As a kid I learned about balance.  I once made Kool-Aid without putting any sugar in it. Add the mix to water and stir. The results were not good.  The reason is the ingredients weren’t in the proper proportion or were missing altogether.  Companies without balance between autonomy and accountability have the same problem: bad results.

So what do we do?  First, let’s define the terms.  Accountability means being held responsible for results and actions while autonomy is having self-directing freedom or being self-governed. Leaders and managers want the former and employees the latter.  Below, you will see a high-functioning team requires both.

The Results
  • Disengagement – Employees with little control over how they do their job and a lack of clarity on the expected outcome won’t be highly engaged.
  • Chaos – Giving employees complete freedom with no guidelines or expectations results in results and processes that are all over the board.
  • Micromanagement – Employees feel they are being micromanaged when there are strict results expected but they have little say on how to do their job including making decisions and suggesting improvements.
  • High-performance – Employees who have reasonable discretion on reaching meaningful, realistic goals create the sweet spot for producing high-performing team.

As you can see, it is crucial that companies balance autonomy and accountability.  First, you must create accountability for people to know the desired outcome and how they will be measured.  And you can only give autonomy to employees who demonstrate they can handle it; this makes hiring the right people important.

Start your journey to high performing teams by first determining what success looks like for the company.  Next, do the same for individual departments and team members.  Then build on that by giving feedback on slowly giving people more freedom in their roles.

If you need help with accountability and autonomy, you can CONTACT US.  Also, you can connect with us on https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

The hill was more than I bargained for.  It was a struggle and I should have realized earlier that is was time to act now.

I had all kinds of excuses: the weather was bad.  I didn’t have time.  It could wait another day.  I had other plans.

No, I wasn’t hiking up a steep section of trail or riding my mountain bike up a hill.  I was mowing my yard. If you have ever used a manual reel mower in a bermudagrass lawn, you know what I am talking about.

You can’t put off cutting the grass or the work required to cut it goes up exponentially.  The grass grows taller and thicker every day.  It is much easier to stay on top of it before it gets out of control.

The issues we face in business or life are the same.  Avoid, ignoring, or putting off the issue rarely makes it easier to deal or go away.  Usually it just makes it harder to deal with later.

For example, an employee who isn’t a good fit isn’t going to just change.  They will create friction with others on the team or not produce the results you want.  You either must intervene through giving feedback, or you have to remove them from the team or the company.

And while you wait to take action, the damage they cause continues to mount.  Bad attitudes become contagious.  People leave to find

Decisions and actions about upgrading your infrastructure, replacing your software, adding or removing products and services you offer are no different.  And you aren’t going to magically get in better shape physically or strengthen relationships with inaction.

If you need to make a change or address a problem, act now.  Don’t let it become a bigger challenge than it has to be.

OPG can help you assess your situation and walk with you as you take action. You can reach out to us here CONTACT US or connect with us on https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/

Sometimes you initiate change, and sometimes it is forced on you.  Regardless of how you got there, you must deal with it.  Facing change isn’t always easy or wanted.

Key employees leave.  New technology disrupts the market.  Your exit strategy or timeline changes.  Maybe your business has grown beyond your capacity to manage it all effectively.

As a business grows, business owners eventually come to a point where they need a leadership team to share the load.  Depending on the where the company is, hiring full-time executives may not be needed or even financially realistic.  The decision to expand the leadership time is a change you initiate.

The sudden loss of a key leader is but one change that is forced on you.  You must decide how to re-organize the workload and responsibilities or to find and replace that leader.

In all these situations, a fractional COO can step in.  They can be a part-time resource to bridge the gap until you are ready and need a full-time executive.  They can also help define the COO role so you can find the right candidate.  Whether you need someone for a few hours per week or several days per week, you can keep the business moving forward.

Opal Partners offers COO Bridge as a way to help businesses bridge the gap when they need to add to their leadership team but aren’t ready for a full-time resource.

If your business is facing change and a fractional COO can help you, CONTACT US  or find us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

 

It’s lonely at the top.  We’ve created a myth of the confident CEO or business owner who has all the answers. Deep down, you know you don’t have all the answers.

The truth:  no one does.

CEOs of larger businesses may have a proven executive team who can act as a sounding board.  They can bring different perspectives to important issues.  Together they develop strategies and implement plans to grow, strengthen, and increase the value of the business.

Small business owners may not have the luxury of an experienced leadership team.  The need to have others challenge ideas and talk through issues is just as real.  An outside advisor may be the answer.

Fractional COOs can fill that need in a few hours a month.  They bring real-world experience from other companies and industries building on past successes and lessons learned.  They give the business owner a confidential resource to discuss real problems with someone who understands.

If you own a small business and need someone to bring a new perspective, challenge you, or just bounce ideas off, consider engaging a fractional COO as an advisor.  They can help you explore ideas and options when you don’t have all the answers.

If you are interested in OPG’s COO Advisor services, contact us at CONTACT US or on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

Business owners can be idea machines.  Your business started as an idea, and ideas keep the business fresh and relevant.  By themselves don’t accomplish anything unless you turn ideas into reality.

Unless you can accomplish something by the stroke of a pen, you have to dedicate time, staff, and resources to a project to bring ideas to life.

Do you have more ideas and initiatives than you or your staff have time to actually execute? You aren’t alone.  Augmenting your team with a temporary resource may be the answer.  Engaging a fractional COO for a project is often a business’ first foray into the world of fractional executives.

Fractional COOs have the experience to understand the goals you want to achieve, provide leadership to the project team (both internal and external), and guide the project from planning through execution.

Hiring a fractional COO for a project gives you the additional horsepower you need when you need it for as long as you need it.  It’s a cost-effective way to do more with less.  At Opal Partners, we have a service called COO Project to fill that need.

If  you need help to turn ideas into reality, contact Opal Partners at CONTACT US. You can also check us out at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

Recently, I had two very different experiences with customer service that proved to be a master class in how to deal with customers.  Both situations concerned lost packages, and I spoke with the shipper rather than the company selling the product.  The difference was stark and provides insights on how a company views customer service.

Company A is a large well-known online store that uses its own delivery personnel as well as other carriers.  Company B is a quasi-governmental entity that delivers to every address the U.S.

Interacting with the companies

With Company A, I was able to chat, submit an inquiry online, or ask for a callback.  The response was prompt.  After explaining the situation (lost package), the company immediately sent me a replacement and extended my membership with them by two months for free for the inconvenience.  They took responsibility for contacting the seller and handling any transactions between them.

Company B only gave me the option of filling out an online inquiry and asked for information that I, as the recipient, did not have.  I received a call the next day and was told nothing could be done until the shipment had been delayed for 30 days.  The person I spoke with said she could help me if the package was lost in the city she was in but since it hadn’t been received from their initial shipping facility, she couldn’t help me.  She suggested that I should just have the originating company send me a replacement.

The results

The first company was quick to address the problem and make it easy on me, the customer.  The second suggested that someone else pay for their mistake by replacing the product, had rules that prevented them from helping me, and ultimately yielded the same result as if I never contacted them.  They checked the box and closed the issue without accomplishing anything.

Which company do you think improved my opinion of them and which one didn’t?  Easy call. I will go out of my way not to use Company B.

What does this mean for you?

As you think about your business and its interactions with clients, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do our processes and policies improve or damage our reputation?
  • Do we make it easy for customer to work with us?
  • Is our goal to check the box or resolve the problem for our customer?
  • Is a customer problem an annoyance or an opportunity to build a relationship?
  • If you were a customer of your own company, would your view of your customer service change?

You can improve or damage your reputation with every interaction with your existing customers.  Which are you doing?  Let OPG help you make improvements.  Connect with us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/ or click here to CONTACT US.

Location, location, location.   That has been the mantra of real estate for years.  Many employers, especially smaller businesses, also counted on location as a selling point.  Unless you were willing to move, people typically looked for jobs locally.  Location may not be a competitive advantage any longer.

The advent of remote work, work from home, telecommuting, or whatever the term in vogue today uses technology to allow people to decouple from the physical office of their employer depending on the nature of their work and their roles.  It was growing in acceptance before the global pandemic hit, and then it became a de facto norm out of necessity.

This has enormous implications for business.  The immediate challenges that most businesses are facing today are how to manage an increasingly remote workforce and how to keep them engaged and connected with each other.  These challenges have long been the ones businesses most focused on addressing.

The challenge that small business owners are going to face next is a shifting talent pool.  Leaders are now more aware and more open to hiring people who can work from anywhere.

Conversely, the local talent that small businesses used to depend on for filling key roles can work anywhere as well.  That means job searches are now regional, national, or even global even for people who can’t or won’t relocate.

For all businesses, the talent pool expanded, and so did the competition for the same candidates.

To compete in this environment, small businesses must make themselves more attractive to potential employees.  With location being less important, company culture, flexible work arrangements, and how you treat your employees take on more significance to candidates in addition to compensation and the nature of the work.

Small businesses must become adept at managing a distributed workforce and build their brand as an employer of choice to compete in today’s labor market.  Those who do will have a competitive advantage.

You can reach us at https://linkedin.com/in/cmatt or CONTACT US

Do you feel stuck?

On one hand, you’ve been “all in” on building your business for a long time. You need time to do those things that only you can do, or you need to devote time to family or passions outside the business. You can’t continue to do it all.

On the other hand, you don’t have the right people to offload certain tasks and you don’t want to add people in the current environment.

If you don’t change your approach, you will continue to get the same results. And you will feel stuck in the same place next year.  Things don’t just get better on their own.  You have to make a change.  Einstein is reported to have said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Fractional executives may be the solution. Experienced C-level part-time leaders who can take on responsibilities you don’t want and don’t need. Someone who can come alongside you to share the load and bring fresh experience and insights to your business.

Fractional leadership can bring your team needed bandwidth without adding full-time costs.  You save money on benefits, taxes, and PTO and you only pay for the expertise you need when you need it.  You can move your business forward without breaking the bank.

It’s time to get unstuck.  CONTACT US  for help or connect with us on https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/

“To everything there is a season…”

The writer of Ecclesiastes first recorded this timeless truth which was later popularized in music by The Byrds in the Pete Seeger song Turn! Turn! Turn!

The words remind us that the world is in constant change and that seasons come and go only to be repeated again.  Each one of us – and every business – will face changes as we go through life.  Nothing is constant or static, and nothing we can do will change that reality.

That means we and our businesses must adapt.  We must recognize when seasons are changing, when conditions indicate that we need to re-evaluate, adapt, and change.

a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build… a time to keep and a time to throw away.

The words tell us there is “a time to plant and a time to uproot… a time to tear down and a time to build… a time to keep and a time to throw away.”

What can we do with these words of wisdom?

Individually, we will endure change.  We must embrace it and recognize that it is a simple fact of life.  We have the power to choose how we respond to change and use it to foster our personal growth.

For businesses, it means there is a time to plan and plant seeds for future growth.  This may mean expanding your business with new locations, adding new products or services, or growing your team.  By extension, there will be a season in which you will reap the rewards of these actions and efforts.

Conversely, there will come a time when these things no longer provide the results you want.  A product will eventually be replaced by something newer, better, or cheaper.  Old ways of doing things will give way to newer ones.  The market will change and certain things will no longer be viable or needed.  When these things happen – and they will – a leader must recognize that a new season is approaching and make tough, even painful, decisions.

You may be facing a new season right now.  If so, do you recognize it, and are you willing to make the changes you need?

OPG can help you with the changes your business faces.  CONTACT US  or connect with us at https://linkedin.com/in/cmatt.

2020 didn’t turn out like you planned.  If this year were a road trip, you would have encountered detours, closed roads, and perhaps a few unexpected scenic overlooks along the way.  You may or may not have ended up at your destination.

Does that mean that planning isn’t worthwhile?  Of course not.

A plan does not guarantee you get the result you want.  Planning helps you think through what you want to achieve, what you should do to reach those goals, and what obstacles you may run into as you execute your plan.  Planning helps you prepare.

Dwight Eisenhower said ““In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”  While most of us aren’t planning maneuvers and commanding a military like Eisenhower was, we fight our own battles – new competitors, changes in the economy or technology, and staffing issues just to name a few.  Planning helps us focus our efforts and align our teams so we can be prepared for whatever comes our way.

You have to act on your plan

But you can’t stop there.  Once you determine your plan, you have to act.  It has been said that “you can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”  You can envision the future, but at some point you have to take action to make your plans come to fruition. You have to plan and then act on it.

Taking action and executing your plan isn’t as easy as it sounds.  It is too tempting to get distracted by what FranklinCovey calls the “whirlwind” – those daily and urgent tasks of running a business.  It can consume your time and your focus leaving no time and energy for growing the business and working toward your goals.  Executing your plan requires a conscious effort and accountability at all levels of the organization.

To make the most out of the coming year, begin planning now.  And once you finalize your plan, act on them.

OPG helps businesses create and execute their plans.  Contact us or connect with us at https://linkedin.com/in/cmatt if you need assistance.