The Tribes

Winter here has been weird.

In a week and a half, the temps have varied from 65 to 8.

Running has been a challenge.

Some days are cold, some are warm.

My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.

Luckily I am part of a Tribe.

The Running Tribe.

The Running Tribe spends time together.

The Running Tribe encourages each other.

The Running Tribe is a little weird.

The Running Tribe laughs together, especially while waiting around for the start of strange races that get us outside despite the weather.

Life can be weird.

In a week and a half, I can go from confident to insecure, happy to sad, encouraged to frustrated.

Leading can be a challenge.

Parenting can be a challenge.

Partnering can be a challenge.

Friendships can be a challenge.

Some days are cold, some are warm.

My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.

We need more Tribes.

Tribes for each challenge.

A Leadership Tribe.

A Parenting Tribe.

A Partnering Tribe.

A Friendship Tribe.

Find the Tribes.

Create the Tribes.

Join the Tribes.

Join My Tribes.

Let’s try doing these things together.

 

Balancing Processes, You, and the Customer

Creating and running a business is not easy work.

You have competing demands of your time, attention, and energy.

Success increases that competition.

Success increases the demands.

You start to grow.

You start to expand.

Things start to break.

The old ways are not enough.

Processes.

Processes are created and updated.

Processes start to build the right foundation: forms, agreements, and structure.

Processes are designed to make things more uniform, more streamlined.

Processes are meant to free up time and energy.

You.

You need increased capacity.

You start to discover and learn your own style, skills, and “highest and best use.”

You are good at some things.

You are not so good at other things.

You may need to give some things away to others.

The Customer.

The Customer likes what you have to offer.

The Customer still remembers when they took the risk on you.

The Customer likes how they used to connect with you.

The Customer wants to continue without a lot of disruptive change.

Balancing Processes, You and the Customer can be a challenge.

Some Processes can upset the Customer.

You may resist the Processes because it feels confining.

The Processes may put a little distance between You and the Customer.

The Customer may always want to speak directly to You.

Building and scaling a business is not easy.

Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on just one of the areas.

When we focus only on Processes – we unleash rules, policies, and procedures that can choke off flexibility and creativity.

When we focus only on You – we can get lost in self-reflection, doubt, and self-criticism.

When we focus only on the Customer – we suffer, compromise, and become spread too thin.

Balancing Processes, You and the Customer is even harder when you grow.

What Processes do You really need? Which make our jobs easier with the least impact to the Customer, and the largest return on time/energy for You?

Where should You be spending the bulk of your time?

What does the Customer really want from You and any Processes?

As you scale, remember to ask questions and regularly spend time thinking about all three.

Putting Your Friends Out

We live near an airport.

When our friends fly, our home transforms into a park-and-ride.

When our friends fly, our home can also transform into a bed-and-breakfast.

We offer this service.

We are trying to be good friends, not bad friends.

Some participate.

Some don’t.

We hear similar reasons from our friends who don’t.

“We don’t want to be a burden.”

“We don’t want to inconvenience you.”

“We don’t want to put you out.”

Putting your friends out.

The intention is noble.

But helping is not Putting Your Friends Out.

(Unless you are that one friend with a pickup truck and everyone expects you to help move, then we are totally tracking with you.)

Is it a little inconvenient to drive to the airport at weird, early, or late hours? Yep.

It it always the best time? Nope.

Then why do friends offer to help?

Because everyone’s lives are so busy, sometimes the only time we get to connect and see folks are on those small drives to and from the airport.

Connecting with those around us that we care about is hard.

Find the small moments to connect.

The trip to the airport.

The errands.

The grocery store.

Waiting in some line.

Dropping off their car for an oil change/repairs.

The ride to and from [soccer, dance, hockey, or whatever] lessons.

Remember you are not Putting Your Friends Out.

Maybe they are just trying to connect.

Some of my fondest memories are small moments doing the most routine things with my closest friends.

 

Treat Them Well

Treat them well.

Who?

Your employees.

Why?

There are a few reasons.

Reason One: Well treated employees are more productive, engaged, treat customers better, and will contribute to your bottom line. Employees (the right ones of course) are great assets who provide service, innovate, invent, and create.

Reason One is the “right” thing to do, but somethings are interfering with it.

This is not a complete list, but here are a few interference observations.

The Recession. The fears associated with economic decline cause a retreating, and no or low investment in people. Years go by, and despite economic improvement, the pattern of retreat and non-investment continues.

Old Patterns and Mindsets. Recognizing only a certain type of employee performance or style. Thinking that employees are “lucky to have a job” or “don’t have the same work ethic as we did.” Having benefits structured in a way that access to them requires long periods of service. These patterns sometimes go unnoticed by those in the pattern, but have negative results on current employees.

The Incumbent Bargain. Not realizing that the person holding the job today is well below market price. Through a series of decisions (see other observations for insight) you may be completely unaware of the current one-sided deal you are getting.

On to the other reasons (as if Reason One wasn’t enough).

Reason Two: Unemployment rates have been steadily declining. When I assist organizations trying to find talent, it feels more like trying to pan for gold, long after the gold rush has moved on. With rates below 3% in my own State, essentially there is almost no-one left, and other companies are going to start stealing your talented employees.

Reason Three: The Old Patterns and Mindsets not only create dissatisfaction with current employees (essentially incentivizing them to look elsewhere) but also position your organization at a disadvantage to attract new talent. You may find your organization is in a death-spiral of employees leaving and no easy way to replace them.

Reason Four: It is going to cost you if you have not been attentive to the market shifting around you. If the Incumbent Bargain is not on your radar screen, you may be surprised what it will cost you to replace your experienced and knowledgeable employees. More and more today I hear “we are going to have to pay what?” when it comes to replacing existing employees. The “you are lucky to have a job” may soon be replaced with “you are lucky to still have me” dialogue.

Whatever reason you choose Treat Them Well, you may be surprised if you don’t.

 

The Leadership Crockpot

crockpot-step-1

(Images courtesy of Family Fresh Meals)

“Leadership is a lot like cooking in a crockpot.”

“What do you mean?”

“You put all these little things together, but it takes time for them to connect and combine. Eventually you have something.”

The Leadership Recipe is not a quick stir fry.

You don’t become a great leader by reading one book.

You don’t become a great leader by applying one principle.

You don’t become a great leader by learning a little about yourself.

You don’t become a great leader because you own a business.

You don’t become a great leader when you have people to supervise.

crockpot-step-2

Leadership is a long slow process.

Becoming a great leader is the result of many individual items, when combined over time creates something new.

Below is a partial Leadership ingredient list:

  1. Continual reflection on your style: when does it work, and when does it need to be modified.
  2. BPTT even when, or especially when you are busy.
  3. Overcoming Fear and overcoming Fear.
  4. Combating your Narrator.
  5. Understanding differences between people.
  6. Daily discipline.

crockpot-step-3

As these items simmer, you add a few more.

Eventually you have something.

But unlike soup, the Leadership Recipe continually requires additional ingredients.

A dash of understanding.

A pinch of flexibility.

A little spice – to make it interesting.

A healthy few cups of feedback.

Do you want to be a great leader?

Be prepared for a lifetime in the Leadership Crockpot.

P.S. Leave a comment on the key ingredients in your Leadership Crockpot.

Descriptions versus Reasons

canadian-bacon

Canadian Bacon.

It is a thing we are into at the moment.

Each week, I take a number.

I stand in the long line.

Numbers are called, I glance down at my number.

More numbers, more glances.

Don’t want to miss it.

Anticipation.

The Magic Number.

The description.

A pound, sliced medium.

A pound, sliced not too thin.

A pound, sliced kinda thick.

Each time the result disappoints.

Too thick. Too thin. Never just right.

But there was yesterday.

The description.

A pause and a question.

“Are you making breakfast sandwiches?”

“Yes.”

“Then I know exactly what you need.”

A perfect thickness.

A satisfied customer.

How often do we try to meet the customer’s description without understanding the reasons why they need something?

Descriptions are helpful.

Reasons are magic.

Making Cabinets

building-cabinets

“It was easier when I was making cabinets.”

“Why, what was different?”

“At the end of the day, I could see and feel my progress. Now I just deal with people and it is hard to know if I accomplished anything.”

As I reflect on my own work. I can relate.

A lot of what we do is less measurable, less tangible.

It is certainly easier when you make something. It wasn’t there before. You built it. It now exists. You can see it.

Ideas, thoughts, managing, leading are harder to quantify.

But we are still making.

Building ideas.

Crafting thoughts.

Developing people.

Creating and expanding organizations.

“Maybe it would be easier to ask yourself a simple question at the end of the day: What Cabinets Did I Make Today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about your work now in terms of cabinets because that is where you started. Take your interactions with customers, sales gained, estimates written, and turn then into cabinets.”

“You are a little weird.”

“Yeah I know, but keep tracking. This will tie your current work to the familiar and fulfilling work that you keep longing to do again.”

“I can try. So when I complete four estimates in a day, that may be a cabinet? Instead of not feeling like I am making progress, I can look at that pile of paper, and see a cabinet?”

“Yes, making cabinets out of your current work.”

Maybe that is how we can all calibrate our time, our effort. Think about our work in terms that are familiar and comfortable. A lot of our lives can feel like spinning our wheels instead of Making Cabinets.

What Cabinets are you making?

What [insert your cool creative thing here] have you built today?

Go. Make a difference. Make Cabinets.

 

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