Tag: Results

Mastermind: The Most Effective Tools for Improving Your Business in 2018

Mastermind: The Most Effective Tools for Improving Your Business in 2018

Julie and the others settled into their seats at a small conference table waiting for the meeting to begin. Julie is a small business owner and has been coming to these meetings for the past year. She looks around the room at the other business leaders she has come to know over the past year and can’t believe how lucky she has been to be part of this group.

“This meeting changed the way I am as a leader. For the better. My business is successful because of the suggestions and ideas I have gotten in this meeting. And let’s face it, without the accountability of this meeting, I would not be where I am today.”

About a year and a half ago, Julie was selected and joined a mastermind group. Although Julie had not heard of it until she joined the Mastermind Group, Masterminds have been around for hundreds of years. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin formed a group with twelve other tradespeople named the Junto. In early 1900’s Thomas Edison and Henry Ford started a group called The Vagabonds whose members included Harvey Firestone, John Burroughs, and Warren Harding. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Sherly Sandberg and others all participate in mastermind groups.

A Mastermind Group is a group of like-minded individuals who work together to help each other be successful. It provides a comfortable, confidential and challenging space where participants can discuss the issues most pressing to them. Their peers will ask deep clarifying questions to understand their challenges and then provide insight based on their experiences.

Mastermind can be formed around any topic that makes sense for the participants. As an executive coach, I use masterminds to help leaders within the small business community to improve their leadership. Other people use masterminds to support first-time parents, business owners, librarians, police officers, and even coaches*.

Each mastermind runs a little different but has some common traits. Most masterminds are small groups with no more than fifteen individuals in each mastermind. This size group allows each participant a chance to experience “the accountability seat” or “the hot seat” during each session. The accountability seat gives everyone an opportunity to share their challenge and listen to the perspective of other members as they ask curious questions and provide insights from their experience. At the end of a meeting, each member commits to some action that will help them overcome their challenge.

There is power in the mastermind as it provides a variety of perspective, increases accountability and fosters better outcomes for all the individuals involved. In one of my mastermind groups, it took only a couple meetings before; I started seeing improvement in the leadership skills of the participants.

As part of my mastermind groups, I offer individualized leadership coaching to all members if they are interested. I can help them create a plan of action and hold them to it between meetings. Most participants opt-in for this as they see the benefit of having a professional coach work through their problems with them.

The longer the tenure of the meeting the deeper the participants are willing to go to improve their outcomes. In time, friendships usually develop and become part of the process to help each other grow.

There are a few organizations who do this as a business including TAB (The Advisory Board), Vistage, and CEO Focus. Each organization has it is strengths and challenges, and I would suggest researching them before joining to make sure you have the one that fits you best. In the end, I decided to run my own because I believe that I could provide a different type of experience and wanted to reach a different kind of business owner.

John Thalheimer is the Executive Director of True Star Leadership. He has a fundamental belief that every organization and every employee deserves a great leader. Since early in his career John wanted to understand why some leaders were successful and others were not. Moreover, what he found surprised him. He earned his Master’s in Organizational Leadership and is dual certified in business coaching. John is working on his book titled, The Behavioral Algorithm, the secret formula for success. He currently runs masterminds in middle Tennessee and online to help leaders within the small business community succeed.

*If you are interested in learning more or interested in joining one of my mastermind groups, please reach out to me at john@johnthalheimer.com. Also if you are a coach, please think about joining my coaching mastermind group, as the benefits will apply to you as well.

 

Does your team know when it is winning?

Does your team know when it is winning?

It is always satisfying at the end of the game to see my Green Bay Packers with the winning score. Every player knows, no matter how well they did individually, it does not matter unless the game ends in the win column. This same expectation is found in the performing arts as well. When the audience rises in ovation at the end of the show, the cast and crew know they have succeeded in delighting the audience with their work.

In business, the connection is not always clear cut. Sure profits are always good. Increase Sales are also always good. High customer service ratings are also always good. Best Product or Service Best Quality Awards are also always good.

Unlike a single game or performance, work is an ongoing process that never has a satisfactory conclusion. There is always more you can do the next day to change the score. However, like a game, there are times when you are losing (not meeting expectations), or there are times when you are winning (exceeding expectations). Near the end of each financial period, we tally, looking at the data whether we are successful or not. At the year’s end, we look even harder at the numbers squeezing every piece of information to achieve our objectives.

However, these defined objectives are hard to understand because they can seem arbitrary to the people on the front line. For instance, at one large corporation, I worked for our goal was to increase EBITDA by a certain percentage point each year. We use the traditional business formula to make this happen, cutting expenses and increasing sales. When we meet our goals the front office was happy; when we did not achieve our goals, they were unhappy. The staff on the front line felt the difference in numerous ways but had a hard time understanding how their work impacted the outcome.

However, there are successful companies that are transparent on how success is measured. In one company I know, they were bold and proud about what success was. In the manufacturing plant’s main hallway a sign was posted defining success.

We win when:

  1. There are zero safety or security issues or violations.
  2. Our values remain intact
  3. We produce ### of widgets at a rate of 96% Quality Perfection Rate
  4. Keep waste to 1% of the run – the aim is zero. (It is our Planet, after all)
  5. We hug our families today

At the end of each shift, the General Manager would record how well they did on each with the exception of #2. The #2 tally was given to an employee chosen at random who privately handed his score into the General Manager. Because it was more subjective, it was always interesting to see how the score varied day to day. No matter, the general manager always addressed the score and talked to the shifts about it. Good or bad.

The employees at this manufacturing plant knew when they had succeeded; they also knew they would have an avenue to discuss challenges that kept them from being successful at the end of the day.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for most employees. The information necessary for an employee to understand if the team has been successful is too far removed, i.e. the percentage change in EBITDA or too vague, good customer service values, to have any impact. Every manager needs to communicate clearly, consistently and continuously how the individual is successful, how the department is successful, and how the business is successful.

In one case, one of my colleagues had a new role and started working on what success looked and felt like for one of the positions within his team. He did this first my understanding the position through interviewing and shadowing the employees. After a period, he narrowed the definition of what success looked and felt like to his team. He presented this to his team and then listened to their feedback and made adjustments he thought made sense.

He started tracking success for each shift and each employee. The employees knew when there were and when they were not meeting this new definition of success. In time all his employees were exceeding his expectations, so he raised the requirements slightly to challenge the employees. Moreover, again his employees rose to the challenge. Some struggled at first but he paired them with more successful employees, and they too raised to this new level of excellence. However, what he was must proud of was during this whole period, was that his employee engagement scores continued to rise. He contributed this to working with the employees to set the expectations and to the communication of the results on a consistent basis to his team. They knew they were winners.

Does your team know if they are winning?