Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

5 dysfunctions of a team

In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, Pat Lencioni identified team behaviors that reduce positive results in an organization. In my opinion, this book is a must-read for all managers and C-level leaders.

As the company leader, you are the core of your team. Your primary responsibility is to motivate and use the team to create customer loyalty; deliver products and services; execute the company strategy and anything else required to achieve goals. Some teams are big, and some employees may have to play on more than one team. This is where problems could arise.

Lencioni identified the most common problems that arise in teams and how to overcome them. I’m summarizing here, but seriously recommend reading the whole book. It’s a great read and worth every penny.

Absence of Trust

Absence of trust is the hardest dysfunction to overcome and it can be a killer. In some teams, too much time, energy and good ideas are wasted trying to protect reputation. Employees are reluctant to ask for help and to offer assistance to others, causing lower morale and unwanted turnover. As a leader, you can prevent this dysfunction by encouraging open dialogue in meetings. Then, work with your managers to identify situations where employees demonstrate lack of trust and bring it out in the open through discussions that focus on the strength of each team member, and address behaviors that lead to mistrust.

Fear of Conflict

If you’ve overcome the absence of trust dysfunction, your team is now mentally prepared to engage in passionate discussion without the fear of judgment. 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 quickly without resorting to personal attacks. That being said, healthy conflict saves time and results in better decisions. Practice restraint and allow conflicts to resolve naturally. But as the company leader you must set the expectation that personal attacks will not be tolerated. Wipe out this dysfunction by looking for passive-aggressive behavior behind the scenes or back-channel attacks and calling it out.

Lack of Commitment

Is commitment lacking in your organization? It may have resulted from a lack of healthy debate in meetings, which led to false consensus and no buy-in. Productive conflict taps into everyone’s perspectives, which allows everyone to confidently buy in and commit to decisions. Build commitment in your company by demonstrating decisiveness, and communicating awareness and acceptance of the fact that some decisions may turn out wrong. Then, cascade messaging to key people in your organization to support follow-through on decisions and ensure that everyone is aligned.

Avoidance of Accountability

Accountability is a team effort. Team members need to hold each other accountable when behaviors and actions do not support team goals. Peer pressure is the most effective means of producing performance. Foster accountability by creating clear standards with defined indicators that enable each team member to know that they are doing their part. The more detailed the action plans and the more specific the performance metrics are, the easier it will be to hold people accountable. However, there should be an external fail-safe measure in place so that the team cannot run too far off course.

Inattention to Results

Sometimes ego and self-preservation get in the way of company goals, and that results in inattention to results. If teammates are not being held accountable for their contributions to the collective results, they will likely look to their own personal interests. You can avoid this trap by having good measures in place that align an individual’s incentives with that of their team. Set the tone to focus on results and make sure your conversations with individuals are consistent with focusing on organizational results and not encouraging selfish behaviors.

You can significantly increase your team results by improving their performance by nipping these dysfunctions in the bud.

What other dysfunctions would you add to Lencioni’s list?

Howard Shore is a business growth expert and business coach 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 activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

5 Keys to Business Success

As many of you have learned from my seminar “Turning Strategy into Action,” the difference between business success and failure can be broken down into a few factors. While some owners are lucky to have the right product at the right time, most find that if they do not do these 5 things they will either fail or, worse yet, discover that they would have earned a better living by getting a job.

Only 16% of All Businesses Make Money over Their Lifetime!

While we do not like to discuss negatives, there some realities we need to present. According to the Small Business Association, 1/3 of all businesses will close their doors after 2 years, and 60% will do so after 5 years. If you do not find this concerning because you have passed the 5-year threshold, you might find it interesting to note, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, only 39% of all businesses are profitable, 30% break-even, and the rest lose money over their LIFETIME.

5 Keys to Being in the 16% Pool

The good news is that turning a profit and staying in business is much simpler than these statistics would indicate. In our experience, most of these businesses failed or did not make money because they mistakenly thought that knowledge of their trade or business was the key to success, and hard work was what it took. While these are essential elements without which you will surely fail, they are not the keys to success. Lack of funding would be number 7 or 8 on my list of reasons by businesses fail.

If you want your business to succeed the following are the top 5 keys to success:

  1. Have, Communicate and Drive Your Vision/Purpose
  2. Strategy
  3. Financial Planning and Review at Least Monthly
  4. Establish and Communicate All Company Goals
  5. Commit to Goals

9 Signs that Your Business is Under-performing?

If you answer “no” or do not answer with a strong yes to any of the following questions, your organization is probably under-performing in the areas of sales growth, customer service, employee satisfaction, innovation, and profitability:

  • Does your management team look forward to participating in your annual planning processes?
  • Does your organization regularly achieve all or most of the financial and non-financial goals set forth in your plans?
  • Does everyone in your organization know specifically what the goals are in your plans and how they will contribute to achieving them?
  • Do the actions in your organization regularly resemble the plans?
  • Do you get regular input from all levels of your organization and use that information to develop your plans?
  • Do you know what trends are going on in your industry, who your competitors are, what your competitors are doing, and what your opportunities and threats are?
  • Do you get regularly input from your customers (not just complaints) and use that information to develop your plans?
  • Do you have specific market segments you are focusing on?
  • Do you know what capabilities, management systems, people, and other resources you must have in place now, for the future, and by when?

Proper Planning Is Critical for Companies of All Sizes

Many small organizations mistakenly think that answering the above questions applies only to large companies and that they can wait to become bigger to take this very important step. They are among the 50% that fail in the first 5 years.

On the other hand, many companies go through the annual rituals of strategic planning, business planning, and budgeting, and completely miss the value of these very important business processes. They spend valuable time, money, and resources to develop written plans that bear little or no resemblance to what actually goes on in the business afterwards. Instead, business goes on as usual, and the plan goes in a desk drawer or on a bookshelf. At the end of the year, financial success or failure is met through other means.

Planning is the journey that you take your management team through to balance near-term performance with that of the long term. Your goal is to maximize your long-term returns on investment in your business while meeting short-term financial needs. In our experience, we see many leaders focusing their planning process on creating numbers (budgeting) that will yield the profits they want to see at the end of the year. Amazingly they will go through phenomenal amounts of detail to get precisely to the wrong numbers. They are the wrong numbers because the reality is they have no idea how they will achieve these numbers, which is the point of planning in the first place. In these companies, it is not uncommon to hear one of two things at the end of the year 1) they achieve profits in some unexpected way, such as the pricing was extraordinarily good (not sustainable), or 2) they missed their numbers and offer lots of excuses that have nothing to do with poor leadership.

Let us help YOU take your business to the next level. Take the next step and contact us to learn more about how Business Coaching can help you and check out the testimonials page to see how we have helped other executives like you.

5 Steps to Make Mondays Fun Again – Step 1

Do you remember when you used to wake-up early on Monday mornings and were excited to go to work? Probably not! But surely you remember the last time you said “Thank God it is Friday.” If you are like many people, you no longer look forward to going to work and dread Mondays. After all, the weekly routine will absorb your time and give little, if any, space to be creative and have fun.

The following are five steps to make Mondays fun again. Think about it as a ladder where you should take one step at a time. Make sure you have one foot firmly in place before proceeding to the next step. Missing one step could cause you to fall to the bottom of the ladder. However, unlike other ladders, the reward of having fun at the top step is enough motivation to stand up and try again.

Each of the following steps will be discussed in separate newsletter articles:

  1. Define your purpose
  2. Explore your potential
  3. Create a solid plan
  4. Develop the right attitude
  5. Have fun

Now buckle up, and let’s start the journey to your future Mondays that are filled with motivation, fun, and achievement.

Step 1: Define your Purpose

Purpose is the core of all actions. Living without a pre-defined purpose is like traveling 10,000 miles without a roadmap. You will advance without knowing where you are going. As Yogi Berra, the famous ballplayer, said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

Just for a few seconds close your eyes and imagine how your life will be 40 years from now. Imagine your achievements and feel the moment. Think about your achievements and disappointments. Think about the actions that you undertook that made you feel happy and those that you shouldn’t have done. Now, open your eyes and take out a piece of paper. Make a list of what was important and not so important in your life. This list will help you to identify which are the key values that generate those actions. You can only develop a strong purpose in life once you have a firm grasp of vision and values to provide the inspiration.

A defined purpose will allow you to perform in the face of danger, move firmly towards your goals, and give you the necessary motivation to overcome the obstacles you will encounter in your journey to success and happiness.

Action Steps:

  1. Write a list of your five most important values (e.g. balance, family, fitness, integrity, money, power, stability, wealth, wisdom, accountability, etc).
  2. Write a vision of your life using at least three of your most important values developed in step one.

“Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”, Helen Keller

Once you have crystallized your focus, you are ready for the next step on the ladder to having fun on Mondays again. Stay tuned for our next Activate newsletter when you will learn how to “Explore Your Potential” and find more tips and suggestions on how to accelerate the performance of your business and your career faster and with less effort.

As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better business plans more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at [phone link=”true”] or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

5 Steps to Make Mondays Fun Again – Step 2

The first step, covered in our last newsletter, referred to having a defined purpose.This allows you to perform in the face of danger, and to move firmly towards your goals. It gives you the necessary motivation to overcome the obstacles you may encounter in your journey to success and happiness. Now you are ready to jump to the next step on the ladder to fun and enjoyment: Explore your potential.

Step 2 – Explore your potential

There is a power inside you; an energy that makes you wake up every morning; that triggers the starter of your internal engine and executes whatever you plan for the day. Are you using this power? Are you living your life to your maximum level of energy?

You should be wondering, “How can I tell if my power or energy is high or low? How can I be aware if I have room for improvement?”

The answer is simple; you gauge your life. You will feel when this power is high or low and will create the necessary awareness to take action. Look at your life in the family, mental, social, financial, physical, and ethical areas. Whenever you have a feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment as a consequence of your actions, your power level is high, and you are using a good level of your potential. On the contrary, if you have a feeling of dissatisfaction, sadness, or frustration in one of the areas mentioned, your level of power is low.

Imagine for a moment that you can do anything you want in any aspect of your life without the fear of failing, with the assurance that you will succeed. It feels good,doesn’t it? In this situation, you are full of power and energy and you are using 100% of your potential. You are taking action without fear of failing, and your thoughts are aligned with your purpose. You might be thinking, “Yeah, right! I am not in the Twilight Zone!”  However, if your mind can conceive it, and your heart can accept it, you can do it.

Action Steps:

  1. List your achievements in the different areas of your life: family, mental, social, financial, physical, and ethical.
  2. Ask yourself the following questions for each area: “Am I happy? Do I want to achieve more? If I pass away today, what would be my eulogy?”
  3. Using your imagination, draw a picture of the “future you.” Show it to a friend or your spouse and ask them what you should change in order be the person in the picture.

Once you have identified the areas of your life that need a bigger dose of your power and energy, you are ready for the next step on the ladder to having fun on Mondays again. Stay tuned for our next edition of “Room For Improvement” when you will learn how to “Create a Solid Plan” and find more tips and suggestions on how to accelerate the performance of your business and your career with less effort and faster.

As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, employee motivation, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at [phone link=”true”], or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

5 Steps to Make Mondays Fun Again – Step 3

It’s Monday morning again, but it feels different from other Mondays. While she was brushing her teeth, she looked deep into the mirror and saw a familiar face, but this time with a big smile and shining eyes. Even though the rest of the family was sleeping, she filled her lungs with air and screamed out loud YES! I CAN HAVE FUN ON MONDAYS AGAIN!

Did she win the lottery? Did she reach her life goals? The answer is no, but she found a treasure in her interior backyard. She found the reason to wake up every day with a smile, full of energy and power to conquer the world. She defined a purpose for her life.

Now that she knows her destination, where all her desires and wants should land, the next step is to create a solid plan to build the dashboard to control the journey.

Step 3 – Create a Solid Plan

Yogi Berra, the famous baseball player and the most quoted figure in the sports world said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you will end up somewhere else.”

Would you drive from Miami to California without a roadmap? Would you go to the supermarket to buy groceries without a pre-defined list of what you need? Would you take two weeks vacation without any previous planning? Of course not. You don’t want to lose a second of your precious time. You want to get to California as soon as possible, taking the shortest way and the best roads. You want to buy just what you need from the supermarket, and you want to enjoy every single moment of your vacation with your family and friends. The question is: do you have a solid plan for the rest of your life?

The following 5 steps will help you create a solid plan, but first you have to be sure you have defined your ultimate goal, your purpose in life and have explored your full potential. (Refer to Step 1 and Step 2 of “5 Steps to Make Mondays Fun Again.”)

Action Steps:

1.  Analyze and develop goals in the main areas of your life.

Setting goals in the main areas of life will ensure a more balanced life, creating a high energy environment where your thoughts and desires are in alignment with your purpose.

The areas to be analyzed are:

  • Family and Home
  • Finance and Career
  • Spiritual and Ethical Growth
  • Health Matters
  • Social and Cultural Expansion
  • Mental and Educational Improvement

2. Make sure the goals you are setting are important to YOU, not just to the world around you.

Motivation comes from within. In order to take real and strong action toward each goal, there should be a strong benefit to YOU if you achieve it and strong consequences if you don’t.

When setting goals, it is very important to remember that your goals must be consistent with your values.

3. Be a YES person with your goals.

Thinking positively in everyday life will also help in your growth as a human being. Don’t limit it to goal-setting. Your positive thinking about achieving your goals will create the feeling you already have what you want. If we leave it to your subconscious mind, probably your past behaviors will take charge and will create obstacles such as fear or doubts.

4. Your goal should be low enough to be reached and high enough to be a challenge.

You can’t buy a $1,000,000 house if your income goal is only $50,000 per year. This type of thinking will create frustration and imbalance in your life. Goals should be realistic and attainable, but on the other hand, should be high enough to be a challenge.

5. Believe in the power of writing (typing sometimes is also acceptable).

“You don’t write because you want to say something; you write because you’ve got something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

When you write your goal, be as specific as possible. Create the details of what you want, include dates, time of the day, where you will be. Visualize your written testimonial, and feel it as if you were already there. If you can feel it, you will keep it in your subconscious mind until you get it.

Remember, the more focused you are on your goals, the more likely you are to accomplish them.

Once you have created a solid and balanced plan for your life, you are ready for the next rung of the ladder toward having fun on Mondays again. Stay tuned for our next edition of “Room For Improvement” when you will learn how to “Develop the Right Attitude” and find more tips and suggestions on how to accelerate the performance of your business and your career faster and with less effort.

As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, employee motivation, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at [phone link=”true”], or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Abraham Lincoln

5 Steps to Make Mondays Fun Again – Step 4

On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was signed, stating that “ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.” This is an indisputable affirmation. However, why are some people successful while others aren’t? Why have some people achieved a high degree of success without a formal education? Why do successful people do things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do?

ATTITUDE is the answer:  And if you develop the right one, you will open the door to a better quality of life and a world full of personal and professional achievement. Most importantly, you will make “Mondays fun again.”

Step 4 – Develop the Right Attitude

Become your future, not your past

One of the first words we teach our children is NO. That’s not very positive, is it? They are the raw material ready to be conditioned by an already negatively conditioned adult. For example, during our elementary school years, we are told not to talk in class. Then we get to college, where we are told to give a presentation in an auditorium in front of 100 people, leaving us with the strong desire to disappear from the face of the Earth. If you have experienced this situation, don’t worry, 70% of presenters experience butterflies and pre-speech jitters.

A positive attitude will attract positive things to your life and will help you create rapport and solid relationships for your business and personal life. Remember, when someone tells you, “I like you,” what they are really saying is “I am like you.”

“The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
William James, father of American psychology

Action Steps:

How can I change my inner attitudes?

Dream a lot

“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”
James Dean, Actor.

Have a passion

“All the passions are nothing other than different degrees of heat and cold of the blood.”
Francois Duc de la Rochefoucauld

Gain the courage to take action

“All your dreams come true, if you have the courage to pursue them.”
Walt Disney

Smile

“People do not smile because they’re happy, they are happy because they smile.”
Unknown

Keep life simple

“If A is success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”
Albert Einstein

Always expect the best

“We usually get what we anticipate.”
Claude M. Bristol

Love

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

Stay tuned for our next edition of “Room For Improvement” when you will learn the last step to Make Mondays Fun Again and find more tips and suggestions on how to accelerate the performance of your business and your career faster and with less effort.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at [phone link=”true”], or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

5 Steps to Make Mondays Fun Again – Step 5

When I started this series of articles about the steps to make Mondays fun again, my purpose was to send a positive message about enjoying life and getting the best from every single day of our lives. It doesn’t matter if it is Monday, Friday, or Sunday. Two weeks ago, watching a rental movie with my family, a powerful message came to my attention. The story was about a high school football team with a long losing streak and the efforts of its coach to break that streak and turn these boys into winners. One day, a wise man came to talk to the coach and told him the following story: there were two farmers who prayed every day with all their hearts for rain. One of them spent most of his time going to a house of worship to pray, while the other farmer decided to pray early in the morning and work the rest of day preparing the land for the rain to come. God sent rain to only one of them. You guessed right! The farmer who prepared the land received the rain. The question is: which of the two farmers are you?

The football coach understood the message, defined the purpose of the team (which by the way, was not winning games), aligned all players with that purpose, and as a result, the team became State Champion for the first time in its history.

Our job is to prepare the land and be ready for the rain. Probably the farmer who did not receive the rain, thought he had bad luck. His rain will come, but he has to take action.

Remember: luck is the point in time where preparation and opportunity meet.

This is the final step to make Mondays fun again! GO FOR IT AND HAVE FUN!

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”. – Walt Disney

Having the courage to take action on the things we consider important for our lives is a consequence of the previous four steps in the process of making Mondays fun again. As a refresher, those steps are:

  1. Define your purpose
  2. Explore your potential
  3. Create a solid plan
  4. Develop the right attitude

To jump to the final step of the ladder, you have to believe, esteem, and love yourself first; create a self-leadership environment which will provide you with the power of acting now, instead of procrastinating with your dreams.

Be happy and enjoy the journey. Wake up every Monday morning with the positive assurance that the week to come will be the best week of your life. Take action on your dreams; prepare your land for the rain to come.

Life is good!

As an Executive and Corporate Team Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at [phone link=”true”] or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

7 Time Management Secrets that Can Make You Wealthy

Do you want to increase your earnings by 50% or more? Who wouldn’t? The challenge is how to do that and work less at the same time. Many of the ultra-wealthy in our country have figured out how to do just that. After all, the person now earning $20 million a year probably earned $200,000 or less at an earlier point in his/her career. That same person is not working a 100 times harder today. That person has learned to maximize their own productivity and to help others in their teams do the same.

There are 7 secrets to time management that can make you wealthy:

  1. Top 5 Organizational Priorities – The management team needs to agree on the top 5 most important things that must be done in the next 12 months and the next 90 days in order to achieve its goals. These goals need to be put in rank order and communicated regularly to everyone.
  2. Top 5 Personal Priorities – Each individual needs to identify their top 5 priorities as they relate to the organization’s top 5 priorities for the next 90 days and put them in rank order. The status of the priorities should be reported back on a weekly basis.
  3. Daily Task List – Each individual should have a daily task list that should be prioritized into to 2 categories: “must do” and “should do.”  The “must do” category should have no more than 5 items. To make sure the “must do” items can be realistically done that day, a person should estimate the time it will take to complete each task. Add up the time for all the “must do” tasks and all the time scheduled on the calendar. If that time exceeds 80% of the available day then it is unlikely that all of the task will be accomplished, since e-mail, phone calls and unscheduled interruptions must be taken into account in the schedule. The task list should also be compared to the individual’s “Top 5” personal priorities list to make sure that they are making steady progress and not wasting energy and time on the wrong activities.
  4. Create Weekly Goals – At the beginning of the week, decide what it is you want to accomplish by the end of the week. Determine what tasks will be necessary to complete these steps and delegate as necessary. Put an estimated time next to each task you will need to complete and block out time on your calendar to complete each task.
  5. Control Interruptions – While open door policies and responsiveness to customers are good qualities, they can backfire on you. Research tells us that every time you get interrupted, it takes 20 minutes to get back to full concentration. Allowing people to come in at any time, constantly looking at e-mail and BlackBerry, answering the phone whenever it rings, and other common habits cause executives to use 3 to 5 times more time to re-create their original levels of activity. You should create time windows where you are going to accept interruptions. Look at your schedule and identify good break points in your day in which to answer e-mail, return phone calls, and have unscheduled meetings. By getting into the habit of having discipline in these areas. you will create discipline in others. Now they will have to consolidate their questions and condense them into 5 minutes. If they need longer ask them to schedule a regular meeting.
  6. Touch it Once – Whether it is a hard copy document or e-mail, people are touching things 3 and 4 times before they do something about them. This is tremendously inefficient. The rule should be “do it”, “dump it,” “delegate it.” or “file it.” The goal at the end of the day should be to have no piles on your desk and nothing in your in box. If you accomplish this you will save a lot of time in the long run.
  7. Closed Time Management System – Whatever time management system you use, it must be closed. In other words, the same system must take into account your goals, time, tasks, and notes. If your keep these items in different systems you will likely have alignment problems, and important items will slip through the cracks.

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 [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

7 Tips To Boost Your Business in a Down Economy

Listening to the news and many CEOs, you would think the country is in a depression. At a minimum, these reports put listeners into a depression. While I’m willing to let a few individual businesses slide because of what they do (e.g. residential real estate in Miami), if your company is not growing the way you want it to, and/or margins are shrinking, the problem is inside your company. If you believe otherwise, you are deceiving yourself. In many cases, even in sectors where the group as a whole is doing poorly, you should still be able to do better than you’re doing. Just like Warren Buffet does in the stock market, you need to jump on opportunities when the market is down and be aggressive, not defensive.

Some great examples:

  • I recently met with the Managing Partner of a mid-sized accounting firm who confided in me that he just came off a record year and did not believe his company could sustain the pace. He was already seeing a slowdown. However, one of his competitors, who also is my client, is having another record organic growth year.
  • In the fitness and health industry, many companies see a drop off in memberships and attribute it to people spending less on “extras.”  I have a client whose year-over-year growth this summer was 49%, and gross margins have expanded as well.
  • Another client of mine has a business that services the airline industry. You would think they would be doomed. Yet based on their order backlog, they expect 33% growth this year.
  • Staffing industry executives tell me their industry is down 30%, and many are laying off staff and otherwise cutting costs “until things get better.” I know of one company in the same market that entered the staffing business and in the last 2 years. They are growing in the high double digits and opening offices in several new states, having identified and pursued a segment of the staffing industry that is booming.
  • The owner of an insurance company experienced a decrease in revenue last year and is expecting another decline this year.  Meanwhile, I work with a competitor that is tracking organic growth of over 50% this year.

The initial secret of success for the above four companies is the executive team’s attitude about how they see the marketplace. When the market gets tough, that’s when a management team needs to be aggressive. Top CEOs know that the best opportunities present themselves when competitors are weak. Right now, your competitors are weak. They are focusing on costs. This defensive approach can kill a business. It usually starts with staff reductions. If the company does not get lucky in short order, it becomes vulnerable in 4 ways:

  1. Many companies release quality talent. Research shows that 1 top performer produces the value of 3 average employees.
  2. They reduce staff in the areas that are most important to servicing clients, causing a decline in customer satisfaction. Be very careful when reducing positions that interface directly with your customers or affect customer satisfaction. This will have a dramatic affect on their loyalty to your company and will make them vulnerable to your competition.
  3. They stop investing significant time and money in strategic planning and research and development. This failure to innovate and take advantage of new market opportunities results in not seeing that customer needs have changed. For example, anything you can do to help reduce energy costs for business is a huge opportunity right now. If your competitor can add this on to their offering, you will lose your customer.
  4. They extend intervals for maintaining equipment, have people working too many hours, or implement some other internal policy changes that reduces product quality. This causes another opportunity for you to lose market share.

Okay, so what can your companies do right now to ensure 20% or more growth?

  1. Planning – Have and work with a written business plan.
  2. Core Customer – Identify who is your most profitable and loyal customer, and focus on those customers that will most likely buy your product or services in the quantity required for optimal profit.
  3. Differentiate – Make sure that your company has an uncommon offering that is targeted toward your core customer that your business will “own” and leverage.
  4. Invest in Your Sales Force – Get rid of your “C” players immediately. Invest whatever it takes to train and develop your “A” and “B” players to peak performance.
  5. Improve Hiring Process of Sales Force – In our experience most companies do a very poor job in hiring salespeople. The assessment tools and interviewing processes they use produce a poor success rate. This costs companies a lot of money on the top line.
  6. Find Top Talent – Evaluate every employee at least once a year. Get rid of your “C” players, and figure out which of your “B” players can be developed into “A” players.
  7. Marketing – Great advertising and public relations is what attracts potential business to your sales force.

In summary, it is important that CEOs realize that a down economy is an opportunity.  Also, while I agree that all companies should always manage their expenses prudently, you cannot cut your way to prosperity. While focusing on costs, many companies inadvertently destroy their top line, requiring them to put more pressure on the cost line, thus creating a spiral effect. I would rather step on the gas and grow the top line while managing my costs well and never have to worry about layoffs.

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 [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Achieving Sales Targets Is A Simple Math Exercise

I consistently see management frustrated that their sales force is not producing. They will tell me there are enough sales out there, but their people are not getting it done. When I ask where the problem is, they cannot tell me. The reason they can’t tell me is that they are not tracking and measuring the right numbers.

The key to understanding the success of a salesperson is to measure as far upstream in the sales process as possible. Too often we ask salespeople to provide a list of their prospects, with an estimate of the dollar value of the contract, and they keep giving us the same people and deals. In order to properly track your sales activity and to predict sales results, you need to track the following for every salesperson:

How many calls they make daily, and break those down to:

  • Messages Left
  • Returned Calls
  • Conversations
  • New Suspects

How many meetings they have, and break that down to:

  • New Prospects
  • Referral Partners/Centers of Influence
  • Suspects
  • 2nd and 3rd Visits
  • Presentations
  • Deals Closed

In the Pipeline

  • Number of suspects – Scheduled and/or had first meetings
  • Prospects – Prospects need what you have, and there is a compelling reason to take action; you have developed a relationship, and they see you differently from your competitors.
  • Qualified Prospects – They are completely qualified to do business with you, and you are qualified to do business with them.
  • Closeable – You are ready to propose and close the deal.

Close ratio

It all starts with phone calls and prospecting activity. If they do not do enough there, you are guaranteed to not have enough sales. In addition, with each individual, you can start predicting the amount of upfront activity it takes to achieve the desired sales targets, which will be different for each person. Some people are stronger closers and thus do not need as many deal opportunities. Some people are prospecting machines, but are not as good at closing. In the end, a certain amount of activity leads to a certain amount of productivity, and the math adds up.

We help clients achieve quick, efficient and profitable growth through the easy implementation of proven methods. Contact Howard Shore at [phone link=”true”] or shoreh@activategroupinc.com to find out how a business coach, our consultants and trainers can help you accelerate your success.