One Simple Key to a Strong and Healthy Visionary/Integrator Relationship

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Team Health

Are you running your business on EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System) but not yet getting the level of Traction® you had expected? Until your Visionary and Integrator™ start prioritizing their relationship, you won’t. Here’s one simple thing they can do to help your Leadership Team and your organization gain Traction®.

In my years as an EOS Implementer™, having helped more than 50 businesses Implement EOS® and gain Traction®, one of the top attributes I see in the most successful organizations I work with is a strong and healthy relationship between the Visionary and the Integrator™.

When the relationship is strong, the leadership team benefits and is able to cut through all the noise and solve their issues at the root quickly and efficiently. Their B.S. meter is well-tuned when the Visionary and the Integrator™ have a strong and healthy relationship.

When the relationship is weak, however, there is typically a lack of accountability, a damaging tolerance of people issues, and a lack of focus on building and implementing clearly defined and consistently followed processes to systemize the business.

Which of those best describes your organization?

If your Visionary/Integrator relationship is less than ideal, please make a renewed focus this quarter on the following key to a stronger and healthier relationship:

Hold a Regular, Calendared Same Page Meeting™ to Increase Traction®.

The Same Page Meeting™ is a special meeting designed to help the Visionary and Integrator™ in a company running on EOS® smoke out and resolve issues that weaken their relationship. Visionaries often feel that their ideas are not fully understood or being implemented. They often feel frustrated by slow progress, missed numbers or goals being off track and important things simply not getting done.

On the other hand, Integrators often feel like their Visionaries are too deep in the weeds – getting in their way as they attempt to run the day-to-day of the business, sending mixed signals to the troops as to whom they are directly accountable. At times Integrators feel unclear of the direction the Visionary wants to go, which leads to fits of starting and stopping and changing directions.

While the Visionary and Integrator™ may interact with each other on a near daily basis, if they are not taking time monthly, bi-weekly or even weekly to get out of the weeds, focus on their relationship, and look at things from the outside in, they will never effectively break this cycle.

Here is how I teach the Same Page Meeting™.

The most common cadence in the early years of the EOS® journey I have found to work well is bi-weekly for 2 hours. Ideally, you have to play around with the cadence until you find what works best for you. But as with your Level 10 Meeting™, what you must do is pick a day and time and block it on your calendar consistently.

Same Page Meeting™ Agenda:

1. Check In (Deeper check in than in the L-10 – this is a very important relationship and an important step): Ask each other questions like, “How are things going with you professionally? With family? Friendships? Personally, with time to focus on yourself? How balanced are you feeling?”

2. Build an Issues List on a whiteboard or flip chart:

a. Integrator asks Visionary: “Where do you feel frustrated/disconnected? Where do you feel like your vision is not being executed? Where do you feel that people don’t ‘get it’? What else has been keeping you up at night?” Use any other questions you can think of to pull out the issues.

b. Visionary asks Integrator: “Where do you feel unclear on my expectations? Where do you feel stuck? Where do you have people issues? Are you 100% certain we have clear expectations of each other? Are we communicating well? Do you feel like I am undermining your authority in any way?” Use any other questions you can think of to pull out the issues.

3. Build an Issues List from the responses to the above questions. Ask additional questions, if necessary, to get the issues out of your heads. Try to stay “on” the business and “on” the relationship more than “in” the business.

4. Prioritize and IDS™ the Issues until the list is clear.

5. Conclude: Recap any To-Do’s, close the loop with cascading messages and rate the meeting (1-10). You should both leave feeling clear and aligned. If not, talk about why and solve for that. If either of you feel the meeting was not a 9 or 10, ask what a 10 would have looked like and modify future meetings to increase value, always striving for a 10.

Being diligent and consistent with the Same Page Meeting™ will build trust, clarity and harmony at the helm of the organization and that alignment will naturally filter its way through the rest of the organization. In a family, if the parents are not on the same page and both pulling their weight, then the children suffer. Your business is no different. Increase Traction® by getting on, and staying on, the same page.

Next Steps

  • Visit our Resource Center to download a free chapter of Michael’s bestselling book RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur as well as books from the EOS® Library
  • Contact Michael to learn more about how the team at The TRACTION Hub can help you CLARIFY, SIMPLIFY and ACHIEVE your VISION
  • Visit the Process Optimizer™ website to learn more about the fastest and most efficient way to get your core processes documented, optimized and followed by everyone in your organization.

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SMART Direction is now The TRACTION Hub

Entrepreneurial Freedom, Team Health

As I continue to focus on growing my company and expanding my firm’s offerings, I am excited to announce a rebranding from SMART Direction to The TRACTION Hub.

While SMART Direction will continue to operate, it will move into a “parent company” role and The TRACTION Hub will be the primary operating entity. The focus of The TRACTION Hub will expand beyond Heidi and I directly working with individual companies to implement and run on EOS® to include the following additional services:

Process Optimizer

The Process Optimizer™ has been successfully helping companies strengthen their Process Component™ faster than any other available option since 2016. In an intensive, 2-Day workshop, a Certified Process Optimizer (CPO) can help your team define, optimize and map your Core Processes. Within a matter of weeks following the workshop, your CPO will deliver a first-draft version of your Core Processes Document so that you may begin immediately working on Followed by All. Learn more at ProcessOptimizer.biz

The TRACTION Hub Quarterly Collaborative Experience

Specifically designed for companies self-implementing EOS®, the Quarterly Collaborative Experience (QCE), will be a 1-day event open to one or more Leadership Team members of self-implementing companies where we will review the prior quarter, build a community issues list, do a deep dive of an EOS® tool, and IDS issues together. I will personally lead the QCE’s so that participants can get the value of access to one of the nation’s busiest Certified EOS® Implementer’s every 90 days, at a fraction of the cost.

At the end of the day it is all about delivering results on our purpose: To help entrepreneurs live their ideal life. Everything we do, we do with that end in mind. Thank you for your continued support. If there is anything we can do to be of assistance, please reach out.

Be Great Today!

Michael

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6 Steps to Achieving your Goals

Team Health

According to a recent article by Douglas Vermeeren in Reliable Plant magazine, only 20 percent of the population actually sets goals for themselves. Of that 20 percent, roughly 70 percent of those goals are not achieved. That equates to only 14% of the population setting and achieving goals. While I see better success rates from the business I work with, in the early stages of our work together, most entrepreneurial businesses are only accomplishing around 40% of their goals on time.

As I am coming out of annual planning season, having facilitated over 60 full day strategic sessions with more than 30 businesses over the past 3 months, I am finding a very common thread among those who are succeeding and those who are not – a lack of capacity. All of the systems and planning in the world will not work if you do not first create capacity.

6 Steps to Achieving your Goals

Step 1: Create Capacity

In their book The 4 Disciplines of Execution, authors McChesney, Covey and Huling cite what they call the “whirlwind”, it is all of the massive amounts of energy that are required to keep your operation going on a day-to-day basis. It is the #1 enemy of strategic execution.

The problem is that most entrepreneurs and their leadership teams spend nearly 100% of their capacity in the whirlwind. When you do that, you are not prioritizing your time to focus on the big-picture strategic goals that will grow your company and are choosing instead to prioritize staying in the weeds, doing work that could be delegated to lower cost per hour employees. As leaders and managers you must first focus on a skill we teach as part of EOS® called delegate and elevate. You must learn to delegate what drains you and focus on doing what fulfills you.

Step 2: Identify the Vital

Many things are important, but in business and in life, only a precious few are truly vital. You must understand and focus on the difference and prioritize accordingly.

Start by painting a 3-Year Picture™ of where you want the organization to be in 3 short years. Thinking about where you want your company to be in 3 years, where does it need to be in 1 year? In order to get where you need to be in 1 year, and to set yourself up to achieve your 3-Year Picture™ while at the same time focusing on your issues (I suggest doing a SWOT analysis and building an issues list), what are the 3 to 7 vital goals that must be accomplished in the next year? Write them down. At EOS®, we teach a tool called the Vision/Traction Organizer™ (V/TO) which you can download for free here.

Step 3: Set Quarterly Rocks

Following Steven Covey’s analogy from his book First Things First, as an EOS® Implementer I teach quarterly goals as Rocks. The 3 to 7 (less is more) most vital things that must get done in the next 90 days in order to reach your annual goals and/or remove the obstacles and barriers (Issues) that are standing in the way.

To set successful Rocks, they must be SMART Rocks.

Specific – It must be crystal clear to the entire team exactly what “done” looks like for each Rock

Measurable – You must be able to measure and define the finish line

Attainable – Everyone must be 100% committed that the Rock is attainable, even if a stretch, and the team must agree to hold each other accountable for getting the Rocks done

Relevant – The Rocks must be relevant to the Annual Goals or to removing an obstacle or barrier. This ensures alignment to the Vital Goals.

Timely – The current quarter must be the right time to focus on the specific Rocks

Step 4: Set Milestones

During the quarter, on your way to accomplishing your Rock, define what “on track to win” looks like. Think about the few major hurdles you must cross to accomplish the Rock. Establish a timeline that includes SMART milestones with due dates and focus on one milestone at a time.

Think about it like golf. If you want to shoot par, you have to take it one hole at a time. In order to par the hole, most golf professionals will tell you to focus on 3 “milestones”: fairways hit, greens in regulation, and putts. If you hit the fairway off the tee, make the green in regulation, and get in the hole in no more than 2 putts, you will par the hole. That’s why if I’m playing golf and there are wagers on the line, I hit my 3-wood off the tee rather than my driver. I don’t focus on the entire hole, just hitting the fairway. My fairways hit goes up, which sets me up to more likely hit the green in regulation which increases my odds of finishing the hole in no more than 2 putts. It’s when I get greedy on the tee and start thinking about eagle on a par-5 and try to cut the woods and carry the pond that I snap-hook and end up taking a penalty along with the ridicule of the rest of my foursome.

Step 5: Create Accountability with a Meeting Pulse

Create a weekly cadence for a high-value, focused meeting of the leadership team. Report on measurables and Rocks and solve issues for anything that is not on track to be 100% done by the due date. This allows healthy teams to hold each other accountable and execute at a much higher level than teams who do not.

I teach my clients to hold what we call Level-10 Meetings. These meetings are on the same day and at the same time each week, start on time, end on time, and follow the same agenda. As my clients progress in running solid Level-10 Meetings, they find that on a scale of 1-10, the value of their time meeting together goes from an average of around a 4 or 5 to a consistent 9-10.

Step 6: Establish a Quarterly Rhythm

Every 90 days, before you set your new goals for the quarter, meet as a team offsite to avoid distractions and reflect on the prior quarter.

What did you accomplish? What did you do that helped you succeed? What didn’t get done? If you had it to do over again, what would you have done differently in order to be successful? Have you created the capacity to spend the necessary time focused on the vital things, or have you sacrificed the vital to spend your time buried in the whirlwind?

Parting Thoughts

Focus on the lessons learned and carry those lessons forward as you repeat the steps above. Focus on continual progress over perfection because growing a business is all about positive momentum. And don’t forget to celebrate your wins!

Next Steps

  • Visit our Resource Center to download a free chapter of Michael’s bestselling book RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur as well as books from the EOS® Library
  • Contact Michael to learn more about how the team at The TRACTION Hub can help you CLARIFY, SIMPLIFY and ACHIEVE your VISION

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Entrepreneurial Freedom

Entrepreneurial Freedom

IT STARTS WITH A DREAM

For most entrepreneurs, when we create our businesses we have a vision – a dream. Part of that dream often involves owning a business that allows us opportunities to do things in our personal lives that we have always wanted to do. A dream of freedom.

 

In comes reality

Then we start to grow. We hire more people. We add more systems. We move to a bigger location. We hire more people. We make more stuff. Complexity begins to creep in. Before we know it, we don’t own our business; it owns us.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way

I’ve been there. Twice. As I write about in my best-selling book RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur, the first time this happened to me was when I took over our family business in Virginia and grew it from $8 million to $18 million over a 10-year period.

The second time it happened was when I started my current manufacturing business. But this time, within two years of startup, I implemented a system called EOS®. EOS stands for the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. It is a simple, holistic system that helps entrepreneurs run a better business.

Two years after implementing EOS, we made the Inc 5000, and the following year, I was able to hand over the reigns of my business to my Leadership Team and assume the position of owner—not having to be involved in the day-to-day of the business.

With my newfound freedom, I have started another business, The TRACTION Hub. My team and I now coach other entrepreneurs and their Leadership Teams to do what I did: systemize their business, delegate the day-to-day decisions, and elevate to a place where they have time to pursue the dreams they had when they started their business.

 

Six Steps to Living a Life of Freedom

Strengthen the following Six Key Components™ of your business:

1 – Clarify and Simplify your Vision so that you can share it with everyone in the organization—but not just once. You have to repeat yourself over and over and over until they all can see it. Once they can clearly see where the organization is going, they can all help row in the same direction.

2 – Build an Accountability Chart that creates a clear structure with defined roles for each seat, including a Leadership Team that covers the major functions of your business and creates single-point accountability for each of those major functions. Fill the seats with people who share your values and have the necessary abilities to succeed in the role.

3 – Establish strong data and measurables that help give you a pulse on your business and a strong ability to predict. Make sure that everyone in your organization has at least one number that defines success for them in their role.

4 – Stop putting out fires and focusing on symptoms, – the pain points. Use those symptoms and the pain you are feeling to really examine the “why” so that you can dig down to the root cause of your issues and solve them there—so that they go away forever.

5 – Systemize your business. Define, optimize, and document your core processes. Then train to those core processes so that everyone is doing things YOUR way. If everybody is doing things their own way, you will be plagued by inconsistencies and stagnation.

6 – Establish quarterly goals and a strong Meeting Pulse™ so that your teams can meet regularly and hold each other accountable to those goals and measurables as well as take time to collaboratively solve the current issues that are holding you back.

With those six things done and in place, you can begin to let go of the vine…to delegate things that consume you to a capable and aligned team so that you can elevate into spending more time doing the things that fulfill you.

 

Real-World Results

This past week I had two specific examples of clients who are beginning to feel their lives shifting to one of freedom.

Jason is one of two brothers who own a large-format printing company they started from their garage in Phoenix and have grown into a significant business doing major work all across the country. We’ve been working together for 18 months. During his check-in, he told us that, for the first time in years, he has more time at home after work and is able to shut off his phone and enjoy uninterrupted time with his wife and children. That’s freedom.

Then there’s Chris, owner of one of the fastest growing HVAC companies in the country, based in Las Vegas with additional operations in Arizona and Southern California. We’ve been working together for just under one year. In 2016, they made the Inc 500. During his check-in he told us that, for the first time in 20 years, he actually had time to enjoy a personal life during the summer—when HVAC businesses in Las Vegas and Phoenix are operating at redline. That’s what freedom tastes like.

In both cases, these entrepreneurs acknowledged that the single-most important reason for the freedom they were experiencing was their decision to implement a foundational operating system in their business. A system that would help them clarify and simplify their vision, surround themselves with great people, and gain the Traction™ necessary to achieve that vision.

Do you own your business or does your business own you?

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Lao Tzu

 

Next Steps

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Scale Up Faster By Slowing Down

Uncategorized

When you drive your car, do you keep the engine redlined, ignore the warning lights on the dash, and turn up the radio so you don’t hear the noises coming from somewhere underneath? My hope is that you don’t. So why do so many entrepreneurs do exactly those things when driving their business and trying to scale up?

I may be dating myself, but for those of us who learned to drive a manual transmission, you know that in order to shift gears smoothly you have to ease off the throttle. If you have ever driven on icy, slick roads, you know that if you lose traction, you have to slow down to regain your grip.

Running a business is no different. I was recently facilitating an EOS® quarterly off-site with a leadership team of a growing business. They had just opened their second location and their big goal, or Core Target™ as we call it in the EOS® world, was to systematize the model and scale up to 20 locations by 2025. Their Visionary owner had been passionately driving toward that goal since we met.

But there was a problem. They were running into customer-service issues, having trouble hitting numbers, not communicating well, and struggling to define and document their Core Processes.

As we began to dig deeper into what the underlying issues truly were, to a person, the Leadership Team members all admitted to being stretched well beyond their capacity. To use the analogy above, they were all redlined and the Visionary owner still had her foot on the gas and the pedal to the floor. They needed to speak up and just say no to grow.

I was eventually able to push the team to the point of being 100% open and honest with the Visionary about the aggressive drive to the Core Target™ and how they were struggling to scale up while the engine for their growth sputtered and skipped as it needed a tune-up. After some very open discussions, the Visionary began to have a revelation.

We transitioned into a conversation about what it would look like to take a breath for the next 6-12 months, focus on fine-tuning the engine and letting growth happen organically, and then, only after the engine was rebuilt and ready, hitting the gas and going hard for the finish line.

With a fresh perspective from the Visionary and a much relieved and refocused Leadership Team, we refined their 3-Year Picture™ and 1-Year Plan, then set Rocks to focus on an alignment around solving their internal issues and tuning the business to scale up in years 2, 3, and beyond.

6 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Blow Your Engine

  1. Do we have the growth engine for our business well tuned and ready for the journey ahead?
  2. Do we have a clear structure in place, defining the flow of accountability to get us to the next level?
  3. Are all of the right people in the right seats?
  4. Does everyone in the organization share our Vision? Are we all 100% aligned?
  5. Are our Core Processes defined, optimized, documented and Followed by All?
  6. Do we have good data and does everyone in the organization have a number?

As we closed our session at the end of the day, the feedback was unanimous. Everyone, including the Visionary, felt more confident and aligned. Even though the pace of external growth may slow for a few quarters, the pace of internal growth will explode. And when the internal growth is strong, this team will be well poised to scale up to their 2025 goal and may even blow it out of the water a few years early.

Next Steps

  • Watch for Michael’s new book, RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur, available on Amazon later this year.
  • Scale Up Faster by Slowing Down: Learn more about The TRACTION Hub and EOS® Implementation here.
  • Download Free Chapters of books from the EOS® Library in The TRACTION Hub Resource Center by clicking here.

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Less But Better

Team Health

Are you spread too thin? Do you feel like you’re spinning your wheels? You may be a victim of the Paradox of Success.

It was Socrates who said, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” I remember as a child observing my parents, and as I reflect back on those days, a piece of me longs for the simplicity.

My father was a very successful entrepreneur. Born in 1927 and growing up dirt poor in Chicago following the Great Depression, my father went on to build multiple successful businesses, chair multiple boards and foundations, and was honored both with the High Point University baseball field carrying his name and being voted High Point, North Carolina’s 1987 Citizen of the Year. He was a great philanthropist and accomplished a great deal.

But every evening he would come home from work around 6:00 pm and watch the news. At 7:00, we would have dinner at the dining room table as a family…and talk. We traveled often. In the summertime after dinner, he and I would throw the baseball or football until dark, and in the winter months, we would watch TV as a family or just talk. He never stayed up late working after I went to bed. He never missed a game because he was too busy. Success did not require busyness in the 1970s and 80s—nor does it need to today.

I recently turned 46. He was 44 when I was born. In the passing of a generation, so much has changed. Our work follows us home because we are constantly connected. If we don’t make an effort, our family time is overrun by screens. Even on our weekends, we get lured into checking email. And with our family, we rarely, as Mr. Miyagi said in Karate Kid, “Look eye!”

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day…” Touché.

The Paradox of Success

In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown describes a “paradox of success.”

With success come opportunities and more options. But these options and opportunities often distract us and lure us away from what is truly vital in our life. Oh the temptations…I have heard their siren songs many times, and write about it in my upcoming book, RISE: The Reincarnation of an Entrepreneur. Our clarity begins to fade. We take on too much and find ourselves juggling too many things. No longer able to go a mile in one direction, we find ourselves fighting to go barely an inch in a million directions.

Ultimately, our success becomes the foundation of our failure.

Less but Better

Finding your way to a life based on the idea of less but better will yield three significant outcomes: more clarity, more control, and more joy.

More Clarity

One way to begin the process of shedding the things that have become distractions is to think about the handful of things in your life that are truly vital. For me, it is time with my wife, connection with my adult sons, travel, time for health and fitness, time for living my faith, and time for helping others. What are yours?

Once you know the answer, you can begin to make a list of all the things you pack into a day, a week, a month, and a year. Of the things on that list, which of them actually increase your capacity to spend time on what is vital and which things on the list detract from the same? Start small, but start. Begin the process of saying “no” and shedding the things that are taking away from your time to focus on what is vital.

When you do this, as Greg McKeown says, “Every day it becomes more clear than the day before how the essential things are so much more important than the next most important thing in line.”

More Control

As you continue to shed the distractions, you will find that fewer people have control over your time and your life, and instead, you become increasingly in control. If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else surely will.

More Joy

When you are able to focus with clarity on the handful of things that are vital in your life, you will find yourself more focused in the moment. Free from distraction, you will be able to live life more fully. It was the Dali Lama who wrote, “If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness.”

I think he is right.

Next Steps

Learn more about how The TRACTION Hub and Michael Erath can help you and your organization clarify, simplify, and achieve your vision. Schedule a call to see if EOS® and The TRACTION Hub are a good match for your organization.

Get a free copy of the ebook Decide!

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Just Say “No” to Achieve Growth

Uncategorized

Have you ever said yes to something and then regretted the commitment you made? If so, you’re normal. Saying no is difficult for two primary reasons, which I will share below. But being able to say no is essential in creating the capacity to say yes to, and to be successful at, what is truly important.

I’ve been working with a particular client in the large-format printing business for about 18 months now. The company’s owners started in their garage in 2004, and today have built the company into a successful $10+ million business with around 100 employees. But it wasn’t without some bumps along the way.

In the early days, they were taking every order that came their way. It was always about finding a way to get to yes—and in those early days, doing so was critical to their survival. By the time we started working together in January of 2016, the business had grown to about $8 million in revenue and 70 employees. They had invested in very expensive large-format printing equipment, CNC machines, and the like and were capable of taking on very large projects. But their ability to achieve growth had flatlined. And they were stuck.

One of the early issues we recognized that was holding them back and causing frustrations was that they were still saying yes to everything that came their way. It was a habit based on what allowed them to survive when they were a startup. When we started to look at the kind of work that was a good fit for the business as it stands today, they began to recognize that much of the work they were saying yes to included jobs that were too small to efficiently utilize their newer, higher capacity production model. What was a fit for them in startup mode was no longer a fit.

The end result was that by saying yes to the small projects they had survived on in the early days, but which now created inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and frustrations, they were essentially saying no to doing more of the kind of work that was a right fit for them in their current stage. When they began to say no to the smaller orders that didn’t fit, they created more capacity to go after the big jobs that did. They became more efficient, more profitable, and their growth rate accelerated 20% in our first year together.

Why Is “No” So Difficult?

There are two primary reasons that we find it difficult to say no. It requires deliberate courage and it creates awkwardness. In his book Essentialism, author Greg McKeown explains these two reasons why we struggle to just say no.

Deliberate Courage

We often say yes to things in an effort to avoid conflict, avoid disappointing others, or to give in to pressure. It takes a clear understanding of what is important and why in order to develop the clarity to know when to say no. With clarity and focus on the important things you will have to say no to by saying yes in the moment to something minor, the courage to say no to the trivial, or less than important, becomes easier to find.

Social Awkwardness

We have a natural tendency as humans to conform to what people expect of us. Psychologists refer to this as normative conformity, or “the conformity that occurs because of the desire to be liked or accepted” Deutsche and Gerrard (1955).

We all have the same 24 hours in a day, and it is up to us to determine how we choose to allocate them. Have you ever been invited to something by a group of peers and said yes, even though it forced you to give up something of more value that you needed to do? Have you been asked to do something by a boss or colleague even though you did not have the capacity to do it without dropping something else?

Saying no actually brings us physical and emotional discomfort in these situations. What we have to pause and remember before answering these requests is whether to politely say no, and regret it for a moment, or begrudgingly say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, or years.

Next Steps to Achieve Growth

I want to challenge you, before the end of the day today, to set aside 15 quiet minutes alone to think about all the important things you are not able to focus on because of the things to which you should have said no. Make a list of the three to seven things that are most important to you. The next time somebody asks you to do something, pause and ask yourself, “Will this harm my capacity to focus on the important few things?” If yes, then smile, and give them a polite, “No.”

To learn more about how The TRACTION Hub can help you clarify, simplify, and achieve your vision—whether for your business or for your personal life, contact us.

 

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Communication Problems Aren’t About Communication at All

Team Health

One of the most common phrases I hear when I talk with business leaders and managers about their biggest issues or frustrations with their organization is, “We have poor communication.” If you feel that way at times about your organization, you are far from alone.

But what if I told you that your communication problems aren’t communication problems at all?

Several months ago, I hired facilitation coach Dino Signore, Ph.D. to help me on my journey to mastery as a coach myself. In one of our sessions, the topic of poor communication in organizations came up.

To better understand why groups often complain of poor communication, it is important to first understand why groups form in the first place. If you are part of a group or team at work, why does your group exist?

Groups or teams typically form in order to solve problems. For teams to solve problems, information must flow well within the group. Information flows as a result of a process. When that process is clear and followed by all, information flows well and the group solves problems effectively. When that process is not clear, or not followed by all, information does not flow well and the group does not solve problems effectively.

You Don’t Have Communication Problems; You Have an Information Flow Problem

Poor communication is a symptom of a deeper issue, not the real issue. If you feel like you have poor communication at times, look into the process by which information flows through your organization.

Meeting Pulse

Do you have the right meeting pulse? Are you meeting too infrequently and not staying on the same page and aligned? Are you meeting too much and wasting time, causing people to disengage from the meetings? Find the right cadence to stay connected and on the same page.

I teach my clients the EOS®  meeting pulse: a weekly Level-10 meeting that is on the same day, at the same time, follows the same agenda, starts on time and ends on time. Beyond that, there are three all-day quarterly planning sessions and a two-day annual planning retreat once a year.

Meeting Dysfunction                                              

Are your meetings highly functional? Do you smoke out and solve issues well so that they don’t keep recurring? Do you cascade messages from your meetings out to the rest of the organization as necessary, so everyone remains aligned and clear? How would you rate the value and effectiveness of your meetings on a scale from 1 to 10?

Most of the teams I work with say that their meetings are around a 4 before we start working together. As I help them develop a better process and teach them to have meetings that consistently rate 9s and 10s, I ask them a few basic questions about the following behaviors that can damage the quality of the meetings:

1 – Who interrupts?

2 – Who talks forever?

3 – Who talks first?

4 – Who talks last?

5 – Who does not talk?

Asking these questions helps to smoke out some of the behaviors that negatively affect meetings so that team members can become more aware and modify behaviors. The next time you are in a meeting, pay attention to the five questions above and see if you can detect the behaviors that are damaging your meetings.

With a solid meeting pulse and a clear understanding of the behaviors that negatively affect your meetings, you can begin to focus on the process by which information flows—both in the meetings and in between teams outside of the meetings.

Next Steps

  • Curious about learning more? Schedule a call to see if EOS® and SMART-Direction are a good match for your organization.
  • To get a free copy of the ebook Decide!  just fill out the form and write “Decide!” in the message area and we will email it to you in PDF format.

 

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Ferns Don’t Grow in the Desert

Team Health

Have you ever worked somewhere that just didn’t feel right for you? Maybe you’re working there now. Have you worked with people who just didn’t seem like a good fit for the organization? You, just like everyone else, were created to thrive in a certain ecosystem. At a recent Quarterly meeting of EOS Implementers, Sue Hawkes shared the following insight on this topic: “Just as ferns don’t grow in the desert, cacti don’t grow in the rainforest.” Core values and culture are like ecosystems. The world is full of many. And in their own ways, all are good for certain inhabitants.

There are two key components you must discover about yourself in order to find your ideal ecosystem.

First, you must understand what it really is that you value at your core. Just like an organization needs well-defined core values, so do you as a person. These personal core values are values that will not change over time and values that you will not sacrifice for easy gain.

Second, you must discover your Unique Ability®. Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, says it like this, “At the heart of who you are lies the secret to your greatest success, best quality of life and biggest contribution to the world. This is your Unique Ability—a hard-wired set of natural talents that you’re passionate about doing in every area of life. It’s you at your best.”

STEP 1: Discover Your Personal Core Values

Begin by thinking about some of your greatest experiences in life. Make a list of what was going on and what values you were honoring that made the experience so great. Write down those values.

Next, think of times when you have been really frustrated, angry, ashamed, etc. What were you feeling? Can you turn those feelings around and see the values that were being denied? Add those to your list.

Finally, think about your passions. What makes you the happiest or most content? What are the values that are being satisfied in those situations? Add those values as well.

Now take your list and start grouping the words together by themes. You should begin to see a pattern or trend emerge. Once you have compartmentalized those values, you can begin to look for keywords or phrases that sum up each of your personal core values.

When that work is done, test yourself: Are you really living out these values? Do they really define a significant and joyful life for you? Once you have been able to get to a yes, then you just need to find the right organization that has similar values in order to find a great fit. One word of caution: Beware of aspirational values. Those are the values that you would like to hold, but if you are totally honest with yourself, you do not. Perhaps you can modify your behaviors out of awareness, but that can be a slippery slope.

STEP 2: Discover your Unique Ability

Unique Ability®  is a concept created by Dan Sullivan and is a registered trademark of The Strategic Coach, Inc. In its simplest form, it is best described as the intersection between those things about which you are passionate and those things at which you are most talented.

One simple exercise to take a step toward understanding your Unique Ability® is to take a piece of paper, turn it sideways, and draw two large circles side by side so that they overlap by about one-third. In the circle on the left, but not in the overlapping space, write down things that you are passionate about. In the circle on the right, but again not in the overlapping space, write down things at which you are talented.

Step back and look at the big picture. What commonalities exist between some of your passions and some of your talents? Group those together in the overlapping space. Finding a meaningful career or building a meaningful business based on the intersection between your passions and your talents will lead to a rewarding life of significance.

Now that you have defined your core values and Unique Ability®, what is the best ecosystem in which you can thrive? Be patient; if you are not already there—and I hope that you are—it is out there. Leverage your networks to seek out opportunities where you can grow and flourish. It will be worth it. You are the best asset that you have.

 

Next Steps

  • Take a short test to see how your organization is doing. Click here to take a brief organizational check-up that will tell you how you’re doing in these six key components.
  • Learning more. Schedule a call to see if EOS® and SMART-Direction are a good match for your organization.
  • Get a free copy of the ebook Decide! Just fill out the form and write “Decide!” in the message area, and we will email it to you in PDF format.

 

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Faithful Are the Wounds of a Friend

Team Health

A Three-Step Process to Better Issues Solving

One of the most common frustrations I hear from the entrepreneurs and business leaders I talk to and work with is that they keep struggling with the same issues over and over. No matter how much time they spend talking about and meeting to solve their issues, the same ones just keep coming back up.

At its core, I believe the problem lies in something that many of us find incredibly difficult: openly and honestly addressing the true root causes of the issues. When we fail to hit the nerve when addressing issues, we find ourselves stuck talking about symptoms of deeper issues, and we rarely, if ever, solve our issues at the root. Failure to “kill it at the root” means it will keep coming back.

That leads me to the title of this blog. Some of you may recognize it as the first part of Proverbs 27:6, which says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

Let’s look first to the latter and put this in the context of a team. If somebody is giving undue praise, or avoiding bringing up something that is holding the team back because they don’t want to upset anybody, they are acting as an enemy to the team. Their unwillingness to get their thoughts or concerns out of their head is actually holding the team back and hurting the overall team’s health. In their mind, many people often justify this as being nice or not wanting to upset anybody.

Now to the statement, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” When we really care about something or someone, we must be willing to be completely open and honest about the root causes of our issues, even if it may be difficult for someone on the team to hear. When we do, we are acting as a friend to the team. We are actually saying that we care enough about the person and the team to accept the temporary punishment or discomfort that may come back on us for being open and honest with them. Of course, there are productive ways to do this, but to really get to a high level of team health and successful issues solving, team members must be willing to accept that sometimes there will be short-term discomfort when they are open and honest. Ultimately, it is all about doing what is best for the greater good of the team.

So think about that the next time you are preparing for a meeting. Can you create an open and honest issues list? Can you get the issues out of your head and written down on a piece of paper to take into the meeting? As a team, can you create an issues list on a flip chart or white board during your meetings so that all of the issues are out of your heads and on display for everybody to see? There is great therapy in just getting them out of your head.

Three Steps to Better Issues Solving

As a Certified EOS® Implementer, the process I teach teams for solving issues efficiently and permanently can be summarized by with three letters: I-D-S. The letters stand for the three steps of the process: Identify, Discuss, and Solve.

  1. Identify: Start with your issues list on display, and ask the team to quickly state the three biggest issues on the list. (In the event that you run out of time, you always want to solve the biggest issues first.) Once the top three are identified, just start with number one. The first step is for the person who brought that issue to the list to restate it in the shortest sentence possible, really trying to hit the nerve of the issue. When that is done, go around the group and be sure that everybody agrees the stated issue is really getting to the root and that there is nothing deeper. Doing this well will help you dig down to root causes and stop just putting bandages on symptoms.
  1. Discuss: This is the step where each person gets to say their peace or state their opinions about the issue—but only once—because more than once and you’re “politicking.” It is in these endless political debates about issues where most teams get stuck wasting countless hours accomplishing nothing. Strive to get in and out of this step efficiently, and don’t go back.
  1. Solve: If you really got to the root cause in step one, and if everybody said what really needed to be said in step two, then the solutions often become obvious and are almost always already in the room. During this step, it is critical that you stay focused on solutions and don’t drift back into “discuss.” Ask yourselves what action items can be carried out in the next one to two weeks that can bring about a solution to the issue. As you create this list of action items, put them on a to-do list. Be sure that somebody on the team owns each to do, and follow up in the next week’s meeting to be sure the to dos are getting to done.

Confronting the root issues like this takes courage and it takes being a true friend to the team and to the greater good of the organization. Creating a strong issues list is the first step to solving issues so that they go away forever. Mastering this process takes time and practice, but if you stay focused on following this simple three-step process to issues solving, you will begin to find that you are able to solve issues in a way that makes them go away forever.

Next Steps

  • Take a short test to see how your organization is doing. Click here to take a brief organizational check-up that will tell you how you’re doing in these six key components.
  • Learning more. Schedule a call to see if EOS® and SMART-Direction are a good match for your organization.
  • Get a free copy of the ebook Decide! Just fill out the form and write “Decide!” in the message area, and we will email it to you in PDF format.

 

LIKE WHAT YOU READ? SUBSCRIBE AND NEVER MISS ANOTHER ARTICLE.

 

Read More →