Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The Qualities of a Good Manager: How to Make Your Managers Easier to Lead

African-American businesswoman standing with arms crossed while others walk by.

A while back, I had the chance to talk with one of my clients in California, the COO of a Fortune 500 firm who has engaged me in the past to coach several of his senior leaders. I was working with a handful of divisional CEOs who were each running a $200-600 million enterprise. During our talk, the COO said something that really struck home for me, and it gave me a super clear idea of what he wanted me to do for him. He said, “John, these are absolutely fantastic guys, but they can be tough to manage. Please help me make them easier to manage.”

That statement right there gets right down to the heart of why I am typically called in to coach someone. The executives I coach are always bright, talented, bold, creative, entrepreneurial, and driven: all of which are truly valuable traits. However, when taken to the extreme, these same traits can make these sorts of folks very hard to manage and direct. What’s more, if they cannot learn how to control their behavior and fit more comfortably into a senior role, then the very things that made them successful up to this point in their career can actually lead to their demise.

Therefore, in order to educate and encourage your managers to actually be more manageable themselves, share with them this advice that I have heard numerous leaders tell their key managers throughout my years of real life experience. Listening to these leaders has led me to make this list of the qualities of a good manager, and if your managers can apply these qualities to their own business ventures, then you will have a much easier time leading them and working with them to achieve outstanding business results.

The Qualities of a Good Manager

  1. Good managers know and run their businesses incredibly well. It is the responsibility of a good manager to make their numbers and keep their customers happy. If you cannot successfully run the business you are in charge of, then in the end, nothing else matters. Therefore, the number one priority for good managers is always to run a smooth, flawless operation that has a solid strategy and strongly contributes to the corporation.
  2. Good managers don’t do surprises. Good managers never surprise their leaders because they know that their leaders expect them to report major concerns right away rather than try to handle them until the problems exceed their abilities. Leaders want their managers to be capable of handling most of their business issues on their own, but they also want their managers to be straightforward with them and keep them informed. Chief officers cannot help their managers if they do not know what is going on, and when managers try to hide bad news, their deception will only hurt the company more in the end. Therefore, good managers demonstrate courageous communication and 100% honesty. Their leaders have to be able to trust them completely, so good managers tell their leaders everything that is important: the good and the bad.
  3. Good managers are able give and take frank feedback. Chief officers and their managers can be friends and should feel a great deal of respect for each other, but in order to do business well, they must also be able to exchange direct feedback. Leaders may even have to give uncomfortable feedback or make hard decisions that negatively affect the business efforts of their managers, but a good manager will not take this type of development personally. Instead, they will understand that it is what is best for the entire company and work hard to deal with it effectively. Conversely, good managers are also prepared to respectfully correct their leaders when their leaders may have made a mistake or overlooked something. Good managers can deliver tough news to their leaders without fear of retribution because frank feedback is a two-way street.
  4. Good managers surround themselves with the best people they can possibly find. Not only is this a solid strategy for business success, but it is also a critical part of business survival. Good managers know that they endanger the entire company if they believe that they are the smartest people in their divisions and the only ones who can do something in order for it to be done right. Therefore, good managers establish a deep bench of extremely talented people in order to help them succeed and ensure a smooth succession should it be necessary for someone else to step into their role. Always having to be the hero is not an effective, lasting tactic and will eventually lead to burnout, stress, and failure. Therefore, good managers humble themselves by working with others and considering them the best as well.
  5. Good managers know that a high IQ is not enough: a high EQ is also essential. When managers build a team of superstars, they have to be absolutely superb at motivating and supporting their team. Therefore, they never attempt leadership through intimidation, bullying, threats, or pressure because they know that this type of leadership will never win in the long run. Through bad leadership, managers might be able to make their numbers and grind out profit for a while, but in time, they will lose the support and trust of their employees. It is clear that people never give their best when they feel like they are getting beat up. Therefore, good managers build a world-class team and then coach, direct, and motive them in order to secure world-class performances. They take care of their team, and then they reap the many benefits this more considerate approach to leadership yields.
  6. Good managers are able to make tough decisions in a timely manner. As a business grows, so do the size of the decisions that need to be made. So, in order to adjust, good managers get a good team behind them that will be brutally honest. Good managers then ask their team for lots of help and use their team’s suggestions to make the best decision possible with the information at hand. Good managers know not to slow down the process with indecision. Instead, they work with others to reach their goals by being fast, flat, and flexible.
  7. Good managers think and act strategically. Firefighting your problems, even if you are great at it, is not the way to run a business. In contrast, good managers put out the fires and keep them out so that they have the time to think long-term. Good managers have a good handle on where they and their business should be in three to five years: they are not simply struggling to make budget this quarter.

The Qualities of a Good List

As you can see, good managers possess a lot of great qualities, and these qualities make them the types of managers that their leaders find very easy to lead. I have compiled this list from the statements that I have heard repeatedly from the top executives that I work with, but as I am sure that I have missed a few, please feel free to add to my list in the comments below, and use whatever ideas you found helpful from this blog to make your managers easier to lead!

Running an Effective Strategic Planning Retreat

shutterstock_18116173A very close friend called today to ask if I could facilitate an upcoming strategic planning retreat for his company, and unfortunately, the days he needed were already booked. So, I offered to send him a quick overview of what I feel it takes to put together a successful strategic planning retreat, and this is the information I gave him.

How to Run a Successful Strategic Planning Retreat

  1. Establish a Specific Deliverable. The best place to start is at the end. Therefore, the first step to presenting a successful strategic planning retreat is to create a very specific description of exactly what you want the deliverable of the event to be. What would a perfect outcome look like? How will it be measured? If you can figure out specifically what you want the retreat to achieve, it is pretty easy to go backwards from the finish line and build a program to that will accomplish your goal successfully. So, always begin with the end in mind.
  1. Bring in an Outsider. Use an outside facilitator, someone with superb experience in running many, many similar retreats. There are two main reasons to use a facilitator: process and people. Any truly qualified facilitator will have a proven process they have used for years to effectively get teams to their desired destination. It really does not make too much of a difference what process they use, so long as it is intuitive, easy, and effective. The other main reason for a facilitator is people, or better said, egos. You need someone who is NOT from the organization that can step in and take control if things get off track: someone who is not afraid of the political ramifications of telling the boss to be quiet! An outside facilitator can perfectly play the part of the “velvet hammer” by shutting down tangents and pushing back on overbearing individuals.
  1. Define the Purpose of the Retreat. Well before the retreat begins, decide whether this will be a “strategic planning” retreat or just a “planning” retreat. In other words, are the people in attendance actually going to take part in setting the strategy, or are they simply there to figure out how to implement someone else’s already developed strategy? I have seen a lot of retreats go down in flames when the participants thought they were going to be able to impact and influence strategy only to find out that it had already been set in stone and their only role was developing a work plan. Therefore, you should decide and communicate beforehand what type of retreat you are having.
  2. Evaluate the Condition of Your Team. Is the team ready to have a high-level retreat? Do you have the level of trust and professional respect necessary to have the sort of open, honest, and robust discussion that is critical for developing a truly effective strategic plan? If people do not feel extremely comfortable sharing opposing opinions, fighting for unpopular positions, and challenging the status quo, then you will never be able to have the intellectually rigorous debate needed to arrive at a superior strategic plan.
  3. Prepare Thoroughly. Try to get as much done before the retreat as possible. Typically, I do three key things a few weeks before the retreat.
    •  I deploy an internet-based “Organizational Effectiveness Audit” to every person who will be involved in the retreat. This is a brief, confidential survey to gauge the level of trust, openness, and respect within the team. If the scores from this audit are not high enough, I will recommend replacing the first day of the retreat with a High Performance Teams workshop in order to get the group ready for the rest of the work.
    •  I ask everyone to carefully review the current vision, mission, and values of the company (if they have them) and to come prepared with any comments and suggestions, but ONLY if they feel very strongly that changes need to be made. Opening up the vision, mission and values to general discussion is usually opening up a can of worms that you’ll never get shut again. The way I look at it, the vision, mission, and values of a company are sort of like a tattoo: they are supposed to be pretty permanent and are very painful to change, so you need to be completely certain you are not happy with what you have before you undergo the effort of working on it.
    •  I ask people to do a fair amount of the SWOT work before they arrive. I send them a survey with some key questions about Internal Strengths, Internal Weaknesses, External Opportunities, and External Threats, and ask them to fill in the answers. The key here is that the answers MUST be in the form of a statement of “fact”: things they either know or don’t know. No guessing, no estimating, and no assumptions: we need to deal with facts. And when we come to a place where we don’t have the facts, then we now know that we need to go find them! Here is a sample of the questions I typically ask on the survey:
      • What do you see as the top three internal strengths of the organization right now?
      • What do you see as the top three internal weaknesses of the organization right now?
      • What do you see as the top three external opportunities for the organization right now?
      • What do you see as the top three external threats to the organization right now?
      • What do you think are the top three most important areas of focus over the next three years?
      • If you were the CEO, what top three things you would change or fix immediately?
      • What is your single biggest concern about the business right now?
      • What are the top three things that must be accomplished in this meeting?

I then take all of the answers from the survey and combine them into an executive overview of the most common answers so that people can get a general feel for what the entire group is thinking.

  1. Answer SWOT Questions in Teams. Once we get to the retreat, it should only require a very brief discussion to determine if the vision, mission, and values are still relevant and on target. If not, I try to work fast to get a consensus on the appropriate changes. With everyone on board for the vision, mission, and values, then the next step is to break people up into groups to review the executive report on the answers to the SWOT analysis survey. I like to try to keep the teams small enough so that no one can hide and not participate: groups of four to eight people are just about right. I also want each team to have representatives from different parts of the organization, not all from the same department or managerial level – diversity is a key here. I will typically give them about two hours to work in their groups, and their task is to review the report and work together as a team to answer the exact same questions again, but this time, to get everyone to agree on what their team comes up with for their answers.
  2. Determine the Most Important Issues to Address. I then ask each of the small teams to present their answers to the questions, and I work as the facilitator to combine all of the answers from the various teams into one clear overview that everyone agrees represents a solid SWOT analysis of their company. I might not be able to narrow the list of answers down to just three in each category, but if I can get it down to four or five answers that everybody in the room agrees with, then we now have something very focused from which to work.

*** Side Note: I do not let the teams talk to each other once they start the SWOT process. I want them to work completely independently because I am interested in seeing how well the different teams are correlated on what they feel are the best strategies. If all of the teams come back and say pretty much the same things, then I am highly confident that a bunch of smart people looked at a lot of data and came to a general consensus on the appropriate course of action, and they did not do so through “groupthink” because the teams did not cross-pollinate! If all the teams come back and present wildly different strategies, then I know I have a problem. And if the teams come back with about an 80% overlap? Well, then that is where the facilitator earns their fee by working to mesh and mold the various ideas into a single, coherent, and agreed-upon strategy.

  1. Prioritize the Important Issues. Once I feel comfortable that we have pretty much exhausted the SWOT analysis and created some good thoughtful answers to each of the above questions, then I will ask the teams to review the new list of agreed-upon SWOT answers and prioritize these answers into strategic objectives. What, specifically, should they do with the information they now have in front of them; what actions should they take; and how will they prioritize their actions for time and resource allocation? I usually ask them to designate the issues as such:
    • An “A” priority is one that requires immediate attention. It is a critical issue and demands action.
    • “B” issues are important but require no action right now. They might need action in a month or two, or we might have to address some “A” issues before we can take any action on one of the “B” issues.
    • The “C” issues are important, but there is nothing we can specifically do to impact them. These might be economic, political, or regulatory issues that we need to watch carefully and possibly respond to, but there is nothing per-se that the organization can do to influence or control these particular factors.
  1. Select Your Main Strategic Objectives. Again, I typically give the teams about two hours to mold all of the SWOT information into a prioritized list of strategic objectives. I want them to think at a very high level here about the big picture issues: the most important things that will drive the success of the organization over the next twelve to thirty-six months. Basically, all strategy just comes down to making choices about how to allocate precious resources: time, money, and people. By looking at the SWOT analysis and figuring out what is most important, the company can understand how the strategy should take shape and what the most important things are for them to focus on in the near term in order to best prepare for the long term. The goal is to take all this information and boil it down to three or four key strategic objectives – a handful of mission critical areas for the organization to confront.

*** Side Note: you will notice that I said “three or four key strategic objectives.” Okay, I admit: maybe you could stretch it to five, maybe even six, but you cannot have twenty-three strategic objectives! Not even fifteen, twelve or ten. The key to effective strategy is FOCUS. You must get it down to the few truly critical priorities and then, most importantly, figure out what to say “NO” to.

  1. Make Plans for Implementation. In most one-day retreats, this is about as far as you can get, with possibly a little discussion about the tactical implementation of the strategies. This leads me to two VERY important issues. The first is that the diverse teams we created to develop the strategies are not good for deciding on tactical implementation issues. The tactical implementation issues should be developed by the people who will be held responsible for actually doing the implementation. I try to let the people who do the work every day figure out the best way to do it in the future. Yes, we give them some ideas and input, but ultimately, they need to decide on the best way forward for the projects on which they have the most expertise. The second key issue is that a strategic plan is NOT complete until you have also developed a “Strategic Execution Plan.” So, at this point, I usually complete the retreat and send the project teams off to work on their specific implementation plans.
  1. Finalize Your Strategic, Tactical, and Execution Plans. Perhaps several weeks later, after a number of rounds of sharing and editing the strategic, tactical, and execution plan rough drafts, the entire planning team gets back together to look at the final document. Here is where they hash out the last details and work to create a document that everyone feels good about and to which everyone is willing to commit.

What You Can Accomplish with a Strategic Planning Retreat

At this point, the plan is finally complete, and here is what you have accomplished:

  • You have given everyone a say in the outcome: a chance to fully participate in crafting the key strategies that will move the organization forward.
  • You have endured a thorough and exhaustive process to ensure that the best possible ideas and suggestions went into the plan and that the plan did not get hijacked in a groupthink session.
  • You have prioritized the key strategies to allow for the proper allocation of resources, people, funds, and time by figuring out what to focus on and when you must say “no.”
  • The people who will be responsible for actually implementing the plan have played an integral part in developing the specific tactical plan for effectively executing the strategic plan.
  • You have gained consensus and commitment to accountability in a very public and powerful way.

Now comes the REALLY hard work: the 100% disciplined execution of the plan for the next ten months or so before it is time to start the process all over again! Good luck running your next strategic planning retreat!


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Delivering Business Excellence

11127664_10152747300417466_255902195476459028_nI recently stayed in the best Best Western in the world. I was in Hamilton Canada to give several speeches and stayed at The Best Western Premier C Hotel by Carmen’s and was absolutely delighted. As someone who spends more than 200 nights a year in hotels, I’m a very seasoned and somewhat cynical guest, to me the hotel and restaurant business just does not seem that complicated, yet so few of them seem to understand that. Here is all I really want…

Hotel: easy check-in, professional and friendly staff, clean rooms, free high-speed Wi-Fi, double pane glass so my room is quiet, and a uber-comfy bed.

Restaurant: good food, very good service, reasonable prices, exceedingly clean, quiet with a relaxed ambience.

You deliver these things and I will love you forever, and the folks at the Best Western Premier C absolutely nailed them. So here’s my question for you…

What are the handful of things that you must do consistently do to delight, enthrall, surprise and satisfy your most important customers?

Let me break that down a little bit…

Handful of things: the three, four or five Moments Of Truth that make or break your relationship with the customer. Every business has a few limited things they absolutely MUST do flawlessly to create loyal, engaged, and satisfied customers. What are they in your business?

*By the way, there are external Moments Of Truth that you must deliver your customers, but there are also internal Moments Of Truth that your staff needs to deliver to each other… in order to be able to deliver the external Moments Of Truth to your customers.

Consistently: it does no good if you only deliver the Moments Of Truth every now and then, it must be every single time for every single key customer. This is why I teach at all of my classes that: if you want repeatable success, you must have process. You have to have the systems, checklists, processes, procedures AND training to ensure that your employees know exactly how to deliver the Moments Of Truth flawlessly.

Delight, enthrall, surprised and satisfy: the goal here is to deliver what is most important to your customer in a unique and highly valued way. However, the only person who really knows what this entails… is the customer. That’s why one of my very favorite quotes is:

Whoever owns the voice of the customer, owns the marketplace.

Most important customers: not all customers are created equal. If you’re going to spend the time, energy and effort to deliver the Moments Of Truth flawlessly, you want to try to do this for all of your customers, but it is essential that you do it for your most important target customers. These are the customers that value what you deliver, are willing to pay for it, are easy to deal with and have the ability to tell lots and lots of people about how great you and your business are.

While in Hamilton I interacted with the staff from the Best Western Premier C Hotel by Carmen’s, the Baci Ristorante and the Hamilton Convention Center by Carmen’s and was truly delighted, enthralled, surprised and satisfied in all of my interactions. From front desk staff, to the servers, to the housekeeping crew… everyone was professional, extremely customer focused and had a great positive attitude. Can you say the same about everyone that works for you?

As someone who teaches business excellence for a living, it was a joy to see an organization that clearly understood how to deliver exceptional service and a wonderful guest experience. Here’s the kicker, when I talked to the manager he made it clear that the main reason for their success was to cut out all the clutter and just focus on the fundamentals. When I stepped off the elevator on the third floor to go to my room I was greeted by a giant quote painted on the wall (which just so happens to also be on the back of my business card!) that summarized their philosophy:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Mastering the Art of Workplace Relationships

This is a guest blog from my friend Jesse Ferrell, a very dynamic and thoughtful professional coach and speaker. I hope you find his article of value!

We have discovered 3 easy ways to build great and sustainable relationships in the workplace.  Our research has uncovered a very simple solution to common reasons people are unhappy on their jobs and ultimately quit and find other places to work.  An employee engagement company out of Salt Lake City confirmed that fully 85% of people will leave their job because of poor on-the-job relationships and lack of engagement.  They site unfriendly bosses, frustrated and passive aggressive co-workers leading to a caustic unproductive environment manifesting into a negative unfulfilled company culture.

When we work with companies in an effort to help them improve the cohesiveness of their staff and teams, plus the quality of their company culture, the most common challenge we find as mentioned above is maintaining respectful and proper communications.  Companies of all sizes often experience major communication breakdowns between management and staff, from department to department and among the staff themselves.  As communications breakdown, the professional relationships are imperative in cultivating a successful workplace culture.

MASTERING THE ART OF WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS IN 3 SIMPLE – NOT EASY STEPS

There are 3 simple not easy steps you can adopt in order to take your work environment from good to great.  You may help turnaround a company culture that is negative and divisive in nature to a thriving positive energetic work culture. I highlight them below:

  1. Help your team practice extreme self-knowledge through a good personality assessment like the Color Code
  2. Safe place to tell the truth – this offering will be environment clearing
  3. Diversity and inclusion innovation – use the full range of your company’s talents, backgrounds and perspectives

In almost every case where there is a communication and relationship breakdown, a silo exists.  People tend to work in silos and disregard the value of teamwork.  They forget that not one of a company’s departments is able to stand alone without the support and superior communication from other departments.  Does this sound familiar?  Is this challenge rushing through the veins of a company that you either work with or have worked for in the past?  The top three problem areas that consistently haunt most companies are:

  1. The absence of epic communication (internal and external)
  2. Relationship (understanding self and understanding others)
  3. Value misconceptions of others

Are any or all of these challenges present in your company?  Have you spent sleepless nights stuck in hours of insomnia as you rack your brain thinking about how to resolve and improve your problem areas?

There are times when a company struggles with understanding why their teams don’t communicate effectively and is in need of raising their relationship equity.  So many companies are stuck and unsure of how to foster a company culture that will allow them to retain their top talent, to ensure the fit of diverse individuals, and to realize true sustainable value for those individuals and the organization.

SIMPLE STEP 1 – EXTREME SELF KNOWLEDGE

In highlighting the first of our 3 simple – not easy steps we offer the extreme self-knowledge step. We highly recommend the enrollment of the Color Code personality assessment, as we know that bringing about clarity of one’s own character is a crucial starting point and offers the roadmap to practicing how to use extreme self-knowledge.

As the inventor of the Color Code, Dr. Taylor Harman Ph.D. says, “When you get yourself…you get others”!  This quote is true because when you learn the 4 color distinctions (Red, Blue, White, Yellow) of what motivates your behavior. Why you do what you do, you are simultaneously learning the motives of others and you will be able to speak their language during the communication process.

The best form of internal and external customer care experiences, as well as communication development, starts with self! This is the gateway to improving the communication process and offers sustainability of relationship development. The Color Code personality profile will help you and your teams understand why they do what they do. This strategy will allow for creating better and sustainable relationships, while helping your team learn to speak the language of others.  Mastering the art of relationships is well on its way during this stage.

This will put you on track for creating epic communication.  When an organization becomes aware that epic communication is missing from their environment and chooses to hold themselves accountable for discovering how to develop the basics of creating epic communication, it becomes a positive game changer.  Action must immediately follow the awareness and discovery phases.  The start of this discovery phase begins with asking prudent questions and using the best active listening skills as a precursor to initiate this process.  The other key components of epic communication are nestled in the following sections on Color Code personality assessments and innovating through diversity and inclusion.

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The ultimate goal of mastering the art of workplace relationships lead to high-performing teams while creating a movement whereby your team gains the insight of how to co-create a winning culture. We know that implementing these concepts will raise the level of relationship equity and  leadership growth opportunity.  This is simple, but not easy as it will take discipline and dedication to learning your motives of why you do what you do through your four color distinctions.

 

SIMPLE STEP 2 – SAFE PLACE TO TELL THE TRUTH

You may be amazed by how many companies don’t realize that many of their environments are not encouraging a safe place to tell the truth because of the fear of judgment, shame or blame and feeling like they don’t fit in.  The best way to create a major shift in this area is by taking a top down approach.

 

Insure that senior management fosters a safe place to tell the truth with their direct reports.  Insist that those same direct reports create the exact same environment within the staffs that report to them.  Establish monthly check ups from the neck up where you share the best discoveries within the company as a result of exercising the “safe place to tell the truth” campaign.

Be willing to be vulnerable enough to share the breakdowns and problem areas that are not working.  Lastly, be willing to ask for help from colleagues, mentors, board of directors, bosses and co-workers. This final piece is the part that is not easy for most, because so many people do not like asking for help.  However, this is where the best growth happens when you offer faithful well-intentioned help from a diverse community within the workplace.

SIMPLE STEP 3 – INNOVATE THROUGH DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION

Setting a strategy to innovate through diversity may be the most exciting piece to the equation of mastering the art of workplace relationships!  Choose to hire and maintain top talent and give them the room to grow.  You may ask yourself what is the best way to attract and retain our top talent to insure the fit of diverse individuals in your company?  The answer is simple, innovate through including those diverse individuals.  Capitalize on the strength of their differences!  Help them embrace the first two steps mentioned earlier, which are to promote the effort of practicing extreme self-knowledge and offer your diverse workforce a safe place to tell the truth.

The Salt Lake City based employee engagement company conducted expansive research gathering meaningful statistics and have proven that 70% of college graduates leave their first job within two years of starting it because they don’t feel the job is a goof fit for them.  85% of people fired last year were fired because of relationship problems at work.  Approximately 65% – 85% of mergers and acquisitions fail to deliver the desired results for which the companies come together, largely because of company culture clashes that cause top talent to exit the organization or lose focus and energy.

Being able to attract and retain top talent brings bottom line benefits to any workplace.  Giving these staggering challenges related to workplace culture, the best question is, how do we foster a company culture that will allow us to retain our best talent?  We want to ensure the best fit of diverse individuals and to fully realize real sustainable value for our companies.

The answer lies in our ability to use innovation through diversity and inclusion by understanding and valuing differences in a way that allows each person to contribute his or her best within the organization.  Choosing to master the art of workplace relationships through these 3 simple, not easy steps will bring sustainable value for individuals and companies!

What will you choose today in terms of developing a solid plan for mastering the art of relationships in your company?

** From John: If you enjoyed this blog I strongly encourage you to take a look at Jesse’s website, he is a true professional and always does a superb job for his clients. Here is a link to his site:  http://www.jesstalk.com/


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Sales Leadership Webinar

On Tuesday, March 31st at 11 AM EDT I will be one of the presenters in a FREE sales leadership webinar with five of the top sales trainers in the world. We did one of these in January on a different sales topic and got more than 3,000 attendees. This is a solid, results-focused webinar that will NOT waste your time with any fluff or up-selling – ONLY solid ideas and tools you can use right away to be a more effective and successful sales leader. If this sounds interesting here is a short video to give you a feel for what we are planning…

I hope you will join us!

Thank you to our sponsor:

OmniJoin-logo-2x

 

 

 

 

Building a High-Performance Team

shutterstock_46846525I was recently asked to work with a team of 12 mid-level managers in an organization of about 250 people. As individuals they were an incredibly bright, competent, diverse group that are clearly dedicated to the success of the company, as a “team” they were a disaster. Prior to meeting with them I had everyone fill out a “Team Effectiveness Audit” and the scores were…not so good. However, we had a wonderful day together and I thought you might find value in some of the things they developed for turning their workgroup into a high-performance team.

The first workshop we did was to create a model of who they felt would be an “Ideal Team Member” to serve on this team.

Ideal Team Member

·         Excellent Communicator – superb listener

·         Highly competent

·         Action oriented – proactive – sense of urgency

·         People/relationship focused

·         Balanced view: strategic & tactical

·         Team-first attitude

·         Strong, self-aware leader

·         High integrity

·         Personal and mutual accountability

·         Delivers business results

After we created the above list I pointed out to them that in order to attract a team member like this, they would first have to be like this themselves. It’s one of the key ideas for effective teams; A-players only want to be on a team with other A-players.

We then worked on creating a set of rules, or a charter, for how the team would treat each other. I think they developed a pretty good list…

Team Rules for Behavior

NO games

Be fully present – no technology/be engaged

Be flexible/consider

Hold each other 100% accountable

Use retrospect and focus on the effectiveness of this team and adherence to the rules

Offer inspiration

Be constructive/solution focused

Treat each other with respect

Focus on the success of the company – not your individual departmental team

Over-communicate with honesty and transparency

Prioritize each other and this team

ONE voice

Deal with facts

Effective / valuable meetings

Have FUN!!!

Lastly, we developed a few action steps that they could begin taking immediately to start the slow and steady process of shaping them into a more effective team and hopefully, eventually, a high-performance team.

Action Steps:

Create team vision/purpose (in progress)

Define key goals that align with the team purpose and that strategy / guiding principles of the organization

Define key metrics for those goals

Define how to hold each other accountable to those goals / metrics

Create ways to force collaboration

Evaluate team effectiveness quarterly

Once they finalize the vision/purpose of the team, and define their goals and metrics I will be creating a survey to measure their effectiveness in implementing their goals and continuing to adhere to the team rules of behavior. I will be administering the survey every three months so that we can constantly adjust as they develop as a team. Based on the quality of the people on this team I have a lot of confidence that things are going to go well.

I welcome your thoughts on what this team created; do you feel that there’s something missing?


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

Three Fantastic Business Books

In this video I share with you three fantastic business books that I have read and used in my businesses. Two are very focused, detail-oriented books that will give you superb step-by-step instruction and lots of tools to help grow your business and improve your culture. The third book is one that I consider a true classic that focuses on how to make your business one of the best in the world in your category. I hope you find this video of great value!

 

Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)

The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace

Lessons in Excellence from Charlie Trotter


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence

The Three Archetypes of Business Culture

shutterstock_75020941Recently a colleague sent me a copy of The HOW Report: A Global, Empirical Analysis of How Governance, Culture, and Leadership Impact Performance,” by the LRN Corporation. As I read through the report I was delighted to see that their findings business culture were highly correlated with similar research I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, and also dismayed to see that so few companies were embracing these critical ideas.

Although I still do a fair amount of Fortune 500 work, for the last five years or so I have focused intensely on bringing the best ideas, tools and strategies to small and medium-size businesses in an effort to help them build and sustain success. What I have learned in working with literally thousands of businesses around the world is that: Culture = Cash. Organizations that can find, grow and keep top talent and then engage that talent to go out and take fantastic care of their customers will be the winners in the future. Here’s how they stated it in the report…

“CEOs increasingly are coming to believe that the traditional ingredients of success, such as a supportive board of directors, a strong executive team, clearly articulated corporate strategies, thoughtful resource allocations, differentiated product or service portfolios, elaborate control processes, and highly refined incentive structures, are no longer sufficient.

Of particular importance is the role of trust, company purpose, and core values as they harmonize with leadership and governance systems to help define unique corporate cultures.

In short, culture as a conscious, deliberate, long-term strategy can be the key to sustainable differentiation and success for companies in the 21st century. Companies and leaders who pioneer and forge ahead on a genuine journey of governance, culture, and leadership are the ones who will be around in the 22nd century.”

This research report postulates that an organization builds the foundation for sustainable success on a system of governance, culture, and leadership based on a clear set of fundamental values, fostering trust both inside and outside the organization, and embracing and pursuing a corporate mission that is rooted in a higher, enduring purpose, not simply here-and-now success.

The researchers labeled the management style of companies that met the above criteria as high in “Self-Governance.” These were businesses where the employees were proactive, with high levels of both personal and mutual accountability and were engaged and satisfied…exactly what I have been focused on when working with my clients. However the number of companies that actually met these criteria in this research study were shockingly low, which unfortunately mirrors what I see in the marketplace all too often.

Directly from the report…
Sample size = 36,280 employees / 18 countries

Blind Obedience = 43% of respondents

Organizations characterized by command and control, top-down leadership, and coercion. Blind Obedience organizations rely on rules and policing, are transactional, and focus on short-term objectives — there is little focus on building enduring relationships in the workplace, the marketplace, or society.

Informed Acquiescence = 54% of respondents

Organizations that reflect 20th century good management practices like hierarchy, structure, and control processes. Employees follow the rules, policies, and procedures established by what they believe to be a skilled management team. Managers rely on performance-based rewards and punishments to motivate people. Long-term goals are important but often give way to considerations of short-term success.

Self-Governance = only 3% of respondents

Organizations that are primarily values-based. The organization’s purpose and values inform decision making and guide all employee and company behavior. In short, people act on the basis of a set of core principles and values that inspires everyone to align around a company’s mission, purpose, and definition of significance. Employees at all levels strive to be leaders, and the company is focused on its long-term legacy and endurance.

On the other hand, highly engaged employees deliver…

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There were four major findings from the study that rose to the top:

1. Self-Governance is rare across the world. Only 3% of the 36,280 employees in this study observe high levels of self-governing behavior within their organizations — the extremely low rate of Self-Governance is consistent across every demographic category, including country, industry, economic environment, language, and ethnic culture.

2. Self-governing organizations in all 18 countries in this study outperform other types of organizations across every important performance outcome, including: higher levels of innovation, employee loyalty, and customer satisfaction; lower levels of misconduct; and superior overall financial performance.

3. There is a marked disconnect between the C-suite and the employees they lead. On average, the C-suite is three times — and in some countries up to eight times — more likely to observe their organizations as self-governing, more inspiring, and less coercive as compared to the overall employee population.

4. Trust, shared values, and a deep understanding of and commitment to a purpose-inspired mission are the three fundamental enablers of the self-governing behaviors that produce competitive advantage and superior business performance.

 

So why is this important to your organization? Here is what I’ve been jumping up and down about for years in trying to help organizations understand that there is a ton of money on the table around creating a winning culture…

“Statistically, our research shows that employees who experience a high trust environment are 22 times more likely to be willing to take risks that could benefit the company. Employees functioning in an organization of high trust are 8 times more likely to report higher levels of innovation relative to their competition. And finally, employees functioning in a culture of high trust, risk-taking, and innovation are 6 times more likely to report elevated levels of financial performance compared to the competition.”

For more than a decade I have been deploying my “Organizational Effectiveness Audit,” a 28-question survey I use to assess the health of an organization and here is what I can tell you with 100% confidence:

Most businesses, as reflected in HOW Report, have a massive opportunity to improve the culture of their organization and thereby significantly impact their financial success.

 

Here is a quick checklist of what I have developed as the key elements of winning culture, take a minute to score your organization on a scale of 1 to 10 – with 10 being “this describes our company perfectly.”

 

Elements of a Winning Culture

1. People enjoy the work they do and the people they work with.

2. People take pride in the work they do and the company they work for.

3. There are high levels of engagement, connection, camaraderie and a community of caring.

4. There is a culture of fairness, respect, trust, inclusiveness and teamwork.

5. The leaders live the values and communicate a clear vision and strategy for growth.

6. Lots of open, honest, robust and transparent communication across the entire organization.

7. The company invests back in employees; there is a commitment to learning & development.

8. There is a bias for action, employees have an ownership mentality and strive to give their personal best.

9. There is high accountability and a strong focus on delivering the desired results.

10. There is ample recognition and rewards and mediocrity is not tolerated.

 

** It would be my advice that anyplace you score a 7 or below would be an area to focus on for improvement, any score below a five should be considered an area of concern, and where you score a 3 or below should be considered an emergency.

 

If you were not particularly happy with scores you just got on my winning culture audit, let me recommend a few superb books that are the best I have ever read on how to build a great culture.

The Orange Revolution: How One Great Team Can Transform an Entire Organization

All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters

Here is a link to where you can download the HOW Report:  http://pages.lrn.com/how-report

Although it is about 50 pages long it does have some truly interesting and important findings and is definitely worth taking a few minutes to read. Also, if you know of any organization that might need some assistance in improving their culture please do not hesitate to send them my name and contact information, this is an area that my firm is strongly focused on and we are dedicated to helping businesses of every size become great places to work with highly engaged employees that deliver strong financial returns.

I hope you found this information helpful, I wish you every possible happiness and success.

 

Take good care – John

*** If you want more specifics on exactly how to build a great company culture, I have created a very concise and focused ebook that will give you all of my best ideas, tools and advice. It is only $2.99 on Amazon and I promise it will be VERY helpful.  Click HERE to take a look

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How to Attract Top Talent to Your Company

 

It has long been one of my core themes:

The success of your business is directly tied to the quality of the talent you can get, grow and keep on your team.

Think about this carefully, it’s a simple but extremely important business idea. If you agree with me, then you should be approaching talent acquisition, talent developemtn and talent retention as a key strategic objective in your company. Here is a video that outlines the six most important things that top talent looks for in the company where they work. I hope you find this helpful and that you share with your network – thanks so much – John


Free eBook Link for Building and Sustaining a Winning Culture by John Spence