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The Square Wheels Newsletter - Issue 11

Thoughts on Performance and Mentoring

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Main Article –
Thoughts on Performance and Mentoring
Valentine’s Day Square Wheels Animation
New: Square Wheels Mini-Toolkit

Jokes and all that

Lunchtime Seminar
Proverbs for the Millennium
The four phases of a man's life:
Joining a church
The Wisdom Of Will Rogers
Other Famous Quotes
The World According to Andy Rooney

Closing Remarks


Thoughts on Performance and Mentoring

It is always surprising to me: most discussions I have about performance keep returning to the frustration that managers have about people not performing to potential. It IS frustrating to see people not achieving the achievable. It seems so clear.

Yet when you talk with these performers, they seem to want nothing better than an opportunity to perform better. And this includes both the poor performers striving to be average as well as the average performers striving to be excellent. What gives?

Maybe, it is the performer blowing smoke, but I don’t think so. I find there are a number of performance decreasing things that occur in the workplace that work to set the expectations at a "minimum acceptable level" insofar as the employee is concerned.

And it is the ROLE of the manager to present things in such a way as to actively engage and enlist that person in a performance improvement initiative.

Let me briefly review my thoughts on a model of change, recognizing Deming’s view that "All models are wrong, some models are useful." I’ve found this change model useful and I’ve written about it extensively in previous newsletters and in articles on the website. (What I will do in the newsletter section of the website is make the links to those specific pages that refer to this information.

In my model, we make change more likely if we increase:
- The current level of discomfort with the way things are. Now.
- The attractiveness of the vision of the future.
- The individual’s or group’s previous success with change.
- The peer or workgroup support for the change.

If, for example, we engage the performer in a discussion of their ideas for improvement based on the positive things associated with this new level of performance, we make change more likely because we create a gap between their current performance and their possibilities. We do this with Square Wheels and Round Wheels, for example. We also generate peer support with group discussions and the naturally occurring ownership that often results.

But somebody must see the potential that exists.

Let me relate this to my Caterpillar / Butterfly transformation joke - "You’ll never get me up in one of those things." (see

Waxing philosophic for a brief moment, does the caterpillar realize their potential and is that why the caterpillar forms the chrysalis (cocoon)? Does the caterpillar KNOW about the cellular-level transformation? I do not think I will ever know. But I think some of the same thinking might apply to our performers.

Do they realize the potential that we see in them or is there reality more focused on resisting things apparently done to them?

My newest cartoon shows The Artist (manager) painting a large picture of a butterfly -- he’s just beginning. And, since all artists seem to need a model for such an endeavor, he too has one: a picture of a caterpillar! The Artist sees the potential and the evolution and tries to commit something to canvas.

But SEEING the potential is quite different from producing the change required. Thus a potential cause of frustration caused by the perceived gap between reality and potential.

I don’t know the answer to this dilemma. But I do think it revolves around generating the performer’s involvement in the vision of what they might become. It comes NOT from doing things TO them but involving them in the creative process. The potential for performance improvement (as well as human potential in general) often lies unbidden within the person.

As mentors and coaches, we can work to make people aware of what they can become, generating a gap between how things are today and what they can be like tomorrow. We can also set the stage for their co-workers to help them in this transition by doing things as teams and generating involvement rather than resistance.


Valentine’s Day Square Wheels Animation

There is a cute little Square Wheels animated cartoon (in Flash / Quicktime) done just for Valentine’s Day. It was sent to all of those people on my personal mailing list, which does not include some of you. If you would like a copy, ask me for "Valentines Day Square Wheels!"


New: Square Wheels Mini-Toolkit

I’m doing the final touches on an electronically downloadable mini-toolkit, which will contain some of the main cartoons, descriptions and ideas for use, facilitation skills tips and worksheets. It will have about 10 of my most favorite illustrations including Square Wheels One, Mud, Caterpillar and Butterfly, Reflections, Reality of Change, Twaining and Continuous Continuous Improvement. Thus, it will be a very flexible package of materials. Cost will be $29.95.

For those of you who have used SWs One and found it effective, you will find this Mini-Toolkit to be a powerful tool for your toolkit. Email me if you are interested in this.


New Jokes

Lunchtime Seminar -- My friend’s company started having lunchtime seminars for employees on a wide variety of topics of personal and professional interest. Recently, he received an invitation to a Lunch and Learn program called, "Who’s Controlling Your Life?" along with the note: "Get your manager’s approval before attending."

Proverbs for the Millennium

**Contributed to Swenny's E-Mail Funnies by John Bettendorf, Eagan, MN**

-- A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.

-- You can't teach a new mouse old clicks.

-- Pentium wise; pen and paper foolish.

-- What boots up must come down.

-- Anywhere you hang your @ is home.

-- The e-mail of the species is deadlier than the mail.

-- C:\ is the root of all directories.

-- Too many clicks spoil the browse.

-- Don't byte off more than you can view.

-- The geek shall inherit the earth.

-- Fax is stranger than fiction.

-- Virtual reality is its own reward.

-- A user and his leisure time are soon parted.

-- Oh, what a tangled website we weave when first we practice.

-- Give a man (or for that matter anyone) a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to use The Net and he won't bother you for weeks.

The four phases of a man's life:


Joining a church

Three couples, an elderly couple, a middle-aged couple and a young newlywed couple wanted to join a church. The pastor said, "We have special requirements for new parishioners. You must abstain from having sex for two weeks."

The couples agreed and came back at the end of two weeks. The pastor went to the elderly couple and asked, "Were you able to abstain from sex for the two weeks?" The old man replied, "No problem at all, Pastor." "Congratulations! Welcome to the church!" said the pastor.

The pastor went to the middle-aged couple and asked, "Well, were you able to abstain from sex for the two weeks?" The man replied, "The first week was not too bad. The second week I had to sleep on the couch for a couple of nights but, yes, we made it." "Congratulations! And Welcome to the church!" said the pastor.

The pastor then went to the newlywed couple and asked, "Well, were you able to abstain from sex for two weeks?"

"No Pastor, we were not able to go without sex for the two weeks," the young man replied sadly. "What happened?" inquired the pastor.

"My wife was reaching for a can of paint on the top shelf and dropped it. When she bent over to pick it up, I was overcome with lust and took advantage of her right there."

"You understand, of course, this means you will not be welcome in our church," stated the pastor. "We know," said the young man, "We're not welcome at Home Depot anymore either."

The Wisdom Of Will Rogers (who know if these are really his!)

Don't squat with your spurs on.

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier 'n putting' it back in.

If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

If you get to thinking you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around.

Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

There's two theories to arguing with a woman.
Neither one works.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.

Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.

It don't take a genius to spot a goat in a flock of sheep.

When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don't be surprised if they learn their lesson.

The quickest way to double your money is to fold it over and put it back in your pocket.

Never miss a good chance to shut up.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

When you're throwing' your weight around, be ready to have it thrown around by somebody else.

There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to piss on the electric fence for themselves.

Other Famous Quotes (who knows if these are true!)

"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves." -- Jerry Garcia (Grateful Dead)

"Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is." -- Barbara Bush (Former US First Lady)

"Women might be able to fake orgasms. But men can fake whole relationships." -- Sharon Stone

"Honesty is the key to a relationship. If you can fake that, you're in." -- Courtney Cox (Monica on "Friends")

"Hockey is a sport for white men. Basketball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps." -- Tiger Woods

(On the difference between men and women:) "On the one hand, we'll never experience childbirth. On the other hand, we can open all our own jars." --Bruce Willis

"And God said: 'Let there be Satan, so people, don't blame everything on me. And let there be lawyers, so people, don't blame everything on Satan." -- George Burns

"The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in 'Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire' and the computer will ask, 'Specify type of goat.'" -- Jason Alexander (George Castanza on Seinfeld)

"Luge strategy? Lie flat and try not to die." -- Carmen Boyle (Olympic Luge Gold Medalist - 1996)

"There are only two reasons to sit in the back row of an airplane: Either you have diarrhea, or you're anxious to meet people who do."
-- Henry Kissinger (former US Secretary of State)

"My girlfriend always laughs during sex - no matter what she's reading." -- Steve Jobs (Founder: Apple Computers)

"My cousin just died. He was only 19. He got stung by a bee - the natural enemy of a tightrope walker." -- Dan Rather (News anchorman)

"I saw a large woman wearing a sweatshirt with 'Guess' on it. I said, "'Thyroid problem?" -- Arnold Schwarzenegger

The World According to Andy Rooney

On advertising in bills: Have you ever noticed that they put advertisements in with your bills now? Like bills aren't distasteful enough, they have to stuff junk mail in there with them. I get back at them. I put garbage in with my check when I mail it in. Coffee grinds, banana peels...I write, "Could you throw this away for me? Thank You."

On Grandma: My grandmother has a bumper sticker on her car that says, 'Sexy Senior Citizen.' You don't want to think of your grandmother that way, do you? Out entering wet shawl contests. Makes you wonder where she got that dollar she gave you for your birthday.

On Prisons: Did you know that it costs forty-thousand dollars a year to house each prisoner? Jeez, for forty-thousand bucks a piece I'll take a few prisoners into my house. I live in Los Angeles. I already have bars on the windows. I don't think we should give free room and board to criminals. I think they should have to run twelve hours a day on a treadmill and generate electricity. And if they don't want to run, they can rest in the chair that's hooked up to the generator.

On Award Shows: Can you believe how many award shows they have now? They have awards for commercials. The Cleo Awards, a whole show full of commercials. I taped it and then I fast-forwarded through the whole thing.


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For the FUN of It!

Scott Simmerman, Performance Management Company
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