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Make The Most of The People You Have

Academy Group 101, chief executive mentoring and experiential learning group (with members based in NYC, USA) recently heard international speaker and author, Vicki Schneider (see Vicki’s website at ) give a very interactive session on “Making the Most of The People You Have”. Vicki (pictured below), President of QuintEssential Performance, LLC, has been helping companies in this area for more than 25 years.

Vicki SchneiderWe’ve all heard executives say that their employees are their greatest assets. Yet, when it comes to maximizing people performance, executives typically resort to ineffective and often ill-advised actions that can actually make performance worse. Unless an organization learns to address the underlying causes of deficient performance, it runs the risk of continually replacing one “underperformer” with another.

Vicki’s three and a half hour workshop engaged Academy for Chief Executives members in a systematic approach to understanding and improving performance.

By the end of this highly interactive session, members gained:

  • An understanding of the components that must be in place to achieve People Performance across their organizations
  • An ability to identify the various areas that are causing performance breakdowns for one of their key employees, and by extension, others in their company
  • Created an action plan to address a key employee’s performance deficiencies (and each member’s plan was documented on 2-part NCR paper, so the group Chairman could help the member stay on track.)

Members discovered that by focusing on one individual in each company, they left with an insight into their entire organization and what needed to be done to maximize people performance at the individual, team, departmental, and organizational levels.

One member stated, “one of the best speakers I have ever heard on this topic

Malcolm, Chairman, Academy Group 101

Malcolm Elvey, Chairman Academy Group 101

The Academy for Chief Executives, a leading provider of experiential business learning® facilitates peer groups of CEOs and Managing Directors who meet together every month to network and take full advantage of experiential learning. To hear great speakers like this every month and engage in The Board You Could Never Afford®, to find out more about the New York Group, or to find a local group near you, visit


  1. bensimo1 says:

    I would love to hear what Vicki said that was so good in order to compare it to my view. Here is my view and please let me know how mine compares.

    Leadership applies to people and denotes the sending of value standard messages to people which most of them then follow/use. Thus we say that they have been “led” in the direction of those standards. Leadership is one side of the coin called values, the other side being followership.

    Leadership in the workplace consists of the value standards reflected in everything that an employee experiences because these standards are what employees follow by using them to perform their work. Most of what the employee experiences is the support or lack thereof provided by management – such as training, tools, parts, discipline, direction, material, procedures, rules, technical advice, documentation, information, planning, etc.

    Leadership is not a process any manager can change. It happens inexorably every minute of every day because of the way people are. The only choice available to a manager is the standard (good, bad, mediocre or in between) which he/she transmits to employees.

    For instance, the top-down command and control technique is a widely used method by which to manage people. Top-down concentrates on producing goals, targets, visions, orders and other directives in order to control the workforce and thereby achieve organizational success. Concentrating on giving direction prevents these managers from doing much of anything else. Thus top-down treats employees like robots in the “shut up and listen, I know better than you” mode, and rarely if ever listens to them.

    By so doing this approach ignores every employee’s basic need to be heard and to be respected. In addition, not listening to employees makes top management ignorant of what is really going on in the workplace thus making their directives misguided at best and irrelevant at worst.

    (During my first 12 years of managing people, I used top-down and was never aware of how bad my leadership was. It was not until I started really listening to employees that I began to understand.)

    In this way and others, top-down demeans and disrespects employees sending them very negative value standard messages. The standards reflected in this treatment “lead” employees to treat their work, their customers, each other and their bosses with the same level of disrespect they received. No one can become committed to company goals while being treated so poorly.

    This is the road to very poor corporate performance as compared to the results that would be achieved using a better approach. Top-down managers are their own worst enemies because they “lead” employees to the very worst performance.

    If you want your employees to produce very high performance, swing to the other end of the spectrum thus leading toward the highest possible performance. To do this, first get rid of all traces of a top-down approach. Everyone wants to do a good job, but don’t want to be ordered around like a robot.

    Next, start treating employees with great respect and not like robots by listening to whatever they want to say when they want to say it and responding in a very respectful manner. Responding respectfully means resolving their complaints and suggestions and answering their questions to their satisfaction as well as yours, but most importantly theirs. It also means providing them more than enough opportunity to voice their complaints, suggestions and questions. Spend your time making your support reflect the very highest standards of all values by resolving their complaints and suggestions thus “leading” them to use the very highest standards.

    And realize that the highest quality and most respectful “direction” is the very least since no one likes to take orders or really needs them except in emergency situations. Anyone routinely needing extensive orders should not be on your team.

    This treatment leads employees to treat their work, their customers, each other and their bosses with great respect. Listening and responding respectfully also inspires them to unleash their full potential of creativity, innovation and productivity on their work giving them great pride in it and causes them to love to come to work.

    You will be stunned as I was by the huge amount of creativity, innovation and productivity you have unleashed. To learn how I escaped top-down after using it for 12 years, read an Interview of me

    Best regards, Ben Simonton
    Author “Leading People to be Highly Motivated and Committed”

  2. Matthew Elvey says:

    Ben, interesting interview. As a non-follower if there ever was one, it provides me with insight into how I need to be managed. Until now, my solution has been to work as a consultant. Think I’ll find your book useful?

  3. qeperformance says:

    Ben, thank you for your inquiry about my session and views. Philosophically, and I suspect in practice, we are on the same page. In my 20+ years helping unleash the excellence in organizations, I have come to realize that “all performance is collaborative.” Management/leaders have to step up and do their part, and employees must do theirs. Neither can create superior performance without the other.

    In my experience, there are 18 variables impacting people performance. Management needs to take a hard look at itself and determine how it is blocking top performance before the organization and its employees can achieve their full potential. Instead of trying to “fix” people, their role is to fix the problems that are serving as obstacles.

    There is a video excerpt of the session that I presented to The Academy of Chief Executives in NYC. The clip will introduce you to the construct I’ve developed and how it helps organizations “make the most of the people they have.” You are welcome to view it at

    Many of your comments deal with how to manage employees to get the best result. I agree that micromanagement and intimidation are NOT effective, long-term solutions. I believe management must work collaboratively with employees to achieve “mutual accountability.” If you’re interested in seeing my basic underlying framework for achieving and sustaining mutual accountability, I invite you to view an excerpt from my clinic “Accountability in Action” at

    You can also view these clips on my website,, under the Clinics tab.

    I welcome your reactions and thank you for your engaging comments.

    QuintEssentially yours,
    Vicki Schneider
    QuintEssential Performance, LLC

  4. bensimo1 says:


    You asked – “Think I’ll find your book useful?”

    I have no knowledge of you or your circumstance and thus am unable to answer your question. I know one man who had his 17 year old son read my book as a preparation for life and for college. It has too much detail for the average person to consume, but if you want to know almost everything one needs to know about managing people, it fills that need.

    Best regards, Ben

  5. bensimo1 says:

    Thanks for replying, Vicki.

    You wrote – “Instead of trying to “fix” people, their role is to fix the problems that are serving as obstacles.”

    How true, how very true!!!!!! When I started listening to my people and responding reasonably to their complaints, suggestions and questions, their performance rose in lock step.

    However, I eventually went one step further than collaboration and that was to help employees convert to being non-followers, their original at-birth state of being self-directed self-starters who cannot be led to work at low standards.

    I learned from experience that the first step of collaboration got me about 40% of their potential productivity, creativity, and innovation (starting from being poorly motivated) while the second step of conversion from being a follower (more or less) got me the other 60%. When a vast majority of employees are self-directed, the organization can really blow away the competition.

    Thanks for the links. I will take a look.

    Best regards, Ben

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