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Guidelines vs. Rules – Creating Wildly Successful Employees

Employees have changed. Rules don’t cut it anymore. The newer generation isn’t sure it even wants to go to work and has in some ways decided to retire BEFORE working. They’re out there “gigging” instead of working. How do you as a Business Owner respond to this new world?

How is the new world different than the old industrial age employee world? The old world had rules the employee needed to live by. The new world has guidelines that create ownership, freedom, teamwork, and creative involvement for the employe:

Employee Guidelines (principles) → → Employee Rules (laws)

  • Provide Framework → → → → → → → → → Box to live in.
  • Gives you a “floor”-minimum → → → → → Gives you a ceiling – “maximum”
  • Encourages innovation → → → → → → → →Encourages conformity/sameness
  • Frees up employees to win → → → → → → →Creates fear of losing
  • Emphasis on effective result → → → → → →Emphasis on process/procedure
  • Emphasis on employee ownership → → → Emphasis on we/they blame games
  • Encourages participation/innovation → → Encourages hiding/work-arounds.
    Examples of each:
    Apple Computers → → → → → → → → → → U.S. Government

A Key Objective in creating happy employees: Create “ownership” of their job, and help them see how it fits into the bigger picture (process mapping is a great way to do this.)

How do you lead in the new world? By becoming a Servant Leader. The best leaders have always led this way, but if you don’t lead this way in the new employer world, you won’t keep your employees.

Leaders do not exist to be served by those “under” them. They do not have the right to have others make them look good. Having a title on a door does not make you a leader. Leaders are focused on how they can make everyone else around them more successful (the servant leader). Employees are very clear that the leader’s job is to champion them and give them the vision, environment, resources, training, and connections to be wildly successful. The smart leader knows that if everyone around them is successful, they won’t have to worry about their own visibility or success.

Be a servant leader – create ownership among your employees for their positions, and focus your energies on making them wildly successful. You’ll have a great business and make more money in less time as a result.

Every Business Owner Needs Two Bosses. Do You Have Them?

Ever feel like you’ve got 11 ping pong balls to hold under the water and only 10 fingers? There is a solution.

Last week we talked about the overarching swing and a miss we make in our business strategy: We think that our purpose in business is to make money when our purpose in business is to BUILD A BUSINESS that makes money. These two things are worlds apart, and almost every business I work with is absolutely buried in making money, which will keep them from ever making a lot of it.

This week we we’ll talk about how to create the proper balance between the Tyranny of the Urgent – things we have to do today to make money; and the Priority of the Important – things we have to do to build a business that will make money for us.

It’s not as hard as we make it.

The wrong focus – A focus on making money makes us reactive, trying to keep 11 ping pong balls under the water in a washtub with only 10 fingers – we’re never done. Every time we get one under control another pops to the surface.

The simple problem –We’re so busy trying to capture 11 ping pong balls with our own 10 fingers that we can’t spend time figuring out how to hold down thousands. Capturing every dollar today keeps us from figuring out how to capture a lot more down the road.

The simple key – Be willing to let a few Urgent ping pong balls get away to build a business that later can hold thousands of ping pong balls under the water without using any of your own fingers.

The simple solution – One motivator and two bosses that keep us moving toward building a business that makes money.

The motivator – Lifetime Goals. We think making money is the goal of business. Wrong. Making money is not an empowering vision, and it won’t get you out of bed when money is hard to make. But having a powerful over-arching reason to build a business will carry you through the tough times. What are your Lifetime Goals that you can use your business to achieve? Get a bigger reason to be in business than make money, or you’re likely never going to make much of it.

The two bosses:

Boss #1 – A strategic plan. Not a business plan – those are for bank loans, then they sit on a shelf. I mean a 12-month rolling strategic plan by which you manage every strategic and tactical move in your business. Four simple components – 1) A business vision (the big why/values) , 2) mission (the big what – your marching orders – the RESULT you get your customers), 3) 1-3 year strategies (how you make money), 4) 12 month measurable objectives (how you measure success at making money).

Once you have the vision, mission, strategies and 12-month objectives, you can easily figure out what to do in the next 3 months to reach those 12-month objectives. This makes it simple to figure out what you need to do this month. At the end of 3 months, plan the next three and push your 9-month Objectives back out to 12-months. Rinse and repeat faithfully every quarter.

A Strategic Plan that runs your business automatically keeps us balanced between taking care of the Tyranny of the Urgent (making money today), and the Priority of the Important (building a business that makes money.) VISIT YOUR STRATEGIC PLAN WEEKLY TO KEEP FOCUS!

Boss # 2 – Outside eyes on you and your business. A strategic plan that runs your business is great, but you also need others from outside your business to help you keep clarity and direction. My business is my baby; I’m subjective about it. Others will have a much more objective view and be able to see things I would never see. Get a peer advisor or better yet a full peer advisory group and meet once a month. GET OTHERS SUPPORTING YOU AND YOUR PLAN!

In the daily Tyranny of the Urgent, you are unlikely to use your Strategic Plan to run your business unless you have peers and/or advisor(s) helping you do so. Don’t fool yourself – get others involved from outside your business or don’t expect to build a real business.

Use your Lifetime Goals, Strategic Plan and monthly peer advisory group to force you to spend time on the Important, on building a business that makes money. If you engage these two bosses to motivate you to build a business that makes money, you’re much more likely to build a business that makes a lot of it, and more likely to get to your lifetime goals.

Next week we’ll challenge each other to get a Business Maturity Date and why that is so important in my business and in yours.

So you think you’re in charge? Let’s see.

Your Guiding Principles are more important to your business than anything you sell.

As my great Irish friend John Heenan says: “If you don’t have a vision for your own life, you become part of someone else’s vision for theirs.” Without clarity of purpose, we don’t own our business, it owns us – we’re employees of ourselves.

Everything we do comes from a belief system, whether intentionally or subconsciously. Do you guide your biz or does it rule you? Who’s really in charge?

Some see this as the soft side of business, the part you can ignore because you can’t track how much money you make directly back to it. “Stop playing office and start making the donuts,” would be a typical response. But that response would only come from someone who is willing to become part of someone else’s vision for their life, and doesn’t want to make more money in less time.

Making money is not an empowering vision. Want to make more money? Get a reason to do it, then have some principles on which you run your business. We talked about they “Why?” (vision) in business a couple weeks ago. This is more about the values that lead us to “How” we run our business.

Like rails that guide a train, your business principles are the core strategy to having a business that knows where it is going and how it is going to get there. If you think you can just make donuts and not know why or what your business stands for in the process, you’re going to miss out on building a business that you own vs. a business that owns you.

Here’s our guiding principles:

The 7 Guiding Principles of TeamNimbusWest:

  1. Make more money in less time
    (don’t work harder, not really even smarter, just more effectively)
  2. Focus on our lifetime goals, not just on growing our business
    (a BHAG will keep us going, but “grow the business” is a lifeless idea. So is retirement.)
  3. Work ON your business, not just IN it.
    (The key to growth – perfecting as we go by strategic planning, not just production.)
  4. Get off the treadmill, own the business instead of the business owning us.
    (The purpose of our business is to create a lifestyle for ourselves and our family.)
  5. Highest and best use of your time.
    (Yield per Hour – stop doing things others could do; do what only I can do.)
  6. Make decisions on where you want to be, not where you are.
    (Clarity of Purpose leads to Hope which leads to Risk. Take good risks to grow.)
  7. Bad plans carried out violently many times yield good results. Do something.
    (Stop planning. Implement now and perfect as you go. Speed of Execution rules.)

What are the guiding principles of your business?

You’ve got values and beliefs that are the foundation of everything you do and those values and beliefs are running the show. You might as well write them down and see if you agree with who/what is actually in charge. If not, change them and take control of your vision…

…so you can make more money in less time, get off the treadmill, and get back to the passion that brought you into business in the first place, in order to build a mature business in support of your lifetime goals. (Just had to get my guiding principles in there one more time). ?

The Single Most Important Question in Business

…is the one we ask least often.

As responsible business owners, we invest a lot of time answering the “what” question. What will I sell? What should my price be? What kind of marketing should I do?

We find “how” intriguing as well – How will I find clients? How will I make ends meet this month? And we’re even okay with “who” (who is my ideal client) or “where” (where do I locate, advertise, network, etc.?).

All of these questions – who, what, where and how can be just plain fun to play around with. Why? (hint – this is a pretty important question) – Because they are largely theoretical questions. I can answer ALL of them brilliantly and do absolutely nothing – frozen in my tracks but feeling as if I’ve made great progress. But we’re really just playing office again. Merely doing complex (but easy) things that make us feel important and impress others.

The 2nd most important question in business (see last week’s post) is “when”. We avoid it like the plague because when we attach it to all the other questions (who, what, where, and how), we suddenly lose control of our future. Instead of managing our plans, we are now managed by our Plan, required to take action and move forward when we’d rather sit around thinking about it and just play office some more.

But the biggest, most important question in business is avoided even more then “when”. And it’s the most important question for determining our success.

Why?

On the most strategic level, if you don’t know why you’re in business, you’re going to fold when the going gets tough. And on the most tactical level, if you don’t know why you want to buy that snazzy new printer, you’re going to wonder why you can’t make money.

The “why” question should be attached to every other question you need to answer. What should I sell (why should I sell it)? How will I find clients (why do I want those clients)? Where should I locate (why is this a great place to be?)

And most importantly, “why” even needs to be attached to “when”. When do I want to be at 100 clients (why then and not later/earlier)? When do I want to have a fully mature business (why then and not later/earlier)?

When we ask why, we have a better chance of making decisions that are all aligned with our long-term plan (asking “why” makes us get a long term plan). When we avoid asking why, we make individual decisions in individual vacuums and wonder how we ended up right where we started at the beginning of the year. The result – a business going many directions at once and ultimately going nowhere.

Why gives us clarity of purpose.

If you won’t ask why, don’t bother with the other questions. They are all mechanical questions and don’t matter outside of “why”.

Why are you in business? Why do you do business they way you do? Why do you think it will take you 20 years to grow a mature business (why not 5)? Why do my customers buy from me? Why am I stuck at the same revenue as last year?

Why don’t you ask why more often?

Seth Godin wrote a book called The Dip in which he contends we quit when we shouldn’t and don’t when we should. If we asked why more often in business, Godin, wouldn’t have had a book to write. Answering why helps wake us up to stupid habits that aren’t helping us but just make us comfy (or impressive). And more importantly, answering why we’re in business gives us the motivation to push through the dips, to move from survival, through success, to significance.

Every time you ask a who, what, where or how question, ask “when”, then ask “why”. You’ll make more money in less time. Why do you think that might be true?