Your First Boss:
This is the first person in your career that saw your raw potential. He or she is the one who took interest in you and mentored you as first started to navigate the early stages of your career. They protected you, yet they let you make the mistakes that served as the foundation of your current success. Never lose touch with this person. They knew you when… when you were a wide-eyed raw talent and the world was in front of you. They will always have wisdom to share and the time share it. They are a safe haven.
The Wise Man is the one who sees the possibilities first. The Wise Man understands the vision and builds on it. They are realists, but yet optimistic that the objectives can be met. These people boost and enhance your vision. They let you expand your horizons and look at situations in new ways.
Not unlike the Wiseman, the Brilliant Skeptic “gets it”. However, they always add the, “yes, but…” This person is not so much negative, as they are cautious. They are able to see risks to the plan that others do not. When you need to vet an idea or business plan, this is one of your go to people. Their feedback may be painful to hear, as they will always find the weaknesses your ideas. But their view will make your plans stronger and help you avoid pit falls that you did not see.
Your Spiritual Advisor knows your soul. They keep you rooted in your core values and help you see when and where you might be on the road of compromising those values. They encourage and cheer you on, but they will not be silent when want to take short cuts that may compromise your values.
The Advocate raises your flag. They are enthusiastic about you and your ideas. They provide the introductions and support your cause. They do not have the capital or the clout to get you to the next step directly, but they are tireless in their support.
The Catalyst is the person who makes IT happen. They heard the plan. They take action to enable you to move forward. They provide the platform, whether through a promotion, or providing capital. This person provides the spark that allows you to achieve the next step in your journey.
Unfortunately, not everyone is on your side. Not everyone wants you to succeed. As Machiavelli wrote, in The Prince, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. Understand who may get in the way and understand why they might. Do not hide or avoid these folks, rather be aware and interact with them. They will make your ideas and plans better, their destructive tactics will force you to hone your thinking and improve your plans.
Be aware of the seven archetypes, they will help shape your plans, your career and your success. How effective you are at recognizing the roles these people play, the more effective you will be. Listen to them all because they will make you better.]]>
Before you jump on your team, look at yourself. Every business is faced with challenges large and small, long-term and immediate. HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THOSE CHALLENGES? Does every customer issue or system glitch rise to the level of-Stop the presses, let’s get this fixed! NOW!
As the owner or CEO, as leader of your company you set the tone. You set the priorities. This is done partially through your words, but mostly through your actions. Ask yourself –
Remember as leader you set the tone. Your reactions are instrumental to determining whether you are fixing a business issue or creating a crisis. Some points to follow the next time you are faced with a problem that is affecting your business:
Every time there is a “crisis”, there is opportunity lost. People are pulled from their regular jobs. The normal flow of business is interrupted leaving the possibility of even more errors. There is an emotional cost to the organization as well. If your reaction to a problem is always hard charging, get the answers now. You have to ask yourself, what is the cost, in terms of ongoing business operations or staff sanity? After the “crisis” is over, look in the rearview mirror and see how many casualties were left behind by the frenetic effort to resolve the situation. Stay calm, trust in your team, and work towards solutions and you will find business challenges will be easier and quicker to resolve.]]>
At least one week prior to your brainstorming session, assemble the team and define the desired results in broad terms. Assign broad areas where you like each team member to focus their efforts. For example, logistics, accounting, marketing, etc. Then provide the team with background information to ensure all members are starting from the same beginning. Pre-reading materials must provide an overview of the situation to be resolved, including issues, constraints, and desired outcome(s) to name a few. These materials provide background information, but do not provide solutions. They might include:
Finally in preparation of your first meeting, lay out clear expectations as to what everyone is expected to contribute and timelines they have to work within. Each team member should be prepared to discuss in detail the issues as it relates to their area of expertise, in terms of constraints, opportunities and impacts.
Think of the brainstorming process as a blend, integrating individual thinking, group thinking and confirmation.
Rules of Engagement:
It is important to set not only expectations on results, but the individual and group behavior required as well. You’ve seen the lists before:
Establishing a clear set of rules and timeframes will keep you on track. Move from the large to the small in terms of your thinking and recirculate the thinking from large to small, from individual thought to group think. It is an iterative process. Have fun with it. Embrace the inevitable conflicts and seek solutions. Happy problem solving!
There are many things that can derail change in a company, paying attention to these three MUSTS will help your company bring about the changes it desires.]]>
My Way is expedient, but in the long run it is not effective. A business owner must find a way to create the time and framework to allow him or her the opportunity to work on the business of running the business. This is to say the owner needs to be able to step back from the day-to-day operations and review how the business is executing to its mission/vision. The owner needs to be open to the changing dynamics that occur due to changes in technology, or competition, or because the business has outgrown its own systems. None of this can or should be done in a vacuum.
This type of planning breaks down into three simple components.
Together, these three steps form the foundation for creative thinking and objective reasoning that will guide you and your business through both prosperous and turbulent times. These steps will help keep from the My Way Trap and allow you to build your business more effectively.]]>
Understanding “Where you are going, How you will get there, and Why you are going there.” Will help you stay on track. But you also need to build repeatable processes and systems that your employees and customers clearly understand. In addition, you need to be acutely aware of what new products and trends are impacting or may impact your industry, or who new potential competitors may be. Finally, you need to build a “thinking platform” that allows you and your advisors to clearly and unbiasedly assess your progress.
But, doing all of this right still doesn’t necessarily add value to your business. Because the single biggest impediment to increasing the value of your business is….
You are the reason your business exists. You had the vision, fortitude, and perseverance to get the business going in the first place. How can you be the biggest threat to creating value in your company? Simple: If you are central to the business, it does not stand without you. Hence, if you are the force behind your company’s value and you exit, value is destroyed.
How can you tell if you are the center of your business’ universe. Try asking these simple questions:
1. Do you own the business or does the business own you?
Can you take a vacation or sick day without worrying about the basic day to day functions of the business? Or are you the person who brags that the business would be nothing without you.
2. Are you comfortable delegating important tasks within the business?
3. Do you listen to your advisors and act accordingly or do you surround yourself with “YES- People”?
In order to build lasting value in your business that goes beyond a high income for you, you need to build a business that can stand and flourish without your needing to focus on every detail or make every decision. You need a strong management and advisory team. You need simple processes that can be executed flawlessly nearly every time. You need to build an organizational culture that is consistent with your vision.
In short, to build lasting value… you need to move beyond an entrepreneurial mindset and begin thinking like a CEO. By making yourself dispensable… you shift the value in the business from YOU to the business itself. By doing this you create a better and more sustainable wealth engine.
I believe we can agree, that there are many technical financial, marketing and control reasons that could cause your business to fail. But I believe these are merely symptoms, and that most of the time a business’ fatal wounds are self-inflicted and they come from a lack of focus and clarity.
Let me explain, everyone can tell you WHAT they do. Most business owners and their employees can tell you HOW they do it, too. But many cannot explain WHY they do what they do. Without a clear mission/vision for your company it is impossible to create a focus on how and where you can WIN in the marketplace. It is a clear focus on who your customers are (and why), and how you are going to compete that will allow you to be successful.
No business large or small can be all things to all people. You need to carefully choose how you are going to compete, where you are going to compete and for what are you going to compete. Decide how your business is going act and write it down… make it the center of what you do. This focus will keep your business on track. By being clear on your vision you can…
With a clear focus and approach you can easily establish benchmarks and measures for your business. You can invite your customers to join your “mission” and your customers become empowered in building your company. With a clear focus your actions are consistent and as a result, you can more readily see what is and what is not working… and you can adjust.
Success starts and stops with a singularity of purpose. It doesn’t mean doggedly sticking to something that doesn’t work, rather it means knowing where you want to go and why you want to go there. It allows all the other details to fall in place.
I leave you with a quote from the movie City Slickers… The Billy Crystal character (Mitch) asks Jack Palance (Curly), “What is the meaning of life?” and the exchange goes…
Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”
Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.
Find your ONE THING!
It really is not that difficult. Follow these simple rules and you will be well on the way to more effective and efficient meetings.
Don’t Boil the Ocean:
All too often managers try to cram too much into a meeting. They attempt to cover a wide array of topics. The result, the meeting rambles for hours and no one can tell you what was discussed or decided. People leave the meeting frustrated and overwhelmed.
Segment your meetings so your communications are focused and clear. For example, you may hold an annual planning meeting to cover your one to three key objectives, lay out budgets and challenges, and assign roles in order execute the plan. Then you might hold a quarterly meeting to determine your progress. And finally, weekly meetings with management and staff to keep everyone on track and raise/resolve issues as they threaten the plan.
Nothing derails the effectiveness of a meeting more than inconsistency. If you have a weekly management meeting at 9AM every Wednesday, then keep it and be on time no matter what. Nothing says I do not care more than cancelling or being late to your own meeting.
Put out an annual schedule of meetings. Keep a consistent agenda. Keep them short and stay on time. If you respect your team’s time, they will deliver for you.
There is an old Abbot and Costello routine, titled – Who’s on First? I am sure you’ve heard it before. The final key to an effective meeting is deciding who is doing what, and when will it be done. This is a MUST for any meeting. A word of caution here. Many companies use a “stop light” system to track accountability. Is the task green (on track), yellow (in danger), of red (off track). If you use a three tier system like this… SCRAP IT!
Tasks/Projects are either on time, on budget, and going as planned… or they are not! PERIOD. Running a business is not a game of horseshoes. Nearly made it – is not good enough. If your plan is on track, great. If not, glossing it over with an almost will not get you to a successful solution or your goals. If you are off track… say it and figure out why. Make the appropriate changes and move ahead.
In short, plan your meetings… be consistent… and hold everyone (including yourself) accountable.
Mark Mueller-Eberstein did an excellent TedX talk that outlines how to successfully deal with and manage change. It is an excellent video and well worth the five minutes required to watch it. Enjoy.
Covey spoke of “sharpening the saw”, Gerber speaks of “working on the business of your business”, the point is you need the time to think and reflect on what is working and what is not. You need to evaluate if your business is growing consistent with your goals and objectives. This means creating time with your leadership team and creating time for yourself outside the chaos of the day-to-day.
Opportunities to Achieve this goal:
- Monthly leadership meeting (preferably off-site) that focuses on the “big” things, not your tactics
- Read: Keep current to trends both in and out of your business
-Reflect: Take an honest look at what and how you doing, against the why your are doing it.
Are you measuring what you want to achieve? Does your scorecard align with your goals and objectives? Are you holding your team and yourself accountable for those results? Are you open to change when things are not going in the direction you desire?
Business and life certainly can challenge us, but when our goals-values-passions align it is easier to relax and have fun. In sports, they say elite athletes have the ability to “slow down” the game. It allows them to relax and execute. In business we need to do the same. Keep you goals and values aligned, use them as the basis for your decisions and the game “slows down”. You do what you do because you love it… it makes even the most challenging days fun. And if you don’t love what you are doing… well make the changes so you do.
Clarus Advisors wishes you a healthy and prosperous 2013