Who wants to get a little bit better? Everyone should! Today I am specifically talking to business owners. I work with a lot of small business owners, clients around the country, and there’s something that we’ve really focused on lately. And it typically presents as HOW DO I FIX MY EMPLOYEES? It comes from frustration and a desire to get them to do what they need to do… it can come in the form of this pain point of the team not being strong, the employee isn’t treating clients the right way, the team isn’t taking ownership, the team is taking responsibility, they’re not invested as I am… are you feeling me?
And when your team is not functioning at optimal levels, when they’re not doing things the way you want them to be done, when they’re not interacting with clients and customers the way you want them to; ultimately they are not executing at the level you have. And that’s a lot of issues I am rolling out here, and if you are a business owner, you’ve probably experienced these and then some.
So what is the real answer to fixing your employees? Your Team? How do you get them locked in and invested, taking ownership? HOW? Most of the time we use tactical solutions. Keith Cunningham wrote The Road Less Stupid, which I highly recommend. And in this book, Keith highlights how to be successful: you don’t have to make all the right decisions, you just have to avoid stupid. And he talks about this idea that if you deal with a problem tactically (i.e. the employees aren’t showing up on time, so if you go 30 days not being late, then there is a reward/incentive and vice versa with a punishment) then the solution will only last as long as the tactical solution is in place. BUT if you go with a strategic approach going deep into the root stuff, that is when things change and become sustainable. The tactical solutions are the pain points we are talking about; you can come up with some great plans, great solutions, great strategies, great systems, great processes, all that stuff BUT it is not going to create sustainable change in your organization.
SO WHAT IS THE REAL ANSWER?
How do I fix my team? How do I get them to take ownership? How do I get them to do what I want them to do and the way I want them to do it?
You. Have. Got. To. Shift. Your. Culture.
You don’t have a team problem. You’ve got a culture problem. And truthfully, I don’t know who said it first BUT Culture will trump vision all day. Some of you have got a business: you launched it, you hustled, you grinded it, you built it from the ground up… you created something awesome. Like 95% of new small businesses close within the first year, so you have built something. At this point, you work(ed) hard and your team doesn’t. They don’t take ownership like you, and that’s really frustrating. And what happens when your team gets to a critical mass; like seven or eight people if you have not implemented a culture with intention?
This is what we believe, This is how we operate. This is how we do what we do.
If you have not intentionally set that frame for them, by the time you get to eight employees, they have already established it for you. Those first few team members; they’re so close to you, they do things the way you do it and they take a measure of ownership… but the further it gets removed from you, the more people around you are going to have influence over the culture instead of you establishing that.
If you want to take back your company, your business; the one that you built, it’s not going to come from the top down… or “do this, don’t do that,” it is not going to come from those tactics. The outcome is going to need to come from deep work in your business to create sustainable change. You want to shift the culture where ownership is at a high level, the standards are at a high level; they care about people the way you care about people, solve problems the way you solve problems… the company’s values are going to reflect the owner. And if those values are only in your head or with a few close employees… What happens is this term – Tribal Knowledge (I recommend the book Tribal Leadership). Tribal knowledge: If you have tribal knowledge and it is not documented, clear so that everyone can have the same access, you train that into your culture; then your culture is going to deteriorate the further it gets from you. Instead you want to shift your culture.
And that’s on your buckaroo. That’s you, baby. You’re the owner. You’re the entrepreneur. You’re the visionary. So YOU have some work to do. If I come to you and you want to fix it, I’ve got three levels for you.
Here’s a little framework, that is when I work with corporate clients or businesses I have three levels of organizational transformation:
LEVEL ONE: Personal Development
Most businesses don’t have the level of commitment to culture to invest in this one, the ones that do – they have extraordinary cultures. You have got to create a growth environment where anybody who is on your team can thrive. And it is not just about what you get out of them, not about what they can produce, and it is not about the bottom line. Those things are important and I am not disregarding them.
You have got to create a culture where Growth is the Norm, where people are personally individually taking ownership of becoming the best version of themselves.
If you think about it, if you have 10 people on your team who all take ownership of becoming the best version of themselves, they are going to be a better team. Far too often, we just straight to leadership and culture and saying no, no, no… without taking the time to invest in them as individuals.
I went and worked with a company last year and we did several single day sessions over eight months; a team of 75 and then did a focus with about 20 of their leaders and eventually the executive team. The whole premise was based on these three levels of organizational transformation. The first two days, we went in and almost a hundred percent dedicated to level one; lighting the fire for people developing themselves. We didn’t talk business, we didn’t talk shop, we didn’t talk about account levels, communication channels, product or revenue. We didn’t talk about any of those things. We talked about lighting a fire in them to become the best version of themselves. We helped them take back their power because that is the foundation for a phenomenal culture and an unstoppable company if you have got a group of people who are committed to growth.
LEVEL TWO: Leadership Development
Once you get your team bought into developing themselves, then you can develop them as leaders. Which is level two. It is so much fun when you watch someone become the best. And when you become the best version of yourself, you get the privilege and responsibility of helping others become the best versions of themselves.
And getting to ask: Hey, how do you lead the people around you? How do you develop a healthy culture? How do you have healthy conflict?How do you hold one another accountable as a team? How do you take someone who has no leadership experience and develop them into a leader? There’s so many options for leadership development materials, BUT if you don’t have people that desire to have personal growth… then you are wasting your time. Like, you are casting your pearls before swine. And that Bible verse, don’t waste your energy, right. Like don’t do it if you have got a bunch of people who don’t care about growth and development.
So light the fire for them to become the best version and then lead other people. At that point it is inevitable that they know they have a responsibility to lead and influence… which makes the company better. And that leads us to level three…
LEVEL THREE: Culture Development
Once you have the first two in check, it will flow from the things that you did in the first step: laying the foundation with personal development.
Now the biggest thing I will say with culture, a lot of people have got core values up on a wall, that is great, but if there’s not a way to measure and track those values in your company… that’s why your culture is needing a reboot.
I had the privilege of working with several companies this past year and helping them go through this process to not just have values on a wall, but for the values to be reflected in the owners, the team members, the company… That’s the outcome we are going after and everyone is able to get clear on what that outcome is. Then it is not only does your company have these behaviors, but we are consistently going to do these three things so we can live into those values.
How do you know if you and your company are living into that value?
Having an outcome that states what is desired from the culture: People can rely on us.
BUT, how do you measure that? It is awesome to have that as part of the team culture, but how do you measure that in your environment? Or how is that accountable? Example behavior might be: We talk to people, not about them. So if the team is not building trust, we have got a concrete behavior that we will hold you accountable to, which you will be held accountable to. It is simple, we’ve got a framework here. Some other ones might be: we communicate promptly with each other. I’m just making these up on the fly but you get the idea that all of a sudden, we have a framework that makes the culture less likely to be ambiguous.
It has got to be concrete in the culture. But if your team isn’t doing what you want them to do the way you want them to do it and you have put some behaviors about how you function as a team, then all of a sudden the gray area goes away and everyone knows what the expectations are. When you have clear expectations, you can get outcomes consistently.
Three Levels of Development:
This is where you stop asking HOW do I fix my team and start asking better questions, like how can my team thrive? What’s going to make them come alive? How can I help them get past those beliefs that have held them back in previous jobs? How can I make it so when they come to my company they’re going to be able to get lit up, get quipped, get empowered and become the best version of themselves? Then, how can I create better leaders? And lastly, how can we create a culture where we don’t go after people but people are going to be beating down our door because we have such an amazing culture and they want to come to our company? Your questions are going to change when you start laying a firm foundation and growing your team in a healthy way!! And it all starts with you!!
So, don’t let your business fade away because it loses the integrity of who you are. When you build a company, that’s special and there’s something special about you. There’s something in you that called you, pushed you, and drew you into that. And the only way you do that is by being intentional about how you build your organization.
I am curious. What is your takeaway from this? Which one of those three levels do you need to start on? Where are you in the process? Which one do you need to start addressing? I hope this served you! You are freaking awesome, I love you all and this is where you should get off this video right now and go out there and give your greatness to the world because somebody needs what is on the inside of you!!