Your Philosophy Around Talent Makes A Difference

Your Philosophy Around Talent Makes A Difference… Having a company full of “A Players” does not guarantee success, but it significantly raises your prospects.

As a Business Coach, I have worked with many organizations and see the differences between the companies that produce short-term success, long-term success, and those that flounder. There is a vast difference in how the long-term winners build their organizations and their results versus everyone else. The factors that cause these results are known, often discussed, and rarely emulated. Your philosophy around talent matters!

Identify any company you consider great, and you will find that the greatness was 20 years in the making. You have probably heard revenue is vanity, profit is sanity, and cash is king. If you are producing high levels of success in all three measures, you should be proud. Not many companies can boast such performance. And still, you may not be built to last. What worked in the past may not work for the future. 

Most businesses will never be innovative, transformational, or trailblazers. However, all can have extraordinary growth in revenue and profits. An example most of us know is Southwest. They don’t have the most revenue (10th), largest fleet size (5th), or passengers flown (3rd). However, they broke the mold when measuring cumulative profit over 30 years. And, they copied and better executed another companies business model. 

As a business coach, I help companies build great companies and develop the best leadership practices to stay great. I help address organizational habits that cause growth ceilings. Or worse, your habits could lead to a decline or even failure. I see my job as a blind spot remover. One of the keys to your success is your leadership philosophy around talent.

First Who Then What

You can’t discuss enduring success without addressing the elephant in the room. Your business will only be as good as the people that operate in it. Jim Collins nailed it in “Good to Great, “first who then what!”

Many companies have a few great people, but few can boast the best talent throughout the organization. Most leaders will tell you that they are great at selecting people, but the data proves otherwise. Most companies don’t have the measures to know and only use their income statements as their measuring stick. The stark truth is that at least 30% of your employees are not performing and hiding in plain sight.

As I wrote in Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, even great leadership cannot overcome the limited abilities of “B” or “C” talent. Often, leaders can only go as far as those they lead. Think about it from a coaching perspective. You could have a world-class coach, but if you have a team of players with mediocre athletic ability, you’ll only get so far. The coach can draw up all the plays he wants, but the team has to execute them on the playing field. Players have to make split-second decisions and make the plays as the game unfolds. The players determine whether you win or lose. Business is no different.

Great leadership puts a person in a position to excel and succeed, but that person still has to do all the heavy lifting. It has been said that a great leader is like a gardener who plants seeds, makes sure that the soil has the right nutrients, and then nurtures the soil. The gardener cannot grow his crops, and he can only provide the right conditions for growth and plants the right seeds. 

Trust me when I say it is imperative to have A-rated talent to obtain optimal results. Then it takes leadership to keep them at that level. Now, don’t think of this as a process of rating people. Instead, it is about establishing the standards for every employee. Only after specifying measurable objectives can you hold your team accountable. Incomplete hiring and accountability practices, not putting people in the right seats where they can excel, failure to hold people accountable to key outcomes, and weakness in your culture represent poor leadership.

One of the biggest profit leaks in your company may be related to your philosophy regarding personnel. The highest cost in most companies is payroll; therefore, your biggest asset or investment is people. How seriously are you and your company taking this investment, and how disciplined are you in demanding that it produces an adequate standard of performance?

I have enjoyed coaching excellent teams and have experienced the pain of excessive numbers of wrong team members. It is no surprise that when the leadership team is weak, so is everyone else. An “A Player” will not survive a “B” leader or tolerate being surrounded by “B” coworkers. Birds of a feather flock together. We have looked at the success rate of our engagements, and Clients that put heavy investment in filling their organizations with “A Players” far outperformed the rest. Worse, companies with “B” leaders, particularly CEO, moved sideways at best. We would use the same process, same coaches, and double the effort to help the “B” team. We always fail to make sustainable progress with a “B” team.

What Are “A” Players?

 “A” players are employees who consistently meet productivity requirements (performance standards) and consistently live your company’s core values. Your productivity requirements should be set at a high bar and be readily achievable. Do not place the bar so high that it takes a unicorn to fill your position. Regardless of the role, strong performers can produce at two to three times the output of their peers. Many organizations, however, label the wrong people as their “A” players. You may be favoring people you can identify with more personally, that you have less conflict with, who have organizational tenure, who have the most institutional or industry knowledge, or that you consider loyal to you. They are not necessarily “A” players. If you are like many leaders, you may be giving more weight to only a few attributes or qualities you find important. Unfortunately, those may or may not be critical to the position’s real mission, purpose, or success.

I had a client who had an issue with his controller and was leaning toward dismissal. This was a sales culture, and the CEO favored outgoing and communicative people. He felt the controller did not fit his culture. The controller was reclusive and preferred to work in a quiet place to concentrate. Also, this controller was not afraid to tell the CEO when the company was wasting money, even if it was the CEO doing so. The controller was very focused on precision and getting things right. She often voiced concerns when other leaders exaggerated their points or made decisions with no supporting data.

The CEO failed to realize the issues he had with the controller were not related to her skills and talents. Instead, they were related to her behavioral style, which differed from the CEO. The controller’s behavioral style helped balance the leadership team and was essential to her being a suitable controller. Being the decisive and outgoing communicator that the CEO preferred was not a necessary quality for being a competent controller. The controller lived all of the core values of the business entirely. Moreover, everything produced by the department was helpful and accurate. Furthermore, she treated the company as if its assets were her own, protecting the owners.

So what causes someone to be categorized as a “B” or “C” player? A “B” player consistently lives all of your organization’s core values but is not meeting 100 percent of their position’s productivity requirements. A “B/C” player performs at the required levels but does not consistently demonstrate one or more core values. “C” players are failing to meet the performance and values standards. In all cases, anyone who is not classified as “A” should only be kept on your team if management believes they can become “A” players with proper training and coaching within an acceptable period. If not, the best thing you can do is replace them speedily.

Three Types of A-Players

Earlier in my career, I took over a new role and fired our top producing salesman. The owners thought I was nuts. We had about 20 salespeople and his book represented 20% of our revenue. What the owners were not seeing was how he affected everyone else. I spent approximately 5 hours a week dealing with issues presented because of this person, including a sexual harassment claim, which turned out to be a repeat offense. I stuck to my decision and fired him. In the end, our company, which had been declining in sales the three years previous to my being hired. After firing this toxic employee, revenue started growing immediately. Within 30 days of firing him, our largest client (representing 10% of revenue) called the President and said it was about time. They had been diverting business to our competition because they found him toxic. They immediately began ordering more from us.

There are three types of “A Players:”

A1 – They are great in their current position. We would hire ten more just like them. These people are not promotable, love what they do, and are passionate about their work.

A2 – Is someone you believe can be promoted 1 level. They have done very well in their current role and have the skills, desire, and ability to take on higher responsibilities. They can help produce more people just like them by sharing their knowledge and experience and representing your core values daily.

A3 – Is someone you believe can be promoted to two levels or more. They have traits, capabilities, and the desire to lead others.

One last comment about “A Players.” Too often, leaders create arbitrary performance standards. I have found this to be a large problem. The standards are set, and no one consistently hits them. When people miss them after giving 100%, they can be labeled as “not performing.” This leads to lower performance and eventually termination. I recommend you use much rigor in developing reasonably high-performance standards. Failure to do so costs you a lot more than you realize.

Eight Questions to Ask When Someone Does Not Perform at an “A” Level:

(1) Have you adequately communicated expectations?

(2) Has this person been an “A” player in the past? If so, what has changed?

(3) Does the person have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform his or her job at a high level?

(4) What training is required to get this person to peak performance?

(5) Has the organization created unnecessary barriers to this person becoming successful?

(6) Do you believe this person will achieve productivity within a reasonable amount of time?

(7) Does this person believe in your core values, and is he or she willing to live them?

(8) Which processes, if fixed, would lead to better success in the future?

Answering these questions will help you diagnose the issue(s). Sometimes team members are well past the rebound zone. That is, you simply cannot resurrect their performance. Other times, with a little redirection and emphasis on coaching, mentoring, or training, an underperforming person can bounce back. Either way, you have to determine the exact problem and then take great strides to address it.

Why is the “B” and “C” Performance Issue Not Being Addressed?

The primary reason employees are permitted to underperform is a lack of clarity in leadership. Leaders are often too busy doing their jobs to focus enough time and energy on what they want from their team. And when they have a good idea of precisely what they desire, often they do not adequately communicate it. Even then, performance is usually not being measured to allow a person to be held accountable.

Most sharp business owners do measure the performance of their businesses on at least a monthly basis. Still, they fail to relate that measurement to individual employee performance properly. By not requiring a specific level of performance, monitoring that performance, and holding employees accountable, you allow your employees to establish their performance requirements. Common sense tells me your employees will set lower work standards for themselves than you would.

You may be wondering how “B” and “C” performances can cost a company millions and go unnoticed and unaddressed. The primary reason: There is no financial statement line item to quantify the cost of the lost clients, lost productivity, mistakes, and lost opportunities attributable to these nonperforming players. This begs the question: Why would you ever even consider keeping a “B” or “C” player?

 When Do You Keep “B” or “C” Players?

Keep a “B” or “C” player when you confidently believe they will become an “A” player within a reasonable amount of time. If you cannot define how and when that will occur, stop fooling yourself and cut the cord. With that said, you may have to keep a person on board until hiring their replacement. At times, prematurely forcing a vacancy will be too disruptive. Be careful. I find that keeping the wrong person is costing you far more than you ever imagined.

Leaders have many excuses for not replacing their “B” or “C” players. All of the reasons boil down to either leadership laziness or just plain poor leadership. Let’s again clarify the definition of the “A” player. They are not extraordinary. They are people who meet the requirements of their positions and fit your culture. Anything less, and you are overpaying for a position.

Every company leader I have met who had a cash flow problem or was unsatisfied with their growth or profits also had a people problem. Growth problems attributable to bad strategy are the result of people problems. Companies that choose the right people (including advisors, consultants, and coaches) are less likely to have strategy problems. Think about it. The employees of any business are like the cogs that keep a machine running. Doesn’t it make sense that the machine won’t operate at optimum performance when you have broken, incorrect, or rusty pieces inside of it?

It is rare to find a company that already had the processes in place to allow them to demonstrate that at least 75 percent of its employees were “A” players. In fact, most had 40 percent or even less. Many initially believed they had 75 percent or more, but that was a wish and a prayer, as they were not tracking any performance indicators to prove their people were performing.

Research shows that replacing even one “B” or “C” player with an “A” player has a significant impact on a business. Some companies misunderstand what could happen if they commit to doing what it takes to achieve A-player performance in every position in their company. They create walls or personal obstacles, some of which sound like this:

 – There are not enough “A” players out there.

 – It will take much longer to hire people.

 – It is too complicated.

 – It takes too much workforce.

 – It can’t happen in our industry.

 – I have to fire everyone who is a “B” and” C” player.

 – “A” players must be paid more than “B” and “C” players.

The truth is that these are all myths and limiting beliefs, allowing leadership to continue to justify poor hiring practices and maintain the status quo.

The Container Store provides one of the best examples of building an organization with “A” players. I was fortunate to hear Kip Tindell, founder of The Container Store, share his formula for making a great organization. He built his company from a small start-up to one of the most respected businesses around. By enforcing an “A” player mantra, his company grew 20 percent a year to well over $1B in revenue. His formula has five crucial keys to success:

(1) Pay – They paid 50 percent to 100 percent above the industry average. Tindell knew one great person could do the work of two to three ordinary people. “A” players pay for their “extra” salary threefold, so overall labor costs are lower than the competition. His people are incredibly proud to be part of the company.

(2) Recruiting and Retention – To win, he knew he must only hire great people. “A” players only like to work with other “A” players. They do not want to be surrounded by mediocrity. They would choose to be in his company to be on a great team. They wanted more of the best and brightest out of school. This means his recruiting process had to be phenomenal to find and select the right people and never settle. This resulted in less than 10 percent turnover in an industry that typically experiences over 100 percent turnover.

(3) Training and Onboarding. Tindell provides eighty-four hours of formal training in the first year compared to the industry average, which is eight hours.

(4) Real transparency and communication. Your leaders and managers can thrive with clear communication and transparency. If they don’t feel sufficiently informed, they feel left out, and their performance will suffer.

(5) Culture is everything. Free the employees to choose the means to the ends, but tell them the foundational principles to use in making those decisions. All employees will give you 25 percent of their efforts, considered the bare minimum amount of productivity required to keep your job. To get the other 75 percent, they have to love their manager and culture.

In each of these steps, you’ll quickly come to a singular conclusion: Great leaders invest enormous time and energy into their team. They create a culture that invites in “A” players and demands an A-level performance.

 Actions to Take

What steps can you take to build a high-performance organization? Just like any machine that takes proper maintenance and attention to run smoothly. Lack of timely care to problems leads to more costly repairs. So likely, we can all agree it is much more efficient and cost-effective to ward off those repairs. People already spend enormous amounts of time interviewing candidates. They need to learn the right techniques and processes to determine whether the people they interview are the right choices for the positions. The real challenge is instilling an organization-wide commitment to high-performance standards, and practice makes perfect.

There is no one-size-fits-all sort of remedy. Different companies require different solutions. Remember that you’re dealing with real people and problems, so do not remove the compassion from the equation. Classifying someone as “C” or “B” in their current role does not mean they cannot become an “A” player in another position or possibly in their existing position, with just a little more training.

It has been said, “That which gets measured gets done!”When measurement tools are in place, leaders are shocked by how many employees fit the categories of “B” and “C” players. This performance gap costs companies millions in profit leaks. However, you can take several steps to resurrect and improve your organizational productivity.

 Six Steps to A-Player Status:

(1) For each position in your company, identify two to three key performance indicators that the person in the position has direct control over and would prove they are performing well in their job. Establish a high but realistic standard for each indicator.

(2) Communicate these indicators and the standards to the person in the position and measure actual performance versus the rules you’ve set.

(3) Establish a process for continually reinforcing your core values with all of your employees.

(4) Every quarter, review how consistently each member of your team lives your core values and meets the performance expectations of their role

(5) Put employees who are not living your core values or meeting performance expectations on definite performance plans to direct them toward achieving the desired performance.

(6) Take immediate action to help employees who are not meeting their requirements. Those who cannot meet your standards should be replaced.

 

Howard M. Shore, Founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., is a bestselling author and serial entrepreneur specializing in liberating leadership teams from the barriers holding them back personally and professionally. During his 35+ year career, Howard has helped create over $1 Billion of value and authored two best-selling books, The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket. Howard cut his teeth as the owner of several successful companies and executive for Fortune 500 companies like Ryder Systems, AutoNation, and KPMG. Howard has become a sought-after business mentor, executive coach, and keynote speaker. His clients work in family-owned, multi-national, public, and private companies ranging from $1 million to over $1 billion in annual revenue. With a 30-year track record of success, he guarantees any organization using his methods and systems will become more profitable, stable, and scalable.

Building A Winning Team – Making Decisions Stick

Many leaders complain that they hate to go to meetings because they are non-productive. It is common to find that decisions taken at meetings do not stick.
Instead, group decisions at meetings become the subjects of post-meeting lobbying. Some team members call separate meetings to try to filibuster the decision. Others take a passive-aggressive approach, deciding to hope the decision goes away. In most organizations the latter approach works best because accountability is limited – by not doing your part, you might get a slap on the wrist in the worst-case scenario. In the end, the company loses precious time and money.

The above issues are found in varying degrees in every organization. Pat Lencioni has really captured this well in his book, “Five Dysfunctions of A Team”. This leadership fable identifies team behavioral factors that will reduce the results in your company. I think the book is a must-read for any organization that depends on teamwork to make money.
Company teams come in various forms. It starts with an executive team to run the company. Then it takes teamwork to: create loyal customers; deliver your product or service; manufacture your products; ship your products; execute a special project; and so on. The more employees and customers you have, the more complicated this gets because you need more teams, and each employee may have to play on more than one team.

I will give you a snapshot of the key issues I took away from the book, and then I want to encourage you to read the book for yourself. I believe that by addressing the five dysfunctions Pat Lencioni identifies, you will find that the decisions you make in your company will stick. The dysfunctions work in a pyramid, just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you have not addressed lower level need with an individual, it is futile to address the next level need. Pat’s five dysfunctions are as follows:

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

Absence of trust, the first dysfunction, is the hardest to overcome. It starts with the premise that one must have confidence among team members, believe that one’s peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be careful around group members. In most teams, too much time and energy, and too many good ideas are wasted trying to protect one’s reputation by managing behaviors, comments, and interactions because of a lack of trust that was created in previous interactions. People are reluctant to ask for help and to offer assistance to others, causing lower morale and unwanted turnover. To address this dysfunction, a leader must demonstrate vulnerability first, and make sure this is genuine. Leaders must encourage open dialogue in meetings, look for situations where people engage in behavior that demonstrates lack of trust, and bring it out in the open. They need to have everyone openly discuss the strength each team member brings to the team. They also need to describe the behaviors that lead them to be distrustful and get them to address those behaviors. No one, including the CEO, is immune from this exercise. One bad apple will spoil the batch.

Fear of conflict is the second dysfunction. Addressing the first dysfunction makes it much easier to address the second. If the first exercise succeeded, team members are mentally prepared to engage in passionate discussion without the fear of being perceived as vulnerable or the fear of reprisal. It means that one can speak up and not worry that someone is going to judge them, question their worth to the team if a particular comment is not one of their best, or interrupt them until they finish their thought. They know that while their idea may not be accepted, at least it will be heard. What is important here is to focus on discussion and resolving issues more quickly while avoiding personality-focused and mean-spirited attacks.

Many people have been trained to launch personal attacks when they are not getting their way. The leader has to make sure that this behavior is not tolerated, and that topics focus on the issues that need to be resolved. If everyone is not weighing in and openly debating and disagreeing on important ideas at your meetings, look for passive-aggressive behavior behind the scenes or back-channel attacks. What organizations find is that healthy conflict saves them a lot of time and leads to much better decisions. The role of the leader is to practice restraint and to allow for conflict and resolution to occur naturally.

The third dysfunction, commitment, is often missing in many organizations. As you can now see, it likely resulted from a lack of healthy debate in meetings, which led to false consensus and weak buy-in to the decisions. By having productive conflict and tapping into everyone’s perspectives and opinions, everyone can confidently buy in and commit. Even those who voted against the matter at least know their issues have been heard and considered. Now commitment is required.

Great teams know the danger of seeking consensus and certainty and find ways to achieve buy-in from the rest of the team. The leader’s role is to demonstrate decisiveness and to communicate awareness and acceptance of the fact that some decisions may turn out wrong. He or she must push decisions around issues, as well as adherence to schedules that the team has set. The leader must cascade messaging to key people in the organization to support follow-through on decisions so that everyone is clearly aligned.

The fourth dysfunction, accountability is also a team effort. Team members need to hold each other accountable in daily, weekly and monthly meetings when their behaviors and actions do not support the goals set by the team. Peer pressure is the most effective and efficient means of producing performance. A team should create clear standards, using leading indicators to enable each team member to know that they are doing their part. The more detailed the actions plans and the more specific the leading and lagging performance measures are, the easier it will be to hold people accountable. This is where many teams fall down. It is the leader’s role to demand these details and to allow the team to serve as the primary accountability mechanism. However, when the team does not serve this function well, there should be an external measure so that they team cannot run too far off course and eventually fail to achieve its goal(s).

The last dysfunction, inattention to results, seems obvious but is very hard to manage. This is where ego and self-preservation get in the way of company goals. If teammates are not being held accountable for their contributions to the collective results, they will likely look to their own personal or departmental interests and advancement. By having good measures in place to align an individual’s incentives with that of their team goals rather than their personal performance, an organization can produce better results. The role of the leader is to set the tone to focus on results. A problem will arise if team members sense that the leader values anything other than team results or demonstrates anything different in their own behaviors than what is expected of the team. It is important that a leader’s conversations with individuals are consistent with focusing on organizational results and not encouraging selfish behaviors.

Many organizations will find that they can significantly increase their results by improving the performance of their teams. Pat Lencioni has done a wonderful job of identifying these five areas that clearly compromise the efforts of most teams.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To contact Howard Shore please call 305.722.7213 or visit our business coaching page for more information.
Used the “Synopsis of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Randy Mayeax, of Creative Communication Network for www.15MinuteBusinessBooks.com as additional reference material.

3 Barriers to Peak Performance

Does your business operate at peak business performance? Have you built a business model that delivers high net profit and is scalable? Are you wondering how you might achieve better success?  After working with more than 100 companies, we are confident that we can improve your business in the following areas.

STRATEGY

If your company has a flawed strategy, you are likely suffering growth and/or cash flow issues. Determine if this barrier to peak business performance is a problem for your organization by answering these questions:

  • Can you easily and accurately predict that you will have faster growth rates than your competition for the next 3 years, and is that growth rate at least 20%?
  • Can you and all your leaders clearly articulate in one sentence your secret to how your business model produces significant cash flow?
  • Is it obvious to your ideal customer why they should choose your products or services over those offered by your competitors?

MISDIAGNOSIS

Are you curing the symptoms or the disease? If you are like most leaders, you may be getting a lot done but misdiagnosing the root of your problems. Determine if this barrier to peak business performance is an issue for your organization by answering these questions:

  • Do you spend too much time revisiting the same people and business issues without actions that cause them to be resolved?
  • Does unpredictable company performance in one or more function, role, or process of your business cause you a lot of stress, and have you failed to stabilize the outcomes for more than 12 months?
  • Do you have key performance indicators in place to know how well each person, role, and process in your company is contributing to your bottom line? Are you measuring this performance?

PRIORITIZATION

Another key to your ability to fully maximize success is creating a shorter list of the right priorities. Determine if this barrier is a problem for your organization by answering these questions:

  • How consistently do you achieve your monthly revenue and profit goals while also achieving the monthly milestones on your long-term initiatives?
  • Is everyone in your organization held accountable to 90-day personal goals and initiatives that are aligned to your company’s 90-day goals and priorities? Are those 90-day priorities tied to your annual initiatives?
  • How many people in your organization have more than three priorities during any given period of time?

CONTACT US

Let us help YOU take your business to the next level. Take the next step and contact us to learn more about your Business Coaching Program and how you might improve your answers to the questions above.

Avoid Horrible Meetings

A client asked me to observe his weekly leadership team meeting and it was one of the worst meetings I had attended in a long time. Every leader in the room should have been upset because they essentially wasted 90 minutes. More concerning was the fact that leadership rated it a great meeting.

Might you and your leaders unconsciously fall into the same traps as my client? After all, the agenda and process for the meeting is common practice and is prescribed by EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) Implementers all around the world. The problem was not the process or EOS, it was the way it was being implemented. Let’s dissect what happened and then discuss what should happen in every weekly meeting.

Form Over Substance

The overriding problem was form over substance. The team followed a proven process and yielded the wrong outcomes. The meeting involved a standard agenda, covered the topics, engaged everyone, started on time, and finished on time. From a theoretical standpoint it appeared to be a well-run meeting. And my client rated it so!

Here are the primary reasons I would rate the meeting horrible:
1. Clarity of Purpose
2. Undervaluing time
3. Little (if any) conflict
4. Lack of accountability
5. Failed to address serious problems

Clarity of Purpose

Are your meetings more focused on purpose or process? Purpose focuses on intended outcomes and process focuses agendas, start and end time, checking the boxes, and having the meeting in the first place. The problem with process is that you can follow it flawlessly and not accomplish your purpose. The challenge with standard operating procedures is the presumption that conditions don’t change. When it comes to leadership meetings, we are always operating in turbulent conditions, so we need to have flexible standard operating procedures that adjust the process to accomplish our purpose.

The purpose of the weekly leadership meeting is to:
• Share key information across the team
• Break silos
• Keep focus on the top priorities
• Hold people accountable when they are off track
• Solve big issue(s) together

Agendas are typically designed to identify the key information that needs to be shared. Personal update, business update, customer feedback, employee feedback, priority status, to-do status, metrics update, and key company and department challenges. After providing this information the team identifies topics, prioritize, and discuss key topics, and agree on solutions. This is precisely what my client did. So, you are probably thinking, this sounds like they should have had a great meeting. What’s the problem?

Information was shared and after 45 minutes none of the key issues in the company were raised. Yes, they identified issues, but it was all small issues. This company had major issues and none of them were brought to the table. When issues were addressed, half the room would check out when it was not their issue. Leaders had opinions and observations that should be raised, and they did not. Worse, most of the issues discussed was a quick conversation between two people that should have happened and could have been resolved before the meeting. These people are all in the same building, are steps away from each other and clearly have not been talking.

Had this meeting addressed its purpose, the leadership team would have spent a lot of time discussing their number 1 issue, people. Certain vacant positions were causing the company to miss opportunities. Keeping the wrong people was costing them money. And, there was no confidence in how this would be resolved. Every leader has a hand in this obstacle and failure to address was costing this company over $1 Million in profit. This discussion should happen every week until results prove that the plan is in place that is showing the progress necessary to capture the $1 Million.

Key Observation: Focus on making major improvement to your business every week. Leadership meetings should limit the small stuff.

Undervaluing Time

If your week is like most leaders, time is always an issue. Time is finite and if we don’t use it wisely the company and performance suffers. When we have meetings, we are investing time just like we would money. When you allow for a bad meeting, one that fails to speed up taking advantage of big opportunities and eliminating your bottlenecks, it is costing you dearly. In the case of the people issue (identified above), it is costing the company $20K in profit each week.

Have you ever wondered why time is being squandered? I have given this significant thought and find two reasons to be the main culprit. First, we tend to avoid the elephants in the room. The elephants are the big problems. To resolve them is difficult, it can take considerable thought, requires conflict, and takes significant steps and time to address. As a result, we go after the small stuff. Second, it feels good to check items off the task list. As problem solvers by nature, we feel good when we solve a volume of problems. However, most of the problems would go away or be different if you addressed the elephants.

In the client example, it was considered important to finish and end on time. Because this occurred, the meeting was rated well. Based on the content and discussion, this meeting should have been completed in 60, not 90 minutes. Most weekly meetings, when focused, can be completed in 30 minutes. In my client’s case, the extra time was caused by taking 45 minutes for ideation and updates. Not only did they spend time focusing on minor issues, but they also spent too much doing it. I plan 60-minute meetings with a 30-minute buffer. While I expect to get done in 60 minutes, there are times when the issue is big and important. It is crucial that you finished discussing and prescribing a solution before leaving the meeting. Failure to do so adds a week delay in addressing important issues. In addition, it causes more time to solve the same problem because you lose momentum in the discussion.

Key Observation – Get better at increasing the value from holding meetings and have the discipline to get done in shorter periods of time. Reward the team with unscheduled time when this happens, and they will go back and get more ROI from their time. A key measure of a successful meeting is identifying and measuring the value of the decisions and actions from the meeting.

Break Silos and Encourage Conflict

I have participated in thousands of meetings. The difference between great and ordinary leadership team meetings is how leaders engage in meetings. In great meetings, everyone in the room is playing to win and there are no sacred cows. Everyone demands excellence, want to contribute value, and cannot stand for bulls#@t. If you get through a meeting and there is little conflict, your meeting suffered one of the following:

1. You are discussing insignificant items.
2. There is a lack of trust

Healthy conflict needs to be mandatory. If you are discussing a difficult issue, there should be varying opinions as to the definition of the issue, multiple ways to solve the problem, and rarely consensus on actions to take. It takes vigorous debate, challenging each other’s assumptions, questions about sources of information, and so on. While I am certain there are moments where this happens in your meetings, how often? What percentage of your meeting involves conflict?

In my experience, a lack of conflict occurs because of the highest-ranking person in the room. For conflict to happen, this person must be more curious, and listening rather than talking too much. After all, they already know their opinion. The job is to access everyone else’s brains. It is important to understand everyone’s perspective on a subject. Even when it is not in their area of expertise. Some of the best ideas and perspectives come from those people that seem the least qualified to contribute. In every meeting everyone should expect to share and contribute ideas. They should truly be part of the decisions. Our job in meetings is to co-create.

We also need to be vigilant about three types of circumstances:

1. Politics
2. Low Contributors
3. Negative Influencers

You can identify politics when people are not speaking their mind. Their body language, tone and past discussions on a subject indicate whether they are speaking up. When people are saying what others want to hear or staying quiet because they are avoiding going against the grain, this is politics.

Key Observation: By making people speak up you help them grow as leaders. You get more and better ideas and break siloed thinking. We want to not only hear everyone, but we also want to understand why they have come to their conclusions.

Lack of Accountability

We must hold the team accountable for achieving company and department priorities and goals. While this is obvious, it is not happening in most organizations and execution suffers. While my client presented the status of priorities and goals, it was a farce, and no one spoke up but me.

First, when leaders presented their metrics, almost everyone one of them was red. Red should be an indicator of poor performance. In an accountable organization when this goes on for too long someone should be fired. When I saw how many metrics were red, I asked “how long they had been red.” The team answered “forever.” Essentially their targets were not real expectations and did not represent reasonable expectations. Targets for the week, month, and quarter for every metrics must represent present conditions. Failure to adjust them accordingly leads to an environment where it becomes impossible to be accountable.

Secondly, this team recently set new priorities and had concluded that the old priorities were too shallow and would not drive needed results. Instead of updating their scorecards they reported on old priorities. Worse, since there were no clear milestones and due date for action steps it was impossible to know whether leaders were on track to complete their priorities. Thus, the priority status update was bogus.

Key Observation: When metrics and priorities are not properly developed it is impossible to hold someone accountable until it is too late.

In conclusion, by having meetings that achieve their purpose, you will be able to grow your organization faster and with less effort. You must properly use time when you hold weekly leadership team meetings. Time is best used solving “big” rather than small issues. Your company would be better off solving one big issue rather than lots of small ones. The big issues relate to quarterly priorities and show up when metrics are below meeting a reasonably high standard. You know that you have hit gold, when you are having constructive conflict and rigorous debate. 

If you need further help, then head over to our business coaching page for more information.

Trying to Sell an Apple to Someone Looking for Chocolate?

Recently, I facilitated a meeting for one of the most innovative companies I work with. The leadership team is one of the smartest I have ever worked with, and there is a clear vision about solving gaps in their market. Moreover, they arguably have the best SAAS platform to serve their target segment. Yet, they have struggled to grow.

Have you ever wondered why some companies seem to grow with ease while others don’t? I have pondered this question because I have seen far too many organizations struggle to grow. For the SAAS Company, the secret showed up in a strategy session I recently facilitated. The conversation centered around one key question, “Why is this SAAS company finding it so difficult to acquire new customers? The answer was not what you would expect.

Are You Answering the Right Question?

Often, leaders are trying to solve their growth issues by centering on the wrong questions and problems. Typically if you asked the question, “How do we increase sales faster,” you would hear answers like:
• We need more revenue.
• We need more leads.
• We need higher quality leads?
• We need better salespeople.
• Our sales manager is not doing her job.
• We need better marketing.
• We need more marketing.
• We need more salespeople.
• Our customers don’t understand why we are different.
• We have failed to articulate our value proposition well.
• Our salespeople need a better process.
• Our salespeople need better training.

Have You Identified the True Problem?

While the above may be components of solving your growth issues, it is likely not your problem. I often see companies spend significant money and time addressing all the above. After years of frustration, they find themselves right back where they started from. They find other companies in their industry growing far faster, and some started much later and far larger. Your company has likely developed great products and services, cares about your employees and customers, works very hard, and has many loyal customers. In addition, your company might have implemented best-practice execution processes like EOS and Scaling Up, and yet the growth outcomes are not getting much better. What gives?

The right approach is to change your question. In my client example, we changed the question from “how do we increase revenue” to “why is it so difficult to acquire new clients ?” I asked the leadership to answer the question with a question. We brainstormed for 10 minutes until we complied with enough inquiries related to the initial question. Here are some of the questions they came up with?
• How do we remove sales friction?
• What would we need to do to increase market share dramatically?
• Why can’t we sell product “A” to our target market?
• Why is there so much friction in acquiring new customers?
• Would it be easier to sell a product that is on par with our competition?
• What do we need to shift in sales and marketing?
• Who is our real target customer?
• What is the evolutionary path for customers?

After developing 25 questions, I asked the team to narrow down the list to one critical question that would address almost all of the questions. The answer was, “why can’t we sell product “A” to the masses?”

By using the new question as a focal point, we were able to discover their real problem. The market was desiring a product they were not offering. Worse, they had the perfect product, and it was bundled into their more sophisticated product. In the long run, their product was more complete and would better serve their target market. The problem, most companies were not ready to consider their full suite, and they were trying to force it on them.

While there is a lot more to this story, I was hoping you could recognize that these extremely smart leaders were essentially trying to sell an apple to people looking to buy chocolate. When the prospect did not see the chocolate, they moved on to the competitors. We realized that we had to metaphorically get the customer into the supermarket and sell them chocolate before they were willing to consider the apple. Chocolate was their primary need. Once they loved our chocolate, we could take them down more isles and sell them more of what they needed.

Stop Trying to Convert the Heathens?

Are you guilty of ignoring the market? This is a common mistake. My client was a great example. They had the perfect product but were so enamored with their complete solution causing them to ignore the market expectations. While they are correct, their product can and will solve bigger, more complex problems, there were too few leaders that were aware and ready to solve them. They were getting ahead of themselves. And, like a good priest or rabbi, they were delivering sermons to inspire and convert the heathens. The problem was that the disciples were not listening. When this occurs, the sermon is white noise. Their best approach was to get the easy win, earn the customer’s trust, and use that as a platform to cross-sell later.

Conclusion – Ask Yourself… and Take Action!

If you are like many leaders, you know that your company can and should be growing much faster. Have you found the right question to answer? Do you know the primary problem? Are you spending enough time facing the brutal facts?


Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about Howard Shore or the firm, please contact Activate Group or call (305) 722-7216.

Three Keys to Maximum Business Performance

While people have been impacted by globalization, technology, and other circumstances, achieving business success has not changed. Over time, you will need to discuss changing conditions and have a robust operating system maneuvering these issues. But I have concluded that while most entrepreneurs pride themselves on their speed in getting things done, I see them running in circles. More creative entrepreneurs may make lots of rapid right turns instead of circles. Still, they find themselves in the same place and with the same problems as the people running in circles, never achieving acceleration.

 

The Difference Between Speed, Velocity, and Acceleration!

Acceleration in performance should be the goal of all leaders. Most people use the words speed, velocity, and acceleration interchangeably. However, these are three different outcomes. Speed defines how much distance has been covered in a particular timeframe. Velocity is the rate of change of distance in a particular direction concerning time. And acceleration is the rate of increase in velocity. Great companies achieve far greater velocity than “good” companies.

 

Every Business Has the Same Fifteen Leaks

As I wrote in my first best-selling book, Your Business is A Leaky Bucket, there are fifteen ways every business is leaking growth and profits. The bigger the business, the bigger the leaks. No business is immune. The odd part is that you likely already know you have the leaks. And, all fifteen leaks had a centering cause…leadership. They result from poor leadership. These leaks individually and collectively slow velocity, and large leaks can cause demise in your business. My book helps you identify and quantify the leaks. More importantly, I prescribed how to address each leak. Average companies achieve speed, good companies achieve velocity, and great companies achieve acceleration. The latter spend specific leadership time narrowing the fifteen leaks.

Leaders I work with are stunned when they realize how easily they can improve a business. But are often surprised by the dollar value in the improvements. However, easy does not equal simple. It takes discipline to work on the business rather than in it. It takes perseverance to stick to your plans and focus on a limited number of objectives while saying “no” to others. It takes rigor to drive excellence.

 


The Three Primary Reason Business Leaks Occur

There are three primary reasons why those leaks continue to recur throughout the life of your business:

1. Mediocrity—You know your organization and people are capable of more, but you allow average to become the standard for your business. Sometimes, this happens because you attempted but failed to raise the bar in the past. There is also a tendency to compare your business to industry norms and become comfortable if it’s doing better than the industry average—even if that industry average is a massive bottleneck in your business. Accepting the lower standard may be common in your industry, so you accept it, too. For example, high turnover has become the accepted norm in certain positions in some industries. But excessive turnover is a significant drag on a company’s ability to grow and scale. Ask yourself, how often have you taken too long to replace someone you know is not capable of doing his or her job? These are examples of accepting mediocrity!

2. Mastery—It takes discipline and perseverance to continually improve and address the issues that cause slower growth, lower profitability, and cause leaders to be tied to their work. Let’s be honest; when you started your career, were you thinking, “I am going to be a master craftsman at culture, team cohesiveness, strategy, people, execution, and cash systems?” Each of those areas requires skills and knowledge, continuous learning, and continuously increasing your level of mastery. However, as your business grows, so do the challenges in these areas. The typical leader would prefer to focus on industry knowledge, serving customers, and making better products and services rather than think about, discuss, and address those other, less tangible issues. In reality, culture, team cohesiveness, strategy, people, execution, and cash are the business operating systems that you use to run your business.

3. Invisibility—Financial statements do not capture the substantial costs of the weaknesses in your business operating system. Generally accepted accounting principles are only designed to capture actual transactions, assets, and liabilities. There is not a place in accounting principles to capture the cost of mediocrity and lack of mastery. Like most leaders, you do not go out of your way to quantify these costs. Here are some examples of mediocrity that should be monitored and will not be found in your financial statements:

– The cost of keeping underperformers

– The cost of lost sales because of mistakes in the sales process

– The cost of customers who left because of their disappointment with your quality and bad processes

– The cost of a bad strategy leading to higher customer turnover or slower customer growth

 

There are no financial statement line items for these costs, yet they exist in every business. Such losses are much more significant than you want to face, so you don’t! You are complacent with being good enough, especially if you are growing rapidly and profitably.

To succeed in business, leaders must have a business operating system and toolkit that help them work on the business in a way that allows their team members to make clear decisions and act regardless of the noise. Success is the result of your commitment to that system and how well you use the tools that support it. For the past 100 years and into the next 100, you will find that business challenges are the consequence of how effectively leaders handle these six operating systems:

(1) Culture
(2) Team Cohesiveness
(3) People
(4) Strategy
(5) Execution
(6) Cash

 


Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about Howard Shore or the firm, please visit our business coaching page or call (305) 722-7216.

How to Remove OVERWHELMED from your Business Vocabulary

The CEO of one of my Business Coaching clients, let’s call him Joe, was very highly strung when I first met him. He was saddled with both working on the business and working in the business. He felt that his management team was inadequate for the job and had to step in and do the job for them constantly. As a result, he was always tired, impatient, and short-fused. His team members frequently walked on eggshells to avoid the fallout of Joe unloading from feeling overwhelmed and over-worked.

That was a year ago. I recently picked up a new executive coaching client, Mike, who was a referral from Joe. After going through some pleasantries in our first call, I asked him why he wanted to work with me. He told me that he has known Joe for years and has noticed a remarkable change in Joe’s behavior. He now found Joe much more relaxed, Mike continued, and it was fun to hang out again. Additionally, he noticed that Joe now appeared to be more focused and took the time to work on his business expansion, as well as made the time take a long overdue vacation with his family. Mike wanted that for himself, as well! He felt that he was facing burnout and needed to reverse that trend.

Many business owners and CEOs find that they, too, can feel overwhelmed and over-worked. Sometimes, they behave like Joe, and other times they just check out and disappear, trying to hide from the demands and the fatigue. These are all symptoms of burnout, just from different ends of the spectrum. It is always a big red flag when the CEO is the busiest person in the Company.

There is no magic formula for the CEO to change this dynamic. It’s about adopting new habits, both for themselves and their management team, to give them the freedom to spend more time working on the business. Here are the things you can implement to help not feel overwhelmed and burned out:

-1-  Create a Culture of Learning – The entire team was assigned a reading list and we did follow-on discussions and exercises. I curate the reading list to focus on gaps in the desired behaviors the team needed.

-2-  Create a Culture of Accountability – If you’ve read my previous blog, you learned that the lack of accountability typically stems from the lack of clarity. After all, it is hard to commit to something if you don’t fully understand it; and, if you’re not committed, you can’t subscribe to the need to see it through.

-3-  Prioritization – Implement a planning process (Strategic and Operational) that identifies the key priorities and aligns the management team’s members. Use a balanced set of metrics to provide both headlights and taillights so that everyone knows how they are performing.

-4-  Talent Scorecard – Implement a talent scorecard to determine if you have the right people filling the right seats. The scorecard is used to evaluate everyone in the Company, including the CEO.

-5-  Communications – Create a strong communication culture by implementing proper meeting rhythms and employs active listening.

-6-  Transparency – Fostered organizational alignment and improved operational velocity and effectiveness through clarity and accountability. Everyone in the Company knows what is going on and how you are doing. Everyone must understand the Company’s purpose and values, its priorities (for the quarter, year and beyond), and how success is measured.

By applying these six key principles, Joe’s Company is growing at a healthy clip and year-over-year profitability has improved by 20%. Also, employee turnover has dropped, and most employees think it’s a great place to work. Joe has developed and made his bench of managers stronger and more capable; and the trust in the leadership team is at an all-time high. He now has the freedom to focus on other higher-value initiatives and activities. Most of all, Joe no longer feels overwhelmed. He is working on growing the business and finds the time to spend with his family and hone his golf game. Joe is a happy man, and his team sees that too. He is still busy, but he is now only pursuing strategic business objectives and lives a balanced personal life.

Want to Learn More about Removing that Feeling of Being OVERWHELMED?

Mo Rousso is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving execution. To learn more about him or the firm, please visit our website at www.activategroupinc.com/contact or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

Lack of Accountability is an Epidemic

Have you ever been frustrated because a colleague had failed to follow through on a critical priority? You are not alone. I have concluded that lack of accountability is an epidemic in most organizations. The good news, this is solvable.

I recently had a C.E.O., Rocky (not his real name), tell me that he felt his team wasn’t following through on the key priorities. Worse, they agreed to them! Rocky felt that maybe his team thought that what they chose to work on was more important than the agreed-to strategic initiatives. I found this puzzling and needed more context to diagnose and develop an action plan. After all, I knew his team members. All possessed high integrity and the required intelligence, and all worked hard. I doubted that any of them were willfully sabotaging the company, mainly since this was a group issue.

So, I asked if I could sit in on their next weekly meeting as an observer. What I found was eye-opening!

Rocky led the meeting with his entire team present, and they all actively participated. After the meeting concluded, I debriefed his whole team. I complimented them on their high energy and congeniality and asked if this was a typical meeting. They said it was. So, I pointed out that even though they all effectively worked together to solve a business problem, there was one key item missing from their meeting, and probably from their others, as well. All heads turned to me.

Now that I had their attention, I explained that not once did they discuss their key quarterly priorities and the corresponding key measures developed to provide headlights. In other words, Rocky wasn’t holding his team accountable for focusing on achieving their strategic initiatives. And, by extension, if Rocky wasn’t holding them accountable, I asked if maybe they thought that where they chose to begin wasn’t that critical? I saw a couple of heads nod. However, the most common response was that they didn’t fully grasp what they were supposed to do.

My colleagues and I at Activate Group, Inc. have been exposed to thousands of leaders spanning most industries in businesses ranging from start-ups to billions in revenue. We have learned that a lack of accountability typically stems from a lack of clarity. After all, it is hard to commit to something if you don’t fully understand it; and, if you’re not committed, you can’t subscribe to the need to see it through.

In his excellent book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni talks about how, for a team to get the desired results, it first needs to work its way up through four other levels. It starts with trust. This is the foundation required from which they can effectively engage. Next, a strong team will engage in constructive conflict and dialog to allow everyone to be heard, gain clarity, and consider more alternatives. After everyone is heard, it is crucial that you ask for and gain commitment from all stakeholders. It is at this point that engenders the necessity of accountability to drive results. When you skip any or all of the first three steps, you tend to lose clarity and commitment.

In my client’s case, it turned out they didn’t spend enough time engaging in constructive conflict. While they had developed a solid foundation of trust over the years, they didn’t spend enough time in having that constructive dialog so that everyone clearly understood the initiatives and could commit to supporting them as priorities.

The other mistake I found—and find often—is a lack of a clear accountability system. Within this system must be clear on who is accountable to make sure a particular thing gets done, what must get done, and when. In many cases, that assignment is left ambiguous, and, as a result, no one feels accountable.

I helped my client implement several steps that you can implement in your organization:

1- Leave plenty of time on the agenda to make sure that everyone was clear on the priorities.

2- Ensure that the priorities are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—the useful acronym S.M.A.R.T.

3- Limit the number of priorities assigned to each executive to make sure you spend enough time in a constructive discussion (Specific, Measurable, and Relevant) and that they aren’t stretched to the point that they might drop some balls (Attainable) during the upcoming fiscal quarter (Time-bound).

4- Assign accountability to only one person. Others can help, so they can delegate responsibility for any number of tasks, but only one executive would be held accountable.

5- Create an Accountability Dashboard so that anyone could review it and understand the status of each priority. The Dashboard has to be updated before each meeting.

6-  Change meeting agendas so that time is allocated to priorities and key measures first, and other topics are addressed as time permits. The Dashboard now becomes a tool to be reviewed.

7-  Create a powerful meeting tempo for each week to allow the team to stay current with all key aspects of the business and get help with their stuck priorities.

The above changes have become ingrained in the company, and the level of team engagement has far exceeded Rocky’s expectations. As a result, by driving clarity and, thus, accountability, the company has managed to grow during the three most recent quarters, all during the pandemic! They grew sales by 20% and increased their profitability by almost 30%!

Want to Learn More about Accountability?

Mo Rousso is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving execution. To learn more about him or the firm, please visit our business coaching page or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

What’s Coming That I Do Not See?

Recently a client sent me an email with a curious question: “What is coming that I do not see?” All leaders have asked this question one time or another. However, most fail to address the real reason they had the concern. Max (not his real name) was concerned because his financial results (while very positive) were a surprise. He was wondering if there was a better way to avoid positive and negative financial shocks. The key to avoidance is a better understanding of your financial results and the metrics that lead up to them.

There are 5 Reasons to Become Better at Understanding Your Key Metrics

 

1- Lack of understanding key metrics leads to poor decisions.

2- Fear causes your organization to slow down.

3- Lack of financial vision causes your organization to squander key financial resources.

4- Forecasting focuses leaders on the core issues and leads to business acceleration.

5- Lack of mastery of metrics leads to poor accountability.

Predictable Cash Flow is Achievable

The challenge Max and many other leaders face is to overcome their lack of expertise, commitment, and discipline when it comes to gaining a complete understanding of their financial statements and the underlying metrics that drive them. Unlike factors such as a COVID-type event, most financial outcomes can be predicted with a reasonable degree of accuracy. In fact, it’s likely that most of you who are reading this are not comfortable with metrics and finance in general. That discomfort should not prevent you from requiring the same high standards and rigor you demand in the other areas of your business. The good news is that every business leader can address this problem. Committing to better forecasting will make your business stronger, and you don’t have to empty your bank account to do so.

Lack of Understanding Key Metrics Leads to Poor Decisions

After working with hundreds of companies, I have noticed one difference between top industry performers and the rest. In top-performing companies, everyone knows their numbers. I recently witnessed this in action with Company X (not their real name). Company X has great products and services yet failed to make a profit. We were working with several companies in the same industry. All those other companies had accurate and timely financial statements and the right metrics to evaluate how to improve their financial results. Company X never had accurate or timely financial statements for their management meetings. Worse, management had lost trust in the numbers they did have.

Because they lacked reliable and timely information, they made decisions based on hunches. They made all the logical moves to improve a business in their industry. Unfortunately, they were not seeing or addressing the right issues and challenges. Convinced their whole problem was selling, general, and administrative expenses (commonly known as fixed overhead), the leadership team focused on cutting these expenses. While minimizing overhead is a good business practice, it did not get to the root of the problem. In some cases, cutting the expenses caused the company to be less profitable. They were cutting through the bone.

Company X’s main problems had nothing to do with fixed overhead. In actuality, their fixed costs were lower than that of competitors of similar size. After pushing for better information and competitive benchmarking, they realized their gross margin (revenue minus direct variable costs) was awful. Their gross margin was operating 50% below the better players in the market. It meant that the leaders running their operating departments were failing to perform, and these leaders were hiding in plain sight. In the end, it was determined that they had a pricing problem and direct labor costs required to deliver their services could and should be much lower. Before having this knowledge, they failed to focus on addressing those two issues.

These challenges are predictable and solvable.

Fear Causes Your Organization to Slow Down.

It seems obvious that fear can cause your organization to slow down, but what are you doing about it? Imagine you are in a long dark cavern with many possible turns, no flashlight, and no directions. How fast will you move through that cavern to get to the other side? Most people would slow down and be more cautious. Those who want to try to move quickly are likely to trip, hit their heads, get lost, and possibly injure themselves in the process. Some people may reverse course because they find it too dangerous to move forward or don’t want to go through the trouble.

Now imagine facing the same cavern, except now you have a high-powered flashlight, night vision goggles, and a map showing you the quickest way to the other side. Most of you run your businesses more like the first scenario than the second. And it costs you significantly.

Using the right metrics allows everyone in the organization to contribute to your success. Learning and using your company’s metrics will enable you to show each employee the way to peak performance. The more people that have this flashlight, the better and more predictable your financial results become.

This challenge is predictable and solvable!

Lack of Financial Vision Causes Your Organization to Squander Key Financial Resources.

Getting ahead of oneself is something I wish I could tell you I have never done. I am guilty of bringing on too many people too quickly. Also, I am guilty of investing too heavily in a new endeavor without testing it. We have all done it. I can tell you in almost every single circumstance I should have known better. I was making decisions that defied reality.

A great example is a business services company. They had national growth aspirations, great products and service, a strong reputation in their local market, and the CEO was highly driven. The company was highly profitable, but its growth had stalled in its local market. Rather than addressing the fact that their existing sales team was failing to perform, they doubled the number of sales team members and tripled the number of markets. The result was predictable. Almost all the new salespeople failed. The company got little traction in the new markets, and the old salespeople continued to perform poorly.

You might be thinking, this is an easy problem to solve: Hire the right sales manager, fire the team, and build a new one. That is what most companies would do. However, this company’s data was telling them a story that they did not want to recognize. They had the highest customer churn in years; the owner, who had been a star salesperson in the industry for over 30 years, was no longer producing; and getting meetings with new prospects seemed to take an act of God. After challenging their performance, we learned that their pricing was no longer competitive for the value delivered. Additionally, the market had shifted, and the leaders failed to recognize and address the current market’s needs. Before adding salespeople and a new sales manager, this company needed to address its strategy issues.

By not addressing the real issue, you may be following the plot of the movie 300. The story revolves around King Leonidas, who leads 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian “God-King” Xerxes and his invading army of more than 300,000 soldiers. Despite having 300 of the most formable soldiers globally, there was no way for them to win the battle. I see this same plot playing out in many companies.

This is another problem that is predictable and solvable!

Forecasting Focuses Leaders on the Core issues and Leads to Business Acceleration

Let’s get back to Max. Max leads a company that has lots of good data. They needed more discipline and focus on understanding their metrics, what issues they should be addressing, and how to recognize the leading indicators causing the surprises in their financial results.

After reviewing actual results and comparing them to the forecast, we learned many things. They had identified and used the right metrics but needed to get better and to set realistically high assumptions. In Max’s case, they beat their sales goal but how they originally derived the sales goal had no bearing on reality:

1- They had 40% fewer leads than expected. This happened because they had not done enough analysis to understand how many leads would come from each marketing channel in each market. Had they looked at the past performance, they would have known there was no basis for their targets. And, they had no new action plans that would drive different results.

2- The company exceeded its sales goal by 25%. There was no correlation between the assumptions used to develop the costs. They got the following wrong:

  1. They forecasted having all positions filled in their sales department despite knowing that they were beginning the month with nine open sales positions.
  2. They had several new salespeople who normally do not derive any sales for at least 45 days (their sales cycle).
  3. Their target appointments, appointment conversion rate, and sales closing ratios did not resemble anything close to reality.

Max can now work with the department leaders to improve future forecasts reflecting what they learned. Based on new assumptions, they are going to destroy their sales goals for the year.

This was predictable.

Lack of Mastery of Metrics Leads to Poor Accountability

To establish a proper accountability system, you need a clear understanding of your metrics, the same metrics required to build your forecast. Invariably, forecasts and budgets are wrong because they are built the wrong way. In most cases, leaders look at last year’s numbers and decide at a high level what they want the new numbers to be. However, the devil is in the details, and not the details most budget creators think about.

Leaders need to spend significant time understanding the leading metrics (e.g., number of units sold, number of people required to sell that number of units, number of new customers, number of returning customers, etc.). It would be best if you looked back to understand the trends and underlying causes of those trends and project forward what will happen to these leading metrics in the future based on your business plans. A good example is Max’s company. The number of performing salespeople is a crucial component to the company’s success. Fewer performers will ensure lower results. Thus, key considerations are what percentage of salespeople meet quotas and whether those quotas are reasonably high enough to justify the employee’s tenure.

You might be wondering how understanding metrics ties to accountability. Max’s sales manager believes she performed well because she beat the budget. However, the budget was a farce in that none of the company’s performance standards were met in her department. Despite exceeding the revenue budget, the number should have been higher. This conclusion arose by looking at a complete set of metrics rather than the final revenue number. A primary driver was the number of open sales positions.  The lack of people caused them to fall well short of potential.

Moreover, once we started evaluating the critical success metrics (e.g., number of meetings, meeting conversions, etc.), it was clear that there was a lack of integrity in how they were derived.  Not even management was confident about what they should expect. You can’t hold a person accountable without valid expectations.

The results could have been predictable, and this problem is solvable.

Now What?

Practice, practice, and more practice. You can only get better at forecasting with commitment, discipline, and continuous improvement. And the Finance department is not solely accountable for forecasting. Instead, it is a process that requires input from everyone. All leaders need to help develop the metric targets related to their departments. It is also helpful to run the standards by the employees that must deliver on them. The feedback is where the gold lies.

With practice, I believe every leadership team can produce highly predictable results. Each time you go through the evolution of a new forecast, you will learn new ways to improve performance and strengthen accountability in your organization.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, please visit his website at www.activategroupinc.com/contact or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

What is the Purpose of a Business Plan?

Have you ever considered the questions, “What is the purpose of a business plan, and how critical is it to your success?” As a business coach, I have met and worked with hundreds of business owners over the years who insist that having a business plan is critical. I have found, however, that most are missing the whole essence of the business plan purpose.

What is the Purpose of Your Business Plan?

The purpose of a business plan is to successfully and strategically achieve your company’s goals and objectives. A business plan will align the organization by clarifying, prioritizing and improving the commitment to goals. The outcome of a good business plan is better results and an increase in profit.

But here is the real question, “What is more important to you when developing a business plan: the output, the process, or the outcome(s) of your business plan?” If you tell me it is the outcome(s) you are most concerned with, what do you mean by outcome(s)? Outcome is just another word for purpose.

Outcomes of a Business Plan

Here are examples of outcomes that leaders typically want from developing a business plan:

  • Better results (e.g. revenue or profit growth)
  • New ways of approaching the business so it does not stagnate
  • Improved commitment to goals
  • Clarified goals
  • Prioritization of goals and objectives
  • Creation of alignment across the organization
  • Creation of a process for holding people accountable

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

In my experience, if your business plan does not lead to the desired outcome, it is because you and your leaders have not given enough thought or commitment to the following three questions:

  1. What outcomes do you want to cause from your business plan?
  2. Is there a better process for going about your business planning?
  3. What output needs to be produced from your business planning process so that you can drive the outcomes you want?

Use a Proven Business Planning Process!

The One Page Strategic Plan created by Verne Harnish has all the key components of a business plan. With the business coaching services offered at Activate Group, we can maximize your team’s success and simplify the entire business planning process for you. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how we can help your organization, or check out the testimonials page for stories from other leaders we have coached.

Rule Number 1…Never Panic!

A CEO of a $100 Million company recently addressed a group of his peers and suggested that they should follow 2 rules in their businesses. Rule 1: never panic. Rule 2: If you violate Rule 1, don’t let anyone know. This is sage advice that too many leaders fail to follow and has many applications that may have a huge impact on your success as a leader.

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

How often have you worked with a leader who could not control their emotions or used fear to try to manipulate a response in others? How would you describe the work environment for those who reported to or worked around that person? Usually you will hear words like hostile and stressful. Never would these situations be described using positive words. Those who act emotionally will always justify themselves and put fault on others. If only some other party had done their job, acted differently, or not provoked them, they would not behave this way.

Those that are poor at controlling emotions are only choosing not to. It starts with your belief systems. A great example is a president I once worked for. He believed that when something went wrong in your area, you had to show emotion. If you did not, it meant you did not care like he did. Emotion meant caring to him. To everyone else, it meant that he was just a scary boss to work for. He was the last guy you wanted to bring bad news to. The messenger always got shot.

BENEFITS OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Having emotional intelligence results in the following benefits:

  • Greater trust.
  • More productive conflict.
  • Greater commitment to goals and objectives.
  • Fewer mistakes.
  • More creative environment.
  • Faster identification and resolution of problems.
  • Lower employee turnover.
  • Fewer safety issues.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS LEARNED

Control over one’s emotions is a choice and can be learned. Most people learned poor emotional intelligence from being around others that modeled poor behavior. It starts through mindfulness and intention. Do you have the intention of establishing and maintaining a positive work environment and relationships with the above benefits or the opposite? You need to be mindful of how you are feeling at any given moment and how your behavior may be interpreted by others. One must choose to control emotions with the intentions of the above benefits. You can get a coach or a mentor to help you through difficult times, and there are many books that can help you on this topic.

One of my favorite books is The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. In this book he identifies the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob people of joy and create the needless stress that I believe causes some of the emotional outbursts we see in the workplace. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offers a code of conduct that can rapidly transform how you view situations and set your emotions free.

Leadership and the Qualities of Steadfast Flexibility and All-Knowing Ignorance

If you read this headline and feel that the range of qualities covered tend not to meld well together, then please bear with me for a few minutes. The point I’m aiming to make is that an effective leader will not be all things to all people, but might be different things to different people at appropriate moments.

As we work our way through a presidential election campaign – and no, I’m not going to take sides or start arguments – whoever wins will need to behave differently, depending on the audience being spoken to, or with. At moments of trauma, a president will often need to be calm and measured to help assuage the public mood, but might be much more forthright within the walls of the Oval Office about how the nation’s actual response would be undertaken. So, let’s take time to consider the two pairs of qualities suggested in my headline.

First, we’ll look at steadfast flexibility

Many people, when criticizing their boss, will tell you that they feel a real sense of annoyance if they simply don’t know where they stand. Ineffective leaders change their mind with the wind, and are not steadfast. Members of a company, or individual teams within it, should be quite clear about what the leader expects from and of them on a day-by-day basis. The individuals should know exactly how that leader will behave when a set of circumstances occur, based on their ongoing experience of similar situations. In other words, their leader will be steadfast, particularly if the currents are strong and the shoreline rocky.

Equally, frustration grows with a leader who will never change their position, even when circumstances have clearly and substantially altered the situation. Simply doing what has always been done is neither steadfast, or even leadership. It’s stubbornness, and that’s a polite term for such behavior. Flexibility is shown in a willingness to take new ideas and changed situations on board, and then to deliver a new position from which that leader can, once again, be constant and steadfast.

Which brings us to all-knowing ignorance

This is more tongue-in-cheek, yet with a serious point. The ignorance is about those moments when, quite frankly, it’s best for a leader not to want to know. This isn’t about repeated and escalating situations, it’s about simply noting what has happened, not reacting in a way that can make that moment worse, and then keeping it perhaps to be referenced at a more optimal time. Which, of course, covers the all-knowing component! The other way that all-knowing is not to be taken literally is that no-one really expects their leader to know everything about everything within their workplace environment. All-knowing might be termed ‘enough-knowing’ – a position from which the right questions can be asked, an accurate assessment considered, and practical guidance delivered.

About leadership juxtapositions

John C Maxwell, such a prolific writer on the subject of leadership, once said: ‘A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way’. I entirely agree and have merely aimed to point out here that sometimes the way changes, as, when appropriate, will the attitude and actions of an effective leader.

What Does It Mean to Act with Purpose?

The word “purpose” gets tossed around often in the executive and organizational development world. In a previous post, “Why Purpose Matters”, I discuss the importance of purpose. However, as I continue to work with clients, I can see that they are failing to grasp the importance of having people that “Act with Purpose” on their teams. If you watch, you can really see the difference.

For some, purpose can be bold and transformative, aiming to solve the world’s biggest problems. If you are one of these leaders, you may launch impactful organizations such as City Year, Tesla, and SKS Microfinance. These purposes are really exciting because they are missions to change the world in some way. Alternatively, your purpose can be to change your industry or to fill an unmet need, like Airbnb.com, Amazon, Google, PayPal, or Facebook. Then again, you may look at these examples and say, “My company can never be that exciting.” My challenge to you is that you can still make your difference, even if it is not earth-shaking. It is important that you find that purpose. It is only with purpose that anything of consequence happens, and that purpose is what compels you and others to excel, gives work more meaning, and brings people together to want to serve others at extraordinary levels.

Have you ever noticed that when you act with purpose you perform with more energy and enthusiasm? You are willing to give more effort to something that really matters to you! Compare that energy and effort to something that may be important but does not pull at your heart. Worse, consider what your commitment is to an endeavor that has not captured either your mind or heart. You just go through the motions. Too often I find that most of the employees in companies are not engaged because they lack this kind of investment. Their leaders have failed to instill purpose.

You know you are acting with purpose when succeeding is not about the revenue or the profit. The sense of achievement is much greater than that. The purpose inspires your actions. It is compelling enough to get people to work around obstacles. They expect to encounter those obstacles and only see them as challenges to be conquered. When the purpose is important to someone they are inspired to volunteer for extra work. They volunteer to take on challenges and to solve problems. You know that purpose is missing when all of the company’s problems and challenges are being pushed up to the leadership team.

Anyone can hire employees and get minimum performance out of them. You do this by hiring them and paying them a fair wage to do something they are good at doing and enjoy doing. While I do not have empirical data, I believe this gets you 25% of what the average employee is willing to the employer. When you have the right culture, that gets you another 25% of their effort. Given the right culture, with the right hire, instilling purpose will enable a company to get 100% commitment and investment from a team member.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

How Do You Find Your Purpose?

If yours is like many organizations, you and your competitors are trying to serve a similar purpose to your respective clients. That is true if you look only at the surface. It is how you see the challenge of purpose that counts. Most times I find leaders trapped in a box. That box revolves around existing products and services and does not consider the problems and challenges of people they want to serve.

By finding your organization’s unique purpose, you can move with the changing needs of your customers and evolve your products and services. Too often business leaders are trying to force the external world to buy what they want to sell. What they fail to consider is whether what they want to sell is a real need, and whether there is already too much supply solving that need. If the need is already well served or over served, then pumping more supply into the market without identifying and addressing a new critical need for their buyers will surely result in a painful journey for them and their colleagues.

5 Lenses of Purpose

When working with leaders to assist in their strategic planning session, we work on defining purpose. A common challenge is to help the leadership team find and articulate their purpose. You may wonder how purpose is discovered. I believe you can find your purpose by looking through 5 lenses:

  1. Disrupt an Industry – Airbnb changed the lodging industry forever. They made a very cost-effective and easy way for anyone to list their space and to book unique accommodations anywhere in the world. By doing so they made traveling more affordable and accessible for many people.
  2. Uncommon Service – Provide service at a level that goes beyond your competition in a way that is essential to your target customer. The traditional companies I think of are Ritz-Carlton and Nordstrom. In a less traditional sense, think of Amazon, where you know you can go to their website and find almost anything, 24/7, at the lowest possible prices and have it delivered to your doorstep, in many cases the same day as you ordered it. And all of it done with a few keystrokes. Most vendors on their side will allow you send your purchase back for free if you are not satisfied. The challenge with service is that it is like an escalator that is always going down. Once you have delivered something considered extraordinary the first time, it becomes standard the next time. So you have to keep trying to improve your service levels every year to stay on top.
  3. Change the World – We have so many large societal and natural problems that you can address as a for-profit or not-for-profit. I am proud Board Member and Red Jacket Society Member at City Year, where we believe education has the power to help every child reach his or her potential. We recognize that children in high-poverty communities have external obstacles that can interfere with their ability to both get to school and be ready and able to learn. City Year helps with these challenges. On the for-profit side you have entrepreneurial mavericks like Elon Musk, who is trying to prove through Tesla Motors that electric cars could be better than gasoline-powered cars. The impact of such an innovation will have profound impact on issues like global warming and use of natural resources like fossil fuels.
  4. Excellence – There are always ways to change the features of products — increasing their speed, beauty, functionality, etc. No company is going to get it right with every product, but Apple, Samsung, Ikea, Dyson and 3M are companies that have produced products that have really stood out from their competitors in specific categories.
  5. Information and Communication – Technology has caused this category of purpose to explode over the last 10 years. Dominant in this conversation is Google, but you also have to consider Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp, and the myriad of others that allow people to share information, find anything or anyone, share knowledge, discover and communicate.

I recommend that you look through these five lenses and determine which of the five you are really passionate about. Then ask “what purpose can we serve within that lens” within an industry or across industries that is not being served to the level that you believe it could or should be served. The key is to think big! Consider your purpose to be a pursuit rather than a destination. It will be a mantra that you and your organization will need to constantly improve and perfect.

Head over to our business coaching page or call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

Are You a Growth-Oriented or Execution-Oriented CEO?

One question you may want to ask yourself is, “What kind of CEO am I?” My observation over the years is that most CEOs fall into two categories. The first category consists of those that are very growth-oriented, focusing mainly on sales and marketing activities. They find money everywhere. Remember my “Revenue is vanity, profit sanity, and cash is king” motto here. You may be good at growing the top line, but if you are not careful you may find weak net profit margins compared to some of the other top companies in your space. Another potential pitfall is inadequate margin on your revenue, which will cause you to be prone to finding yourself with little cash and to giving up too much equity to others to feed your revenue habit.

The Execution-Oriented CEO

The second type of CEO is very execution-oriented. If this is you, you and your team are masters of your craft. When I go into your businesses I find you are excellent at what you do. You pay close attention to every detail, and can show me tons of metrics as to why you are great. The reason you’ve hired me is that you do not have the revenue to show for it. You spend the majority of your time perfecting processes and creating perfect products and services. It is common for you to get and keep a customer forever. However, your perennial problem is getting more customers. You have little sales and marketing orientation, and if you’re honest you will tell me that you hate selling and think that marketing is a waste of time and money.

Strategy vs. Execution

You can see the real challenge. There is a never-ending conflict between strategy and execution. It is yin versus yang. Strategy is about growth and execution turning revenue into profit efficiently and removing waste. They often bang up against each other, and if you do not hear a lot of conflicting opinions you know you have a problem. Growth without discipline and making choices creates a lot of waste and burns cash. You rarely have one leader that is good at paying attention to both.

I raise the original question, “Are you growth- or execution-oriented?” If you are one or the other, it will be important to go back to your people section and ask this question, “Do I have enough of the right types of the right people on my team to scale the company?” Do you have a tendency to squeeze out the opposite type of person because of your preference?

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

How Does Impatience Affect Leadership?

Every leader has a behavioral style that defines how they are seen by others. No matter what that behavioral make-up is, you will find that it has positive and negative traits. Some of those negative traits can have a significant impact on one’s ability to lead others. One trait I have found prevalent among people that need to get results quickly is that they also tend to be impatient with others. If you know yourself to be impatient you may want to read further as you may also have some other leadership traits that are holding you back as a leader and having severe consequences to your organization.

You might be thinking that there are positive aspects to being impatient. In December 2014, there was an article to that effect in Forbes: For Entrepreneurs, Impatience Might Just Be A Virtue. Many entrepreneurs believe it is their sense of urgency that causes them to succeed. By instilling this sense of urgency in others, they are able to push others through barriers in ways that otherwise might not have happened. This “just do it” mentality causes people to not overthink decisions and have a penchant toward action rather than inaction. After all, isn’t action better than no action? While there is some truth that we need this sense of urgency to move forward, it is only an ingredient, and when overused (and it often is) it causes far more damage than good.

Many of the CEOs I work with use high urgency as a management tool. They are the organizational “drivers” that push others to get things done. They are also known to get things done themselves, which in many cases has been a key factor in achieving success. There is no challenge they feel they cannot conquer, and they sometimes take things on themselves when they feel like the game is on the line because they relish the challenge. They are highly driven, bottom-line oriented, have high expectation of their people, and have vision that many of their team members lack. They get things done that others believe it is impossible to do. So you might be wondering what’s the problem?

The Impatient Leader Tends to Be Aggressive Instead of Assertive

Often organizational drivers tend to be impatient and have been known to be aggressive instead of assertive when communicating with others, not understanding the critical difference between the two styles. The key difference is that an aggressive communicator is perceived as someone that is more concerned about their own feelings and show no regard for the other people they are communicating with. They will enter a conversation or meeting with a specific agenda and will make that agenda happen regardless of the ideas, opinions or feelings of the others. Ironically, they may realize afterwards they have done this, but the damage is done.

When you communicate aggressively toward colleagues, their reaction (and of others who witness the exchange) is usually negative (resentful, angry, hurt, etc.). You may even go back to them and ask if they were okay with your aggressive style, but do not expect to get an honest response. If they did not address you at the time of the exchange, they are either passive-aggressive or passive communicators and just want to avoid a confrontation with you, particularly if your position of power is superior to theirs!

The aggressive-style leader will almost always get compliance from subordinates, but often at the expense of long-term loyalty, enthusiasm, creativity, extra effort and motivation. In extreme situations, a highly aggressive leadership style can result in other negative outcomes, such as passive-aggressive behaviors, resentment, alienation, dissatisfaction, high turnover rates, sabotage, and in some cases litigation (e.g. hostile work environment).

When you have a direct report that is not performing and you are in aggressive mode, the initial response is to be sarcastic, hurtful and/or use threatening comments. You believe that to motivate people you should show them that you and others are better than they are, tell them that the work they did was inferior, give them crazy goals that no one would be able to accomplish, and tell them they will not make it at the rate they’re going. Nothing you tell them is helping them understand how to perform or indicating that you want them to succeed. In fact, they most likely believe you are going to hurt their career and cannot possibly succeed if they stay on your team.

Coaching Can Help You With Negative Behavioral Tendencies

As you can see, someone with positive behavioral attributes needs to be careful because they also have negative behavioral tendencies. It is important to note that everyone can learn to adapt their behavioral styles to different settings to overcome their natural negative tendencies.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

How Strong Is Your Leadership and Management Team?

When evaluating your company’s ability to grow and to really scale itself, there is one question you must first ask yourself. How strong is your leadership and management team? Depending on your size, you may only have one level of management. As you grow, there will be multiple management levels to monitor. No matter the number of levels in place at this moment, your ability to grow will be dependent on leadership and management strength. Would your competition be jealous of your leadership and management team?

Leadership From the Bottom to the Top

“A fish stinks from head to tail.” Too often I hear the management team complaining that their company would be so much better if they had better people. If this problem is occurring in your company, start scrutinizing leadership. If you have the wrong team, you likely have problems at the top. The problem at the bottom will not be fixed until you fix the problem at the top.

EVALUATING MANAGEMENT

Do you have the right people in the right seats? “The right people” refers to company culture. Does each of your leaders and managers exemplify your company’s core values? If not, they are creating the wrong standard of behavior for the rest of the team and will infect your business culture.

“The right seats” refers to performance. Does the person you have chosen to perform in a leadership or management position produce the outcomes required of that position? In many cases, leadership is not held to the performance standards required of lower-level employees. If I were to ask you which top 2 to 3 key performance indicators are used for each leader on your team as standards for good and bad performance, would I get the same answer from you and each subordinate? If not, how do you know you have the right people in the right seats? How do you know whether any part of your organization is suffering because its leader is underperforming?

Are They A Strong Team?

Here is where things are usually the most difficult. Do you find it hard to get people with different personalities, experiences, beliefs, and functional skills sets to work together? Do you find imbalance in how much of the leadership weight is being carried by various leaders? Do you find it strange that people who are supposed to be working together work at cross-purposes? It is frustrating how seemingly smart people can spend so much time putting out fires rather than addressing the issues that would prevent the fires in the first place. When I have met strong leaders this is what I find:

Characteristics of Strong Leaders and Managers:

  • People that never stop learning.
  • Smart and talented people who have humility.
  • Answer-seekers that ask a lot of questions.
  • Knowledge and experience combined to co-create.
  • Balance in contribution from team members in meetings.
  • All team members seek each other’s opinions on various issues.
  • Healthy conflict and debate on key issues.
  • Alignment on the priorities.
  • Decisions made and commitment from all team members.
  • Team members hold each other accountable.
  • They get the most important priorities done and consistently achieve their goals.

How to Improve the Leadership and Management Team

Understanding the necessary qualifications of a strong leader and building a strong management team takes experience and dedication to the employee. Sometimes an executive coach is needed to help increase the effectiveness of leadership and improve management skills. To learn more about how an executive coach can help your leadership and management team, call Howard Shore – one of the top executive coaches in the United States – for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 or contact Activate Group Inc. today!

How Predictable and Consistent is Your Profit and Revenue Growth Rate?

Two important measurements of the health of your business are the predictability and consistency of your profit / revenue growth rates. If someone were to ask you “what was the growth rate in your profit and revenue in each of the last 3 years?” or “what was your revenue growth rate last quarter?” and “what was the profit growth rate in the comparable quarter last year?”, could you answer those questions quickly and without stumbling? Many business owners are not tracking these crucial statistics. When they give me their answer and I evaluate the numbers, they are usually far off in their profit and revenue margins. When I ask them, “how predictable and consistent is your profit growth rate?”, I hear all kinds of stories as to why there are too many variables to determine this answer. Great companies are able to reliably predict their revenue growth rate and are rewarded handsomely when they are ready to sell.

Predictable and Consistent Profits Influence Stakeholders in Different Ways!

Failure to have predictable and consistent profit is a key indicator that means different things to different stakeholders.

  • Employees – It causes more job uncertainty, lower trust in leadership, and less feeling of stability. This can lead to higher turnover, less productivity, and lower employee engagement.
  • Banking – The less predictable and consistent your profit, the less likely you are to qualify for bank financing, which tends to be one of the cheaper sources of financing. In addition, the more predictable and consistent (assuming good cash flows), the lower your rates will be.
  • Shareholders – The more confident shareholders are in their ROI, the more likely they are to keep reinvesting profits back into a business. The lower their confidence, the more likely they are to require dividends.
  • Capital Markets – The less predictable and consistent your profit, the fewer your sources of growth capital and the more expensive your cost of capital.

What Does Failure To Predict Profit and Revenue Indicate?

Failure to have predictable and consistent profits many times indicates that leadership does not have a strong plan to lead, manage, and grow their business. It may mean that you are leading the business with the “Hope and Pray” method, creating a plan on paper but not staying on course, or that your team really does not understand what it is going to take to achieve consistent growth and profit to begin with. You may know what your challenges are, but you have not committed to solving them.

Keys to Achieving Consistent Growth and Profits

Do you wonder what the keys are to achieving and maintaining consistent growth in revenue and profits? Here is a list of steps to take for consideration:

  1. You need to have a plan, and you have to work that plan.
  2. Your plan must address the key issues that are holding your business back. You have to be brutally honest with yourself.
  3. You need the right people, in the right seats, and doing the right things. Your labor efficiency ratio may become the most important ratio in your business as you scale up.
  4. Do not just sell products and services. Solve customer problems, needs, and goals.
  5. You need to answer the question, “How do I develop a steady flow of customers and minimize my customer acquisition cost?”
  6. You must invest every dollar you spend wisely. If your costs are too high, your sustainability will be threatened. If your costs are too low, you may very well struggle to gain momentum and velocity.
  7. Work as hard on keeping customers as you do on acquiring new ones.

Improve Profit and Revenue Growth

Struggling with profit and revenue growth? A business coach can help improve predictability, increase profit margins, and help your company grow faster than your competitors. Call Howard Shore, one of the top business coaches in the United States, for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

How Do You Measure The Success of A Meeting?

Measuring the Effectiveness of Meetings

How do you know whether or not your meeting was successful or effective? Do you measure the success of a meeting by the fact that it started or ended on time or by the fact that you completed its agenda? Many times you can cover your agenda and fulfill the time constraints and yet accomplish nothing. Often I see leaders judge their meetings successful because there was lively discussion. Or people got animated. Or they had fun. One leader showed me long lists of items they talked about during one of their all-day meetings. I suggest that you set much higher standards for measuring the success and effectiveness of your meetings.

Do You View Your Meetings in the Wrong Way?

Are you concerned about the number of meetings you attend or the length of those meetings? If you are leading a business and see your job as working on a business rather than in it, you should expect to be in lots of meetings. So I would get over the number of meetings and length of meetings and instead concern myself with the quality and success of those meetings. In my experience, most organizations are not having too many meetings. They are having too many “bad” meetings.

How Should You Measure Success of A Meeting?

I suggest changing the measurement system to look at meeting effectiveness. For example, a good leading indicator that something important is being discussed is that there are different opinions —conflict— and that most of the people in the room are engaged in the discussion. Other indicators of good meetings are the number of critical decisions made, new actions developed, number of new ideas created and accepted, and increase in percentage of goals achieved. These are real indicators that your meetings are worthwhile. If you have a really good meeting, then everyone leaves feeling invested in the decisions that were made and aligned as a team! If you run your meeting well the participants should leave feeling stretched but not stressed.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

What are the Meeting Participation Pitfalls?

How well are your meetings functioning? Through this series of articles I have been highlighting the many factors that must be considered for your meetings to go well. While conducting your meeting there are several meeting participation pitfalls that your meeting facilitator should help you avoid.

Are You Potentially Seeing Your Role in the Wrong Way?

The most serious meeting participation is the leader who wants to give the answers to everyone in the room.  Don’t get me wrong there are times when we need answers from the senior leader but this should be rare. Great leaders see their role in the meeting is to ask the right questions and to access the ideas of their team. They realize there are many ways to do things and there is rarely a right or wrong answer. So they put big ideas on the table, ask difficult questions, and get the team to debate those ideas. Once hearing everyone’s point of view they then combine that with their opinions and make the best decisions possible given the circumstances. The leader’s job is to access the brains of the team, not to be the brain.

Do You Have A Tendency To Jump In To Problem Solving Mode Too Quickly?

Another common mistake I see in meetings is the tendency to jump too quickly in to problem solving mode. As soon as a meeting participant raises an issue, concern or problem everyone moves too quickly to find a solution or provide an answer. The value of having multiple people available is to first determine the real problem to solve. The best value participants can bring is asking great questions.  It is common that a presenter consciously or unconsciously leaves out important information that the other participants need to know. Usually once these facts are uncovered you may find that there is a more fundamentally or broader issue to solve than the original symptom that was mentioned at the onset.

Is Everyone’s Contribution Being Heard?

Another common meeting participation pitfall is how the leader of the meetings goes about making sure that everyone gets involved in the meeting. There are a some dimensions to this issue.

 

1. Failure to Voice Your Opinions, Questions, and Concerns

If you do not contribute, you have wasted your time and everyone else’s. Everyone has something to contribute. Failure to speak up begs the question “why are you there to begin with.” It is important that leaders recognize those people in the room that have lower self-confidence and tend to defer to others and make sure you are accessing their brain power. For many people, failure to speak in meetings did not mean they did not have a lot of value to bring. It is your job to make sure that you get it.

2. Over-contributing

Have you ever attended a meeting and there is person in the room that has to have their opinion heard on every point? They hog up all the talk time! These people seem to love to hear their own voice and think that because they are talking they are the smartest and most valuable people in the room. These people need to be taught to give others a chance to speak and should be limited to the amount of time they are permitted to speak.

3. Active Listening

It is important to identify what is not being said. Watching people’s body language, listening to tone, and understanding why they say what they do is many times more important than what they say. 93% of communication is not the words people use. A good leader is actively listening during the meeting. This helps ensure that when decisions are made and plans are set that everyone is committed.

Improving Meeting Participation as a Manager or Leader

Call Howard Shore, one of the top business coaches in the United States, for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

8 Questions That Indicate Whether You Have Trust

Trust is the foundation to a cohesive team. While most leaders know this, they are unaware that they are probably breaching trust daily in their own organizations. When working with a new leadership team, I must first understand how dysfunctional the team is and specifically how strong the trust level is. Ironically, most CEOs will acknowledge some level of dysfunction in their teams but rarely understand “how” dysfunctional they are. Worse, they fail to realize how much lack of trust there is among the team members and how they are personally contributing to that mistrust. Failure to address this issue is costing companies millions. Fortunately, there are practical ways to address this issue.

You obviously cannot assume everyone trusts you equally. A great way to find out is to survey your people. I am a big fan of Pat Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team Survey, which has questions to evaluate how much business team members trust each other. I recommend that you use a third party like Activate Group to administer the survey as you are more likely to get honest answers from the team. We can also help you use exercises to address the issue.

Do Your Business Team Members Trust You?

Here is a sample question from that survey to help you determine whether your business team members trust you. For each of these statements, how would rate your relationship with an individual team member and their relationship to you (the rating system is (1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = usually, 5 = always):

  1. Team members admit their mistakes.
  2. Team members acknowledge their weaknesses to one another.
  3. Team members ask for help without hesitation.
  4. Team members willingly apologize to one another.
  5. Team members ask one another for input regarding their areas of responsibility.
  6. Team members are unguarded and genuine with one another.
  7. Team members can comfortably discuss their personal lives with you.
  8. Team members acknowledge and tap into others’ skills and expertise.

How Do You Rank?

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at (305) 722-7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

7 Ways to Serve Your Internal Customer “The Employee” Better

In my previous article, Are You Failing the Most Important Customer: “The Employee?” we addressed the question, “If you considered the people that worked for you as your largest and most important customers, would you behave toward them or see them any differently than you do today?” I addressed two issues I think all organizations face to some degree. In this post I want you to consider 7 ways to serve your internal customer better.

Are You In Denial?

You may be thinking, we treat our employees well. However, according to Gallup, Inc. and their well-known State of the American Workplace Report., essentially 70% of today’s workforce is being paid to be “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” A staggering 52 percent of employees are “not engaged”, meaning they essentially do just enough so they won’t get fired, but not more. The remaining 18% who are “actively disengaged” employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

What is clear by findings, leadership is causing the 70% who are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” The evidence is supported by the fact that the 70% was not spread equally across companies and there also were differences within the companies. The primary difference was to whom those employees reported. This is important because when employees you have invested in are not engaged, you get less return on your investment.

How Can You Improve Internal Customer Service?

Consider your internal organization as your best and most important customer and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What is my strategy for employee retention?
  2. How well do we communicate “with” employees rather than “at” employees?
  3. What is our interdepartmental strategy?
  4. Does it take an act of Congress to get something done around here or are we fast on our feet?
  5. How are we going to identify and nurture talent?
  6. How do we create career opportunity even though we are a small business?
  7. What types of leadership and management development do you offer your people on an ongoing basis?

The decision is up to you! Find and polish your gems today, or spend lots of your organization’s valuable time and money salvaging and finding new internal and external customers. Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213.

Are You Failing the Internal Customer: “The Employee?”

The Importance of Internal Customers

If you ask most CEOs what makes their business different from their competition, the most common answer received is “service.” This makes particular sense in South Florida, where the majority of industry is comprised of hospitality, healthcare, and other businesses whose end product is service. I look at these organizations and wonder if they are a product of their product. To be truly successful, a business really has to serve at least two customer bases. The customer base most focused on is typically the one perceived as the revenue-generating one. However, considering cause and effect, the internal customer (the employee) should be on at least an equal footing with the external customer. This leads me to a question to those of you who lead or manage people:

If you considered the people that worked for you as your largest and most important customers, would you behave toward them or see them any differently than you do today?

Do All Employees Get Treated the Same Way?

I recently had a usual bi-weekly executive coaching call with the CEO of one of my clients that has multiple locations. He had been encouraged to go out in the field more to really connect one-on-one with his operations people. He was stunned to learn how many employees were considering leaving because they felt disconnected from his vision the rest of the organization, and, more importantly, felt mistreated by his headquarters team.

Through additional research and dialog with his headquarters team, he determined that they did not consider visiting the field important for decision-making. People at headquarters were not speaking to field people with the same respect they gave to headquarters colleagues. They were not serving people in the field the same way they served other headquarters people. It left him with the question, who exactly did the people at headquarters think they were serving? Did they understand why their positions existed in the first place?

Leaders Serve Employees, Not the Other Way Around!

For those who have a tendency to lean on authority to motivate their employees, let me give you something to think about. Reporting to you on a daily basis means that we have a customer relationship! I say this because if I do not keep you satisfied, you are going to help me move my career in a new direction. However, if I am not satisfied with you, I have two options. I can resign or go on silent strike. If I choose the latter, I will give you only the minimal performance to keep my job, but you are never going to be able to get spectacular results from me. While this is scary for any business, it can be devastating in a service business.

Internal Customer Relationships

Let us consider internal customers from three different perspectives: external customer, other internal customers, and bottom-line impact. From the external customer standpoint, they are going to be most comfortable dealing with familiar faces that know exactly what, when, where, and how they like to receive their service. Given that most of us are creatures of habit and routine, every time that routine is broken, I believe you put your customer relationship at risk.

From the “other internal customer” standpoint, things work the same way. The longer people work together, the more familiar and comfortable things get. We really can build a strong enduring team as long as we do not get complacent and employ proper leadership and management techniques. However, the rules change dramatically every time someone leaves or someone new is introduced to the team.

The Cost of Poor Internal Customer Service Can Be Huge

Let us not forget about the bottom-line impact of internal customers. I have read all kinds of statistics that range as high as 25-times-salary for turnover of a key management position. While I cannot validate that number, I can point out that you will potentially incur recruiting costs, lost sales, overtime pay, and other costs as a result of employee turnover. This has to add up to a minimum of 3-times-salary. On the upside, think about the results accomplished by your most highly motivated employees, particularly with regard to attracting, servicing, and keeping external and internal customers. Keeping these individuals gives your business a tremendous competitive advantage.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7213.

Do Your Team Members Trust You?

Do you believe your entire team trusts you? How do you know? If you could increase their trust level, would it increase business performance? If you pay attention, you will notice that you expect everyone to trust you all the time while you give only varying degrees of trust to everyone else. Interestingly, your team operates with the same principles. The higher up you are in the organization, the closer people watch your actions, looking for reasons not to trust you. To make matters worse, we all unintentionally do things that cause people to not trust us. Rather than remember all the times you did things to build trust, your team remembers the one time you destroyed it.

Trust is Critical to Performance

The feeling of having or not having trust affects behavior, critical thinking, creativity, speed, likeability, energy, and overall happiness. In other words, the trust levels in your organization may be dramatically affecting your culture or harmony, employee engagement, and employee retention, and if you have problems in those areas then I am certain you cannot be maximizing growth and profits.

Imagine that you are playing basketball. It’s the fourth quarter with 30 seconds left on the clock, and you are down one point. It is critical that you can count on the other members of the team. Envision a team where you can count on every player’s ability to make that final shot versus a team where you do not have confidence in anyone to make the final shot. And if you need to stop the opponent from scoring before you get the chance to take that final shot, you must be able to depend on your team to play tough defense and get the ball back. If trust-building issues are not dealt with, you cannot maximize the performance of your organization.

What Is Trust?

“Trust” starts with the premise that one’s peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be careful around group members. Once trust has been broken, its absence is hard to overcome.
In most teams, too much time and energy – and too many good ideas – are wasted trying to protect one’s reputation by managing behaviors, comments, and interactions because of a lack of trust that was created in previous interactions. People are reluctant to ask for help and to offer assistance to others, causing lower morale and unwanted turnover.

In addition, absence of trust in others causes people to create poor work behaviors. Instead of addressing the trust issue, they choose to do things themselves instead of delegating. Or, when others display a behavior they do not like or seem to not be delivering on promises, they take work away instead of addressing the issue at hand. Worse, they may even set lower goals so that they know they can achieve them without the assistance of others.

5 Questions That Indicate Whether You Have Trust

You obviously cannot assume everyone trusts you equally. A great way to find out is to survey your people. I am a big fan of Pat Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team Survey, which has five questions to evaluate how much team members trust each other. Here is a sample question from that survey to help you determine whether you team members trust you. For each of these statements, how would rate your relationship with an individual team member and their relationship to you (the rating system is (1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = usually, 5 = always):

  1. Team members admit their mistakes.
  2. Team members acknowledge their weaknesses to one another.
  3. Team members ask for help without hesitation.
  4. Team members are unguarded and genuine with one another.
  5. Team members can comfortably discuss their personal lives with you.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 or send us a message to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

10 Ways Leaders Destroy Employee Motivation

If you are honest, you are probably thinking right now about how to motivate some or many of your employees. Maybe you’ve tried the common quick fixes such as motivational speakers, group outings, training, team-building exercises, changing compensation programs, adjusting organization structure, adjusting the office space, and other such low-impact maneuvers. You may see some mediocre results but they will be short-term and unsustainable. I am sure you will not be surprised to hear that continuing to throw the same old solutions at motivation problems will not suddenly yield better results. I suggest that you first define your problem correctly and then decide if you are willing to do what it takes to solve it.

Motivation Starts with Leadership

The reality is that the research and facts have long been right in front of you. Lack of motivation begins within leadership and management ranks. Basically, if people are not motivated it is because leadership and management have not created an environment that is conducive to motivation. The real issue is is how to stop destroying motivation.

Employees are Motivated When First Hired

Most people come to a new position motivated. They do not find a job and say to themselves “let’s go screw up.” Think about the normal energy and vigor someone starts their new job with. It is great new world! They cannot wait to make their mark, have an impact, make good impressions, and do a good job. They already know their pay plan, have accepted it, were motivated to come to work for you based on it, and were ready to do that job. So if they are no longer motivated, leadership and management screwed up.

Are You Destroying Your Employee’s Motivation?

While pay, benefits and working conditions are important, research shows that they have no long-term effects on motivation. The things that do have an effect are recognition, sense of achievement, growth, participation, challenge and identification with the company’s goals and vision. When working with leadership teams I find the real problem is that leadership is destroying motivation. Here are some examples:

  1. Employees do not have a clear vision of what their employer wants to accomplish, and quite frankly they do not feel there is anything special about the company they work for. In many cases they feel they are working for the weaker team.
  2. Company and department goals and objectives are not posted anywhere. When they are, many of the employees do not understand what their part is in helping to achieve those goals. They feel excluded.
  3. The negative feedback-to-compliment ratio is 0 to 1 in favor of negative feedback. Actually, some employees feel like it would take an act of God to receive a compliment once in a while.
  4. Employee development and retention only becomes a priority once an employee is considering leaving or someone is on the verge of being let go. Evidence of this is the percentage of time management commits to these activities and the amount of the company budget allotted as a percentage of revenue.
  5. Leaders exhibit an attitude that their people are there to serve the leader/owner rather than to serve customers and the company mission.
  6. Everyone is not treated with the same dignity and respect.
  7. Employees do not feel their bosses will back the decisions they were given the authority to make.
  8. Employees do not feel able to learn from their mistakes.
  9. Leadership does not actively listen to employee interests, opinions, concerns, and goals.
  10. Delegation is used as a means for getting rid of less-interesting and mundane tasks rather than showing confidence in an employee’s ability to take on more responsibility

Let us help bring you better leaders! Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 or send us a message to see how an executive and business coach can help you run a more effective business and become a more effective leader.

Are You a Leader of Influence?

Leadership Influence

One key lesson we focus on as parents can be applied to leadership. One focus I have with my children is who they hang-out with. I firmly believe that who they are around will influence who they will become. Well, the same thing is true for adults, both in and out of your workplace. The more senior the person is in the hierarchy, the larger their influence! The tone they set radiates throughout the organization.

This is not just about motivation. When a leader does not show respect for their subordinates, it will have an influence on how others treat their peers and customers. If your leaders do not believe learning is key to growth, this will influence how your people feel about learning. Are your leaders influencing their people in the right ways?

Not Everyone Is Leadership Material

A key measure of a great leader is their ability to positively influence people to work together toward mutually beneficial results. Being smart, knowing your industry, working hard, having good communication skills, and being able to get things done make for a good team member, but many times do not produce a great leader. Too often, the attributes I just mentioned are the qualities given the most weight when companies are picking leaders. The fact is that most people can be good workers but will never be good leaders.

Do You Have What It Takes To Influence Others?

When you seek to hire or promote someone into a leadership role, you need to focus on whether and how they will “influence” others. A great way to measure a potential leader is to see if they can lead without authority. When you watch this person:

  • Do they influence their peers and in what ways?
  • Do their peers feel comfortable discussing issues with them?
  • Do their peers look at them as a voice on their behalf?
  • Does this person use authority to get them to accomplish goals or influence?

Are You a Leader of Influence?

How do you measure up? As a leader you should think about how you influence others. Does your team look to you to motivate and help them to succeed? Some things to think about:

  • Are your peers motivated like you are?
  • What things can you do to show your team you have faith in them?
  • What things do you do to encourage your team’s success as a whole and as individuals?
  • Are you the type of leader you always wanted to be?

A great quote by Steve Jobs that really summarizes a good leader is, “My job is not to be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

Let us help bring out the better and best in your leaders! Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive and business coach can help you run a more effective business and become a more effective leader.

Business Strategy Based on Knowledge Instead of Belief

Is your business strategy based on knowledge instead of belief? If you are like most entrepreneurs, you are not collecting enough external data when making your business decisions – and it will cost you millions over your lifetime. It may even cost you your business.

“Why?” you might ask. The answer is that too often we make decisions based on “belief” instead of “knowledge.” There is a very important distinction between knowledge vs. belief.

Knowledge vs. Belief

Knowledge is indisputable “fact”. Belief is your opinion about what result any given course of action will produce, and much of what you believe about your business many times is wrong.

Are you acting on facts that are no longer valid, or on beliefs that you have held for a long period of time despite contrary evidence all around? In my experience as a business coach, you probably are. Worse, when people present you with facts, you may be doing everything you can to hold onto your erroneous beliefs by finding any random inconclusive data to support them.

Communicating With External Sources

I spend more than 100 days per year conducting planning sessions. I watch leaders make decisions without collecting data from customers, prospects, or past customers. Even when they have collected data, they are not looking at and analyzing that data. Many times they are looking only for data that supports their existing opinions. Often the data they collect does not help them with their decisions because there isn’t enough, or what they have is anecdotal or too generic.

Are you collecting information on a weekly basis about people that have chosen not to do business with you, people that are customers, and people that you want to have as customers to really analyze why you lost customers? You will notice I chose “people” and not businesses, clients, customers, or any other word. You do business with people. They have needs, wants, problems, concerns, opinions, challenges, biases, etc.

The world is constantly changing, so these factors are always shifting, thus causing the need to continually collect the information to keep your offering competitive and relevant. Failure to do so results in business strategy based on “belief” instead of “knowledge.”

Start Improving Your Business Strategy With Customers

The obvious place to start is with your customers. You are probably thinking, “I know my customers” because you do business with them every day. It is a common mistake to confuse a system for collecting information with daily exchanges. Without a systematic process you will fail!

In your daily exchanges, you are concerned with delivering your product or service, and the customer is focused on receiving it. At best, you get anecdotal information and only focus on problems and challenges. During daily exchanges, your front-line staff is not thinking about the company’s business strategy or worrying about what data you need for making future business decisions. In many cases, a staff member who receives what could be useful information may filter it or not report it at all.

Collecting Unfiltered Information From Your Customers

Collecting unfiltered information from your customers should be a priority for every company. This is usually easier than you think, and the only reason it has not happened is that you have not made it a key priority. Benefits you can expect:

  1. Identify reasons to charge existing customers more for existing products and services.
  2. Identify new products and services to offer.
  3. Increase retention of customers that you did not know were at risk.
  4. Turn existing customers into a referral engine.
  5. Strategize based on knowledge instead of belief.

Customer Feedback

A great historical example of how this can work for you is when IBM had its top 200 managers talk to 5 customers and employees every week and review the information every Friday. This was an incredibly simple way to collect live market data weekly and then share it with key leaders in IBM. It helped increase sales, overcome customer roadblocks, and also added energy to the teams.

Questions to Ask Customers

We recommend you and each leader on the leadership team have at least one conversation each week with a key customer. We have found these four questions will provide you will a wealth of information:

  1. How are you doing?
  2. What’s going on in your industry?
  3. What do you hear about our competition?
  4. How are we doing?
  5. (Bonus Question… when appropriate) Do you know of anyone else that would like to be as happy as you are?

Need help improving your business strategy?

We can maximize your team’s business strategy. Contact us for a FREE consultation to learn how Business Coaching can help your organization.

How Showing Up Early May Help Increase Revenue

Showing Up to Work Early

We all know that missing meetings, showing up late, or canceling at the last minute causes a bad reputation, which leads to lost income. Well, have you ever thought that showing up early to a meeting could actually increase your revenue and business growth?

The Factor of Time

We all have built a lifestyle where we really could use a 36-hour day vs. a 24-hour day. Time management is key to making the best of your days and keeping commitments. Imagine you are heading to a meeting. You have no time to spare. You rush in, imagining the others are already a little annoyed because wasted minutes seem like wasted hours, and you scramble to get everything out to begin your presentation.

Now picture yourself arriving early. You stroll in calm, collected and have a chance to take in your surroundings. The people you are meeting with are feeding off your energy. Your chances of getting the sale increase dramatically because you seem dependable from the beginning. The factor of time just helped your image and pockets.

Errors Take Up Time & Money

When you are rushed, you tend to overlook things. You skip things because you are crunched for time, and you try to stay focused on what the meeting was supposed to cover. There is no time for extra questions or small talk. The clock is ticking, and your peers/clients are rushed with you. When you are rushed, the room for error increases. When there are errors, you waste time fixing them, and that results in losing money.

Business Reputation

If you are prone to being late, you need to find a system that works. The label of always being “late” labels you as not being dependable or respectful towards the people you are meeting. Set your clocks ahead 15 minutes to trick yourself into thinking you do not have enough time. Space out your meetings by another 15-30 minutes so you do not run over and become late for the next one. Give yourself the chance to appear dependable. Do not take on another task or start something you know you cannot finish because you think you have some time to spare. Take that time to walk into your meeting with a clear mind, ready to close the deal.

Increase Revenue & Business Growth

Activate Group, Inc. is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. Learn more about Activate Group or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213.

How to Delegate Work to the Entire Team

Employee Delegation Process

Your team grows and advances based on your leadership skills and direction. Every team has a group of individuals that excel over another. As a leader you need to learn to count on everyone on your team and to elevate everyone from the level they are at. You can start today by delegating new tasks – but before you do, make sure you incorporate these important factors on how to delegate work more effectively to the entire team.

1. Selecting the Individual Employee or Team

Are you going to the same employees over and over again when delegating a task or project? Is it possible you’ve become too comfortable with specific individuals or teams? Doing so may demotivate other team members in the organization and can even compromise the performance of your key players. Your key players usually depend on support from the rest of the organization to get things done. You do not want your team members to turn against one another, a situation that would prevent the entire organization from coming together to achieve its fullest potential. Learning to count on every employee on your team can help!

2. Remember Why You Are Delegating Work

When you need help, who do you approach? Most likely you turn to your best players. While that makes sense, you also need to involve and delegate work to the entire team at some point. With each employee, consider why you are delegating (motivation, growth, or time management) a task, and match the appropriate tasks to that person’s capabilities. Delegating isn’t only about getting the job done. It’s also about the three important reasons that leaders delegate.

3. Assess the Appropriate Level of Delegation

Are you using the same leadership style for every employee on the team? Once you realize that not everyone is the same, your level of delegation should be adjusted based on the intricacy of the task and the person it’s delegated to. Delegation is not about telling people what to do and expecting them to do it. The person who delegates the work must exercise many different degrees of supervision and involvement. The more experienced and reliable the other person is, the more freedom you can give. The more critical the task, the more cautious you need to be about extending a lot of freedom, especially if the company’s financial future or reputation is on the line.

As a business leader, remember that it’s your job to count on everyone in your team. When you do that, your team becomes stronger.

Improving Leadership

Want to learn more? Find out how to improve your ability to influence others and your effectiveness as a leader with the premier executive coaching services at Activate Group Inc.

Contact us today for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213!

Business Planning and Core Values Must Unite!

As you plan your agenda for your next business planning session, I hope you have carved out some time to discuss core values. If you study any great company, one that produces exceptional performance, you will find culture is a key component to their success. Great culture does not happen by accident, and thus it is imperative that part of your business-planning process addresses how you will build and nourish your firm’s culture.

CULTURE = CORE VALUES

Core values are the rules that when practiced daily by your employees shape and define your culture. Core values help top companies become more successful than their competition. While planning for our next quarterly meeting today, a CEO shared with me that out of all of the things he’d learned from me over the years, the most important lesson was “discovering, reinforcing, and building his team around core values.” It has helped significantly reduce a lot of the leadership team problems he used to have, reduced the amount of time he needs to manage the business, and he directly attributes increased business performance to rejecting people that did not fit his core values.

Core Values On Your Business Plan Agenda

Depending on your current business issues, you will need to tackle core values at your next quarterly or annual business planning meeting differently. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you do not have clearly defined company core values, you will want to answer the question, “What are my core values?”
  • If it appears that there is inconsistency in the rules that people play by, and you are regularly frustrated by the lack of adherence to the rules you want them to follow, then you will want to answer the question “How do I do a better job of making sure everyone lives my core values?”
  • If you do not have a formal system of measuring performance around core values, you will want to answer the question, “How consistently is everyone living the core values?”
  • If you find there is a core value that is often bypassed, you will want to create a theme to reinforce that core value?

It Takes Discipline To Create A Company Culture

You must instill your core values in everything you do, every day, and in every way. The number one reason core values do not get ingrained in many businesses is that most senior executives do not live them. If the top three executives (e.g. CEO, COO, and CFO) are not role models, you may expect that the rest of their employees will not consistently exhibit the company’s stated core values.

Once you have developed your values, execution through spaced repetition and consistency is imperative. This is the most difficult and important part of forming your culture. Everything we have learned in life we have learned through spaced repetition. Using your business planning meetings as a platform for ideas, an organization must develop a system for all employees to regularly hear, see, and act the core values.

The One Page Strategic Plan created by Verne Harnish includes a section for core values and how to live them each quarter. We can help you design your business-planning processes, and the Four Decisions Process can help.

Improving Your Company Culture

Contact us for a FREE consultation to learn how Business Coaching can help transform your organization. Also feel free to check out the testimonials page for stories from other leaders we have coached.

Action Plans Lead to Success

Business Action Plan

Have you ever wondered why many business plans fail? Do you find that your organizations fail to achieve the key priorities in your business plan?  You are not alone! Most leaders, if they are honest, will admit that their business planning process is failing. Do you create an annual business plan and find that your team fails to follow through? Do you achieve your financial goals, but still fail to achieve the key initiatives? If you do, this is a major issue for your business and a solid action plan is part of the solution.

Failing to Elevate Your Business

As a business coach, I find many business owners and leaders asking me, “What is the harm in failing to achieve your annual initiatives if you achieved your revenue and profit targets?” If you have well-developed key initiatives, they will address the most critical weaknesses, problems and challenges facing your business. By achieving financial targets without addressing these issues, you have essentially failed to elevate your business to a higher level. In other words, you have unintentionally compromised future growth for the present. If you look at your annual initiatives, you often will find that as you address them, they have minimal effect on current year numbers but can have significant impact on future numbers.

Action Plans Will Keep You On Track

After conducting well over a thousand business planning sessions and reviewing results with leadership teams, a common thread between successes and failures revolves around the action plan. I have found there has been a 90% failure rate in achieving a priority for companies without an action plan versus a 75% success rate for companies with one. In the cases where there was an action plan but failure to complete the initiative, businesses made substantial progress on the priority.

Business Action Plans for Success

The following are reasons why business action plans are critical to your success. They:

  • Create a framework for accountability
  • Clarify responsibility
  • Help identify obstacles to success
  • Crystalize and align agreement around the path to getting things done
  • Provide deadlines
  • Foster commitment
  • Develop mechanisms to warn you when you are off course

How Committed Are You to Your Business Plan?

Is your business plan a decision but not a commitment? Most leaders will agree that they always get done what they are committed to. On a daily and weekly basis you deal with pressing issues, and you stay committed to addressing them. In my experience as a business coach, I do not see that same level of commitment to business plans. I believe the main obstacle is immediate versus long-term gratification. We can feel the immediate gratification of solving a pressing issue but can’t with working hard to address a long-term problem. However, by addressing the long-term problem, your benefits become much greater.

Consider a Business Coach

With the business coaching services offered at Activate Group, we can maximize your team’s success. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how Business Coaching can help your organization.

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

Key Components of a Business Plan

As a business coach, one of my essential roles is to assist my clients in determining what the key components of their business plan should be. My experience is that many companies do a poor job of creating their business plans, costing them serious growth in revenue and profits. If you are like most leaders I’ve worked with, your annual business planning process may be broken. Often I find that leaders spend too much time focusing their attention on goals rather than on the components of their plan that will cause them to achieve those goals.

Two indications that you have a problem with your current business plan:

  1. You do not find the need to visit your business plan weekly, monthly and quarterly with your executive team to make sure you are following your plan.
  2. You are not consistently hitting your revenue and profit numbers on a monthly basis.

The Importance of a Business Plan

The main reason to create a business plan is to find the simplest path for your company to produce maximum results. A good plan creates focus, sets priorities, causes alignment throughout your organization, and provides a means for accountability. As a facilitator of hundreds of monthly, quarterly, and annual planning sessions, I have found that most organizations fall well short of achieving these objectives.

Lack of prioritization is, by far, the most common issue I see causing companies not to reach consistent performance. While most leaders like to blame external conditions, it is usually an internal shortcoming. The leadership team fails to say “no” often enough, chooses to chase fires rather than identify and address their real issues, and thus makes their organization work twice as hard to produce less.

The 8 Components of a Business Plan

In order to accomplish focus, prioritization, alignment, and accountability, your business plan must have the following components:

1. Core Values and Purpose

Tell everyone how they must operate (core values) and why you exist (purpose).

2. Sales Strategy

Clarify how you will make money.

3. Competitor Differentiation

Distinguish how you will be different from your competition.

4. Goals and Objectives

Be specific and measurable in terms of goals so everyone knows what success looks like on a monthly basis for the company.

5. Annual Priorites

Identify the 3 to 5 absolutely essential annual priorities – these are the very difficult changes that need to be made in terms of products and services, systems and process, and people so that you can accomplish the above.

6. Company Priorities

Identify the 3 to 5 quarterly company priorities that will drive the annual priorities.

8. Leadership Priorities

Identify the 3 to 5 quarterly personal priorities for every leader that aligns with the company priorities and functional priorities.

7. Action Plan

Create very specific action plans to make the priorities happen.

8. Accountability

Establish a measurement system so that everyone can be held accountable.

Improve Your Business Planning Process

With the business coaching services offered at Activate Group, we can maximize your team’s success and simplify your organizational processes. Contact us for a free consultation to learn how we can help your organization, or check out the testimonials page for stories from other leaders we have coached.

How Do Your Leaders Respond to Mistakes?

Are you one of those leaders that spend their day looking for mistakes? You may be one of those leaders who always unconsciously looks for problems to solve, and may even create them when they don’t exist. People with this disposition regularly point out mistakes, tell people how to do things better, and for the most part – are viewed by their co-workers and subordinates as micromanagers. They justify their actions by claiming to know better, have more experience, and point to all the mistakes they find on a daily basis.

Address Leadership Patterns, Not Leadership Mistakes

In reality, the more “senior” the executive or leader is, the more mistakes you should expect them to make. If they do not, they are likely mediocre at best and should not reach the senior ranks. The higher one’s position, the more responsibility, the greater the range of decisions and issues, and the more likely that mistakes will occur. It does not matter how many battles one has fought and won… no one can possibly know or have seen everything. The world, people, competition, and issues are constantly evolving, and so must leaders. The key as a leader is to look for patterns and address the patterns rather than the individual mistakes.

Utilize Mistakes as Learning Tools

Does the way you respond to a mistake define you as a leader? Leaders who regularly punish and criticize people for mistakes, regardless of position, actually reduce their personal power within an organization. If you consistently handle mistakes poorly, you eventually lose the respect of others, reduce motivation, and hold back the company. Even worse, by not utilizing mistakes as learning tools, you are influencing mediocrity by creating an environment where people will “play it safe” and “do things the way we always have” in order to avoid disfavor. You may tell people to “think out of box” and/or “be creative”; however, actions, body language and tone can speak much louder than the words.

Developing and Growing Leadership

By attacking others for mistakes, or mistakenly deciding that it’s “easier just to do it myself,” a leader will prevent others from learning what they are capable of becoming. Or, if a leader depends on someone else to prevent the possibility of failure, they will find that they are actually preventing themselves from developing leadership. Further, many leaders make the mistake of trying to be involved in every decision so that mistakes will not happen. All they are accomplishing is making a bunch of people depend on them and stifling their organization. They need to stop taking themselves so seriously and let their people develop.

Leadership Mistakes and Errors Are Necessary

Leadership mistakes and errors are necessary steps in the learning process. They are meant to be a means to an end — not to be an end in themselves. Once they have served their purpose, leadership mistakes should be forgotten. No one enjoys making mistakes, but everyone makes them. Your leadership progress is determined by your attitude toward yourself and others. “Failure” is a state of mind, yet leaders who view failures as learning experienced bounce back even stronger.

If you are interested in improving how well your leadership team functions, let’s schedule a time a time with one of our expert business coaches. Call Activate Group, one of the top executive coaching firms in the United States, for a FREE consultation 305.722.7213.

 

Great Leaders are Surrounded By Great People

Do you remember growing up and noticing the different circles of friends in school? You also probably noticed that each circle influenced many of the activities its “members” involved themselves in, the people they came in contact with, whether they were considered popular or not, and many personal habits such as studying and staying out of trouble.

Success and The People You Surround Yourself With

The people you associate and surround yourself with have a direct impact on your success.

Now let’s fast forward many years. I am closing in on fifty, and nothing has changed. Success has a lot to do with the people you surround yourself with and how well you can discern the right from the wrong people. In several of my recent articles, I referred to an owner who sold his business prematurely, losing about a quarter of its value. This is truly a blind spot for this CEO.

The business owner was a kind soul with hidden self-esteem issues. Because he had accomplished so much with a limited background, he believed everyone else could do the same. I believe he wanted to help everyone he met and meant well. The problem was that his bias toward surrounding himself with mediocre and unqualified people who never tried or succeeded at pulling themselves up by the proverbial bootstraps really inhibited his success and that of his company.

Are Your Workers Really Qualified?

Are you like my client? Are you the kind of person that likes everyone you meet? If they seem trustworthy on the surface, talk confidently, are nice to you, and freely offer you advice, do you offer them a job or take their advice even when they fail to have proper credentials?

My client was such a person. As a result, they had a COO whose biggest previous accomplishment had been to become a lead bartender. Other key people were also in positions that were way over their heads. These were not bad people, just not well matched for their positions and were not the right people for running a $15 million company that with proper staffing could easily have gone to $50 million.

Learn more about finding the right employees.

Recognize Loyal People

Are you giving opportunities to people that failed to earn or deserve them and not recognizing the risk that poses? Are you confusing sycophants with capable confidants?

I often find that when a leader falls into these traps, they wind up with selfish and manipulative underperformers that take advantage of generosity and make sure that their deceptions are well-hidden. When really good, smart, and qualified people came to such a company as employees or consultants, the first thing these parasites do is to make sure the newcomers do not stay long. They do everything they can to undermine the newbies’ success and make sure that their leader remembers who the loyal and trustworthy people are.

Learn how to find and keep high-performing employees.

Outside Help

Do you have a strong board of advisors? Do you have a good strong group of people outside of the company to lean on that help make sure you are not stuck in the wrong circle? Do you use outside advisors, coaches and consultants to challenge complacency and possible stupidity?

Contact Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 so I can help strengthen your circle.

Are You Leading For Approval Ratings?

Seeking Approval and Validation

Are you generally a nice person? Does your need to be liked by others sometimes affect your ability as a leader? The challenge for everyone is that when positive qualities are overextended, they can work against you.

The reality is that everyone has “need for approval” to a certain degree. The question is: do you have too much? If you do seek a high-level of approval and your natural style is also to avoid conflict, you can be flirting with disaster as a leader.

How This Affects Leadership

In several of my recent articles, I referred to a business owner who sold his business prematurely. He lost about a quarter of its value – approximately $5 million because he could not obtain external financing to keep it afloat. This was one just one of the areas that led to this sad result. Another area was his lack of financial discipline. A third facet of his self-destruction was that he wanted to stay in everyone’s good graces, even with employees and vendors who were taking advantage of him.

What Type of CEO Are You?

Do you spend a lot of time trying to be the fun CEO? Are you creating fun meetings and all kinds of outings so that everyone is happy? Do you find it hard to have tough discussions with the people you like? When it is time to fire people that are failing to perform, do you do it yourself or do you send someone else in to do the deed? When big issues come up in the company, such as problems with your partner, do you try to get someone else to handle it? Are you guilty of putting off tough discussions that should really be addressed immediately? Do tough decisions get drawn out because you do not want to push for the decision when consensus was lacking? Have you been guilty of waiting and hoping that a people problem would somehow disappear? And when it didn’t disappear and things got out of control, did you then overcompensate by making a rash decision because you felt close to the person?

Weaknesses Can Backfire

Well some of your people are noting these weaknesses and will capitalize on them later on. While your company may be doing well right now, you should learn to lead differently. If you are interested in learning how, let’s schedule a time to further discuss your business. Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 or contact Activate Group, Inc. today.

Profit Leak 2 — Is Poor leadership Holding Your Company Back?

Employees and Leadership

Gallup, Inc. recently updated their well-known State of the American Workplace Report. From 2010 to 2012, they surveyed 25 million employees in 189 different countries and 69 languages, asking them their famous 12 questions for measuring employee engagement. The results essentially showed that only 30% of all workers could be referred to as “Engaged Employees”.

Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward. The scary part of the survey results was that these were the best results ever, and that the improved statistics were still ugly.

Employee Engagement

According to Gallup, essentially 70% of today’s workforce is being paid to be “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” A staggering 52 percent of employees are “not engaged”, meaning they essentially do just enough so they won’t get fired – but not more. The remaining 18% who are “actively disengaged” employees aren’t just unhappy at work, they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

What is clear by findings, leadership is causing the 70% who are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged.” The evidence is supported by the fact that the 70% was not spread equally across companies and there also were differences within the companies. The primary difference was to whom those employees reported. This is important because when employees you have invested in are not engaged, you get less return on your investment.

Poor Leadership

By allowing poor leadership, you are deciding that the person designated to lead has more to offer than everyone else put together… a fool’s bet. Your inept leaders cause everyone around them to perform at lower levels, and you lose access to a lot of great ideas. People are less apt to willingly give extra effort.

So if you have leaders on your team that are not able to get top performance out of their teams, stop harassing the front-line people and address your real issue at hand… leadership.

Improve Your Leadership and Team

If you are interested in addressing your “profit leaks,” let’s schedule a time to further discuss your business and how we might work together to patch up your leaky bucket. Contact us for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 305.722.7213.

Profit Leak #1: Are You Losing Productivity on B and C Players?

Profit Leak #2: Is Poor Leadership Holding Your Company Back?

Profit Leak #3: Are You Too Focused on Tactics Rather Than Strategy?

Profit Leak #4: Are Vacant Positions Affecting Business Performance?

Profit Leak #5: Do You Have Retention Issues?

Profit Leak #6: Is Your Business Strategy Causing Lost Opportunities?

Profit Leak #7: Are Your Customer Attrition Rates Too High?

Profit Leak #8: Do You Know What Mistakes Are Costing Your Business?

Driving Change In Your Organization

Most executives experience frustration when:

  • trying to drive necessary changes in the way things are done;
  • to take business in new directions;
  • or even to continue down existing paths.

As a business coach, I help clients through these issues to drive change within their organization and increase profit margins.

Similar Mistakes CEO’s Make

I recently watched a client botch-up a necessary change in the business. As I watched my client ignore my coaching, I realized I had watched the same story line unfold in many other companies. All I had to do was change out the names of the CEO, company, industry, and employee group. The story reads something like this:

  • Change in the industry causes the owner/leader/CEO (“leader”) to sense that things need to change in the company.
  • Without a formal plan or fully organized thoughts, the leader starts tinkering with ideas out loud, scaring key people.
  • The leader does not like the responses received and may even get aggressive with a few people.
  • The leader goes back to the management team convinced something needs to be done and creates a little bit of a plan, but runs off ready to pounce.
  • Meanwhile, key employees who do not like change start banding together to discuss how the leader does not appreciate how hard they work and has lost touch with what is going on. The defense against change is building.
  • The leader enters the room with a fresh Power Point presentation and a big smile and presents his case. Most people stay quiet because their belief is that in a few months the boss will forget about this, and things will go back to “normal”. Just in case it does not go away, a few people that feel honest (and brave) today speak up and share their opinions, which are different from what the boss presented. This, of course, infuriates leadership. Some heated discussion ensues, and with the leader declaring that this how things are going to be, the meeting ends. Many attendees leave confused as to whether the leader has really thought this through.
  • Leadership leaves angry and cannot understand what just happened.
    Have you ever experienced this?

3 Main Issues Harming Business Growth

I find there are 3 issues that circumvent business growth and cause leaders to unconsciously derail their change initiatives:

1. Trust in Leadership

People don’t believe a leader is capable of making the key decision, don’t believe he gave the decision enough thought, or don’t feel that valid concerns have been heard. Worse and most common, the leader has a history of changing course midstream or not following through on decisions.

2. Clarity in Business Goals & Objectives

Inability of the leader to help the team see what he/she sees. When the team asks questions, answers are evasive or shallow. It is also important to give people the necessary time to allow them to process what you are telling them.

3. Weakness in Overcoming Obstacles

Employees will pounce on this. In my experience as a business coach and leader, employees will spend more energy attacking weakness and trying to change a decision than to overcoming obstacles to execute a decision.

Are You Trying to Avoid Conflict?

In general, people like doing things the same way and staying comfortable.

I am sure you looked at my 3 issues and said, “Yeah, that was pretty obvious.” However, I cannot tell you how often I point these issues out to leaders only to have them tell me, “I know, but I can’t deal with it.” For some reason they would rather avoid the conflict of addressing the issues head-on than deal with years of ongoing performance issues caused by not following through on their decisions.

How Leaders Affect Trust & Organizational Change

The trust issue is the hardest one. Leaders violate trust without realizing it, and when you try to call them out, they have trouble understanding what others clearly see.

For example, you recommend changes to a recruiting process, and they tell you how great they are at recruiting, so changes are not needed. You then bring them data that proves that in the last 5 years they have had a 100% failure rate in hiring the right people. All the people they hired are mediocre or downright poor performers. Their response to your data should be, “Good point, let’s go with a different process.” Instead they give you an “ego” response like, “I have a profitable business, so I must be doing something right.” They do not realize they have lost trust because the receiver hears, “Forget the facts, my ego is more important than making my company better. I do not find your ideas important. I do not respect your point of view, and since I do not have a good answer and I am the boss, you just have to go away.” As soon as that happens, you feel disrespected and no longer trust the leader.

In summary, if you have a history of experiencing too much pushback when trying to implement the necessary changes in your business, look in the mirror. You are probably unconsciously suffering to some degree from one or all of the above issues.

Driving Change in Business

Drive change in your organization! To learn how a business coach can help to improve your growth potential, contact Activate Group or give us a call at 305.722.7213.