“What took you so long?”

It was the worst feedback I ever received in my career.  And it came from someone I managed, not my manager.

I had failed to act.  I failed to lead.  I didn’t make the tough decision.  I thought I was being nice.  I thought I was getting results by keeping someone on the payroll who was good at what they did.

I knew they had a bad attitude and could be caustic in their interactions with others.  I knew that I, as the manager, sometimes had to be cautious when discussing an issue with them.  I saw others had the same issue with this person.

After an especially unpleasant episode, I finally made the decision that this person no longer belonged on the team.  They didn’t match the values the company was built on.  I let them go.

Within minutes after the decision became known, another team member asked “what took you so long?”  Others echoed the same sentiment.  They were telling me they agreed with the decision, but in reality, they were teaching me a lesson.  Until that moment, I had failed to lead.

Leadership isn’t easy.  You have to make tough decisions for the right reasons.

In this case, I put the values of the organization at risk.  Businesses can state their values, but if they aren’t exhibited, they don’t mean anything.  People will see through them and view it as hypocrisy.  It is a cultural disconnect.  The real values of any company are the ones they actually exhibit and tolerate, not the ones they state on their website.

What tough decisions are you failing to make right now?  Do you have employees who don’t belong on the team?  Do you have people in the wrong seat?  Do you need to change what you are doing or how it’s done?  What will you look back on one day and wish you had taken action?

If you need help sorting through tough decisions, contact us at https://opalpg.com/contact-us/ or at http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt

A lack of organizational clarity may be the root of many of the issues you face.

Without organizational clarity, you have no accountability.  Team members don’t know what is expected. They don’t know how their performance will be judged. They don’t know what the standard is.

When employees aren’t clear on expectations and outcomes, they operate in the dark.  Fear rather than confidence affects their decisions.

The results are confusion and inefficiency.  Money isn’t spent wisely.  Employees don’t feel the freedom to take care of your customers.  People invest energy creating cover for themselves in the event they are questioned.  Trust is eroded.

Remove doubt and the problems it causes by providing clarity.  Your company will not operate at peak performance until you do.

The question then becomes “how do I create clarity?”

Creating organizational clarity starts with leadership.  Make sure your company vision and values are known.  Create a strategic plan, making sure there are goals and targets that everyone understands.  Every group or department should have known and published key performance indicators so they know if they are doing the right things and doing things right.  Make sure best practices and processes are documented, shared, and enforced.

Clarity doesn’t come without effort.  You may even need outside help to guide you on the journey.  But it is worth it to have a healthy business environment and engaged employees.

If you need help creating clarity in your organization, contact us.  https://opalpg.com/contact-us/

http://linkedin.com/in/cmatt

The Brady Bunch sang “when it’s time to change, then it’s time to change, from who you are into what you’re gonna be.”

How is your business going to change AFTER the COVID-19 crisis and things begin to look a little more normal?

You’ve been forced to learn, adapt, and change with some level of success or failure to face the current reality. We are all waiting to get back to normal.

But normal is going to look a little different. Customer and team member expectations will change. New products and services will be born and old ones will fade away.  We may have new rules and regulations.  What worked before may not be sufficient or desirable tomorrow.

The question becomes “How will you make your company better based on your experience during the crisis?”  You need to begin thinking about how you re-envision your company’s future, what your business version 2.0 looks like.

If you aren’t thinking about this yet, you should be. You will have to answer this sooner than you think.

We are here to help.  Contact us at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/ or http://opalpg.com/contact-us/

The coronavirus and its effects on our communities are evident all around us.  We are awash in information and misinformation, given opinions that run from wildly pessimistic to optimistic, and left confused and not knowing who or what to believe.

We don’t have to be led by fear and uncertainty.  We can remember that God is in control even though we don’t see it, don’t understand it, don’t like it, and don’t want to deal with it.

Paul told Timothy “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

This is what we must do today, whatever our ministry, calling, role, or occupation.  I encourage Christian business leaders around the country to pray for our nation.

Pray for the physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual well-being for our families, friends, and neighbors.

Pray that God grants our government, medical, media, business, and community leaders wisdom to make the best decisions possible for their areas of influence and responsibility.

Pray that we re-evaluate how we do business and education, remember what is important, and invest our time and efforts into what really matters so we come out of this stronger and better than before.

Pray that businesses and jobs are protected, that families renew their bonds, and that we turn back to God.

God is not a God of confusion.  This is a time where Christians can be salt and light to a world that needs it.  Take care of others.  Don’t panic.  Be prudent but not fearful.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.  – John 16:33

Do you wish you had more accountability in your organization?  Business owners commonly express the need for more accountability when talking about their challenges.  I have found leaders actually mistake other issues for a lack of accountability.  Leaders build accountability over time using what I call the 4 C’s.

Clarity – Sometimes people mistake accountability for clarity.  People and teams can’t be held accountable if their goals and responsibilities aren’t clear.  You must provide clarity before you can have accountability.

Communication – Team members need to know they can have an open dialog with their manager to discuss issues and ideas.  Likewise, leaders must make themselves available to their teams on a regular basis in both group and one-on-one settings.  Lack of communication can lead to culture and accountability issues.

Coaching – Some managers and leaders struggle with having difficult conversations with team members who aren’t meeting expectations.  People can’t improve without knowing where they fall short.  It is the leader’s responsibility to identify inadequate performance or behavior early and help their team member correct it before it becomes a problem.

Consequences – Sometimes managers jump straight to applying consequences when they ask for accountability.  You have to check yourself on Clarity, Communication, and Coaching first; otherwise, you risk creating a culture of fear.  Fear is the result of people facing consequences without knowing why or being given the chance to improve.  If you have the other three C’s and have built a strong culture, positive peer pressure may address some issues organically on its own.

Accountability isn’t a system or an action.  It is a culture.  Leaders build accountability by consistently providing clarity, having meaningful communication, proactively providing coaching, and only then having consequences if the team isn’t self-correcting.

If you need help building accountability, let a fractional COO help you.  Contact us at http://opalpg.com/contact-us/ or https://www.linkedin.com/in/cmatt/.

People like to be in it, no one likes to be called out of it, and Janet Jackson even wrote a song about it.  What is it?  Control.

It’s natural to want control – to be in command of your life, your destiny, your job, your customers.  And we all realize that there are some things we simply can’t control.

To a degree, we do have some control.  We can control the activities of those in our charge at home, at work, or elsewhere.  We can determine how and when to make investments and utilize capital.  We can chart a new direction and set new goals.

But there are things we can’t control either.  People can make their own decisions that may be counter to your goals.  We can’t stop natural disasters.  Sometimes actions of others come crashing into your industry or personal life.

When it comes down to it, what we cannot control exceeds what we can control.  What does that mean for your business?

It means your strategy must focus on what you can deliver.  It can’t rely on hope or feelings or guesses.

It means you evaluate people and companies by how responsible they are with what they can control and how they respond to the things they can’t.

It means you must guard your reputation and attitude.  In the end, those are the only things in which you are in 100% control and how you and your business will be remembered.

It’s true- you have influence.  People notice your actions and your words.

If you are a leader – at work, at home, in the community – in any capacity, people do pay attention to what you do and what you say.  Every interaction or observation can leave a lasting impression.

It’s up to you to decide if the impression left will be positive or negative.

I was reminded of the impact individuals have on those around them several times recently on both a personal and professional level.  It can be frightening and humbling.

Frightening when you realize that you don’t always live up to your own expectations much less the example you want to be for others.

Humbling to realize that no matter your circumstances, you have an impact.

It can also be energizing. As a leader in your company and your neighborhood, you have the potential to quietly make a tremendous impact – often without saying a word.

Are you living up to your stated values and beliefs?  Does every interaction make a deposit or withdrawal from someone’s emotional bank account?  Are you living life as a servant leader putting others first?  Does your presence inspire your team?

If you can answer “yes” to all the questions above, you are a leader no matter what your role.  You have influence.

It is not unusual for business owners to tell me they want more accountability in their organizations.  My first question for them is usually something like “what’s keeping you from holding people accountable?”

 

I know it is easier said than done.  Driving accountability can be more difficult for some people than others.  People are afraid that holding the line on performance and values may be uncomfortable or even make them unlikable.

 

Actually, I think the opposite is true.  A culture where expected results and behaviors are known and followed is freeing.  It removes ambiguity and doubt.  It makes conversations easier.

 

If your company struggles with accountability, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I tend to avoid difficult conversations about performance and behaviors?
  • Have I set clear goals for the company?
  • Does each team or individual have specific KPIs?
  • Do the metrics we track move us toward our goals?
  • Is there dissonance between our words and our actions?

 

Once you’ve addressed any of the challenges above, you still have work to do.  Driving accountability is part of building culture.  It is not a “one and done” activity.  It takes commitment, dedication, and follow-through from leaders to make accountability a part of a company’s DNA.

According to a Gallup report, only 34% of US employees are actively engaged in their jobs.  Gallup defines “engaged” as “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.”

What about the other 66%?  13% are “actively disengaged,” and a whopping 53% are “not engaged” which means they show up and do their work but they aren’t connected to their work or their workplace.

Disengaged employees cost you money.  It is estimated that absenteeism, churn, and lack of motivation – signs of a lack of engagement – cost companies around $500 billion per year.

Writing for Small Business Trends, Victor Snyder, a business coach, says that business leaders should avoid these three things that cause employee disengagement:

  • Poor communication with employees
  • Ignoring your personal brand
  • Failing to develop leaders

If you make an honest assessment of your business, are you creating an environment that fosters engagement?

It’s true – inquiring minds do want to know, if you are talking about the people who make your business run every day.  They crave clarity.

I was reminded of this working with a client recently on some operational challenges. The client, who uses EOS, said during our discussion that it was surprising how putting a name in a box in an accountability chart gave his employees clarity.

He’s right. We forget that organizational charts, job descriptions, or a position matrix give people clarity in their roles and the roles of others.

Communicating strategy to everyone builds trust that the company has a plan for success. Scorecards inform people how they as groups or individuals contribute to that success.

Leaders can’t forget that they have access to more information about the business than other employees. Team members may feel less secure or certain about their roles and the company’s future in the absence of good communication from their leaders.

People thrive when allowed to do their best knowing what is expected and how they will be evaluated. Having the structure in place to support and guide them in decision making gives them freedom to be creative and exceed what was thought possible.

If you need help creating clarity in your organization, CONTACT US  or connect with us on https://linkedin.com/in/cmatt.