back in time.  You’re in 8th grade.  You’ve signed up for your first guitar lesson and the teacher plays Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”   She offers it up as an example of a great song that you can learn to play.  You’re motivated to learn, right?  Wrong!  She no sooner finishes her sentence about “you can learn how to play,” when you hear Jimmy Page rips into his classic solo and you decide then and there that it’s time to take up sports – “because there ain’t no way you’re going to be able to do what Jimmy’s doing in that song!”  You leave the lesson discouraged.

I share this because there is new evidence uncovered by researchers Avi Feller and Todd Rogers that suggests “that exposure to exemplary peer performances can undermine motivation and success by causing people to perceive that they cannot attain their peers’ high levels of performance.”  This finding has some huge implications for businesses – especially as it pertains to individual and team performance in the workplace.

But, managers, don’t despair!  You and you’re team are not doomed to a work life of less than stellar achievement.  There are some things that you can do to avoid falling into this trap.  Here are 5 suggestions:

1.      Show that you’re into it!  Passion and enthusiasm are contagious.  If you demonstrate that you’re into the work at hand, your team can’t help but follow.

2.      Set goals that can be attained.  Don’t set the Led Zeppelin as the goal.  Rather, choose goals that can be achieved.  The team will hang in there and work to get better, if they can gain a sense of accomplishment as they work.

3.      Stop comparing your team to others.  As the research suggests, there are other ways to motivate.  Challenge the team to work towards improving their performance every day, every week and every month – Jimmy Page wasn’t born a virtuoso.  He grew his talent over time through practice and dedication.

4.      Provide air cover.  If you have someone else to answer to, as most managers do, you may not be able to control how you and your team are measured from above.  So, it’s essential that you have your teams back as they progress.  By providing some air cover you’ll give your team the chance to mature and evolve into meeting and exceeding all expectations.

5.      Make it about the journey and not about the destination.  It’s OK to have some fun at work.  Make performance achievement about the “this is how we get better” and, not about the consequences of not meeting goals.

To close, comparison can be a perilous path to take when working to motivate.  Like the guitar teacher, you can intimidate those that you’re trying to inspire.  Instead of falling into the comparison trap, try some of these tips and you just might lead your team to outstanding performance.

NOTE: This piece, Work Performance and the Perils of Comparison,  was originally published in Inc. on July 18, 2016.

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Feb 22, 2015

How to Optimize Your Accounting Strategy

In these challenging economic times, it is wise to reexamine even the most of the mundane activities performed in your business to identify opportunities for improvement.accounta

How to Optimize Your Accounting Strategy

Out earlier this week in my Inc. Magazine column.

Read it and share…You just may someone!

Aug 18, 2014

The Breakthrough Radio Interview (Part 1)

The Breakthrough Radio Interview  (Part 1) – Host Michele Price drives this hour long interview.  We present it here in two parts.  Here is Part 1:

Part 1

Check it out and be sure to pass it on…Please RT, Like and Follow.


Jul 17, 2014

Tips from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf

Tips from the Entrepreneur’s Bookshelf:

The Executive Checklist is featured in the list.

If you have a chance, be sure to check it out!

Jul 10, 2014

New Interview In Investor’s Business Daily

In this new interview in Investor’s Business Daily, we discuss leadership and the


importance of keeping things simple.  Take a look:

Break Things Down To Their Essence To Get Top  Results

Be sure to pass it on!


Jul 9, 2014

GM: Culture Starts at the Top

It’s more than just dodgy ignition switches, GM’s leadership has produced a real lemon. When we start to examine the culture that has led the firm to here, we find some deep rooted issues that must be addressed.   Read on:


GM: Culture Starts at the Top


Let’s discuss it and share it widely so that this type of thing never happens again.


Jun 13, 2014

On Air Today – CBS Radio / WTIC Talk Radio with Ray Dunaway

On Air Today – CBS Radio / WTIC Talk Radio with Ray Dunaway:

WTIC 1080AM in Connecticut, Thursday, June 5, 8:50 AMcbs

Here’s a link to listen in on what was said: WTIC Online Radio

We talked Veteran’s Affairs, Gen Y and the Bell Curve…It was fun!

Jun 12, 2014

Organizational Dysfunction: Communications or Lack of Teamwork

TeamworkSometimes we can get fooled into thinking that poor communication is a problem when it’s really a symptom of something much more profound: poor organizational design that undermines the ability of people to work in teams.

Check out the latest thoughts on the subject here.

Organizational Dysfunction: Communications or Lack of Teamwork

May 12, 2014

Interview with SmallBiz America

Interview with SmallBiz America. SmallBiz

Host David Wolf discusses the latest in leadership thinking with me in this interview.

We discuss some of the more interesting things firms including H&M and Vail Resorts are doing to better compete and capture market share.

Please be sure to give it a listen!

May 2, 2014

BusinessWeek Article – Tips for the New Leader

Companies often test young managers by giving them a big project to oversee. Here are some tips for acing your first assignment:

BusinessWeek Article

Always remember: There are no magic formulas or cookbooks to follow when developing your leadership “chops.”

Copyright 2019 James M. Kerr       info@executive‑       860‑301‑2085