There’s Something About Bottlenecks…

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There's Something About Bottlenecks - In-Synk Coaching - #GetInSynk - Michael Synk

Bottlenecks are in your business. There is something about bottlenecks that you should be relentlessly be paying attention to.

You face bottlenecks everywhere in your business. You’ll find them externally in the marketplaces or industry you participate in. You may see them internally in the processes you follow, the people you employ, the technologies you employ, or your organizational structures.

As I’ve come to appreciate during my time as a strategy and execution coach, the major game changing improvements (rocks vs. sand) you make to your business are inevitably tied to the bottlenecks you face. You have to be relentlessly looking for the bottlenecks and discussing how to leverage them, destroy them, open them up, and/or go around them.

To be able to do this successfully, you have to acknowledge that everything you do in your business is part of a process. Some of the processes are external, and you have little to no control over them. The rest of the processes are internal, and you have lots of control over them. You have to look at everything as a process. If you can’t accept that everything is part of a process, trying to find bottlenecks is just about impossible.

You have to look in the mirror when doing this as well. Are you, as the leader of your organization, the bottleneck? Do not overlook yourself. There is a reason that the bottleneck is at the top of the bottle.

Acknowledge process and the place and purpose bottlenecks play in your organization. Then find them, and start working on finding solutions to them. When you do this relentlessly, you will unleash the growth from your organization.


Start Measuring Something, Then Get Better At It

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Start Measuring Something, Then Get Better At It - #GetInSynk - In-Synk

I was working with a client recently on creating scorecards for the key positions within their company. When we got to the point of measuring outcomes he said, “We haven’t tracked data on this function before, so we have nothing to go on.”

I took out the velvet glove and applied it quite liberally to this person. “Why should that stop you? You have some sort of idea about how the main responsibility for the position should be executed, don’t you?”

A plan followed. You might find these steps could help you, too.

  1. Draw up a flow chart of the process that should be followed.
  2. Take a guess at how many times it needs to be done correctly or how well it needs to be done or how fast it needs to be done.
  3. Start measuring.

It might not be completely accurate when you start, but as you track it you’ll get better at understanding the metric. At that point, start modifying it and get better and better at it. You’ll then have a great measurement for the position or process going forward.

When you have a history of data on something that you need to measure, take advantage of that. However, don’t let the lack of history keep you from measuring as you move forward. If you don’t have the history to start with, there’s no better time than the present to start making that history.


Why Should You Know the “Heck Out Of” Your People?

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Do You Know the Heck Out Of Your People? #GetInSynk Michael Synk In-Synk Coaching

All the great leadership techniques and practices in the world are meaningless if you don’t know the “heck out of” your people.

There are good reasons for knowing those around you well and understanding the people working to build your company.

Two reasons why:

  • When you don’t know your people, you can’t empower them. You can not tap into their insights and expertise or meaningfully celebrate their successes. You’re not able to communicate the vision in ways meaningful to them. These are all essential elements of leading. You and your management teams need to be the best leaders you can possible be.
  • But more importantly, when you don’t know your people, they know you don’t know them. Then, they arrive at the conclusion that you don’t care about them. They disengage and treat their positions like grunt work. This leads them to find meaning elsewhere.

So, what should you do about it? Focus on getting to know your people better, professionally and personally. The personally is probably more important than the professionally. See the second bullet point from above.

Something else you can do about it? If you’re in Memphis (or want to make a trip to town), come to the Get In-Synk CEO Briefing on February 1oth at the Triumph Bank HQ.  The subject is Improving Your Team to Fuel Growth. We’ll be reviewing two books by Pat Lencioni. Each teach you how to know the “heck out of” your people to unleash the growth in your organization. Use this link get your ticket, and join me in February:


Questions to Create Personal, Professional & Company Clarity

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Happy New Year - Questions for Personal, Professional & Company Clarity - #GetInSynk

It’s the end of the year, and I woke up this morning with these “clarity questions” running through my mind.  Since it’s almost the beginning of the new year, it’s the season for creating clarity. Therefore, I thought I would share these questions with you.

To get clarity, ask:

  • Whom do you serve? (Or, whom do you want to serve?)
  • How do (shall) you serve them?
  • Why is this important to you, and why is it important to them?
  • What do you “need” in order to be able to serve them?
    • Knowledge? Tools? Skills/abilities, resources?
  • What should I do about this?
    • What should I learn, earn, practice/prepare, change?

Although perfect for the New Year’s Resolution time, don’t just ponder on these questions once a year. Get your answers down, bring them back 3 months from now and review, revise and renew your commitment to acting on the answers.

How Many Coaches Does Your Favorite Professional Athlete Have?

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How Many Coaches Does Your Favorite Pro Athlete Have? - Business Coaching - #GetInSynk

Think about your favorite professional athlete. How many coaches do you think he or she has?

One of my favorite professionals is Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots. Full disclosure confession, he graduated from Michigan, so I’m biased.  Whether you like him or not, he’s been at the top of his game for most of his professional career, and he is, most probably, Hall of Fame material.

Do you think he’s done this all by himself?  What about your favorite professional athlete? Do you think he or she does it all alone?

Tom Brady has a head coach, an offensive coach, a position coach, and probably a conditioning coach, who are all provided to him by the Patriots.  But, do you think he has a nutrition coach? What about a financial coach, or how about a sports psychologist coach? What about mentors? This list of coaches and support staff could go on further, I’m sure.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you need to go out and find seven coaches/mentors and hire them. I am suggesting that to be at the top of your game as a business owner/CEO you probably need a coach or two working with you on a regular basis. When you have a particular opportunity or problem that falls outside of your wheelhouse, engaging a coach for a short term gig is probably a good idea.

This page outlines the menu of coaching methods I can bring to your organization.

What’s the Better Core Values Acronym: SEAR or ARSE?

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Remembering Your Core Values / Which Acronym is better SEAR or ARSE? / #GetInSynk / Michael Synk / In-Synk

You’ve identified your core values for your company. What comes next? One of the best things you can do with your list of core values is to organize them into an acronym in order to make them memorable and repeatable. I recommend this to all of my strategic planning clients.

Recently, I was particularly amused and delighted. One of my clients came up with not only one acronym but two for the same set of core values.

The original was SEAR. It stands for Sustainabilty from farms to families, Exceed the need, All for one, and Relationships not transactions. It’s a pretty good acronym. SEAR is easy to remember. It’s also tied to their specific business which is a cooperative for farmers growing pasture raised beef, pork and chicken. Very clever, don’t you think?

Why the second acronym, ARSE?  Because, the pick and pack and processing staff just couldn’t really relate to it. They did relate to “Don’t be an ARSE, live these core values.” Different acronym, but it’s the same core values. All for one, Relationships not transactions, Sustainability from farms to families, and Exceed the need just put a different way.

Core values need to be communicated in a way that engages your employees. For the management staff, SEAR worked well but didn’t work so well for the processing staff. That team connected with ARSE.

Pick up a copy of my book Rock & Sand for a deeper dive into core values and building company culture and how all that fits into a strategic plan.

Just for fun, comment with your vote for the acronym that you connect with more. Do you like SEAR or ARSE better? Also, let me know if your company has a particularly good acronym for remembering core values.

Is Your Company “Satisfactorily Underperforming”?

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Is Your Company Satisfactorily Underperforming? #GetInSynk

“Satisfactorily Underperforming” It’s a new term for me from Greg Brennaman, turnaround expert extraordinaire.

I heard him speak for the second time at the Gazelles Growth Summit in Dallas a few of weeks ago. Caught my attention.

Brennaman has successfully lead turnarounds at Continental Airlines, Burger King, and Home Depot.  All of these companies had lost sight of what they needed to do to succeed and were steps away from failure.  I relate these as credentials so that you know that he knows what he is talking about.

During his keynote address, he mentioned that there is another class of companies. He talked about businesses that are not headed to the toilet but are in need of a turnaround.  Those would be what he calls “satisfactorily underperforming” companies. He contends that perhaps the majority of companies in America fall into this category.

“We think they are doing just fine. But, because we’ve never subjected them to a complete checkup, we don’t realize that they have seriously  clogged arteries, (or a malfunctioning gall bladder ;-)…From the outside, all seems well.”

“They live from quarterly earnings report to quarterly earnings report. Although their performances, revenues, and profits all appear tolerable, even adequate, in reality they are performing at levels far below their full capabilities.”

So, how do you know if your company is in this category? You may be only “satisfactorily underperforming” when you could be doing so much more. Why don’t you get a check up or tune-up?

In-Synk offers a menu of tune-ups to help you start the process of getting out of the “satisfactorily underperforming” category.

Choose a Cash Flow Analysis and Tune-Up, a Talent Review and Tune-Up, or a Key Processes Review and Tune-Up or all three combined give you a Complete Business Tune-Up.  Click here for more information.

Any one of the tune-ups are good starting points for turning around your “satisfactorily underperforming” business.

What I Learned From My Doctor About Leading

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What My Doctor Taught Me About Leading - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk - In-Synk

What I learned from my doctor about leading comes from something he said to me, “Medicine is 95% history and 5% knowledge and technique.”

Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell the story behind this story.  I went to my doctor on a late Friday afternoon.  Feeling funny and feeling sore in my side, I also had a noticeable palpation on my stomach when I laid down.  No pain.  No symptoms of any other sort.  I just that I knew something wasn’t quite right.  And it hadn’t slowed me down any.  The day before I had conducted a workshop in St. Louis to rave reviews.

My doctor, Jeff Warren, MD was concerned.  Couldn’t really get a handle on what was going on.  That’s when he decided to do a more complete history.  We sat down together and went over, in detail, every medical situation I had gone through in the the past 30 years.  When we got to the burst appendix that I had 26 years ago, it all started to make sense to Warren.  “It’s your gall bladder and it definitely isn’t right. You are going to the hospital right now.” He called Methodist University Hospital, checked me in, and ordered the tests that would confirm his diagnosis.  The next morning I had my enlarged, infected and blocked gall bladder removed.

On my next doctor’s visit, Warren repeated what he said.  I asked him to explain.

He said he was confused about the situation, but it was only by taking a thorough history that allowed him to be able to sort things out.

Let me translate this into regular language.  It was only by asking tons of questions, and listening intently and completely, that he was he able to figure it out.

What I learned from Warren is something we can all do better, especially when leading. Listen.  Listen intently and deeply.  Listen completely, and do all that listening before taking action or suggesting a solution or offering advice.

Here’s my quote:

“Leadership is 95% listening and 5% deciding on and implementing actions.”

Are you doing enough listening?

2 Books That Will Change What You Think About Teams and How You Lead Them

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Two Books to Change What You Think About Teams and How You Lead Them - #GetInSynk - Better Team Leaders

I just finished reading two books that changed what I think about teams and how one should lead them.  If you read these books, it will change your mind on these things as well.

Both books are by Pat Lencioni.  Recently, I attended the Gazelles Growth Summit in Dallas to recharge my batteries. During this event, Pat certainly charged my batteries with his keynote address that covered the content of these two books.  Moved and inspired, I walked right up to the bookstore at the summit and bought both of them.

The first book is The Ideal Team Player, which he just released. This business fable (with the core content reviewed in the back, just all his previous books) walks the reader through the three core virtues a team player must have to be a great team player and a great member of teams.

Ideal team players must be humble, must be hungry, and must be smart about dealing with people.  Furthermore, the book goes on to explain both how to hire people with these virtues, and how to build them within the members of your team so they can become better team players.  In today’s world as technology progresses and eliminates the need for many special skill sets, teamwork becomes increasingly important.

Get it. Read it. Put it into play, and improve your company’s teamwork capabilities.

The second book, The Truth About Employee Engagement, is an older book from 2008. Also like his new book, it is also a business fable. This book outlines what a leader must to do get individuals engaged in their jobs, even if the job is a mundane, unexciting job (which quite frankly are the kinds of jobs most people have).

Leaders have to remind each team member how a particular job is relevant and makes a difference to someone else, whether that person is a customer, co-worker, boss, vendor, etc. This gives meaning to the job.  Second, the leader has to help the team member learn how to measure the impact on the person(s) whom is being impacted (hint it isn’t a financial measure or productivity measure).  Finally, the leader can’t let his team member live in anonymity with him; he must interact with teammates in ways that lets them know he knows and appreciates who that are.  Become a better leader by getting the book.

One other key learning point, and I misquote Pat Lencioni here, but “Sometimes we need to remind people more than we need to train them.”

Finally, anyone interested in having and Executive Briefing on these two important books?  Contact me.  I’ll put one together that you can attend online.


3 “R and Rs” to Build a Strong Company Culture

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3 R and Rs to Build a Strong Company Culture - #GetInSynk

After defining your company’s Core Values, Core Purpose, and Big Harry Audacious Goal, use the 3 “R and Rs” to effectively communicate them to everyone connected to your company.

Of the R and Rs, the first represents Repeat and Remind.  Repeat the Core Values, Core Purpose, and BHAG endlessly: in every meeting of 3 or more of your company, in emails, in newsletters, in voice mail broadcasts.  Also give them Reminders:  posters, tent cards, do-dads and ge-gaws with the Core Values, Core Purpose, and BHAG plastered all over them.  This is how you inform everyone about your company culture and set expectations for them.  But the first “R and R” isn’t enough.  You need to proceed to the second “R and R”

The second “R and R” is Reinforce and Recognize.  You Reinforce your culture when you witness someone living the company culture and tell them you appreciate it.  This will encourage them to repeat similar actions.  But  you need to go a step further and Recognize the action so that others in your company will learn about it as well.  This encourages the teammates to copy this action and live the culture themselves.  It gives them the power to do so.  The second “R and R” is  the most important one, but doesn’t work as well if you haven’t done the first “R and R.”  But the first two are not enough either.  You have to do the third “R and R”

The third “R and R” is Right the wRongs (okay, the third “R and R” is really “R and W”). You have to go further and call out actions being taken that are contrary to the culture and point out the right way to live them.  If you don’t, the team will eventually learn that you don’t really mean the first and second “R and Rs” and will stop living your company culture and it will all fade away.

One final point.  As the leader, you have to live the company culture too.  The company culture is not just for them, it’s for you too.  And if you don’t live it, it sends the message that you don’t believe in your own company culture.

Plenty of advice about defining Core Values, Core Purpose and BHAG is in my book and video Rock & Sand.  Consider reading it to get started on building your strong company culture.

© 2016 In-Synk