The Simpliest Way to Improve Human Performance by 20%

I’m going to share a secret process with you—a system for improving your company, plant, department, work group, or teams performance by 20%--minimum.You may see 50% performance improvement if you follow my advice.

First, read this blog. It will prepare you to implement 90% of my secret process. It works…it’s proven…I’ve done it dozens of times with Fortune 500 companies.If I can do it you will have no problems—I guarantee.


Baseline all of your important performance variables—all the numbers that tell you how well you are doing. That could be sales, productivity, waste, throughput, off-quality, customer service, errors, and new ideas…whatever.If you have the numbers by work group, team, or department, then you are ready to start.If you have seasonal variation, take that into account. If you have just changed equipment, systems, reengineered, added a new incentive system, then take that into account.You are just trying to establish a starting point so that you can demonstrate that what you are about to do really caused the improvement you are going to see; you want to show yourself and others that this is not a fluke.


Tell your employees what you are trying to do. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed; they know that performance improvement is a legitimate objective and it’s not a foreign concept. Explain to them what a behavior is and ask them to create a list of precise, explicit behaviors—things they can do to improve their individual, work group, and department performance numbers. This works great! They know things. They may say, “We can improve the numbers, but first you have to remove this barrier, or eliminate this problem.”

Don’t get angry. This is good input.Performance in U.S. companies would improve exponentially if barriers to employee performance were removed. There is so much waste, redundancy and bureaucracy built into organizational systems, that many employees give up on improvement. It is a good idea to listen to your employees and start removing the barriers.


Post and track the performance variables you are trying to improve—put readable graphs up in the work areas so that people can see the numbers.Post the behaviors that your employees identified so that they can see them.Posting them persuades everyone that you are serious about increasing the frequency of employee behaviors that are linked to improvement and profitability.

Leaders, managers, and supervisors must post fresh numbers daily or weekly and talk about improvement as it occurs.When the numbers don’t go up for a few days, don’t panic; human performance is like that—it cycles up—it seldom goes straight up.


Talk about the numbers and the behaviors with your employees. Don’t lecture; have a dialog.If the numbers are going, up ask them why.If the numbers are going down—ask them if there is something you need to do; have they learned anything that would help?Remember, they are driving the numbers with their work behavior; they are the ones who can help you continue to improve them.

When they are successful, talk about it.In meetings, when you are walking around the work place—anytime it is appropriate. You should be pleased; show it. When you see the numbers go up—when it is justified, celebrate correspondingly.Bring in some pizza.I know they may be tired of pizza (can you ever get too much pizza?), but the food is not the point—your acknowledgment of their achievement is the point.

Do not go around and say “Thank you,” or try to act all happy.Most of them would rather here you say something like, “we’re beginning to kick the crap out of our turnaround time,” with a straight face than here you try to gush over something they did.When they have improved the numbers by 10 or 20%, bring in the big boss.Let him ask how the hell they did that.Hearing a manager sincerely express wonder and disbelief is a positive event for employees.


Let the employees tell you when they need to add or delete behaviors; when they identify systems and process changes that will help them get the job done faster, smarter, and with greater efficiency.Keep up the chatter about who’s doing what and how. Talk about their success, but keep it sensible. Don’t try to act like someone you are not.Just help them and acknowledge their improvement.


There are a lot of people—behavioral experts—who can work with you to do this.If you email me, I will give you some names of people who have been doing it successfully; many of the top 100 companies in America are doing this in-house after learning the process from an outside adviser.

Key point: doing this is cheap.A behavioral expert can usually put this in place at a business unit where there are 200 people in a few days.I have seen companies spend $10,000 dollars on setting this process up and then get a return of $500,000.This is the least expensive performance improvement process you will ever implement and it compliments any initiative you are currently using.

Every corporation should be interested in critical performance behaviors; they are sitting there—untapped opportunity…easy pickings…low hanging fruit.For many companies, they will remain unknown behaviors.Many leaders and managers just don’t believe that employees know ways to change the numbers that the leaders and managers don’t know.The price that American has paid and is still paying for failing to engage our employees in helping make us successful is immeasurable.This is the easiest way.No games.No program.It’s the real deal.