Category

Leadership

For real change to happen, you have to identify your sacred cows.

Sacred Cows

By | Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

For real change to happen, you have to identify your sacred cows.We’ve all heard the term “Sacred Cow,” but have you ever wondered what it really means? It is a reference to the Hindi belief that cows are a sacred animal and carry the souls of relatives. They are therefore revered and not used for food. In business we often refer to people, projects, or systems as a sacred cow when they cannot be questioned, criticized, or considered for elimination.

In your business, some of the processes currently in use have become sacred cows and your team will adamantly resist changing them.

The reasons for the resistance are simple. First, your people will resist change because they have adjusted their own habits and workflows to the systems already in place. Changing those processes will require them to change. Second, many of the processes that are currently in use have been developed on the fly by the people using them – namely your people. They are emotionally tied to those process and suggesting that they are changed can imply in their minds that the work they did was not good enough.

Your new announcement to “systematize” or make the business more efficient will be met with skepticism. That’s why the first set of sacred cows you have to sacrifice are your own. There are many aspects of the business that are your baby. It’s something that you put your heart and soul into in order to make it work.

The great part of being an entrepreneur is that when you have a great idea you can direct your energy into the area that excites you the most. However, your entrepreneurial ADD may have taken you down the rabbit hole. Be open for your team, consultant, coach or mastermind group to put the mirror in front of you. Know when to swallow your pride and make a change in yourself. When your team sees you making the sacrifice, it makes it easier for them to place their sacrifices on the altar with yours.

Even though you’ve taken the lead and example of having a willingness to change and it will be easier for them to follow, it will still be difficult for many of them. It won’t happen overnight. In fact, the process of change never ends. The sooner the team realizes that and is willing to accept it, the more efficient your business will become.

is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five foundations of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Keep adding new processes, and you end up with a cluster.

How did I get such a jumbled mess?

By | Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

One of my wife’s many gifts is that she is extremely organized in everything that she does. I, on the other hand, am not that way. I have had to learn as an adult to keep organized and still have to make a conscious effort.

Even for an organized business owner, adding staff and complexity to the business can cause your processes and systems to become a jumbled mess.

Poor systems never start as bad. Usually they occur because the system in place has not responded well to unexpected challenges or new opportunities.

Imagine your original business systems as a single bubble. You’re happy with your bubble. It works and produces the results that you need.

Your core business starts as a simple set of processes
Eventually a new problem or opportunity comes up that you need to address. It’s easier to just add a new system or process instead of growing your system.

A new challenge can present a need for a new process

However, if you keep adding new processes to every new opportunity, you have a business full of disjointed processes. They sort of fit together, but they are cumbersome and difficult to manage.

Keep adding new processes, and you end up with a cluster.

To get out of this jumble of un-manageable, independent processes, you have to start looking at your Standard Operating Procedures and see how they fit together, figure out transitions, communication methods, and how to better wow your customers.

You need tighter operating procedures.

Don’t roll your eyes. None of us like the restrictions and the “corporatization” of our businesses. Most of us started our business to get away from the smothering of someone else’s stupid rules.  The truth is, great business is somewhere between smothering bureaucracy and flying by the seat of your pants.

By developing written procedures and processes, you create a team that produces the same level of quality as you would if you were doing the job yourself. How detailed and how specific you get with your processes depends on how much decision making can be left to your newest and least experienced employee.

 

is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five foundations of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Give a helping hand. Be a servant Leadership for your team, your customers and your community.

Service-Minded

By | Leadership | No Comments

Give a helping hand. Be a servant Leadership for your team, your customers and your community.The greatest thinkers since the beginning of time have encouraged us to look out for each other. Every advanced society encourages it. Every faith requires it. The best leaders are “servant leaders”: leaders that believe that their purpose is to serve customers and team members alike for a greater purpose than themselves.

Building a market means delivering a product that serves the customer well. You lead your customers to a better version of themselves. Don’t get me wrong, there are products that actually destroy the customer either immediately or eventually while giving immediate satisfaction (tobacco, drugs, pornography, etc.) We often talk about providing great customer service, but do you truly have a spirit of service or are you constantly balancing what we are providing compared to what we are receiving?

Building a team requires service. You have to give attention to every person on the team and give them the tools, skills, and confidence that your your customers need. Building your team is more than plugging a peg in a hole to stop the gap. It means mentoring and coaching them. It requires more than management, it requires leadership – which requires being service-minded.

Building the community around you through your personal and business efforts is also important. It’s no secret why businesses enter into philanthropy. Not only is it good for your soul, but it’s good for your bottom line.

The character and integrity of your business is only as strong as your own. By becoming a better person, you become a better leader, and you build your booming business.

 

is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five foundations of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Communication suffering in your business?

Miscommunication

By | Follow-through, Leadership, Systems | No Comments

 "I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Robert McCloskey, the award winning children’s author once wrote: “I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

I have had many conversations like that. What I thought the conversation was about turned out to be completely misunderstood by me or the other people involved. I have also had my words twisted into an indiscernible mess.

Business revolves around agreements between parties that find the arrangement mutually advantageous. Good communication builds trust and a stronger agreement and thus a greater advantage for everyone involved.

For the operations of your business, the most important system that connects all of your systems together is how information moves. From lead, to proposal, to planning, to completion, to invoice, to collections. How does information flow or not flow?

I have found that communication of several forms can help clarify and solidify our meaning. By first having the conversation and then providing a written follow-up, we can make our own point more clear.

Remember also that communication goes two ways. We need to be open to understanding what other people are telling us. If we repeat back what we think we heard to the other individual, it allows them an opportunity to clarify their message as well.

Volumes have been written on how to improve communication. Chances are because they are so difficult to manage.

 

 

is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five building blocks of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Leading a team through change is one of the biggest challenges a leader can face. Even though the team knows that change needs to happen, they will resist it the most. Here is where you will begin to make some of the most difficult decisions in your business.

Manage Change

By | Leadership, Operations | No Comments

Leading a team through change is one of the biggest challenges a leader can face. Even though the team knows that change needs to happen, they will resist it the most. Here is where you will begin to make some of the most difficult decisions in your business. Leading a team through change is one of the biggest challenges a leader can face. Even though the team knows that change needs to happen, they will resist it tooth and nail. This is where you will begin to make some of the most difficult decisions in your business.

As a leader you will need a large dose of humility. It can be a blow to your ego to know that some of your pet projects are not only superfluous, but detracting from your continued growth. Reevaluate what is most important to the business. You’d be surprised at what will really makes your business successful. Be ready to let go of your own thoughts and ideas about how things should work.

Getting an outsider’s professional view might be necessary. You can be so close to the problem that you can’t see the solution. Depending on your team and the culture you’ve created, they may not be able to see it or feel uncomfortable cluing you in. If you haven’t already, identify a consultant, coach, mastermind group, or all of the above that you will use.

Note that by implementing these changes you will purposely take your team from the Norming stage back to the Storming stage as they try to hash out their new roles and how they will work together. This will create conflict – which will be good. But knowing how to manage your team through the conflict and avoiding complete nuclear warfare will be your challenge. 

Know also that there will be people that need to leave the team. Be comfortable with that. Their departure does not mean that they are a bad person (though some might be) or that you are a bad leader. Sometimes people refuse to grow with the company. It’s OK. But if they cannot grow with you, then it’s time for them to find a place where they will be happier.

 

is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five building blocks of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Hiring the right person is only the beggining. You have to give them the right tools and train them to your standards.

Getting the New Guy Started

By | Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, Operations | No Comments

Hiring the right person is only the beggining. You have to give them the right tools and train them to your standards.When I first started managing and supervising others, I thought it was about giving the person the tools, telling them what I needed done and letting them loose to carry it out.

You’re probably chuckling to yourself because you thought the same thing in the beginning.

You and I have both realized that there’s a lot more to it than expecting them to “just do their job.” There has to be accountability and frequent check-ins to make sure the project is on time, on task, and exceeds the quality your customer expects.

Every employee needs to be provided the tools to succeed and the accountability that motivates them forward. Great training does both.

I’ll bet you teach them how, let them do it a few times and then walk away. How many times have you done that and then come back to a disaster after they found an “easier way?” You didn’t hold them accountable and instill that they did it your way.

So let’s put together a training program that gives them the tools and accountability they need to be succesful.

Here is how:

  1. Using your interview question, create a list of core skills that the worker must have to be successful.
  2. Now map out how quickly you want them to show expertise in these skills. Using time frames like 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, 6 months and a year work pretty well.
  3. For each skill, create a measurement that the person must meet to show their expertise. Usually this includes quality and timeliness parameters.

Just making the checklist won’t work. You have to use it for every new hire – regardless of their credentials or experience. When the journeyman with 25 years of experience rolls his eyes at it, you continue to press him to sign off the expertise. It communicates very clearly that you have areas you will not compromise on. It also tells the old-timers that it does not matter how it was done someplace else – it’s done your way and to your standards. If they want to improve the process, then they need to first do it your way. They can propose their way after they have signed off on yours.

I use this competency punch-list in the interviews. Revisit it occasionally with the guys who have been with you for a while. You would be surprised at how quality and timeliness improve by using training this way.
is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five building blocks of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Choosing an employee requires a strategy and more than just finding someone to fog a mirror. I can provide the business coaching you need to make that happen.

Hired!

By | Accountability, Hiring, Leadership, life style, Operations | No Comments

Choosing an employee requires a strategy and more than just finding someone to fog a mirror. I can provide the business coaching you need to make that happen.There just aren’t as many skilled and experienced employees in the market as there once were!

When the economy tanked in 2008 – especially for the housing and building industries – many skilled workers went back to school or found a job in a different industry. Those that did stay in the game are now demanding more cash and can be hired away at the drop of a hat for a little more an hour.

Hiring young workers and training them seems more frustrating than losing your quality employees.  The basic skills taught a few decades ago are not being taught so readily to the new generation. How to drive a straight nail even seems foreign to many workers entering the market.

This has created a huge gap in many industries. Not enough experience to hold the quality end up, higher labor costs, and little new talent coming through the door.

Time for a “Hiring Strategy.”

It feels like more work than it’s worth, but if you can create an incredible strategy for finding, hiring and training excellent people you will save yourself weeks and months of lost productivity and revenue.

Actually, a hiring strategy is not very different than a marketing strategy. It boils down to several questions you need to be asking that you probably are not:

What are the key, measured results that I want from every worker?

  • Besides experience, what are the key values my ideal worker will bring to the table?
  • What can we teach and – more importantly – what can we not teach?
  • What can we do to make the hiring process more detailed instead of just hiring the guy that can fog a mirror?

Hiring for experience is good, but hiring a team member who has a great work ethic, a desire to learn and a drive to succeed will be a better employee every time. Some of the best people I have ever hired had zero experience. Why? Because they had a drive to succeed. Granted, certain positions require specific qualifications. I won’t hire a doctor without a degree or license to practice but a great attitude. However, once the minimum qualifications for a position are met, the rest can be taught.

A mistake I often see in hiring is not doing your due diligence in the process. Put your people through the ringer. Do multiple interviews, perform a “working interview” by requiring them  to “ride along” for a day. I even suggest that you know their spouse or someone important in their life. You don’t want the employee who has a crazy person at home draining the energy they should put into their work.  And of course, check references, review backgrounds, and have drug tests performed.

Ultimately, you have to have a process for hiring. Just like your sales process, framing a door, booking a patient, or wiring a house. There are certain principles to use and can be adjusted for the job you need done. But when you start short-cutting the process, you start short-cutting your results.
is a business coach and consultant that works with business owners and managers to create momentum in their business with strategies and tactics that they can implement today. These strategies are based on the five building blocks of business: Marketing, Leadership, Operations, Finance and Systems.

Do It, Delegate It, or Dump It

By | Accountability, Leadership, Leverage, life style, Operations | No Comments

Few things in life are equal to the joy of a job well done.

But for most business leaders, we feel the job is never “done”.

One day I was sitting at the table with my family. Sarah (my lovely and patient wife) was telling me about her day. Suddenly she says:

“Care to join us?”

I had drifted away from my family to think about the concerns I had at the office. I was steeling time from my family. This was not a one-time occurrence.

It was then that I decided I had to change a few things.

I started re-evaluating what I was doing and decided that I needed to train my staff better. It was relieving to discover how effective I could be – and I wasn’t overwhelmed.

Many of us as business leaders assume too much accountability. I’m not saying responsibility because we are always responsible for what occurs under our leadership. I’m saying that we do not share accountability with our team – or we fail to make a team that we hold accountable. By delegating and holding our team accountable, we can move the business forward without getting bogged down.

I often talk about the business leader who is still “swinging the hammer.” Instead of running a business, he has positioned himself to be the business. He has not developed a team that will allow him to delegate and leave him with the most important tasks – developing the business.

Even if you are a “one-man-army” there are ways to delegate and develop a team. There are great resources of bookkeeping/accounting, webdesign, setting appointments and even answering your phone. You can out-source these locally or use services like odesk.com, elance.com and Fiverr.com.

Remember you don’t have to go it alone. Do it, delegate it, or dump it.

 

 

delegate

Don’t Abdicate

By | Accountability, Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Ever delegate something only to discover it never gets done? How long did it take to discover that the task was not completed? Was it because the person failed or because you did not create a way to follow-up and make sure it was done?

As a leader you have a tendency to delegate it and forget it, without responsibility or follow-up. Michael Gerber in his book The E-Myth, calls this abdication. It’s a roll of the dice if it gets completed.

Delegate, Don't abdicate wither it wont get done, or it wont get done right.Some of the first things you’ll want to delegate as a leader are the things you don’t like to do or that you don’t do well. Because you don’t like the task or don’t know how to complete it ourselves, you hope that the task gets completed without your involvement.

This is why a system of follow-up and accountability becomes essential to leading your team. You’ve heard “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” – if you are not measuring the progress of your delegated tasks, you are sure to be blind-sided by the fact that it was never completed.

If you are ready to start delegating and having the task done right and on time? Get on the call here.


Getting It Done

By | Hiring, Leadership, Leverage, life style, Operations, Stress Management, Systems | No Comments

If you were to watch my 10-year-old son eat, you would think we only fed him a few times a week. He often acts like he is starving to death. He will sometimes shove so much food in his mouth, he can’t completely close it. He is in such a hurry to eat he makes a mess of his clothes and the table, chokes, and actually takes longer to eat.

As entrepreneurs, we tend to do the same thing with our to-do lists and the commitments that we make to customers, suppliers, our families and to ourselves. We take on so much, we end up making a huge mess, burn ourselves out and take longer to get the list done.

However, much of this “over-stuffed to-do list” is born out of necessity. In order to stay competitive and fulfill expectations, we commit to early mornings, late nights, skipped meals and then neglect our personal well-being and relationships.

Eventually we have to get it done, and getting it done requires time. I see many of my clients suffer from the over-commitment dilemma. There is one solution, however, that is the most over-looked: Delegation.

The problem that most entrepreneurs have with delegation is that they wait too long before they begin thinking about it – and when they do, they do not have the right people or systems in place to ensure that the job is done as well or better than the leader herself would have done. The result is that it just seems easier for you to do it yourself – creating the vicious cycle of overwhelm to start again.

Break the cycle:

The first step is to create a list of everything you are currently doing yourself. Next, sort this list into three categories: outsource, hire, and keep.

The question now becomes what can you afford, both emotionally and financially, to remove from your list and forever place them on the “outsource” and “hire” lists?

Ask yourself this question: What will allow you to increase your cash flow the most?

Is it someone to do the technical work that will allow you to do more bids? Is it sales that will allow you to do more of the technical work that can only be done with a license or specialized training? Or is it the office work like bookkeeping, data entry or answering the phone that will allow you to generate more sales?

Get off the overwhelm cycle here: