Category

Leadership

lead yourself with systems and regimens

Leading Yourself

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Often we talk of leadership as a way to take a group or team from its current state to a better one. What we often fail to recognize is our personal success depends on our ability to lead ourselves.

 

It is the human condition to desire improvement. At a fundamental level, we all want to reduce pain and increase joy. The concept is rather simple: “Personal leadership is having the strength of character to take your personal performance from where you are to a better one.”

lead yourself with systems and regimens

Leading yourself is not much different than leading others. It requires defining your direction and plan and then creating systems and accountability checks to keep you on track.

 

I have found that one of the biggest ways you may be derailing your personal leadership is your lack of routine and regimen.  Often as an entrepreneur, you are wanting the freedom to determine your own destiny, but then that same desire for freedom is sabotaging your success. You want to follow your gut and do what feels right without depending on what has worked well so far. You abandon what works for what feels right.

 

So my challenge to you today is to develop your regimen and then hold yourself to it. From the way you start your day, make sales, deliver value, etc.

 

If you want to try something new, do it as an experiment against what is working – not a complete abandon of your regime.

Atlas

Excellence

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Seeking excellenceI have recently been listening to an audio version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. I am only half through with this massive book, but realize the common theme: the conflict between those that seek excellence through achievement and those that wish to gain power through manipulating regulation and taxation in the name of “the greater good.”

 

It has put my mind to thinking about excellence and high productivity.

 

Being human, we don’t always produce the results in as excellent a way as we would like. I recently had a challenge where my efforts did not produce the results I had planned. As I reviewed what went wrong, I found five basic things that are common in most failures:

 

  1. Incorrect assumptions
  2. Impatience with planning
  3. Poor follow-through
  4. Communication break-down
  5. Just plain laziness

It is a frustrating and demoralizing moment when you realize that you have run into a brick wall – a wall you placed there.

 

So how to avoid it? Get help. Have someone look over your shoulder. They can often  provide you feedback and point out your oversights.

cerate systems for what you love

Don’t Forget to Live

By | Leadership, life style, Systems | No Comments

hammockWhat an exciting week! I had the opportunity to spend a few days in just outside of Yosemite for a family reunion.

Now before you start to yawn and think it’s another opportunity to hear your ninety-something uncle Frank talk about how life was before they invented paper while passing copious amounts of gas – this was 20 great people and their children ranging in ages from a few months to 21 years old that I happen to be related to. I’m sore from the softball, basketball and invented games that have yet to be named.

I came away with a great reminder about my business. My business is designed to support my life – not the other way around.

So here is a call to action for you: Make sure you have time to enjoy the people you love or do the things you like most.

If there is business that MUST be done while you are off – it means developing systems in order to make sure the team members and technology can handle the load for you.

 

Ready for some time off? Click here

Job Training

Teaching Systems

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

One of my first potential clients several years ago mentioned that she and her husband were considering hiring an employee and might need me. I had a hard time getting in touch with them for a month. When I finally had a chance to speak with her, she let me know they had already hired someone and fired them. “I’m never hiring anyone again,” she informed me.

 

Job TrainingAs I dug deeper, I discovered a few key elements that she missed in the hiring and training process. She told me that this employee had mishandled invoicing and collecting payment (in a rather suspicious nature), was chronically late for service calls and didn’t follow through well with clean-up and other key follow-through items.

 

I know I beat this drum often. Without a doubt, it boiled down to systems and the system to train a new employee to follow the systems.

 

  1. The business owner had not verified the quality of the employee’s work. The work they were performing was very technical. Because the employee had several years of experience in the field, the owner had assumed the employee would do well. A ride-along in the interview process and an expectation for the new employee to shadow in the beginning would have saved them time and money.
  2. They did not develop a clear system that created double-checks and accountability in how invoicing and payments were to be handled. They expected the employee to get them the payments “when he could” since he would sometimes be on a service call until late into the evening. There were too many opportunities to lose payments or simply “borrow” some of it for a beer on his way home.
  3. The owner had not developed any level of clear “service standard.” When an employee has not been given clear expectations and no process to be held accountable to them, they create their own standards.  

 

In order to create an incredible experience for your customers, consistency in your systems coupled with a system for training and a system of accountability will create an incredible operation and value for your customers. Ultimately this creates value for you when its time to leverage and sell your business.

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

Thou Shalt Know Thy Numbers

By | Accounting, Cost Controls, Follow-through, Leadership, Strategic Planning, Systems | One Comment

Thou Shalt Know Thy NumbersDo you watch Shark Tank?

 

Let me give you the basic premise if you don’t. Entrepreneurs and inventors present their ideas to a panel of investors. They are then grilled about their business (or lack thereof) and then investors bid for investment in the business. Sometimes you see an amazing deal made – and sometimes the entrepreneur walks away with nothing.

 

One of the biggest “red flags” is when an entrepreneur doesn’t know his/her numbers. Here they are, in front of big-dollar investors asking for large investments and they don’t have a handle on how their business performs on important financial measures.

 

This is no different than any other business leader –whether you are looking for an investor or not.

 

As I work with my clients, I often see that they manage their accounts based on the number in their bank balance. They cannot tell you what they spend on marketing and what the return is. They don’t have ratios for measuring their COGS, supplies, or other variable expenses.

 

The numbers are not there for the IRS or to know how much money you made. The numbers exist for you to know how to improve your business from the inside and increase your profit.

 

The key is understanding your P&L and your Cash Flow Statement. Make sure you know the difference between the two and how to review both of them.

 

If you already know what they mean, review them. Often.

Positive Employee Turnover Because of Great Leadership

Postive Team Turnover

By | Accountability, Hiring, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

Positive Employee Turnover Because of Great LeadershipI’ve talked quite a bit over the last few weeks about how bad hires happen and how to avoid them. I’ve also discussed what to do when you have a rotten employee.

 

However, not all turnover is bad turnover. Here are some positive turnover situations:

 

  • Self Promotion – What a great moment for a leader when he sees that a team member has learned and grown so much, that they are ready to take on a better position outside your organization!
  • Dream Launch – Similar to the self-promotion above, the team member has been building up to launch their own business and wants to continue the business relationship and not as a competitor.
  • Promotion Within – A team member is ready to take on a leadership role within your organization.
  • Life – Sometimes an employee leaves us because their life changes: a family move, parenthood, marriage, volunteer work, etc.

The challenge is to celebrate with them and don’t rain on their parade because you are inconvenienced by their growth. Unless their departure requires an immediate change, a team member leaving your ranks is glad to help you select and train their replacement.

 

The hardest part, though, is setting the expectations for the new team member coming in. Most frequently, the new hire will need some time to get ramped up – especially if the person leaving had been there for a few years. Give them the necessary training and a step-by-step expectation to get up to speed.

 

Happy Hiring!

I have a feeling . . .

By | Leadership | No Comments

As part of my business education, I would often sit in a managerial or leadership class and hear an instructor carry on about how important “culture” in an organization is. I would sit, take notes, nod my head, and even contribute to the conversation parroting what I had heard in other similar conversations. In the back of my mind I always questioned the concept of “culture.”

 

Don’t get me wrong – I recognized that when I walked into one place it had a different feel and environment. But, I didn’t truly understand how it came together.

 

One day while I was doing a turn-around project in Texas, it dawned on Culture is a reflection of the leaderme. Creating a work environment that is healthy and productive is not an accident and can mean the difference between an engaged team and a mutinous staff.

 

In a nutshell, culture is a reflection of the leader. The bad news is, as a leader you are the problem. The good news is you are also the solution.

 

So, if you don’t follow through on your promises, your staff won’t with your customers. If you easily lose your temper, so will your staff. If you are informal and unstructured in your leadership, your staff will be informal and unstructured in their performance. If you distrust others, your staff will suspect your customers and each other of dishonesty and ulterior motives.

 

You probably have an idea regarding what kind of work environment you would like to see. Begin by thinking about how you interact with customers and staff yourself.

 

Character Vs Personality

Character Vs Tact

By | Leadership | No Comments

Character Vs PersonalitySteven Covey laid out in his classic book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People <link>, the research he did regarding self-help literature since 1776.

 

One of the things he noted was the shift that seemed to have happened shortly after World War I. In the earlier years of his research, self-help books emphasized that success was a result of appropriately applied character: honesty, integrity, industry, courage, etc. More recently, self-help books have emphasized success through personality: image, negotiation tactics, communication skills, attitude, etc.

 

Using the self-help emphasis of personality solely to get what you want may work for a short period. However, without character behind it, the people you are trying to help progress will see you efforts as duplicity and fake.

 

In everything our business does – leading our team, marketing, interactions with suppliers, etc – it is important that you have both character and personality. The character is the foundation we establish on who we are and what our motivations are. The personality acts to smooth out the interaction.

 

We all recognize when someone’s character has a kink. I don’t believe that any of us intend to leave gaps in our integrity. But when leading others, whether it’s your employees or your customers, depending too much on personality to smooth it over or convince someone will end up feeling hollow without character behind it.

 

 

bad apple

Turn-Over

By | Leadership, Operations | No Comments

Last year, I had the opportunity to do a turn-around of an Assisted Living facility in Texas. Often with a turn-around the problems are deeply entrenched in the culture and processes.

 

The people working there know there’s a problem, know that something has to change, but generally blame everyone else – especially leadership.

 

When problems are this entrenched, it becomes a vicious cycle. Unfortunately the people are the problem, and a turn-around often involves turn-over. Not because they are bad people, but the change required is too difficult for many employees to make.

 

With this particular project, I had to be a bull in a china shop.

 

You can't move forward with a team until you have the right team.

The first employee I fired at the facility was for tardiness and call-ins only a couple of days after I arrived.

 

One particular employee was fired within a few weeks for gossip.

 

Guess what: I had very little problem with attendance and gossip after that.

 

Before I left, only 4 of the original 15 employees still remained.

 

The most difficult and most important part of building a great team is having the right people in the room.

 

The more quickly you can help someone find a more appropriate place of employment, the sooner you can move the team forward and find the right person.

 

A great leader is able to quickly see how someone will or won’t match the rest of the team.

Hope

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

I officially declare that Spring is here! 

Spring is about re-birth, energy, and hope. It’s about opening day, grass between your toes, and sunshine on your face.

Hope: For a brighter day. For a better world. For a stronger future.

 

Hope moves us forward. Hope to change our selves, our business, our lives.

I recently read about a study done in the late 60’s about hopelessness and dogs. The researches would ring a bell and quickly follow it with a mild electric shock. At first the dogs looked for a way out, but could not find one.

 

After a few days of this, the researchers split the area in two. One side was insulated and would keep the dogs from being electrocuted. A small barrier was placed in between the areas that the dogs could easily overcome.

 

What surprised the researchers, was that the dogs never attempted to jump the barrier to the “safe” zone. They had accepted their plight and had no hope to alleviate it. Without the hope that they could change their situation, improve their world, they simply gave up and accepted the pain imposed on them.

 

The good news – researchers worked with these dogs to show them that moving to the other side of the barrier would alleviate their pain. After several attempts, the dogs discovered they could control what occurred and began jumping the barrier.

 

Hope moves us forward. Hope to change our selves, our business, our lives.

What have you just accepted in your business? Have you give up trying to improve it? What causes you “pain” in your business and what do you need to alleviate it?