The Entrepreneur’s Need for Nimbleness

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. Often there is a false assumption that a good product or service idea will be a guaranteed success. The “If you build it they will come” mindset is a great cliché for a movie but seldom plays out as a winner in real business.

Nimbleness

No, success and long-term sustainability require a whole host of ever-changing variables. The truly successful entrepreneur figures out how to navigate these choppy waters, making changes as frequently as they might be required. Plus, when the demand is for them to change, they will accept the proverbial writing on the wall and go with the change.

Nimbly and gracefully making the right changes is what differentiates the highly successful business owner/founder from the rest of the wannabes (as in I want-to-be successful). Wanting and doing are wildly different positions to be in.

Key Management Factors

Several factors, which change in importance as the business grows and develops, are prominent in determining ultimate success or failure.

A study done by the good folks at Harvard Business Review identified eight such factors in a research project(1). Four factors relate to the enterprise and four to the owner. The four that relate to the company are as follows:

1. Financial resources, including cash and borrowing power.

2. Personnel resources, relating to numbers, depth, and quality of people, particularly at the management and staff levels.

3. Systems resources, in terms of the degree of sophistication of both information and planning and control systems.

4. Business resources, including customer relations, market share, supplier relations, manufacturing and distribution processes, technology and reputation, all of which give the company a position in its industry and market.

The four factors that relate to the owner are:

1. Owner’s goals for himself or herself and for the business.

2. Owner’s operational abilities in doing important jobs such as marketing, inventing, producing, and managing distribution.

3. Owner’s managerial ability and willingness to delegate responsibility and to manage the activities of others.

4. Owner’s strategic abilities for looking beyond the present and matching the strengths and weaknesses of the company with his or her goals.

Small businesses are built on the owner’s talents: the ability to sell, produce, invent, or whatever. This factor, in the early stages, is of the highest importance. The owner’s ability to delegate, however, is on the bottom of the scale since there are few if any employees to delegate to.

As the company grows, other people enter sales, production, or engineering and they first support, and then even supplant, the owner’s skills—thus reducing the importance of the owner’s personal skill set. At the same time, the owner must spend less time doing and more time managing or even leading the enterprise.

He or she must increase the amount of work done by other people, which means delegating. The inability of many founders to let go of doing and to begin managing and delegating explains the demise of many businesses during the latter stages.

As a business moves from one stage to another, the importance of the factors changes. We might view the factors as alternating among three levels of importance:

  • First, key variables that are absolutely essential for success and must receive high priority;
  • Second, factors that are clearly necessary for the enterprise’s success and must receive some attention; and
  • Third, factors of little immediate concern to top management.

If we categorize each of the eight factors listed previously, based on its importance at each stage of the company’s development, we get a clear picture of changing management demands.

Entrepreneurship

The changing role of all of these factors clearly illustrates the need for owner flexibility. An overwhelming preoccupation with certain factors is quite important at some stages and less important at others. “Doing” versus “delegating” also requires a flexible management mindset.

Holding onto old strategies and old ways will not serve a company that is entering the growth stages. Failure to find the nimbleness to make these changes can even be fatal.

If you run your own business but are feeling the pressure to make some changes, perhaps you need a Master Coach to come alongside and guide you through the thought process. That is what I do. I’ve been doing it with successful entrepreneurs for decades. I’ve seen businesses of many types. You are not alone. Leave a comment or write an email

(1) To read the whole study, visit https://hbr.org/1983/05/the-five-stages-of-small-business-growth Please note that the study’s findings were written in 1983. Some may argue the findings and recommendations are therefore irrelevant just because of their age.

However, ask any businessman who has made one of these mistakes along the way. They will affirm the need to be this kind of nimble in order to make the best possible changes for the true good of the business. The principles are timeless.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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Start Your Own Blog Today

There are plenty of reasons seasoned professionals should write their own blog. I’ve been blogging since 2009 when I founded Jobs Ministry Southwest. Back then, it was a great way to share information with the people using our career transition services.

That modest effort got me excited about the power of blogging. From its humble start, my blog has grown into the site you see now with over 110,000 followers and growing.

Blog Writing

Now, as my coaching and consulting businesses have grown, I use the blog to share articles on key topics for managers and business leaders, sharing thoughts about leadership and entrepreneurship (my two favorite topics). Blogging helps cast a wider net, spreading your message across the globe.

I am going to share some of the quick and easy steps I use to build the blog.

  1. Domain names – Get yourself a custom domain name. Most registrations may cost you $12 a year (or close to that). Reasonably cheap for the significance of pointing to a brand name you build.
  2. SiteGround Hosting services – Unless you have a brother-in-law with insane computer networking skills, subscribe to a hosting service. I’ve tried several, but have landed on SiteGround. I love their responsiveness (the site loads quickly despite a lot of overhead/functionality going on). I’ve also found their support to be world class good. To check them out click this link.
    Web Hosting
  3. WordPress – I’ve become a huge fan of the WordPress framework. The themes and templates give you so many options. Some custom themes you buy, but many are free. The free ones can give you a great looking site to get you started. WordPress was created for blogging and has grown into a whole discipline of its own.
  4. Plugins – These are add-on tools you can add to your WordPress suite of code. With plugins, you can add awesome features like social media sharing, guest list management, shopping carts, etc. There are three critical plugins I have chosen to use.
    • Jetpack – a collection of tools that maximize the operation of WordPress, keep statistics, and hacker protection
    • Yoast SEO – helps optimize the valuable search engine optimization aspects of your site and all its content
    • Vaultpress – file backup; you never want to lose your blog
  5. RSS Feeds – Build an RSS feed to allow your content to get distributed to other social media channels automatically as each post gets released. I use Google’s Feedburner.com tools for this task. Opening an account is free. You can customize the tool to grab your posts and push them to channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram all automatically and spontaneously with each post.
  6. LeadPages.net – I use LeadPages to help me promote and manage product offerings, events, seminars, webinars, and my other client attraction efforts. Build your own landing pages with LeadPages. As an example, my promo for Big 5 Performance Management is done with LeadPages.
  7. MailChimp – Email management tools. Using an effective email management service is vital. I’ve tried several and have landed on MailChimp. I like the ease of use and the straightforward tools they offer. I know there are other services that are equally effective, but after several disappointments (and higher costs) I landed with MailChimp.
  8. Fiverr – Occasionally you need some freelance skill sets to augment what you are doing. Fiverr.com is tremendous for this. Fiverr is a collection of freelancers from all around the world. They call their projects “gigs”. As the name might imply, you can get help for as little as $5 per “gig”. I’ve used Fiverr resources for things like graphic design (videos, book covers, and logos) or getting a press release written. I’ve also used them for social media promotions to reach a broader audience for book releases or other promotions I am doing. Yes, occasionally I get a less than acceptable outcome, but I only invested a few dollars versus hundreds through other sources or contractors. It’s a winner for simple outsourcing.

About Content

There are numerous opinions about content creation; write it yourself, borrow others, merely re-post, etc. I’ve taken the basic approach that is at the core of blogging, “my message, my voice”. Yes, I study many different sources and try to compile credible resources to cobble my articles together. Anything I use gets proper attribution for its source.

The content I write is intended solely for your use. If I can’t help you, a busy professional, do more right where you are, then I’ve missed the mark. If you decide to start a blog, you need to decide what your purpose and message will be about.

There are also great debates about when to publish and how often. The golden rule I learned early on is simply “be consistent”.

To that end, I choose to write at least 2x per week. By using the great scheduling features of WordPress I can accumulate a volume of articles and stage them for automatic release on whatever schedule I choose. By using this queueing method, I never have to worry about publication deadlines and getting writer’s block over the deadline pressure. Typically, I have content scheduled at least three weeks ahead, sometimes more.

I’ve juggled the release days of the week, experimenting with response rates and open rates. There are other blog writers I know who limit publication to once a week. If it works, great! Just be consistent. Allow your following to become reliant on your consistency.

Disclosure: By clicking some of the links above, I may receive a small affiliate commission from the service provider. Rest assured I would not promote anything I don’t use myself. But even if I didn’t get any commissions, I really like these tools, and I think you will too.

If you want to let me help you with organizing your online presence, send an email to my assistant Karla 

Why Entrepreneurs Need To Move Away From FOMO

The ‘Fear Of Missing Out’, mainly known by its acronym FOMO has become a much talked about behavioral phenomenon ever since social media has taken over our lives. The word itself became so popular that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013!

Until now, FOMO was a term that was applicable to the Internet junkies. However, given its psychological impact, it is now also commonly used to describe a human tendency. Surprisingly, FOMO has taken even the community of entrepreneurship in its grip.

Before we delve further into how entrepreneurship and FOMO are related, let’s first understand what exactly FOMO is.

study titled ‘Motivational, Emotional and Behavioural Correlates of Fear Of Missing Out’ defines FOMO as

the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you.

In this study, nearly three-quarters of young adults reported that they had experienced the phenomenon.

People who are experiencing FOMO are always craving for more and possess ‘I want that or I want to know too’ attitude. If they don’t get what they want, it instils anxiety and depression in them.

Now, let’s understand FOMO in the context of entrepreneurship.

The first FOMO that entrepreneurs experience is related to opportunities. Entrepreneurs are wired to think that there is nothing worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed their life. This opportunity could be an idea, an investor or anything that matters to launching or growing the business – if only I had an opportunity to put my idea into action, if only I could have one meeting with the investor, and so forth.

As an entrepreneur, you should accept that entrepreneurship is all about success, failure, and missed opportunities. It’s good to be ambitious and seek opportunities, but don’t let this become an obsession. Sometimes, you just need to turn down an opportunity and wait for another one. You have to take a leap of faith and learn to say ‘no’. Like Kenny Nguyen, CEO-Founder of Big Fish Presentations and co-author of the book ‘The Big Fish Experience’ did.

He refused to attend the popular reality show ‘Shark Tank’ which gives aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to make business presentations to the investors. Of course, it was a big opportunity but somehow he felt that it was not the right time for him to participate in his venture was only a year old.

Instead, he focused all his energy on making his startup the best among the others. Today, Big Fish Presentations is one of the fastest growing companies in the startup ecosystem. Kenny Nguyen advises his peers to focus on the right opportunity, not every opportunity.

Entrepreneurs also suffer from FOMO on success. Agreed that every entrepreneur wants to become a winner, but success takes its own sweet time to give its taste to you. It’s one thing to have a vision and another thing to forget the journey that takes you there.  You should not let the fear of ‘what my successful business look like’ to stall your today’s efforts to grow it.

Keep the success in mind, but do not expect an instant win. Sometimes, it is better to adhere to the maxim ‘Slow and Steady Win The Race’.  Anu Sharma, the founder of HR Practice firmly believes so and says, “It’s not always the big leap which is needed to start off – it’s fine to take small steps and begin your journey.”

Then, there is also FOMO on a commitment to the company. Give the time, energy, money and emotions that they have invested in their business, entrepreneurs fear of exiting it even if they know that it is heading south in terms of expected targets, revenue, and profits.

This kind of behavior is also known as ‘sunk cost fallacy’ which make them continue running their company even when it is not the best thing to do. They fear on missing out on the possible success the business can bring if they stay invested.

The millennial entrepreneurs are believed to be the worst sufferers of FOMO syndrome. In fact, a report on the millennials cites that FOMO is not a cultural phenomenon, it’s an epidemic. Entrepreneurship is a trend for the millennials.

Everyone has (at least they think so!) or is looking for the billion-dollar idea that will put them in the league of Azim Premji, Sachin Bansal, Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg. They want to experience entrepreneurship just for the thrill of it, without thinking it through.

FOMO in entrepreneurship is good as long as it does not make you depressed, stressful or restless. It can have a serious impact on your mental and physical well-being. Every entrepreneurial venture has its own story and journey. You can’t guarantee success or avoid failure – you can only keep working on specific goals and recognize the tradeoffs.

This article contributed by Vijay Shekhar Sharma. It first appeared in Inc42.

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6 Great Questions to Lead Your Team

Being a leader requires the ability to build rapport with your team. Those following you must have good reason to do so. Every time you have a one-on-one, you have a big opportunity to add to and build that individual rapport.

Here are six great questions to structure those one-on-ones with your team. Use this in some form or another every time you get that golden opportunity to sit with each individual on your team.

The 6 questions are:

Where are WE going?

Ask this intentionally so that the employee or follower is able to express in their own words their understanding of the current state. Let them tell you what they understand to be the mission and direction. If the answer catches you off guard, then maybe you have a big disconnect that needs to be handled immediately.

The “we” here is about the team. Be sure to gauge whether the individual’s understanding is in step with the team direction you hope for.

Where are YOU going?

This is a logical follow-up to #1. If the person expresses a correct team direction but shares a personal variance in what they think is happening, then you have another opportunity to connect and correct.

The where are you going question also measures engagement. When an individual has begun to disengage with the team, they must be offered the opportunity to reconnect.

What do you think you are doing well?

This is a great opportunity to let the individual team member express their pride foro what might be working for them. Let them share their focus. Again though, if there is a bit of misalignment, this is the perfect opportunity to realign, recalibrate the role and the duties to set the path for better performance.

By allowing the person to share, you open the communication letting them state in their own words the accomplishments they view as significant.

What are some suggestions for improvement?

Open the door for individual dialogue about ways to improve things. The people who are on the frontlines see things differently than you. Be open to listening to these observations. You just might get the next great idea.

How can I help?

This may be the most powerful of all questions a manager/leader can ask a follower. Letting them know you are there to help is the biggest proof of your commitment to seeing them succeed. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it, but use it sincerely and you will see team commitment rise significantly.

If something is suggested, you must follow through to get it resolved or delivered. Don’t let this golden opportunity fall flat on its face from your inability to deliver. If the ask is too big, then say so. Explain what the limitations are, but be real. Let the person know they were heard and that you understand.

What suggestions do you have for me to be a better manager?

This is last but by no means the least of these 6 questions. Again, your hope should be to receive sincere feedback. Your response should be an open acceptance of what you get told. If all you do is ask the question but recoil, then you’ve missed the opportunity.

However, if you take the suggestion and do something with the feedback, you build great rapport and trust.

Speaking of Trust

Trust is at the root of the best performing teams. Building an atmosphere of high trust keeps the whole team engaged with you as the boss. Having the rapport through regular, recurring one-on-ones with your team, using these six questions, will keep the trust growing.

Team Trust

Team Trust

When trust is present, people can accept bad news. They won’t necessarily like it but they can better accept it when they know you have their backs. They get to that end by seeing you make the effort to build the rapport at each chance you get. As rapport improves, so will the trust they have.

Call to Action

If you are a manager or executive who needs a little help with any of these ideas, perhaps a coach can help. To learn more about the coaching I do, schedule a call to speak with someone about the programs and ways we can help.

Also, let me introduce you to the Big 5 Performance Management process. This system revolutionizes the old, inefficient annual performance review systems. It has been implemented in dozens of companies, plus it has already won awards for innovation in HR circles. Big 5 sets the framework for fast, simple, and efficient employee feedback, guaranteeing your get the opportunity to ask these 6 questions monthly with each and every employee. Big 5 is a big winner, highly regarded by employers and employees everywhere who have started using Big 5.

To Learn More 

Leaders: What is the Right Answer?

It has been said there is one big difference between management and leadership. Management is doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things.

getting it right

Have you ever asked yourself this question? What IS the right answer anyway? For people in leadership roles, you are looked upon for the right answer. You better be able to deliver.

However, there are times when the right answer seems so hard to find. Here are some things to consider so that you, as a leader, can do more to find the “right” answer.

Situational Approach

Situational problem solving seems to be popular. In one case, the right answer might be green, but in a different situation, the answer is red. Both pose what seems like the same sets of facts and circumstances which should lead to the same answer, but you will see decision makers opting to let the outcome be different because of the audience that is involved. If the stakeholders are different, the answer gets shifted despite the facts and details bearing on the matter.

The idea of situational problem solving is often referred to in morality debates. There are those who get very excited about certain social issues, making claims for absolute answers involving right from wrong (think gun control, abortion, legalized marihuana, etc.). Yet when it is their family in jeopardy, they choose to go another route.

I contend the truly right answer needs to fit all situations. Circumstance shouldn’t change what was decided as to right or wrong.

The Leaders Curse

Anyone who is deemed a leader, whether at work, at home, or in the community, is expected to come up with answers. Those who are following the leader expect the answers to be “right”.

For the person who sits in the leadership chair, the pressure can be intense. If you are genuinely committed to quality leadership, the power of the position will not be enough. Power alone can literally dictate decisions. However, leaders who embrace the higher calling of duty and seek to make right decisions will suffer the burden of the process to get there.

Perhaps your style is to seek counsel from those around you. I am a big fan of hiring smart people, then getting out of their way. Yet when the final decision is needed, it rests on the leader’s shoulders to make the call.

Once all the input has been reviewed and processed, the right answer is yours to make. What you decide is right is the way things will go.

Oh my, but what is RIGHT?

I never thought about being right in this exact context before. I participate in an organization of highly regarded business leaders. They each have their own resume of incredible accomplishments. Internal meetings with this group are lively and interesting, to say the least.

When I see discussions in the group unfold, there is, on one hand, amazing thought that goes into the answers. So many different angles get presented and explored.

On the other hand, there is the occasional hard stand that insists their individual answer is best (and the only answer). When this happens, the group often tables discussion for a further review. One could argue that lack of consensus is a natural outcome when a group of A++ personalities joust it out, debating the right answer for a question.

The bottom line is this; right is totally a function of the view from the first chair. The type A++ who has been accustomed to making final decisions may not be able to play nicely in a group of similar personalities when the authority is spread across the group and not centered in one seat.

My point is simply this…. the “right” answer may surprise you.

Leaders: How Do You Find Right?

When the responsibility of leadership falls on you, likely you will seek to pull together all your experience, knowledge, wisdom, and technical ability to make good decisions; the right ones. The process is different for everyone.

Think about your own decision-making process. Do you make lists of pros and cons? Do you draw a grid? Do you immediately turn to advisors? Or friends? Where and how do you decide “right?”

How often do you rely on your gut? I hear that a lot. Truthfully, it works. The greater your experience in leadership roles, the greater may be the accuracy of your gut. I see this being true more often than not in the leaders who fully appreciate the role of leader. The key factor though is whether your gut is objective, not subjective. Unfair biases can misguide the gut reaction to finding right.

Managers who are first starting out lack the benefit of seasoned experience. Their gut reaction may be founded on emotion not reality. The experience becomes a teacher, but not by itself.

Experience is not a good teacher. Evaluated experience is. ~John Maxwell

As you gain experience by exercising your leadership decisions making, your sense of right and wrong decisions will get fine-tuned. If you are just now starting out in leadership, keep notes for yourself. You will revisit facts and circumstances from time to time. You will be able to gain strength of conviction through repeated use of your choices.

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Leadership: Finding a Good Fit

Companies spend a lot of time and money trying to identify “good fit” during their hiring process. Candidate selection is driven by the magical, mystical notion of making a good fit decision.

Clearly, the first step usually involves matching job description requirements with the candidate’s stated background experience. Right away, the matching process starts to break down because so much screening is now contingent on keyword matching, and not much else.

Even if resume screening works well, the next step takes the candidate through an interview process. Here’s where it really gets fun.

First, well-coached candidates can ace interviews while really not bringing much value to the company. Poorly trained hiring managers, who only occasionally may conduct interviews, (i.e. it’s not their full-time job) do not possess the right skills for getting maximum value from the interview process. So the “good fit” effort takes yet another hit.

With these two key areas suffering, the station of last resort is the look and feel test. Does the candidate look and feel like the right person for the job? Sadly, this often takes us back to the untrained interviewer who merely decides to hire someone who looks like or thinks like they do, assuming that alignment of core values and ideals will work.

Struck any nerves yet?

Have I touched any nerves yet? How’s your good fit guy doing so far?

Yes, good fit selection is a far more complex challenge for companies and their job seeker candidates. Even more important is the unit manager who gets involved in the selection process.

Finding true good fit requires the ability to properly identify what that means to the company and the team. Jim Collins in his “Good to Great” talks about this challenge as ‘getting the right people on the bus’. Once your company defines its core value and vision, there will be key individuals with unique talent who can make things happen. Hiring anyone short of that impacts the final outcome, not to mention the headache and liability of releasing a “bad fit” employee.

The popular Entrepreneurs Operating System or “EOS” describes doing a kind of per seat analysis throughout the organization. First, you tie the roles and responsibilities off each workstation to the overall company mission/vision. You set a value for each position; value contributed to the company or worth of each slot. Then and only then, do you take a look at the person filling that seat or being recruited for the seat. Does the person have the skills and abilities to deliver on the expectations you previously defined for that position? Now that is fit.

Solutions

There are several emerging ways companies are trying to do more for good fit hiring. Here are a few of the main ideas.

Basic Skills Testing

Many of my client companies have developed basic skills testing to determine a candidates ability to meet baseline requirements. Sadly, there are companies that need good solid workers with basic skills, but too few job seekers can demonstrate core skills like reading, math, and simple logic.

One president of a local manufacturer told me he’s adopted both a skills test and one VERY basic math question for every interview. He takes a piece of paper and writes a five digit number like 52,698. He hands that to the candidate and asks “what is 10% of that number?” This executive swears that after conducting maybe 800 interviews in his career, less than 100 candidates could answer that question. [The answer is 5,269.8]

At one of the companies I owned, we developed a test for job seekers. We had a sample file folder that had numerous documents pertaining to the work we did. The seeker was given a checklist and told to find the applicable document from the folder, stack the file according to the checklist, and tell us if something was missing. A person with reasonable skills could finish the file in 20 minutes. Anyone who didn’t really know the work had no way to fake it.

Personality Traits

Ever since Karl Jung first developed his 4 part personality classification system, there have been spin-off theories that are widely adopted by major corporations. These include DISC, Myers Briggs MBTI (R), and Birkman testing. While the Jung-based psychology gives interesting personality indicators, the complexities of human thinking and its far-reaching impact in the workplace can only be counted as a starting point. Whether someone scores an INTJ or ENFT will only go so far in helping a manager make a good fit decision.

The whole notion of personality assessment having a scale for introvert versus extrovert is under heavy scrutiny now. There is a body of work being studied that suggests “ambiverts” (people who demonstrate either both tendency depending on the situation) represent a bigger segment of the workforce, plus they have been proven to be better performers.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence testing or “EI” has become a popular topic for defining and exploring better fit conditions. We probably know people who are masters at managing their emotions. They don’t get angry in stressful situations. Instead, they have the ability to look at a problem and calmly find a solution. They’re excellent decision makers, and they know when to trust their intuition. Regardless of their strengths, however, they’re usually willing to look at themselves honestly. They take criticism well, and they know when to use it to improve their performance.

People like this have a high degree of emotional intelligence or EI. They know themselves very well, and they’re also able to sense the emotional needs of others.

Leadership in Placement

For example, one large cosmetics company recently revised their hiring process for salespeople to choose candidates based on their EI. The result? People hired with the new system have sold, on average, $91,000 more than salespeople selected under the old system. There has also been significantly lower staff turnover among the group chosen for their EI.

Cultural Fit

Companies seeking to define their own culture must identify candidates who fit that culture. Whether the elements are work ethic, training, expertise, or attitude, the company’s culture helps define fit.

From Entrepreneur Magazine :

There’s no denying that cultural fit is important but make sure you actually know what it is before judging candidates. It’s easy to mistake cultural fit for personal biases — just because you wouldn’t mind being stuck in an airport with a candidate doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a great fit for your company.

A candidate’s approach shouldn’t be so divisive that it creates rifts among employees, but you shouldn’t be afraid to hire somebody whose personality clashes with your own. If you perceive that a candidate would make a meaningful contribution to your company while maintaining decorum, that candidate might be a cultural match.

If you have doubts about making a career change, take my free assessment. Find out exactly where you stand.

The Bigger Question

Good fit ultimately comes down to being able to harness the power of your mind’s attention and your heart’s affection. Managers tapping into the hearts and minds of their team will yield the greatest results. Having employees who are not open to contributing at that level will never be a good fit.

Using the tools mentioned above can give insight into ways people might fit well with your team. However, your own ability as the leader to direct, inspire and instill fit within your team is your biggest task.

Question: How do you and your company manage to find the right fit?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Calling All Remote Workers

Since 2000 there has been a growing trend to let workers do their duties remotely; telecommuting it was once called. With the availability of so much good technology, it seemed extra generous of employers to allow workers to avoid the hassles of doing a daily commute. The company saved on facilities expense. While the trend grew steadily for a number of years, there is now a reversal happening.

Work at Home

Between 2012 and 2016, the share of employees who spend 80% or more of their time working remotely grew from 24% to 31%, according to a survey from Gallup. Some 59% of business executives said that more than half of their companies’ full-time workforce would be remote by 2020, per the results of a 2014 survey at London Business School’s Global Leadership Summit.

But not all business leaders are in favor of this trend. In May, IBM told thousands of its remote employees that they needed to return to a regional office or leave the company, Fox Business reported. Last year, insurance giant Aetna began to cut back on its work-from-home program due to concerns regarding collaboration. And in 2013, Yahoo ended its telecommuting program shortly after the beginning of former CEO Marissa Mayer’s tenure with the company.

Smaller businesses who jumped on the bandwagon are now getting off. I received a question from one of my readers who said:

…  love to see something on how to move people “ back to the office”. Many companies are doing that now since [much of their] collaborative energy has been lost as more and more people work remote from home. Is their a best practice on how to [make this recall] to limit impact on morale? 

I didn’t want to jump on this grenade by myself, so I consulted a few of my colleagues who also have successful executive coaching practices. Here are some of the issues to consider (in no particular order).

Mastering the Commute

The original reason many employers ventured down this rabbit hole was to assist workers by lessening commute times. In large metropolitan areas, daily commutes can consume 2 to 5 hours for workers. That doesn’t leave room for any family life. By eliminating the grind of a daunting commute, workers can spend time with family in a.m., get a good breakfast and be “at work” by whatever start time you declare.

The Commute

On the flip side, shutting down in the p.m. involves a simple flip of a switch and a short walk to the kitchen to say hello to kids and spouses.

By reversing the policy and asking workers to return to central facilities, you invoke the dreaded commute. As an employer, even though it’s not your fault where your people choose to live, if they’ve gotten used to no commute, the shift back may be more egregious than you think.

It Gets More Complicated

There are numerous pros and cons of telecommuting. Ultimately the primary factors that determine whether an employees experience with working remotely is successful or not involves that person’s natural personality and needs for feedback.

We have plenty of workers who want the camaraderie of working inside a team. They feed off the energy and vibe of the team around them. Team chemistry can become a perk for many employees.

If a good esprit de corps is established within the workgroup when everyone is together, you get a bonus incentive for the workers who want and need such feedback.

On the other side of that coin is the worker who likes going solo. A personality that is a little more introverted may appreciate the solitude of being able to do their work without disruptive chatter and buzz around them.

It’s not easy to accurately determine which camp all employees fall into. It has been reported that even some workers who seemed like they would be OK working alone are reporting a problem with the solitude after an extended absence from the team setting. This can be explained by the new thinking about ambivert personalities. An ambivert is someone who, depending on the situation, switches between being an extrovert and introvert.

Management’s Trust Factor

All too often I hear managers expressing concerns about whether their people are “really” working. For a boss who is prone to go there first, you may have some trust issues, my friend. If you and your company do not have accountability and productivity measures figured out, then yes, I get it. Remote workers would be a problem for you. However, if you are missing those indicators, you likely don’t know any more information about the people sitting outside your door either.

Any owner or executive who agrees to let workers stay at home must decide on what they will do to create and maintain visibility for consistent delivery of company mission/vision and value propositions.

The person in charge needs to check their motives for wanting everyone back in the office after remote commuting has been the policy. Unwinding that arrangement must be done for the best of reasons. A manager, partner, owner or principal should never ask people to give up the freedom of the remote work for bad ideas like ego, and their own control issues. Hiding behind thinly veiled ideas won’t work. Here are the excuses I know about:

  • We work better together
  • We need the chemistry
  • We need the energy of being able to collaborate

Perhaps remote delegation should have never been allowed in the first place.

What About the Office Culture?

Even if you get everyone to come back together, you as the boss may not be creating the optimum operating environment. I’ve seen too many smaller businesses with a so-called entrepreneurial spirit that are just nut houses (pardon me). The principals lead the pack with a wired and frenzied climate where meetings run too long too often, minds get changed too much, and direction is scattered at best.

Good employees will never suffer that environment for long. If a good and talented worker likes the mission and the work but hates the way the boss treats everyone, working from home is a sanctuary. It will be next to impossible to unwind that scenario.

After all, it’s been said

In the End

It’s all about setting clear expectations. Not all managers know enough about leadership to be able to do this. The leader must be able to articulate clear, concise expectations about work demands. Then you need to stick with them.

If you do end up deciding that you generally want people limiting their working from home to one day a week, I’d say this:

I want to talk to you about our work from home policy. In general, I prefer people to work from home no more than _____ days a week, because of (give your reasons). On rare occasions, I’m willing to approve more than that, but I’d like the default to be no more than ____ a week. I realize I didn’t clarify this earlier, and you haven’t done anything wrong by doing it more often, but going forward, please stick to this guideline.

Also, say this now rather than just rejecting their next work from home request and explaining it then. This is a big-picture conversation to have since they’re now used to doing it a different way, not something to spring on them the next time it comes up.

E-Myth Revisited (for Everyone)

Discovering your WHY

Michael E. Gerber’s works called the E-Myth seek to define entrepreneurship and business leadership. As I study those volumes, I find some key essentials that apply to every business executive, owner or aspiring manager. For many, the E-Myth has become a bible of business success and growth.

You have to start with WHY. Gerber’s work even pre-dates Simon Sinek‘s epic book “Find Your Why”. When a business leader, whether owner or employee, finds their ‘why’, it is like putting a match to a huge bonfire swirling with passion, excitement, commitment, and drive. Without why we collect paychecks and produce less than exciting outcomes. Without the why we merely survive.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, an employee, a leader of a team or division or you want to tackle the WHY of your entire organization, discovering the WHY injects passion into your work. And it’s those who start with WHY that have the ability to inspire those around them.

If you’ve ever started a business or taken on a new career challenge or even a major life change, you realize YOU must be something more. Your perception of the new role carries a weight that demands more. Getting to “more” requires a form of change. Whether you like it or not, this essential change is what causes the greatest hurdles to successfully making the move.

Consciously or subconsciously, you know a change is needed, but how and where do you start with that change? I like what both writers mentioned above have to say about WHY. Finding your why is the center of the answer for the change.

If you pursue a change without knowing your why, you are just shooting in the dark. Yes, you might be able to make some logical decisions about the change that has to happen, yet even if you adopt those changes, your results may be less than rewarding.

Finding your why is vital to growing a business or rising to the next level in life. Take my FREE Career Satisfaction Survey.

Here’s a story

Two years ago I wanted to do more about my physical condition. I was getting older, less flexible and packing on a few too many pounds. I definitely sensed the need for change. I chose to join a program that helped me accomplish my goals. I didn’t just hire a coach, but I essentially hired a whole culture of change. The fitness program and the gym itself was off the chart (I loved it). What they taught about eating and food content also made sense to me; not just some radically weird diet like eating cardboard wrappers off cereal boxes.

With my own commitment to the program, I did exactly what I had hoped to do. I lost almost 25 pounds, changed pant sizes twice, and generally felt better. Plus it was a program that stuck. But do you want to know the real reason it worked? They insisted I find my why before I ever started. They didn’t want my membership fees unless I could explain my own why.

Where have you ever seen that in a gym program? It made all the difference. Oh, and my why was about connecting with the legacy I want to have with my 7 grandkids. I knew I needed to fix some health issues before I could expect to be around for their graduations and weddings.

What is YOUR Why?

You may have read some of the books or heard Simon Sinek’s great TED talk, but have you done the work? Have you figured out your why? Finding your why is not as difficult as you might think.

The process to find your why often requires taking a look back at some signposts in your life. Seeing the history of where you have been and what you have done can go a long way to helping you discover your why. What experiences did the most to inspire and energize you?

Ask yourself some questions

We should take a step back and ask ourselves some questions. You can start by asking yourself a few of these:

  • Why is it that you do what you do?
  • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
  • What does a great day look like?
  • What does success look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real success feel like for you?
  • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

You could also ask yourself these follow-up questions:

  • What do you hate about your current job role or career?
  • Why don’t you do something else?
  • What does a bad day look like?
  • What is it you don’t enjoy about your job and why?
  • What does failure look like beyond the paycheck?
  • What does real failure feel like for you?

Once again, it’s essential that you know your professional purpose before you tackle your personal brand. If you don’t take control of your brand image and who you are, someone else will.

Often, the simple process of taking a step back and taking stock of where you are at and where you want to go can answer a raft of questions that can point your professional career in a more meaningful and satisfying direction.

Question: Have you found your why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

If the effort to find your why has left you searching, perhaps a coach can help. Not just any coach, but someone who has the training, experience, and passion (their own why) to come alongside and help.

 

Leaders: Are You Equipping Others?

We are a tribal species. The human race thrives best when groups of people live, work, and act in support of one another. Yes, differences can arise, but for the most part, we achieve the best when we operate within a group. Leaders who focus on equipping others can build the better tribes.

Equipping the tribe

Equipping the tribe

To lead such a group requires not just personal accomplishment, but group advancement too. Becoming a better person is not limited to the leader’s responsibility alone. The leader must be able to equip others within the organization to grow and prosper. There are different kinds of growth to consider. The levels of equipping for this growth change depending upon the subject. Here are a few areas to find.

  • Growth in knowledge and understanding for a task
  • Increase in personal sense of achievement
  • Basic prosperity
  • Sense of well-being, belonging

Leaders have the daunting task of doing the equipping of those in their tribe so that members of the team make appropriate contributions to the group as a whole. The best question a business leader can ask is team is “how can I help you?” That matter opens the door for productive growth discussions. It builds trust and allows the group member to express needs for ways to make the team and the business better.

Starting with that simple question begins the process of equipping your team, your tribe, your community with ways to grow and thrive.

Growth in knowledge and understanding for a task

For any employee or associate to make the best contribution to the greater good, they must be equipped with the basic understanding of the work they have been assigned to do. Yes, we often hire skill sets that we believe can make the right choices. However, every business has its own set of process and procedures to follow so that the outcome is consistent. You must equip individual team members with the knowledge of those requirements.

This is why training is such a big deal at most companies. We train about the process, procedure, regulatory matters, safety, production, and so on. Growing your team’s understanding of these things allows them to operate in proper accord with your vision and mission. Otherwise, they might be doing things that are functionally correct, but inconsistent with your brand’s objectives.

If I’m supposed to fry a quarter pound hamburger patty, but I make them half a pound instead, the customer may be happy, but my burger hut won’t last long. Conversely, if the patty is just a few ounces, not a full quarter pound, the customer may be angry. Again, my little burger hut won’t last long. If I teach my team to make fantastic quarter-pound hamburgers with just the right ratio of meat to bun, then I can build a brand that attracts repeat business from happy customers.

Growth in personal sense of achievement

Much is written and studied these days about employee engagement. The most frequently rated topic is the notion of an individual sense of accomplishment. People want to come to work or to their tribe setting able to be rewarded with a sense of doing something meaningful. It makes good common sense. People think if what I do doesn’t mean anything, why should I do it. It’s wiring in the brain folks.

As leaders, we can encourage our team to do more by equipping them with this sense of achievement. This cannot be a false accolade, as people smell that a mile away. No, it has to be real, practical, and meaningful acknowledgment for things done well and done right. Nothing should be taken for granted.

The way you as a leader communicate the accomplishments of a team means a lot. You need to do it in group settings and individually with your team. I am an advocate for a management practice called Big 5. It sets a framework and a process by which employees (or any team members like volunteer organizations) can make routine, monthly reports of the things they think are accomplishments. The manager reviews the reports and sets a time to go over the details of the person, every month. It allows a routine for talking about individual achievement. Companies and organizations who have adopted Big 5 have seen employee engagement rise significantly.

Leaders offering a framework like Big 5 can prove they are equipping their people with ways to experience a personal sense of achievement.

Basic prosperity

The leader’s role in equipping their followers with an underlying sense of well-being is, in my mind, a tricky subject. I mean how much can I, as a leader, worry about making someone happy. The answer is I cannot. However, I can build an environment for my team wherein there is a sense of worth and a sense of growth that happens.

A leader must engage their followers in ways to recognize their individuality while still showing a way for them to have a meaningful place on the team (see above). To the extent that you and your company can impact financial prosperity, you must do so. It is the reward for the individual’s contribution to the work effort. Success though is not limited to financial matters.

The mental environment is critical too. Stress, pressure, and outside distractions must be controlled as much as possible by the leader. Equipping your team with a healthy environment for doing their work adds to a sense of prosperity.

Sense of well-being, belonging

Lastly, if we as leaders can equip our followers with a healthy sense of belonging, they will become faithful followers of our cause. This is not cult-like following, but stable, efficient building of the climate for helping your tribe want to belong. When your followers are happy they are there, you will achieve more and see better results. It will make people want to show up each day, ready to get to work, whatever that effort may be.

Again, this is not limited to the traditional workplace. These principles apply to the community, church, and even home life.

Question: In what others ways can you think of ideas for equipping your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.