Give More, Get More – Employee Motivation at its Best

In the past few weeks I’ve heard a lot from Boomers and Gen X about how hard it is to manage the upcoming generations. And, yes, there are now 2 younger generations in the workforce – Gen Y (the millennials) and Gen Z (mostly interns right now).

In an interview a couple of years ago, Jack Welch observed that a common goal, a higher purpose, will make your company an exciting place to work and give younger employees a reason to work with you. You’ll also get “discretionary effort” – that is, that little bit of extra creativity, focus, energy that makes all the difference.

Once you know where you’re going, tell them how you’re going to get there, and make sure they know what behaviors are expected of them.  Then if you see them doing what you want, let them know! It’s not a secret!

“Create role models,” Welch advised. “If you see millennials grabbing onto an idea and doing what you like to see, blow the horn, cue the band, and shine a spotlight on it.”

To get crystal clear about your vision, your expectations, and who needs to be on your team to get there, you couldn’t ask for a more effective set up tools than the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). Contact me to learn more; if EOS resonates with you, I’ll give you 90 minutes of my time to explain the process in detail, then you can decide from there how you’ll implement it!

Contact me

 

Posted in: Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce

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Jump the Leadership Chasm

shutterstock_155633888Greg had a big people problem – well, person problem. He had built his engineering firm from 3 people to 35 with the help of a good friend’s son. Justin was hired to sell and market – and boy did he! A typical millennial, he was excited to work events where he found customers and great connections. Greg was the closer. Back at the office Justin pivoted to automate the delivery of customer-ready documents. When a different kind of project came through the door, he found an app to manage work flow so his engineers could stay focused on design and specs, then, back out the door again to beat the bushes for more business. Greg and Justin were twin whirlwinds in almost perfect sync.

Then the business grew. Great, right?

If you’ve been there, you know what happened next. Greg needed Justin to focus on what he was hired for – a marketing plan, a sales plan. Justin agreed, but thought Greg’s approach was a little old-fashioned. They hired other people to manage operations and projects. Justin continued to attend events and be great at networking. No plan surfaced. Greg’s frustration met Justin’s “different ideas” about how to plan, but it was hard for them to tell exactly where the breakdown was. The friendship began to deteriorate. Employees got conflicting direction.

Enter the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS). As the leadership team used the Accountability Chart™ to clarify roles they would need to grow to the next level, Justin realized he didn’t want to let go of operations… or sales… or being Greg’s go-to for everything.

Greg:  “We had a conversation that had been brewing for a year. It cleared the air. The next step was painful for all of us.”

Justin:  “Lynda helped us gain the clarity we needed to go our separate ways. I’m grateful that it came to light in a way that kept our relationship whole.”

And now? Someone who loves to market and manage sales has taken over that seat. The team feels more productive and the company is 2 months ahead of its sales targets. Justin continued in a non-leadership role, finishing a couple of projects he was working on while the whole team activated their networks to help him find another company in more of a start-up mode. Justin is thinking that he can make a good living helping companies during those critical first five years – “not everyone thrives with that kind of crazy, but I do!”, he says.

Use the discipline of an accountability chart to define the seats you need for you to get what you want out of your firm in the next year. To learn how, call or write me. I’ll give you 90 minutes of my time so you can see how EOS can help you get the right people in the right seats to attain your vision!

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Posted in: Business Coaching, Leadership, Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce, Planning

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It’s So Hard To Find & Keep Good People

As unemployment rates have gone down, this complaint has become more common.  Whether it’s tied to a feeling that the younger generation doesn’t fit the workplace (see previous post) or the anguish of watching a great hire crash and burn, getting and keeping great people for your company is usually one of the top frustrations we hear about from business owners.  I’m sorry to say that it may not be economic conditions or the educational system – it may be you… The good news is, this is a huge issue in most companies so you’re not alone – and it can be fixed!

Okay, how?

It's Magic!Take a deep breath that includes a lot of patience – you’re going to need it. One big answer is Process.  Then Structure. I know – boring. Not magic.

Well, let me take that back! It is magic!

Having a process to recruit, hire, and develop employees will force you and your leadership team to get clear about what’s working and what isn’t. Included in that process is a speech about your company values – your real, we-reek-of-them, they-are-core-to-who-we-are, values. Try to scare potential employees off! If they don’t love your values, they won’t love working with you and you won’t get what you want out of them. The magic comes from being on the same page and not having to fight about what is important.

Ditto for structure.  Talk to everyone about your vision every quarter.  Where are you going? How do you plan to get there?  What do you expect from them to achieve that vision?  Define roles and accountabilities, give every person a number to hit.  Now expectations are clear.  Energy is unleashed.  Those who don’t have the capacity or desire for their roles will flush out.  You probably won’t even have to fire them (very few leaders can stand firing people). Your best people will thrive. Your dreams will thrive. It really is magic.

Remember the deep breath? The patience? Implementing structure and process consistently is where the patience comes in. It takes guts, and determination, and persistence. But you’re an entrepreneur, so you have that. You might not have time to learn the best ways to implement, you may need help staying with it, keeping it consistent.

There’s a great book, Traction that gives you a simple, complete set of tools to take away 80% of the frustration called people. Download the first chapter here.

You’ll be joining 2200 other business owners who have found renewed joy in growing their companies.

 

 

Posted in: Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce, Structure

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“This Younger Generation Is Going To The Dogs!”

hieroglyphicsThat’s a quote from a bit of graffiti Napoleon’s soldiers found while excavating in Egypt.

The graffiti was from 800 B.C.

There were other comments on that wall – the younger generation apparently didn’t respect their elders, had no work ethic, and were not following tradition

Sound familiar?

We hear a lot now about what a challenge it is to manage those self-indulgent millennials in the work force.  And from millennials about how difficult it is to communicate with those workaholic boomers, or me-generation Xers.  My mother used to tell me that every generation faces its own challenges, and gets equipped for those challenges out of necessity.  In the process we pick up traits from the way we are taught, the social atmosphere, and the big events that shape our world.  And yet, at the heart of it all, every individual wants some version of happiness, some way to fulfill their drive and dreams.  Find a way to channel that into how you’re building your company and you’ll have incredibly productive, creative employees who will realize their dreams while they’re helping you realize yours.

To make this possible, get very very real about your values and the roles that people are held accountable for.  Then ask good questions, and listen carefully.  This is where the common ground between generations can be found.  Individual strengths and weaknesses, filtered through the traits that get identified with “those younger (or older!) people” can be used to build a team with the strength of multiple perspectives.  Yes, generalization about millennials make them sound like grade school children run amok.  Get closer.  Listen.  Many in this generation have strong community values, and will lend all their creativity and energy to an endeavor they feel part of.  Watch them light up when they actually hear clearly from you as a leader where you’re trying to go.

Last week there was a great article about Mic – “a media site created by and for millennials” – if you’re struggling with how to integrate millennials into your workforce, take time to read about their perspective and look for how their strengths can help you.

Want to know how to get the best out of your employees, and give your best too?

Contact me for a free 90 minute consultation.

Posted in: Millenials, Multi Generation Workforce

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A Clear Money Path

shutterstock_253235890-smWhen Craig started his engineering firm, it was just him and Angie. Three years later, there were thirty people working for him. Craig describes himself as “an entrepreneur with an engineering degree” – it is his vision and salesmanship that has sparked the firm’s growth. With that growth has come the need to make decisions based on more data than what he can find in his hip pocket. He needed a clear view of the how money affected the path of his growth.

“I was used to making decisions about hiring and equipment purchases and marketing based on my ‘feel’ for how our cash was flowing. I’m used to functioning that way, but it did make me anxious, even though I was always pretty good at guessing right.

Then I started using a budget and cash flow projection tool. It was hard at first, and I really wanted to hand it off to someone else – anyone else! It’s a little embarrassing that it took me two years to really get the hang of it. I’m so glad my controller was patient!

The best thing is the freedom I feel!

This year, I did the projections and brought them to our annual planning meeting. We were able to use them to test our ideas against financial reality and do ‘what-ifs’ about market changes and hiring. Our controller feels like she has guidance and support and isn’t always having to be the bad guy when we say we need something. I feel in control of the growth, and, although I’m submitting to a discipline that I used to hate, well, did I mention the freedom from worry?”

The tool Craig used is available here.

Get with your controller or bookkeeper to help you fill in the numbers, then make a copy and use it to play what if about your growth plans. Many a company has strangled over cash flow even when highly profitable. Don’t let that happen to you!

Want expert guidance and advice as your business grows? Contact me for a free 90-minute consultation.

 

 

 

Posted in: Financial Management, Planning

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Is There a Hole in Your Cash Bucket?

hole in your cash bucket?Ever looked at your profitable income statement and wondered why there isn’t that much money in your bank account? You’re not alone – and many a profitable business has struggled to survive because they couldn’t manage cash well.

One step is to have a budget and cash flow projection tool.

If your strength is not the reconciliation of balance sheets and P&Ls to bank statements, and sometimes it feels like your accountant and controller are speaking a foreign language, it can feel as if one of your most important assets is hovering just out of your control.

Many of my clients have found this simple (not easy!) spreadsheet to be a way to get their arms around the details of their cash flow. The process of understanding it gives them sometimes shocking insights into how their business works and how the money is managed.

For Robert, a financial manager with excellent financial skills, it was a revelation.

“Maybe it took someone who’s not a professional numbers person to get simple enough to help us get the big picture – but this is incredible. For the first time (it’s embarrassing to admit) I have a long term view of how the cash in my business flows.”

Now he’s expanding through acquisition and hiring with great confidence because he has a tool that pulls together all the intricacies of expanding income, payroll costs, equipment purchases and bonuses.

As an EOS® Implementer it’s my job to help my client’s identify the holes in their buckets and help them fill it. My cash flow projection tool came out of my frustration for clients who couldn’t get the information they needed to figure out the impact of their decisions on their cash. It has had such an impact on every client I’ve given it to that I wanted to share.

Here’s a picture of it:

Download your budget worksheet

A pretty standard P&L budget. The magic is in the cash adjustments at the bottom, and the formulas. This allows leaders to look out a year, and to play “what if” with market, hiring and purchase decisions.

If you want the spreadsheet with the formulas and simple instructions for using it, click here.

Helping good business people get control of their business is my passion. That’s how my clients can live the lives they dreamed of when they took the risk of entrepreneurship!

Lynda

P.S. I’m a big fan of a folk singer named Odetta. Here’s the video of her singing at Carnegie Hall with Harry Belafonte. The song? “There’s a Hole in the Bucket!”

It made me laugh – haven’t we all had conversations like this in our business life? No time to watch the video, read the lyrics. You’ll get the idea. But seriously, who can pass up such great singers having such fun?

Posted in: Financial Management, Planning

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Take Care of Your Money

Take care of your money – isn’t that more motivating than “financial management”?

business money managementYou’re busy. There’s a client issue to solve. You’ve got to follow-up with that potential client you met yesterday. Your employees, even your leaders, are clamoring for attention. There’s money in the bank. Your accountant is good. Income statements and spread sheets are time consuming and require focused attention – maybe tomorrow evening you’ll have some time, or maybe next week.

I know.

It doesn’t always feel productive to work on the financial minutae.

And it’s complicated.

Here’s my advice:  If you haven’t done so already, figure out:

  • Where is my profit is coming from? (by client, by product, by service type)
  • How do my cash flow and that bottom line on my income statement relate?
  • How do my budget and cash flow projections for the year compare to reality each month?

Do those 3 things.  Get as simple as you can!

It’s not easy, and can take a year or two to really get in shape. Be patient.

Keep asking yourself, your team, your accountant, how you can most simply answer those two questions. Get it on your scorecard.

Over time, you’ll gain perspective on one of the two most important things your business stands on (the other one is people).

I know, from my own businesses and from helping my clients through this process, that when you can answer these 3 questions– annually, quarterly, monthly, even weekly:

  • You will build your “ability to predict” muscle as a business
  • Profitability will increase
  • Your team can make spending decisions wisely
  • Peace of mind will free leadership mind
  • A sense of control will return

That’s a lot of return on your investment of attention, time and energy. And the best thing is that once you’ve got the system in place, your money worries become much less of a distraction.

 

 

Posted in: Business Coaching, Planning

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Go Climb a Tree

shutterstock_145817480-300Our 5-year-old neighbor has fallen in love with the tree in her front yard. Mercifully for her mother’s peace of mind, it is not too tall. Watching her this weekend, we reminisced. My own favorite tree around the age of 10, until we moved 5 years later, was a weeping willow. High above the roofs, I would watch the storms rolling towards us across the Minnesota prairie, or on quieter days, sit still above the storms of junior high social life.

In EOS®, we talk about a team cutting its way through a forest. If someone doesn’t get up in a tree to guide the action, the team can easily burn through lots of fuel and time cutting a zigzag when they could be heading straight towards their goal.

When was the last time you climbed a tree above your business?

As momentum grows for 2016’s business goals, be sure you’re not zigging when you mean to be going straight. It can be hard to take the time and focus away from those all-important clients, that essential networking, but you will reap the benefits all year.

Besides, it can be surprisingly fun! Like the view and the wind at the top of a willow on the prairie.

Don’t want to be up the tree by yourself? Create a team that helps you lose the zigzag!  

Learn from the experience of over 2000 successful entrepreneurs.

Posted in: Business Coaching, Planning

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This has been the best year of my life!

shutterstock_256217692One Year Later…

“This has been the best year of my life!”

so said Scott, the founder of a CPA firm, at our annual planning session in December.

“When we did this plan last year, I did worry that we were over-reaching. We already had so much on our plates… but, the growth and changes were coming whether we were ready or not. We hit our revenue targets, invested in infrastructure for more growth, and we all got more time with our families. Unbelievable!”

Then Scott looked at his leadership team one at a time…

“Now, I look at what we’ve accomplished, and how the rest of you have stepped up, and I know we can hit our big hairy audacious 10-year target! I know we can do so much more next year! I’d go anywhere with this team.”

I confess, there were some teary eyes, including mine.

Making a plan that would work amid crazy growth and regulation changes had seemed impossible a year ago. A couple of team members had balked at being offsite for a whole day to make plans and try to remove stubborn issues that seemed to block every attempt the team made to grow.

Now, not only did they look back at a year of amazing progress, they knew how to wield a new tool to better control their business and their lives. They have built value in their company that rewards their risk, their time, their sweat. It has changed the way they run their business forever.

Every entrepreneur, every business leader, who works hard and takes risks and gives their all to building their organization, wants to feel this kind of success! Can you do it? Let’s talk! After less than 10 minutes on the phone, we can decide if a free 90-minute consultation is for you. Call Lynda now!  404-830-2400

Posted in: Planning

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Business Planning Isn’t Worth it!

business planning & strategyThey yawned. They paced. Do we HAVE to be here?

No, it wasn’t me taking my kids to see their great-uncle Ned to hear his stories about trains, AGAIN (insert groan, rolled eyes).

This week, it was enlisting leaders for a half-day planning session for the Board of Directors of my local Chamber of Commerce.

Is it really important? Can’t you just send us notes? Between the inherent restlessness of busy, energetic people and the situational ADHD of our ever-pinging phones, the idea of focusing on anything for half a day seems, well, just weird.

So why bother? What’s the return? Let’s talk about that…

Time: research shows that for every 1 minute of planning, you gain 10 minutes in execution. Yes, really, 10 times return on investment. Spend 4 hours, get 40. What could you do with 36 more productive hours?

Focus: You have a lot of energy. Not infinite, but a lot. Think about the sun. Spend enough time under its millions of kilowatts and you might get a sunburn. Focus a few of those kilowatts through a laser – you can cut steel, or pretty designs in anything. Focus yourself and your team, and the energy you’ve been using being very busy will become as productive as that laser.

Speaking of energy: A planning session, done right, ends with participants saying “I’m re-energized.” “I’m excited about our future.” “I can’t wait to work with Justin on…” “Wait until our clients see what we’ve come up with – it’s going to be explosive!”

shutterstock_274167260Wouldn’t you like to hear your team saying that? Wouldn’t you like to feel like that? Time, focus, renewed energy – that’s the ROI for good planning time. Try a focused planning session! You, and your team, may fight it at first, then you’ll fight for it.

While this is simple, it is not easy. I offer a free 90-minute consultation to you get headed in the right direction. We can decide in 5 minutes if that is a good investment for you. Or it could be there’s someone you care about that needs to see this – be sure to share!

Contact me to schedule a free 90-minute consultation

 

 

Posted in: Business Coaching

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