0 comments on “Speed Up Growth & Gain Traction”

Speed Up Growth & Gain Traction

Traction Gaining Ground Momentum Speedometer Measure Progress

Typically, I spend time in my blogs providing helpful advice and information to make you a better leader or manager.  Today will be no different but it is in the form of a product we offer at The Growth Factory.  Many people do not know what the EOS process means for your business.  We are professional EOS implementers so I’d like to spend my time today filling in some of the questions you might have about EOS.  The book “Traction” by Gino Wickman is the best resource to help you understand the key components of the EOS system.

As a small business owner, myself, it often feels as if there are a hundred different things I need to focus on.  It’s easy to see how “Traction” applies not only to business owner’s but also to sales leaders.  You could argue (correctly) that running a sales organization is not much different from running a company.

Every great company needs an Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).  And every EOS consists of 6 core areas of focus:

Vision
People
Data
Issues
Process
Traction

These areas are not new to most of us, but tying them together into a cohesive operating plan is what we most struggle with.  Here, I will briefly take a deeper dive into the 6 areas.

Vision
EOS lays out what’s called a Vision Traction Organizer (V/TO) to help simplify the process.  A sample V/TO is provided in the book.  We provide complete user guides to the EOS process that contain all the tools in the system.

It will be important to create your team’s vision.  You’ll need to get it out of the thought process and down on paper to make it easier to track and to work with.

There are 8 core questions that must be asked and answered and it provides an action plan for creating and communicating the vision.

People

EOS will introduce you to the People analyzer tool.  It will match your core values to those you are hiring or those you might be promoting or moving within the organization.

We have all heard about the importance of having the right people on the bus.  This builds on that concept with helping to identify those people more accurately.

The “right person” is determined by whether they share the company’s core values.
The “right seat” has to do with the “Accountability Chart”.

The accountability chart (an improved version of the org chart) forces you to view your organization in a different way and to address people issues that have possibly been holding you back for years.

Data

We need data in order to measure the success of our efforts.  Nowhere is this truer than in sales.  But the best leaders, rely on just a handful of numbers to manage their business.  Whether it’s five numbers or fifteen, they should all be monitored using a scorecard.  A scorecard keeps the measurement process from becoming overwhelming and it also ensures the process is meaningful.

As you learn and move deeper into the system you will learn there are 3 rules of thumb for effective scorecards.  I will save those for another time or call us and we will get rolling on your numbers and metrics.

As you’ll see in the sample scorecard provided in the book, each number is assigned to one person who is ultimately responsible for the results.

Issues

Often the thing that drains energy from people and organizations is unresolved issues. Traction outlines a process that helps leadership teams quickly dig to the root of an issue, discuss solutions, and then decide.

It is the decision that’s most important.  Indecisiveness it seems can have a more negative impact on an organization than making wrong decisions.  To help you tackle issues quickly and effectively EOS uses IDS or identify, discuss and solve to break issues down and solve them effectively.

Issues will exist at all levels of your business.  The main key is prioritizing them and then knocking them out one by one.

Process

In the sales profession, the process is a hot topic.  The more clearly you can define and standardize on a sales process, the theory goes, the more you can replicate success.  So, this chapter specifically, should resonate with sales leaders.

A typical organization runs by 6-10 core processes.  How they work together is the system.  This chapter helps you systemize your core processes if they are not already in that state.  Once there, you can refine them, simplify them, and make them consistent throughout your organization.

Traction

Most leaders know that bringing discipline and accountability to an organization will make people a little uncomfortable. You don’t have any other option if you want to build a great company. The good news is that short-term discomfort will give way to long-term satisfaction and traction.

Traction comes to life through 2 things that are core to this process.  Prioritizing the critical things that need to be accomplished (goals/objectives called rocks) and meeting regularly to hold yourself and team accountable for getting these things done.  This regular meeting “pulse” is itself a key to the success of the plan.

Traction contains all the tools and components that make up the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS). If you can master the individual elements of EOS you’ll have the traction you need to realize the vision and growth for your company.

0 comments on “Stop Talking & Start Leading”

Stop Talking & Start Leading

Stop Talking Indicates Warning Sign And Blather

Too many managers forget this simple rule.  We have 2 ears and one mouth for a good reason. We should use them that away.  Managers have a tendency to feel like they have to be talking in order to show they’re in charge or lead of the situation.  We often fail to remember that communication is a 2-way street.  In the case of leadership, it should probably be 2 lanes coming at us and one lane going with us.

If we could learn to listen 67% of the time and talk 33% we would be miles ahead of most managers in 2017.  Statistics show that 65% of managers talk up to 75% of the time and during that other 25% they may be thinking of what to say next and still not even listening to their team.  Today I would like to focus on just one technique to help even this out a bit for all of us.

When meeting with an individual or team start to think about the number of questions you ask versus the number of statements you make.  We should be shooting for almost 3 questions for every 1 statement.  I know you are saying “But Tim, how do I show my importance and overall command over the situation if I am asking questions and not making statements?”  To that, I say you must unlearn that misconception of leadership. This technique is the exact right place for you to start.

So, we will be asking the 5 “W’s” – who, what, where, why and when questions.  This alone is a game changer.  When your responses go from “You should have done…” or “Next time that happens make sure you…”  and you start saying “What do you think you need to do” or “Based on the information you just shared, what do you think our next step should be” amazing things start happening.  Your teams’ confidence increases almost immediately and they will show more independence.  This, in turn, saves you time by not having to be bothered with every little thing.  You should get used to that because I know how much we love to knock out those rapid-fire answers to those softball questions that should never have made it to us in the first place.

You will move from talker to leader and your team will thank you as they grow and believe in themselves more and more with every new opportunity they manage.  I hope this helps you grow and your business to do the same.

Wishing you that growth and success.

Tim

0 comments on “Sugar Coating + Criticism = Trouble”

Sugar Coating + Criticism = Trouble

White sugar cubes in a boat

Over time, it happens to all of us.  As a new manager/leader there comes a point when you must deliver that first bit of criticism or coaching that you know will not be what the employee wants to hear.  Often, out of fear of how to deal with that conversation we head down the sugar-coating path in an effort to soften the effects it has on that employee.  On the other hand, there could be an experienced manager who comes into a similar situation and decides to not be so direct.  After all, what can it hurt?

So what, you might ask.  What is the harm in trying not to be quite so direct?  Well, it boils down to a couple of simple things.

  1. Mixed messaging – “Am I doing it right or wrong?”
  2. Loss of respect from your team – “I wish my manager would just tell me where I stand.”

When necessary, give honest, genuine and direct criticism.  It’s not personal, it’s business and there are expectations.  So be efficient with the conversation and avoid taking the long road to explaining where they’re lacking.  That long road is where the sugar coaters live.  It is in those moments that we’re not being direct and clearly honest.  We start looking for ways to soften what we should say.  In the end, if that’s what we’ve done, we have failed our employee.  They will respond better to an honest message than they will if they’re unsure about what it is, exactly, that you are saying to them.  No one likes to hear when they are not doing something up to standard.  However, you are doing them a big disservice when you don’t help them to correct and avoid the same mistake from reoccurring.

So, lay off of the sugar, let the words do the heavy lifting in your conversations and your team will thank you.

Wishing you Growth!!

Tim

0 comments on “What Did You Do Today?”

What Did You Do Today?

Weltmacht USA

How many times in our lives did we hear the question, “What did you do today”?  Those 5 words would hang in the air and our response had the full attention of mom, dad or both.   Depending on our age the response was either simplistic and straightforward or our older more mature responses were intentionally vague to keep others guessing at what was going on inside our worlds.  It was always a probe sent out by mom and dad to see what was going on with this alien-like teenager they didn’t fully understand.  It seemed reasonable that a response would be shared based on the conversation starter they threw out.  They missed the part where most teens learned that single syllable responses ended parents quest the fastest.

Well, all those fun memories aside, it’s time to start answering this question again today.  What did you do today?  Did you make a difference in the world today?  Did you impact someone’s life positively?  What impact did you have over the 8-9 hours you were in the world on your own?  Is there something or someone to show for your time?  Maybe there was a life you changed in some small way through your actions.  Maybe there was a decision that changed due to your work and effort.  All these things add up to your mark in the world and you are writing it every day.  We all need to think about the traces of ourselves we leave behind.  Hopefully, we want the impact to be a positive one.  Are we doing the right acts for that to happen?  If you feel like you might not be doing the proper things up to this point that’s the beauty of the process.  Change now, make your traces powerful and remembered by others going forward.

As we sat back on this Memorial Day and remembered all the veterans who answered this question 90, 60 or 10 years ago with the most powerful answer to give; do we realize that we have a long way to go before we’ve sacrificed much at all?  Reflecting on the purpose of Memorial Day we recognize that if not for those brave men and women who are willing to lay down their life for a bigger purpose we would not be in this great country we find ourselves in today.  We may not even have the freedoms to ask this question.  Go out every day to answer the question, “What did you do today”?  Give it everything you’ve got and leave nothing behind.  Our mission at The Growth Factory is to help create and develop better leaders and managers to have an overall impact on their companies and every person they come into contact with.  We hope you find your purpose and live it out to the best of your abilities.

Wishing you Good Growth.

Tim

0 comments on “Love Your Day Job & Find Your Passion”

Love Your Day Job & Find Your Passion

do what you love word abstract

It has been said that “If you do what you love you will never work a day in your life”.  We all know this is true, but the challenge is being able to find it and support our life responsibilities at the same time.  We all have things we love to do, things that make us happy and enjoy life.  Then, we go to work and we do something different.  So, how do you combine what excites and motivates you with your everyday job?  This is the magic that’s needed to change our point of view.  Do what you love and reduce the things that hold you back.

Here is the reality of where we stand.  Most of us do not have a job that fulfills our passion.  It is said that less than one-third of graduates are even coming out into jobs related to their majors.

WOW!!  It’s not a simple task to find our passion against these odds.  Right now, I want you to look yourself in the mirror and say “If I want it, I can find it”,  and repeat “If I want it, I can find it”.  Now, let’s dig into beginning the process of making this happen.

Today I am not going to tell you to quit your job and start your own e-business or anything like that.  Of course, if you can follow your passion that way, by all means, do it.  I want to focus on the 75% of the population that is taking care of their family or themselves with a career that falls short of their passion.  So, how do you bring that into your current situation?  If we can think of our life as a puzzle it takes a lot of pieces to put us all together.  The key is bringing the passion pieces of your puzzle to the forefront more often.  Here are a few ideas of what I mean.

  1.  Look for a project you can volunteer for with an opportunity to express your creative side that’s held back with your daily work.
  2. Look for a charitable connection at your job that will allow you to combine a work skill with a great community outreach that more closely aligns with your passion.
  3. Look for a position in another department that may allow you to move closer to what it is that you’re truly looking for.
  4. Be an idea generator. See if you can think of a new product or concept for your business that allows you the opportunity to create an ideal job.
  5. Help others achieve more. For many, your passion can be fed through others rather than yourself.  So, do all you can to help increase the role of others in what you do.  Standing in the shadows and watching the success of a team can fulfill certain individuals.  If that’s you, find a way.
  6. Use a tool like Linkedin and start connecting with individuals that can create a bridge to your goal.  Find others with the passion role you seek and start up a conversation.  Don’t be afraid to show humility in reaching out to folks whom you share that same passion with.  After all, what is there to lose?  Several people I know have created their own opportunity this way.

My point is this.  If you sit here and complain, nothing will happen to take you in a positive direction closer to your passion and doing what you love.  That is unacceptable! As a coach and a leader, I want more for you than that.  I want to see people reaching their goals.  The reason I do what I do is to help make that happen every day.  Life is full of pathways we must choose to take.  So, please start choosing them with the end in mind.  Seek your desires and strive to go for it rather than heading for the cliff like lemmings.  Be inspired, “go for it” and try to reach that place, that job, that business, that charity or whatever it is you desire to make every day a pleasure and not feel like work at all.

Good Luck and Great Growth in all you do.

Tim

0 comments on “Put Me In, Coach!”

Put Me In, Coach!

Sitting on the benchAs cliché as that title is I had to use it.  It conjures up the correct mindset for the blog. Since I have you picturing in your mind some time in the past when you were in pee wee football, t-ball, softball, volleyball you name it and you can recall looking to a coach and asking for playing time or just some attention.

In business, coaching takes on a different but similar approach and impact to your employees.  They are looking to you for mentoring and help to achieve the next job opportunity or project.  You, as the leader, have a responsibility to your team to make each one of your team members consistently better.

How do you do it???  “TOSS EM” the ball and let them run!

If you have read any of my prior blogs you know I’m a guy that likes to have a plan for things.  Sometimes it’s in a formula and sometimes in an acronym.  Mentoring and coaching come down to following a certain path with your team and helping them get to where you need to take them.  So, here is an acronym for you “TOSS EM”.

“T” – Trust.  It is the key to great coaching and it’s required.  If your team does not trust you nothing else will matter.  Building trust takes time.  Doing what you say you will do when you say you’ll do it.  Also, offering a certain level of transparency to your team so they’re able to clearly see your motives.

“O” – Open the door and release talent.  This simply means that as a great coach and leader, under most circumstances, you know that your team will operate better if they’re left to themselves to work through things with their own creativity and talents and not be micromanaged each step of the way.

“S” –  Status Quo must go.  Allowing things from the past and the “we always have done it that way” limit your creativity and output as a team or individual is a killer.  So, as a coach, you must make sure you remove any of those barriers that might be there and allow the team to move freely and creatively

“S” –  Simple Strategic Goals.  You must help the individuals set clear, easily definable and achievable goals.  Goals must be easy to measure and have accountability built into them.

“E” – Execution.   Execution of goals, plans and projects are critical.   Setting all the goals is great, but getting the work done correctly and on time is confidence to help the individual grow and want to take on more and more over time.

“M” – Make feedback a priority.  Slow down and listen.  The feedback I am talking about here is the individual and teams feedback to you, not yours to them.  You should be ready to listen to suggestions and be open minded to considering a change.  Once you have heard what the team needs to say then it is fair game to offer your own observations to help them as well.  Just don’t shut down their feedback or ever retaliate with feedback to them for what they said to you.  That will not only destroy feedback but it will destroy trust and any chance you have of being a successful coach.

Look out for your team and “TOSS EM” the ball.  Chances are they will run up the score for you.

Wishing you growth and success.

Tim

0 comments on “Vision – Strategy = Chaos”

Vision – Strategy = Chaos

Choices of a businessman

How many times do you hear the story about the visionary leading their business to some incredible new heights with an innovative dream turned to reality?  This is always inspiring and it does make for a great book or movie but they are leaving one of the key parts out.  The “How” is often ignored in these scripts and that is because it is the boring work that is done to bring the vision alive.  But without the “How” there is no vision brought to life.

Vision – Strategy = Chaos

Taking your eyes off the strategy at any point in carrying out a vision will derail it.  To see something that you want to attain and not being able to build a realistic way to achieve it will leave you disappointed.  With all the NCAA games happening lately this felt like a fitting analogy.  When shooting a jump shot, the vision is the ball leaving your hand and going in the basket for 2 or 3 points.  But, if that is all we envision, and we ignore the defender, our outcome will be different.  As we envision the ball going into the basket the defender simultaneously wants to block our shot and if we ignore that short-term challenge (the hand coming to block your shot) our vision soon turns into a blocked shot, the ball on the court, a turnover and points for the other team – in other words “CHAOS”!  We stop this by knowing how to keep the defender away from our shooter and allowing the vision a chance at success as no vision is 100% assured without planning and execution.

So, in business, we see the vision we set out to achieve.  We then, must sit down with our teams and communicate that vision or path to our success and ask them for the strategies to keep our path clear to achieve our goal.  We need to keep that defender away and allow our vision a clear shot at success.  So, teamwork in the office is the same as the basketball court.  There will always be playmakers on the court and in the office, but the whole team must perform each of their roles to make everything a success.  The last key ingredient to making it all move is execution and we will talk more about it in detail in a later blog, but wanted to add it to the success equation today.  There is no success without execution.  We spend a lot of time coaching this communication in our Top GEAR and LEVER groups with leaders looking for a way to help ensure more success out of their business visions and plans.  We strive to help leaders see that it takes more than just a vision to grow or succeed.  You have to be able to show a path to getting it all done and implemented to truly win.

Vision + Strategy + Execution = Success

Wishing you growth and success in all you do.

Tim

0 comments on “Make Accountability S.I.M.P.L.E.”

Make Accountability S.I.M.P.L.E.

Close up of girl's hand placing the last jigsaw puzzle piece wit

What do you think of when you hear the word accountability?

Does it create feelings of uneasiness…fear…frustration…excitement?  For most managers, accountability brings on the feelings of concern and challenges.  We think about how hard it is to have a culture of true accountability where our teams self-manage and hold each other to the tasks and dates needed to keep things humming along.  Instead, we view it as an onerous, difficult thing that is very hard to control consistently and yield positive outcomes.

Maybe the best place to start is taking a look at the definition of accountability.  I like the straightforward version of “Doing what you said you would do, how and when you said you would do it.”  If we start there with that simple definition, then the rest of the process should be SIMPLE also.  Accountability forces us to stay out of excuses and blame and instead take ownership and responsibility.  So, then how to keep accountability SIMPLE?

Well, let me try and spell it out for you:

S – Set Expectations – Keep communication clear.  Stress urgency and importance of the task and define scope and responsibilities clearly.

I – Invite Commitment – Try to get buy in on any project/task is invaluable.  Put it all in writing to avoid any ambiguity and model accountability yourself.

M – Measure Progress – Set clear quantifiable goals.  Measure performance to these goals and always be coaching to keep on target.

P – Provide feedback – When there are issues, focus on the bad behaviors and don’t make it personal by attacking the individuals.  Avoid the tendency to micro-manage and jumping in.  Trust in the team and provide guidance.

L – Link to Consequences – Motivation is critical for success and both the carrot and the stick will work here.  It just depends on the team and the project.

– Evaluate –  When complete, perform the post mortem.  Review the process and the people.  You cannot create a culture of accountability overnight.

If you can follow the steps outlined you will be taking great strides quickly, but it still takes some time to create habits and form a culture with consistent behaviors.  These simple 6 steps can help you form the backbone of a great system and if they are repeated regularly you will move your team(s) and culture in a great direction.  We just had one of our group classes work through accountability this week and they were all very excited to take this to their businesses and give it a real-world shot.  We will be hearing back from them soon, on what I am sure are, their successes.

Wishing you growth and success.

Tim

0 comments on “What Do You Think?”

What Do You Think?

What Do You Think

As leaders and managers, we tend to take our fulfillment from answering questions and making decisions.  While these are very important things we do, we need to make sure they are done appropriately and at the right time.  If we simply “do” all the time, how do we mentor?   We need to make sure we develop our teams to be able to take on more and more responsibility as they grow.  If all they hear from you daily is “do that” and after that “do this” when is there decision making turned up?   Answer: (see I just did it, jump in to answer).  Eventually, their problem-solving muscles are going to atrophy from lack of use and they will begin to be discouraged and even look for other opportunities where they will be able to contribute more.  Nobody wants this to happen.  We should want our teams to feel empowered, that their opinion is important and it does matter to the business daily.  So, let’s talk about how we change this approach as there are a couple of simple things to do.  Simple yes, but training our “reacting” muscles to do them can be challenging.

If you have always been a problem-solver the team will notice your changes immediately. Be prepared to address why the change is necessary.  Let them know that you want more out of them and trust them to do more.  Also, share that it is a work in process and may take some time to perfect the process.  So, how do you facilitate it?  There are two techniques that are most effective.

First is the simple “What do you think we should do?” or “How would you handle this?” questions.  These will put your employee on the spot for sure and they may not have an answer the first couple times, but do not jump in.  I know this will be hard not to do because old habits die hard.  Silence is valuable and you must let it happen.  The answers will come, but not from you.  The second builds on the first.  Simply ask your team when they bring you a problem to have at least one solution to share with you.  This will do one of two things.  It will either encourage them to share and express their thoughts or it will force them to think on their own.

These are both simple things but require a large amount of discipline from you to make them happen.  Your team will see the change and begin to adapt to the “new you”.  This will encourage and empower them to be better managers and leaders and help them grow for their own chance for further advancement.  In the end, is that not what being a great manager is about?  We want to make our teams better and stronger.  By doing this you have increased their accountability and they no longer have to defer that to you.  Now, you are asking them to share in that role and become what they set out to be in the first place.  This all sounds interesting and probably some things that could work, but… What do you think?

Wishing you success and growth.

Tim

0 comments on “Good Luck Finding A Talented Leader”

Good Luck Finding A Talented Leader

Businessman standing with back against city

Or, at least one who will tell me everything I need to know in a couple of hours interviewing!

At one point or another, we all have the charge to hire employees.   If you are an Executive in a business, you will be hiring other managers to step in and lead your teams,  divisions or so on.  So, how do you make sure you have hired the right person?  I wish I could say it was simple & just do 1-2-3.  By now, you’ve figured out it’s not.  Let’s see if we might create a slightly more effective approach and at least offer some ideas.

For our discussions, we are going to be hiring a VP level to run parts of your business.  This role will have significant P & L responsibility.  They will be managing managers as well.

First, we need to advertise for the position.  The key is letting folks know.  Whether it’s a referral by word of mouth, an ad (digital or print), it doesn’t matter.  LinkedIn is a great tool for this as it allows you to target and recruit (keyword!).  You want to select this person as much as possible.  Look for the skills and features you feel fit the position and align with the culture, then reach out to these candidates and try to recruit.  In these markets, you need to pursue top talent and don’t wait for it to appear on your doorstep, it won’t.

Once you have what you feel is a qualified candidate you need something additional to give you a subsurface to know who you are talking to.  I, for one, am a strong believer in screenings such as PI, Strengths Finders or Profiles.  These tools aren’t foolproof but they seem to work the best based on experience and feedback.  You want to know what holes might be there so you can address them in the interview to see if the weakness is enough to toss the candidate.   Also, try to better validate those strengths that are indicated in the screening through the interview.  Check their personality, their body language & how they come across in speech.  The screenings are a great preparation tool for the interview process and will signal you to address certain aspects of a person that you may not have thought of without it.

Now, to focus on the interview process.  So, how much is too much?  It’s my opinion that a multi-step process for a VP is critical, but a gauntlet is crazy and may cost you a great leader.  This person will need to have at least 4 interviews over 2-3 different days.  Make sure the candidate’s interview across all levels of your company.  This is important because you want to see if a person changes behavior based on who they’re talking to.

Once a person has passed through the interviews it’s also important to bring them outside of the business for a social contact, a spouse dinner or something to get them out of character. This throws in the wild card of spouses and most likely personal things that will be discussed not business related.  Really pay attention here.  How does the candidate relate to their spouse in this setting?  Does the spouse look at the candidate before they speak all the time?  Try to pick up anything here that may give insight into communication style or honesty vs. the person you have interviewed so far.  If a spouse is getting a non-verbal “OK to talk” every time they open their mouth, there is a reason they are being that careful.  Drill into it and save yourself a headache down the road.   You are working through all these steps to try and weed out any of those you feel will not make it.   If you are fortunate enough to have 2-3 that make it to the decision point, you are very lucky.  This is where my decision becomes based on the “X” factor to make the final call.

What is an “X” factor?  It could be something said between interviews or a mention in a thank you note.  Did all the candidates even do thank you notes?  Maybe it was something they brought to an interview or some creativity they showed above and beyond.  Typically, it’s that positive notion you’ve gotten somewhere throughout the process that has stuck with you.  We all know when we have seen it and out of 2-3 people, someone will outshine the others in a small way somewhere.  Coaching to discover the person with that unknown is possible and there are ways to drill into it that I just don’t have space for here.  Finding real grit for the job is a science and an art, but it can be taught.

Wishing you growth.

Tim