If you have not already seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix, it is worth your time. This documentary features interviews with several former and current high-tech executives to talk about some of the negative and, heretofore, unknown effects of social media. In my never-ending quest to add value, here are the keys points of the hour-and-a-half documentary in progressive order and summarized for your benefit.

  • Social media is a modern miracle and has enabled some truly positive outcomes. You can find a kidney donor on Facebook or a long, lost relative on Google. It is an amazing tool.
  • Social media began as a noble idea—sharing this type of information across ideologies and borders; ideas that could improve the quality of life for everyone globally. But the industry has changed dramatically in the last ten years as information sharing companies have morphed into profit-generating, advertising machines. Think about it. You are not a CLIENT of Instagram as they offer their services for free to users. More likely, you are their PRODUCT as they...

We pride ourselves on being able to save time for organizations and their managers, especially when compared to the hours and hours most of us have spent on traditional, annual employee appraisal. Here’s another way to help managers* maximize their coaching feedback time.

Ever been stuck at the airport or any other place where dragging your laptop out was inconvenient? Remember that you can use the dictation function found on almost all personal devices to provide feedback to your team members. Simply hit the microphone icon on the bottom row of the keyboard to read your input into any section of a Big 5 report. The accuracy is usually 100% and don’t worry that you might have some pauses, ooh’s or ah’s, in your report. Remember that Big 5 is about communication, not perfection. Cover your tracks, if you like, by beginning with something like:

“Hey Kendall. I am responding to your Big 5 verbally here at the airport so please pardon any of my stutters or pauses. Here goes…”

Using the dictation function can save managers lots of time with...

Should You Hire A Coach_.jpg

Most of us strive to improve—to be better tomorrow at whatever it is we do today. Easy to say but how do you find traction to make this idea actionable? How do you actually get better instead of just talk about getting better? One way is to hire a coach. Just Google it and you will find a wide variety of local options and even some that offer their services virtually, via teleconference. They might be called personal coaches, life coaches, or executive coaches but they all tend to offer the same basic services.

Helping You to See Yourself as Others See You

Let’s face it. We tend to see ourselves as a little better than we actually are. We can’t help it. It’s those cultural and social filters that have been with us since our childhood that tend to have us view the world from our perspective first, sometimes clouding our reality. Need an example?

Have you ever noticed that everyone driving faster than you on the freeway is an idiot and everyone driving slower than you is a moron?

Like I said, we can’t help it.

Most of us are pretty...

What Kind of Interviewer Are You_.jpg

Search “job interviews” in Google and you will find that most of the publications that appear in your results are focused on the applicant, providing them with tips, tricks, and techniques on how to “win” the interview. Very little has been written to help managers learn how to conduct outstanding interviews and select the best qualified candidate. Until now.

How important is this topic? My research shows that only about 10% of managers have received formal training in how to conduct an interview. Sure, HR departments provide lots of training on the subject but most of that content is geared toward compliance issues—which questions you can and cannot ask. So how do untrained managers approach one of their most important decisions—who to bring into the team and who to let their competitors hire? The simple answer is that they do the best they can, creating their own interviewing methods and style by picking and choosing from their past experiences from both sides of the interviewing desk. Most hiring managers fall into one of the following four categories.



(Reposted from 2017) We often think that true innovation in higher education has to come from Harvard, Wharton, or Stanford. Not so, apparently. Meet the people of Mountwest Community and Technical College.

Dr. Keith Cotroneo heads this school that once belonged under the wing of Marshall University (yes, the same one in the Matthew McConaughey movie, “We Are Marshall”). Some years ago, however, the school was legislatively spun-off and is now on its own. The main campus sits atop a mountain in Huntington, West Virginia, looking down on some of the most beautiful rolling green hills you could ever imagine. Mountwest serves students who are working on associates degrees or some form of vocational certification.

It is certainly a nice enough place, just one that you probably wouldn’t expect to take an innovative approach to performance appraisal. But they have. Stephanie Neal, Director of HR, called me a month ago to ask all sorts of questions about implementing Big Five Performance Management. It seems that they have been using the process since January, have...

Purple Squirrels.jpg

The following is an excerpt from “If You Were A Tree What Kind Would You Be? And Other Useless Interview Questions- A Manager’s Guide to EPIC Interviewing”, available on Amazon/Kindle. This passage is taken from Chapter 7- EPIC Differentiators.

Internet research provides several sources for the origin of the term “purple squirrel.” Generally speaking, this phrase refers to an ideal candidate who is so specialized, rare, and outstanding that you quickly pass the interviewing step and find yourself in full-blown sales mode, pressing the candidate to accept your job offer.

* * *

Reeling in the purple squirrel may require extraordinary tactics. The best strategy I’ve seen? Have the CEO, board member, or another prominent person contact this candidate post-interview.

* * *

Here’s what this type of phone call sounds like:

Hi, Terri. This is Steve Murphy, CEO at Value Bank. I understand you interviewed with Jennifer Stone, the head of our trust department, today to manage our Estate Planning Group. How was your...


Friends and family always ask me. They want to know how I managed to publish two books. I am never sure if they just can’t believe I am smart enough to have pulled it off or if they want to know how they could do it. I suspect it is a little of both. After all, most of us think that we could do a better job running the restaurant where we are eating; know that, with a few lucky breaks, our garage band from high school could have made it; and just about all of us want to someday write a book. If you find yourself in the wanna-be-an-author category then this is for you… five simple steps for publishing your book.

1. Write what you know. All of us are experts in at least one or two subjects. Write about something you know and that you are passionate about. Did you coach your kid’s little league team? Do make amazing looking front-door wreaths? Do you know how to catch large-mouthed bass? There you go. Share what you know with passion and enthusiasm and someone, somewhere, will want to read what you have written.



We are remodeling a bathroom and are in search of the holy grail—a certain rug that we saw somewhere that we should have bought when we saw it but didn’t. Our bad. We were unable to find the thing online as it is so hard to judge textured items on a website, forcing us on a store-by-store quest last weekend. Our eighteen-month-old grandson joined the adventure.

We arrived at a the mall that had three potential targets, all relatively close to each other- Pier 1, Home Goods, and Ross. Yes, we had already been to an actual Target. We loaded the 30-pound toddler into the first cart we could find and strapped him in. Home Goods had some cool rugs but not the one we were looking for. We left Home Goods to hit the next store in line, Ross. And please get over yourself. Like you’ve never been into a Ross?

When we attempted to enter the store, a security guard in full uniform, carrying a gun, (OK, she may not have had an actual weapon but remembering it that way improves the story) stops me. “Sir, you are not allowed to bring a Home Goods cart into our store,” she said. I...

343 Word on Defeating Procrastination - Or Wait Until Tomorrow to Read This.jpg

The subject came up this week as I was doing an accountability drill with a couple of friends, only to realize just how many of my own projects were behind schedule. I am not sure why we procrastinate but it is an easy trap. Barbara Corcoran, the Shark Tank “How I Turned $1,000 into a billion- dollar business” person, says that…

“Procrastination is the enemy of success and the guilt of not doing something always steals your energy.”

Want a simple, easy to adopt solution? Why not apply the principles of Big Five Performance Management to your daily routine? Here’s how it would work. At the beginning of each work day (perhaps on your commute), make a list of your five highest priorities for the day. The list can include personal priorities (Make dinner reservations for wedding anniversary) and those that are more professional. Write down the five and keep them line-of-site during the workday. I know that there will be 1,000 distractions but keeping the list in front of you will help keep you focused. At the end of the day review your...


The biggest buzzword in Human Resources these days seems to be “Big Data”—the idea that we can now gather so much complex information about our workforce processes and can churn that data into meaningful analysis that will help us better manage our business. Like our federal government, however, we in HR can sometimes be accused of over-engineering, as in the proverbial definition of a camel being a “racehorse designed by Human Resources”. Still, we spend lots of time and resources on gathering and crunching numbers to either improve our processes or possibly to justify our professional existence.

In my last corporate assignment, our Big Data arrived each month in the form of a four-page report that contained about 125 statistics. I, personally, thought that only about three of them were really significant. That could explain why I no longer work there, I guess. Still, the question… have we become so fascinated with Big Data that we continually miss what I consider to be one of the most singularly important piece of data in the HR world?

One of the largest public...


In my travels to evangelize the corporate world on the salvation that Big Five Performance Management can bring (, I am often asked about Big Five for employees who are in very routine functions. After all, how would an Accounts Receivable (AR) Clerk come up with a new list of Priorities and Accomplishments each month? It’s a fair question. If I understand the role correctly, the average AR person tends to perform a series of highly repetitive functions: posting customer payments by recording cash, check and credit card transactions and maintaining records by recording invoices, debits and credits. It would be natural and easy to assume that the greatest accomplishment that could be made in this position is to simply process a larger number of items this month than were processed last month or to process the same amount as last month with fewer errors. That would be a bad assumption.

Every position in every organization is responsible for a few common outcomes, regardless of the routine nature of the role. Every person on the payroll...


“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not too simple.” Albert Einstein

1. Rater bias. Some managers grade more easily.

2. Time required; excessive for most managers.

3. Lost opportunities created by time requirement.

4. Systems, software, training costs.

5. Poor ROI- cost of process > organizational benefit.

6. Corporate goals may not translate to individual goals.

7. Speed of change can neutralize annual goals.

8. Employees want constant/instant feedback.

9. Metrics alone do not tell the full story.

10. Metrics can be manipulated by employees.

11. Metrics can be manipulated by managers.

12. Mid-year check-ins simply don’t happen.

13. Focused on compliance, not coaching.

14. December struggle to remember the year.

15. Employee “lean” as appraisal time approaches.

16. Manager’s focus on most recent events.

17. “Soft” feedback from managers.

18. “Soft” appraisals can create liability.

19. Employees can feel “dumped on” at year end.

20. Not...


We are pleased to announce the launch of Big Five Works™, a web-based app designed specifically to support the Big Five Performance Management process. Why “disruptive”? It has the potential to turn the world of employee appraisal upside-down, shattering many of the preconceived notions of many C-Suite and Human Resources leaders.

As many of you now know, the Big Five process eliminates the annual employee appraisal process by requiring employees to submit a simplified monthly production report to their managers describing their five most significant accomplishments from last month and their five highest priorities for the coming month. Until now, Big Five clients have been modifying their existing technology platforms to accommodate Big Five, or simply using email and document capture software to track and record the results. Both of these solutions were cumbersome, creating the need for specialized automation.

By the way, don’t believe for a minute that the large companies who have announced the elimination of annual appraisal have abandoned the documentation...

NACE .jpg


Corrosion association revolutionizes its performance management program with human resources expert Roger Ferguson’s distinctive “Big Five” process.

Houston, Texas- NACE International is proud to announce it has been recognized by and Leadership Excellence & Development Forum (LEAD) as an innovator for its successful transition to a performance appraisal system that has improved the review process, employee/manager communication, and morale.

Recognizing that NACE International’s longstanding performance appraisal process was cumbersome for employees, NACE CEO Bob Chalker, tasked Chief Talent Officer Pam Birk with finding a better, more productive solution for the nonprofit. Birk read Roger Ferguson’s book describing the “Big Five” performance management system (Finally! Performance Assessment That Works- Amazon/Kindle), and recognized that this system was the optimal solution to improve the appraisal...