Yesterday, I was reminded of this great observation from Jim Collins in his book Good To Great, that the “great” companies hire slow and fire fast.
This came to me while facilitating a quarterly session for one of my favorite clients. Our sessions together are always productive and engaging and fun, but yesterday’s session was definitely more upbeat and enjoyable. The team was enjoying each other. As a result, the dialogue was especially productive. It was a downright good time. It proved to be more motivating and confidence building than usual and especially more so than the last one.
Rather than assume it was just my superior facilitation and coaching skills, I took time to ponder what was different this time. We had two new staff members with us, so I assume that helped as fresh faces usually bring energy. But, I also noticed that one person was missing.
A staff member who had been struggling with teamwork, communication, and delegation with her staff wasn’t there. Her performance and her staff’s performance had been suffering. She had been let go.
It was as if a burden had been lifted. Now, the staff members previously working under her weren’t afraid of engaging in the meeting. They became outspoken, and they could laugh at themselves instead of being defensive. It changed the tone of the entire meeting.
The leader of this organization had been delaying dealing with the situation for some time, for some legitimate reasons, to be sure. However, at the end of the day, we both agreed he should have moved faster on it.
Hire slow; fire fast. Such a wise statement.
Next time you have a nagging performance issue, refer back to this nugget. If you follow it, you just might just unleash some growth.
Someone on your team brings you a problem. You probably don’t jump up and down with excitement, but how do you handle this when it happens? Are you grateful; do you say “thank you”? Or, do you shoot the messenger?
Choose the first option.
The first reason you should say “thank you” is that a problem is a gift. It’s something that can probably be solved to improve your company. Think of problems as opportunities. You want people to bring you problems. You do not want your team members to be discouraged. This leads to the second reason to be grateful for these opportunities.
The second reason you should say “thank you” is because, it means the “messenger” coming to you cares about your company. He/She is engaged. This person wants to improve things. You want people like this in your company.
The third reason you should say “thank you” is because if you don’t, people won’t bring up additional problems that need to be solved.
After saying “thank you”, make sure you truly listen, and then make sure the issue gets addressed. This doesn’t necessarily mean the problem must be addressed by you or the other person, but by those who can fix it.
Then, make sure to give updates on the progress.
When you do this, people will bring you more gifts. Remember, you now see problems as gifts. By addressing them, you unleash growth in so many different ways.
It all starts by saying “thank you.”
I’ll bet you are familiar with ROI, Return On Investment, but are you familiar with ROC, Return On Clarity?
You experience ROC when you work on your complex business. You make it easy to understand for your customers, staff, vendors, and partners. Lots of opportunities exist to do this with your business or organization.
The obvious place to start is by creating an easy to understand strategic plan (I know just the person to help you create one of those with your team ;-). A good One Page Strategic Plan (OPSP) sets the purpose, values, strategy, and direction for the company. A good OPSP makes it easy for your team to enact.
You can also get a Return On Clarity by doing reviews or tune-ups of the various parts or departments of your business. Cleaning up or refreshing your processes, eliminating unnecessary steps, and attacking the bottlenecks or choke points within your processes are parts of an effective tune-up. Here’s a little video I did on bottlenecks that should help you get the idea.
You can also get a ROC by doing a Talent Review. When done effectively, you get a clear picture on who is performing and who isn’t. Therefore, you get a return by hiring better players and improving the players you already have.
Finally you can a Return On Clarity by doing a Cash Flow Tune Up. By looking at your Income Statement levers and Balance Sheet levers, you can achieve some instant clarity on how to improve your cash. Soon, I’ll be posting a video on my YouTube channel on Cash Flow Clarity. Subscribe to my channel be notified of new videos.
You see, there are lots of opportunities to increase your clarity. When you increase clarity, you unleash growth.
All of these are things a coach should be helping you with. That’s what I do for my clients. Deliver a Return On Clarity. It’s a great investment in the growth of your business.
Recently, I had a meeting with a former client. During this meeting, he reminded me about why Big Hairy Audacious Goals are an important part of your company’s strategic plan.
We were meeting about a matter totally unrelated to a BHAG, his strategic plan, or the coaching I provided for him ten years ago. Eric Mathews of Start Co. and I were encouraging him to make a small investment to subsidize Rockefeller Habits coaching for Start Co. startups that are ready to scale up.
My former client said, “I was at the office and noticed that the BHAG you helped us develop was still posted on the wall. We set it for ten years out, and it will be ten years this year. We are going to hit and exceed the BHAG.”
As you can imagine, I’m quite proud of this guy. I’m walking a little bit taller this week. He is one of the first clients I worked with on creating a One Page Strategic Plan. He’ll be the first to achieve his BHAG.
What happens when you don’t think of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal? When you don’t set a BHAG, you’ll never get there. It’s best when setting out on a journey to know where you’re going. Even if you don’t reach or exceed your BHAG, like my former client, chances are that you will be much closer to that goal than you were before.
Of course, he paid his success forward by making an investment to subsidize Rockefeller Habits coaching for two Start Co. startups.
The “Paying Forward The Rockefeller Habits” program is an exciting one. I’ll write more about it soon.
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.
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.
- Draw up a flow chart of the process that should be followed.
- 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.
- 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.
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: https://improvetheteam.eventbrite.com.
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.
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.
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.