I’ve been writing about leading a team this week.
Today I’m going to share all of the pieces you MUST build to lead a team of individuals, instead of chairing a committee. Tomorrow I’ll share exactly how we do it at Two-Brain Business.
Your role as Owner is to create the platform on which your staff can build careers. That means the greatest gift you’re giving them is opportunity; the second greatest is stability. In our parents’ generation, these were flipped: stability came first, and opportunity occurred in a very limited way inside a fixed hierarchy.
That means our ideal staff is intrapreneurial: they’re self-starters who will work hard on their own ideas. But we, the owners, still bear the burden of financial risk. They have unlimited upside if they choose to pursue it. The risk they take is with their time. Your job is to show them the path to their goals; measure their progress; and keep them moving forward instead of sideways.
Step 1: “What Do You Want Now?”
Have your team record their “Perfect Day”. Ask them what they require (time, money, freedom, feelings) to make their Perfect Day happen.
Repeat this every quarter, because people change over time.
Step 2: “Here’s what you have to do to get there.”
Clearly show your team how many clients they’ll need to recruit; or how many sales they’ll have to make. In other words, show them exactly how they contribute to the business, and how that will get them to their Perfect Day scenario. We call these KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). It’s critical for each person on the team to understand how they affect KPIs, and how the KPIs affect their personal goals.
Step 3: Let them get some reps. This is where the “failing forward” concept applies. If your team is working on a clear plan and making attempts that don’t work out, that’s fine. If they’re just showing up every day, trying random things without a path, failing to measure outcomes with KPIs–then failing is just failing. That’s NOT okay.
But a team following a plan should be given the leeway to screw up a few times. A $10M company will need a $10M team. And it’s a lot cheaper to make mistakes at the $1M level than to wait.
Step 4: Evaluate. This is probably the most-neglected advice we give entrepreneurs. Everyone knows they SHOULD evaluate their staff’s performance; very few actually do. That’s because, until this point, the entrepreneur is able to remove feelings and emotions from the conversation. Evaluations make that hard.
But failure to evaluate is doing your staff a huge disservice. If you’re not telling them what they’re doing right (and what they’re doing wrong), you’re lying to them. You’re keeping secrets. If they need correction, it will be a surprise. If they’re doing a great job, it will also come as a surprise. Either way, evaluations become more emotional if they’re infrequent.
The largest mistake I ever made with evaluations was this: I waited until I was mad, and then booked a performance review! That’s unfair to everyone.
Experience isn’t the best teacher; reflected experience is. John Maxwell
If your staff is on the wrong path, they deserve to know so they can fix it.
You must deliver feedback the TwoBrain Way: first with the head, then with the heart, then with the hands.
In other words, think about what you want the team member to do; then correct them in the way that will get the best response; and then make sure they do it.
I’d like to stop here and address the phrase: “The people who got you here might not be the people who can take you to the next level.” I’m a firm believer in this phrase. However, because I really love my team, I want to give them every opportunity to BE the people who take Two-Brain to the next level.
That means letting them “get reps” while we’re still a $3M company, instead of learning things later. Good lessons are cheap when you’re not making money. But they only get more expensive.
The key is feedback: KPIs and evaluations. Give them a goal, and help them adjust their sights when they miss.
Step 5: If a team member appears unable to meet the TwoBrain standard, I ask myself these four questions:
- Have I told them EXACTLY what I want them to do? It’s hard to believe, but in 2019, people still can’t read my mind. People don’t see through my eyes, or imagine with my brain. I have to tell them exactly what to do, and probably more than once.
- Have I given them an emotional reason to succeed? In other words, can they see how doing the job THIS way benefits them and the client they’re trying to serve? Or do they think it’s just “my way or the highway”?
- Have I shown them the price for NOT doing it? Do they understand the consequences for themselves, the company, and our clients? Do they know how failure will affect their KPIs and future?
- Would they be happier being a client than being on staff? If so, it’s time to let them go.
Most businesses don’t actually have people problems; they have process problems. Read about the difference here. But when you DO have people problems, follow those four steps to solve them.
Step 6: Grow as a leader. Your leadership skills must evolve at least as quickly as your team does. This has been the greatest challenge for me personally, but that’s why I have a mentor and call her every week!