Delegate and Elevate!

When you’ve grown a business from the ground up, it becomes a part of you. Giving up even a little bit of control is so daunting that it’s much easier to say, “I’ll just work a little harder”. But there comes a point where the pace just isn’t sustainable. It takes a toll on your family, your health, and your business. In order to succeed, you must delegate.

To Get Great Results, We Need Great Meetings

I know, I know. Everyone hates meetings. But here’s the thing — not all meetings are bad. Bad meetings are bad.

I know. I know. Most meetings are bad meetings.

But when I’m part of great ones – I love them!

For leaders, holding and attending meetings should be the most important thing we do each day. After all, meetings are where we find out what’s really going on in our business. They’re where we determine our strategy, where critical issues are discussed and important decisions are made. What could be a better use of our time?

Unfortunately, most meetings lack a clear objective, structure and conclusion.  Instead of being the interesting, engaging and productive functions they should be, they are boring, sluggish and ineffectual.

In order to be sure our teams are executing and getting great results, we need to hold great meetings.

Here are 5 essential elements every meeting must have:

  1. Set an agenda. This does not have to be a typed out, minute-by-minute, schedule but it does have to clearly communicate the purpose (why the meeting is being held) and objective (the intended outcome). This will allow attendees to come better prepared, resulting in more meaningful questions and better dialogue.
  2. Don’t allow tangents. Providing an agenda makes it easier to keep the meeting from veering off-course. If a topic comes up that’s important, but is not critical to the topic at hand, use the ‘parking lot’ technique, writing it down to discuss at a time after the meeting. This technique avoids what Patrick Lencioni refers to in his book ‘Death By Meeting‘ as “meeting soup”.
  3. Achieve resolution. Don’t end the meeting until you have achieved your objective. If there’s a point in the meeting it becomes clear information or people are missing that are critical to achieving resolution, end the meeting immediately and reschedule. Do not waste time speculating, but don’t skip the next element!
  4. Assign responsibility.  Wrap up the meeting by reviewing any action items that were decided, clearly stating who is responsible for the action items, and when the action should be completed by.
  5. Follow through. One of the biggest pitfalls to great execution is lack of follow through. One person needs to take ownership (most likely the person who called the meeting) and must create accountability within the team. The strategy for creating accountability will differ depending on the culture, capability and dependability of your team, but a good general rule is to follow up with anyone who was assigned a task 2 days after the meeting. This creates an opportunity to provide additional clarity, if needed, and assures everyone’s on track.

Depending on the type of meeting, sending occasional status updates to attendees, or letting them know the ultimate outcome, has a huge impact on engagement and morale. Everyone likes to know their contributions matter and their time was well spent.

Following these guidelines may seem a bit cumbersome at first, and you may get some push back from your team, but power through! When you experience the energy and effectiveness of a well-run, focused meeting, you might just love them, too!

Don’t Tolerate Brilliant Jerks!

Far too often, managers tolerate employees who are good at what they do, even if they are not a positive influence on those around them. At Netflix, these people are referred to as “Brilliant Jerks”.

In corporate culture circles, the ‘Netflix Culture Deck’ is a constant reference and source of inspiration. (If you’re not familiar with it, Google it. It’s worth the read!) In it, they outline the seven aspects of their culture, the first of which is “Values is What We Value”. They are serious about their values and use them to hire, review, promote and replace employees.

These are the values Netflix looks for in their employees:

The beauty of this is they name the value and give examples of behaviors that demonstrate the value. This makes it so much easier to include behaviors in performance management instead of just results. If we only manage results, by the time we know things aren’t going well, it’s too late to fix them. Results are downstream from behaviors.

Managers shy away from addressing behaviors because it can be subjective and is much more personal than results. Having well defined expectations of desired values and behaviors from the very beginning simplifies the process when corrections are necessary.

One of the first steps in the EOS implementation process is working with the leadership team to define their core values. These are not the values that are popular or that sound good on a poster; they are the values that are truly reflected in the way the leadership team operates and that their most valued employees exhibit.

Tolerating ‘brilliant jerks’ undermines teamwork and negatively affects productivity in ways we don’t even realize. If we want to have great results, we need to surround ourselves with a team of people who share and demonstrate the same values we do. To do this:

  • define your true core values
  • communicate these values to everyone in the company
  • hire and manage to these values
  • replace employees who do not demonstrate your values

If we are disciplined and consistent in doing this, it will be amazing how many conflicts are eliminated, how much faster projects get completed, and how much more enjoyable running our business becomes!

What’s the Story With the Bee?

A few people have been candid enough to ask, “Why the bee icon?” And I’m sure for everyone who’s asked, there are 10 more who haven’t, but are wondering. So here’s the history and why I think it represents my business so well.

My intrigue and appreciation of bees began in elementary school. I had the good fortune of attending a great school at a time when education was not just about teaching, but about inspiring students to learn. We had music classes and art classes and a pond in the back where we would catch pollywogs in the spring and ice skate in the winter. I loved it all, but my favorite part was the beehive that had been cleverly inserted between the panes of glass in the library window. How amazing it was to watch the bees come and go, to find the queen, drones & workers and observe the metamorphosis from eggs to adult bees! Fascinating!

In the study of business management, strategy and culture, the honey bee colony provides the perfect metaphor for organizational health. A servant leader. A shared vision and meaningful purpose. An engaged and loyal staff. Isn’t this what every business strives for? And the fact that they’ve been around for over 30,000,000 years is a pretty good testament of their system and process!

There’s also the homonym fun to consider. “Be” Real Culture. “Bee”. Friends call me “B”.

I hope this gives some insight into why the bee icon resonated with me and makes a little more sense out of it for my readers and clients. And if all these reasons still aren’t enough, consider this:

 

It’s SO cute!! 🙂

New Hires: First Impressions Matter!

When welcoming new employees into our company, it’s important to understand the impact first impressions have on their long-term success. Spending the time to do it right is a wise investment that will pay huge dividends.

I’m sure we can all think of times when our first impressions of something or someone were less than stellar. The salesman who said “I’ll be right with you”, then continued to talk on his cell phone for 10 more minutes. The hotel room with the broken air conditioner. The waitress who was clearly annoyed that you asked if there are onions in the risotto dish. Do any come to mind? Now let me ask…what did it take to change your mind and create a positive impression? Did you ever change your mind?

What impression are we making on our new employees? Accepting the job is no different than deciding to walk into the showroom, the hotel or the restaurant in the examples above. We got them in the door, but is that all we want? Of course not! How well we show new employees that we are prepared and excited for their arrival, want to make them comfortable, and have the time and desire to answer their questions will have a direct impact on speed-to-competency, discretionary effort, overall engagement and retention.

Here are some tips to make a positive first impression:

  • Call new employees before they start. Tell them when to arrive, what to bring (forms? lunch?), where to park and who will greet them. Answer any questions they might have and tell them you’re looking forward to welcoming them to the team!
  • Do a company announcement with names, a little background and start date.
  • Be sure workstations are clean and properly outfitted. A name plate &/or welcome sign are a nice touch!
  • If you have a board in the lobby, post a “Welcome ____” message on their first day.
  • Distribute a schedule and make sure all involved staff understand, and are committed to, their role.
  • On arrival, do team introductions and be sure they are shown desks, break rooms, rest rooms and emergency exits. Be sure to introduce their manager, trainer and mentor (if applicable).
  • Sometime during the first day, the manager should meet with each new employee and explain the schedule and expectations for the first two weeks.
  • Provide a company history and mission statement. Explain what areas their role impacts and why it’s important to the success of the company. Creating this understanding early on will instill pride and accountability

These might seem like common sense tips, but common sense is not always common practice. Our workloads are full and training new staff is a drain on resources; it’s tempting to lose focus and let details fall by the wayside. Don’t! Remember – – we only get one chance to make a good first impression!

Feedback – It All Starts Here

There are lots of resources that contain a variety of great advice about the most effective strategies for providing feedback. ‘Keep it positive’. ‘Give it immediately’. ‘Make it specific’. And the list goes on…

These are all wonderful suggestions when used appropriately (more to follow on that), but none of these methods will work unless we first create a foundation of trust and respect.

If we want to be effective leaders, we must be willing to take the time to build a relationship with our team. Take the time to get to know them as people. Learn where they came from, what’s important to them, and what they’d like to accomplish. Find things you have in common to help create a connection. When you show an authentic interest in someone, it demonstrates that you respect them as individuals and is the first step in building this foundation.

In order to build trust, you must be willing to display vulnerability. It’s very difficult for people to trust someone who never admits to making mistakes, shows weakness or says “I don’t know”. Leaders set the example for how they want their team to behave; if we want our team to be open to coaching, we need to demonstrate a desire to grow and improve, too.

Giving feedback to your team – positive or negative – becomes easy and effective once you’ve built this foundation. Your positive feedback will build pride and confidence because they will know it is sincere and your negative feedback will be accepted graciously because they will know your intention is to help them develop and succeed.

There are no shortcuts and no magical words. If you want your feedback to have impact, you have to do the work and build a strong foundation. From that foundation, you can build a strong team. And with a strong team, anything is possible! Trust and respect – it all starts here.