In a previous post, I shared my one line response to a popular question I am often asked — “What’s your advice on achieving fast business growth?”
“Never try to do it alone” is always my response.
If you enjoyed reading about the 3 powerful leadership principles that helped operations manager Beth to bring out the best in her people, here are 3 more powerful leadership principles from my coaching work with Bob.
KEY CHALLENGE: Sales Growth Stuck at 7M
One of my clients (we’ll call him Bob) is a CEO of a family run technology company focused on growing his 7 Million company into a 10 Million company. For several years he keeps plateauing at the same level.
When asked what he attributed may be the primary cause he pointed to the pattern that he continues to be the primary problem solver instead of his people being able to make swift executive decisions in their day to day work.
Observation: In visiting Bob’s company I noticed his office (and everyone else’s offices) were in an open floor plan. Bob wanted the open floor plan to let his people know he was never too high up that he was perceived as far too removed or inaccessible. He also liked the ease and convenience of being able to monitor people on the floor.
But, because of the open floor plan and Bob’s open door policy, he was bombarded with constant daily interruptions and thereby, pulled into every problem that occurred. His people can see him there, so the easiest thing for his managers to do is go straight to Bob to help them resolve their problems and/or help them make decisions quickly.
Bob’s 3 Leadership Principles That Transformed Positive Change:
- Effective leaders must create boundaries.
- Don’t ever forget you’re in the PEOPLE business.
- Commit to helping your people S.O.A.R.
Actions Bob implemented:
1. Creating boundaries:
We eliminated a whopping 70% of his interruptions by Bob communicating changes to his accessibility. This might sound overly simple, but it just goes to prove how easy it is for business owners to fall into patterns of behavior when you have no one else to report to.
So, Bob posted a few weekly time slots where he could still have his open door policy, but outside of those hours each of his key people were given scheduled meeting appointments instead of the old way of allowing them to approach Bob whenever they wanted.
For the first time, Bob even started posting a “do not disturb” sign on his door (and stuck to it) which allowed him to make huge strides in working “on” his business.
2. Reframing what business you’re in.
Bob’s technology business took off because his knowledge, expertise and passion was in technology. But, as Marshall Goldsmith famously wrote, “what got you here, won’t get you there”.
During our coaching sessions Bob admitted he really didn’t enjoy managing people. That just wasn’t his area of expertise. But, it was his area of greatest frustration. Because he didn’t like having to manage people, he avoided holding any regular meetings with this team whenever possible.
After discussing the advantages and disadvantages of:
- Hiring a General Manager to manage everyone for him
- Creating more effective approaches for Bob to manage his key people or …
- Keep doing things the same way …
Bob chose option B and began to reframe what business he was really in. And, after some practice Bob even came to embrace it.
One of the tools that helped Bob be more effective and enjoy managing people was holding weekly one on one meetings with his key staff using my simple S.O.A.R. meeting template.
- Holding weekly 1-1 meetings to help your people S.O.A.R.
In the past, Bob tried to schedule bi-weekly meetings with his team members, but they often got postponed, cancelled and eventually avoided all together.
When I asked why, Bob vented he felt like he was just babysitting his employees. We discovered there was no set structure to his meetings outside of being a low level Q&A session.
I encouraged Bob to start using my simple S.O.A.R. meeting template and to commit to it for 12 weeks (12 meetings). Only 3 weeks into the challenge it didn’t surprise me how excited Bob was at seeing positive changes in his people’s performance already.
Here is the S.O.A.R. 1-1 meeting template:
S = What is your SINGLE motivating purpose that is driving you this week?
O = What OBSTACLES do you need to overcome this week (month, quarter) and how do you plan on overcoming them?
A = How do you want to be held ACCOUNTABLE for key actions you will take full ownership of?
R = Recognition – What are the greatest wins you’re most proud of this week?
- Bob’s interruptions decreased dramatically allowing him to be able to focus on CEO level tasks that were sorely needed to drive the company’s revenue growth.
- Now that Bob embraced being in the ‘people business’ he saw his team getting faster and better at completing client projects, allowing them to handle more sales.
- The S.O.A.R. meetings Bob instituted developed his people’s critical thinking muscles. They were able to handle higher-level tasks and decisions on their own and needed Bob’s guidance less. As a bonus, his people now use the same process to train their direct reports on developing their own critical thinking skills.
- Who are the people who interrupt you the most?
- What kind of boundaries do you need to create?
- How effective are your 1-1 meetings with your key people?
Here’s to your success!
QUESTION: What is 1 paradigm shift that made a powerful difference in bringing out the best in your people? … Share your comments and questions below.
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