And the Coffee was Gone – Are you tolerating good enough?
We (Molly and Laney) are blessed to experience the absolute joy in our job of constant interaction with people that work in law firms across the country. We get to live our Primary Aim in life – making a difference for others in a way that makes positive impact and leaves them empowered, everyday. However, with every experience we acquire a bird’s eye view of the despondency of people. We see how many people in the world flee when they are confronted with the brutal reality of their lack of integrity and inauthentic mode of operation.
For example, take the law firm in Manhattan, NY that we have been coaching for the past 6 months on how to get each team member crystal clear on his or her role and goals within the firm. In January they added a new team member that we were supporting with a customized 90-Day step-by-step training process (as opposed to the usual ‘sink or swim’ model). We had a 30 day call scheduled to check in scheduled and we were armed with the tools to support her with the customary “bumps in the road” of a new job. The attorney started the call out with “Molly meet Kathy, Kathy meet Molly.”
“Excuse me???”, I say. “What happened to Lilly?”
Attorney, “Lilly is no longer with us.” The attorney proceeded to explain that after 2 days of employment he came into the office at 9a.m. (her day was to start at 8:30) and she wasn’t there. When she had not arrived by 10a.m. the receptionist called to make certain she was safe, she didn’t pick up. Called at 11… still no answer. It wasn’t until the attorney went into the kitchen and noticed the big can of Folgers coffee and her fancy Starbucks mug she brought in on DAY TWO to “make herself at home” was gone. The coffee was gone… that was her only form of resignation.
Sadly enough, this is not an isolated incident. Let’s talk about the solo practioner with 2 employees in Walnut Creek, CA. After 3 months of working with a “veteran” employee we told the attorney he had to let this LEAD team member go because she was lacking integrity and had an enormous commitment to being right that would harm the growth of his business in numerous ways, even cost him existing clients. Without skipping a beat the attorney counters with, “I don’t know….when she’s good, she’s good and that’s about 70% of the time. I’ll take good enough vs. having to go through the hiring process again.” One ominous Friday afternoon, after a “productive” 90 minute marketing meeting with this employee that included the creation of a 90-day Marketing Strategy for implementation he got an email at 4:30. “I quit.” Just like that. And he was “devastated.”
When is good enough acceptable? When are we finally going to adopt “intuition as initiation” and stop the toleration of good enough? Would your clients let YOU get away with good enough? Heck NO! You are constantly under the microscope.
That same attorney from CA told Molly on their next coaching call, just 8 days after the “good enough” employee was gone, that the hidden client complaints, undelivered promises and stashed (uncashed) checks over 13 months old found in files has left him paralyzed and speechless. He simply didn’t know where to start to rebuild.
Our lifetime mentor taught us there are only two kinds of suffering, long term and short term. The determining factor in which route you take is your courage to take responsibility for what is occurring around you and stop placing blame, as blame is merely a hideout for not having to face what is not working in your life.
If you KNOW an employee is not approaching their work with a deep rooted ownership and leadership, choose the short term route. End the suffering.
It is one thing to train a team member, help them solve a problem, or provide counsel. It’s a totally separate and not advisable; to convince them they want to be on your team. Trying to motivate, encourage learning and finding ways to grow while trying to make a temperamental team member happy; or a negative team member see the positive will simply waste your time and emotional energy.
Running around managing and motivating your team allows you to become their emotional crutch. They will lean on you for inspiration, and when you can’t provide it, they will quit and leave. And when they leave, they leave you with a team of others who you may have neglected who now see they get more attention and allowance with negative and non-productive energy. You can reinforce a bad example.
If you are providing a positive work environment with opportunity for team to learn and grow, you won’t have to motivate and convince them to work with you, at least not if they come “batteries included”. The work environment and the opportunity in front of them are self fulfilling and self motivating. It’s your job to provide leadership (what direction should they be working towards, a common goal).
Pep talks only work for so long. Presenting a problem with a proposed solution rids you, and your team, of its negative impact and the reoccurrence of hand holding. And creates and nourishes leaders.
So it really boils down to one of 2 things; are you tolerating “good enough” or is there a leadership and coaching element to your practice that is missing? Either way, the revolving door will continue to spin if you don’t figure out which of the two is your management approach.
If you are unsure if you are managing or leading, ask yourself – do people come to you to complain so you can provide the pep talk, pat them on the back and send them back to work? Only to repeat the cycle every 30 days. Or do people come to you with a problem and a proposed solution? If it’s the former, this is an indicator that there is a fundamental flaw in your Initial Training Process.
AND if you have found that you might have a “good enough” employee on your team, or even worse, a “black hole”, contact us on how to obtain The 7 Step Test for Termination™ showing you how to come to the resolution of firing with the least amount of suffering while keeping your integrity, compassion and sanity. Stop anguishing over (i.e. suffering long term) whether to fire a “good enough” employee.
Previously, we discussed how to think of your team like building a Dream Team, with limited amounts of resources (time and money) available to draft your dream team players. Use it wisely; use it for “great”, not “good enough”. And remember as long as you are employing that “good enough” employee, you might be missing the chance to hire that “great” one!
Our recent, ongoing discussion has been about the blessing and curse of being a leader. We’ve discussed how necessary leadership is to any growing company and how it can be overwhelming for a leader to balance the needs of their team with their own. We’ve shared how the strategy of “Leading by Example” can provide leadership for your team, in a leveraged, structured manner. Here is another strategy to produce results, while allowing you to maintain a balance between the demands of your team and your own needs.
The Set up for a Productive Week
Team meetings often seem like really bad episodes of the TV show Survivor; half the team arguing about HOW to do something, while the other half is day dreaming, at least one person is upset and at least one is just sitting there shaking their head “YES” to everything to keep the peace. However, with the blur of day to day noise in a small firm, its impossible for a team to be effective and avoid miscommunication without checking in once a week, as a group, on goals and things that impact the team (firm). It also makes sense to make group announcements ONE TIME to everyone, versus FIVE TIMES to each person individually, or worse getting stuck in a email game of “Communication Ping Pong”.
Most team members run and hide from any mention of a “meeting.” They simply want to get their work done. They don’t want to talk about it, or strategize about it—they just want to do it!
As much as we can commiserate about sitting through long, drawn out useless meetings with endless discussions and nothing accomplished, it’s imperative that you set your week up to be productive with the following HOUSE RULES for running a concise, effective weekly team meeting:
1. You must start your week with a team meeting, whether Monday or on your company’s first business day of the week. Who needs a meeting at the end of the week to discuss what’s already happened? Monday team meetings help plan for the week and get everyone on the same page. It MUST be the same day, the same time each and every week, so everyone can plan on being there. This meeting is sacred and should never be postponed.
2. The meetings should be no longer than an hour.
3. Everyone attends the meeting—from the boss to the receptionist. No exceptions. That’s why it’s called a TEAM meeting.
4. All phones are turned off! Office phones go to voicemail with a recording that let’s callers know that you’re in a team meeting from X am to X am, and will return calls at X am. No cell phones, no Blackberrys. (We know this little device makes you feel very important…but it is a blatant display of disrespect. And we promise your listserv email responses of “me too” can wait an hour.)
5. A predetermined, consistent leader should run the meeting with a standard agenda. The leader should never, ever be the owner of the business. Everyone should be made aware of the agenda prior to the meeting, and come prepared and organized. If the team leader is you, take responsibility for bringing the necessary implements (current schedule, copies of tools/worksheets, pencils, etc.). You can prepare for it at the end of the day Friday, or come in early Monday morning—whatever works for you. (You don’t want to have to say, “I don’t have that” five times during one meeting.) The key is to be accountable. The result is an effective Monday Morning Meeting and respect from your boss and team.
6. Keep “Monday Morning Meeting” agendas and worksheets in front of you all day Monday, until you have all action steps calendared for the bigger strategic items. The easy “Gottas” go right from one list to the next until you can knock them off your list, typically by Tuesday. The result is a focused, planning day.
7. At the end of the week, hold a quick meeting to summarize what was accomplished for the week. We call this “The 10 Minute Team Huddle.”
For a Sample “Monday Morning Meeting” agenda – email us.
Mondays are “Grounding Days” and that’s okay! Give yourself permission for Mondays to be the day to do nothing but attend effective, productive meetings in the morning and recover from the fall out of them in the afternoon. Return calls, emails, and accomplish all the “little” things that are delegated to you during your Monday meetings. Call it a huge WIN! The result is that you’ll be able to hit the ground running Tuesday, which will create a productive, kick butt week, because there’ll be no little things hanging around. It also shows efficiency as you complete all those little things right away. Completing all the meeting fall out by end of day Monday also ensures that little follow ups not immediately handled don’t become major disasters later in the week.
Nurturing and growing your team is a never-ending process. And if it does end, you’re in trouble, because it means that your team is no longer growing. That’s the beginning of stagnation. Like sitting water, your team doesn’t just stop growing and stay in place; they start to rot and eat away at all the standards, training, and culture that you’ve built. If a team isn’t motivated by growth, they’ll focus on other things that are negative and unproductive. A team that doesn’t have goals becomes wrought with gossip, cattiness, blame, and complaining; hence, your work as your team’s leader is never done. You can either devote time to leading your team, or spend time reprimanding them. The choice is yours. We don’t know about you, but we have very little patience for reprimanding!
Why is being a leader so important?
To be blunt, team members who aren’t in a growth-oriented workplace with good leadership won’t be around for long. In that environment a good team will be unfulfilled and talented members will move on to other places that provide leadership and growth. The rest of the group will become infected with a spirit of gossip and negativity that has the potential to become so infectious throughout the office that you’ll end up firing those individuals. Look at it from a purely selfish perspective – after all the time you’ve spent hiring and training do you really want to start all over? Which do you think would be a better use of time – helping a great team member continually find ways to grow, or starting all over interviewing, hiring, firing, and training every quarter?
Why is it my job to lead the team?
Everyone isn’t a leader. If you’re reading this blog, chances are that you are a leader or well on your way to becoming one. The role is both a blessing and a curse. The curse is that you can’t stop being the leader that you are, even though there’ll be times in your career when you temporarily stop leading. Maybe you’ll be mentally exhausted, or in an atmosphere that doesn’t allow your leadership abilities to flourish; regardless, while you may choose to stop leading others for a period you can’t ever stop being a leader anymore than you can stop being a mom or dad, the glue for your family, or a community advocate.
Don’t curse your gift as a leader. Cursing your gift can show up as:
“Why does everyone come to me, I have enough on my plate?” or
“I’m tired of everyone leaning on me!” or
“Is it me, or is everyone else either an idiot or just doesn’t care?” (Boy, have I said those things in the workplace!)
You can’t run away from your talents and responsibilities as a leader, even if you try, it won’t fix your problem, or make you happier. There have been many times that we’ve all wanted to quit our jobs or shut down our practices in order to get an easy and “stress free” job where we could show up, do the work well, and go home. We long for a job where we wouldn’t have to solve other people’s problems, or take stress home, but, alas a leopard can’t change its spots. You would not be fulfilled in a job such as this. You can either embrace the leader who you are, or find yourself constantly feeling unfulfilled.
If you’re a true leader, you’re a beacon in the night. No matter your role, you will draw people to listen to you because you ask the tough questions; in other words, you’ll motivate and lead. Others will be drawn to your innate ability to provide calmness and direction in the storm. If you’re really honest with yourself, you probably aren’t happy when you’re not leading. We’re not saying that you have to be a 1-800 help line, or wake up at 2 A.M. stressing over things at work, but when leaders aren’t in a position to lead, they’re like a flower without sunlight. They’ll wilt, their colors will fade and their vitality that always shone brightly will waste away.
So, since you can’t rid yourself of this incessant need to lead, why not simply embrace it? Remember, it’s not only a curse, but a blessing, as well. Very few people have the gift to inspire others. You can. Look at the difference you make in other people’s lives. For example, take a single mother who you’re helping build a career. You aren’t just helping her; you’re making a difference in her children’s lives too. Few people can provide calmness and confidence in times of change or uncertainty. You can. Remember all the people who you’ve helped keep the faith and not lose direction. Few people have the ability to truly make a lasting, positive impression on other’s lives. You do. Your ability to lead is a blessing. It only becomes a curse when you can’t balance the dependency of others with your own needs.
In our next few blogs, we will share strategies to provide leadership for your team, in a leveraged, structured manner. This will allow you to produce results, while protecting your own time and focus. Be sure to sign up to receive our blog so you don’t miss the next installment.
To see if you are running your office, or if your office is running you, click here to take our free Assessment.
Our Seventh Day of Christmas suggestion is an easy and fun one. Too often, in the end of the year rush, we miss one of the most powerful opportunities to get the most energy, confidence and motivation from the things you did all year and let them fuel you into hitting the ground running in 2010. Trust us, give it 30 minutes and a cup of Joe and see what happens.
1. Pick a day – don’t schedule it or plan it, just pick an afternoon when the majority of your team is in the office and call an impromptu “Coffee Clutch”. (For those of you who don’t know what a Coffee Clutch is, it’s that impromptu gathering that occurs as people drink their coffee and linger for some social interaction and chit chat.) Now, ordinarily impromptu “meetings” and Coffee Clutches aren’t something we would necessarily recommend. However, use this natural tendency for socialization and a 3pm caffeine jolt to your advantage.
2. Call the team together. Grab some cookies, doughnuts, chocolates – something to snack on – and if you are lucky to have a Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts within a block from you (like most of America) splurge on a latte for everyone. If not, have a fresh pot of coffee made. Now here is the trick – take control! Don’t let it become a 45 minute ordering process. Be a drill sergeant, get the order, send someone to pick up the order and tell everyone to be in your office in 10 minutes – no excuses!
3. When your team assembles, relax, enjoy your coffee and have each person share two things.
First, have each person share what they are excited about doing for the Holiday. This is a great opportunity to relate to each other and begin to build trust and team relationships by sharing what’s important to each other.
Second, have each person share what they are excited about professionally for 2010. What new skill are they learning, project are they tackling, etc. This allows your team to begin to respect each other professionally as they share what they want to accomplish in 2010 and step away from the long to-do list for a moment. The funny thing about sharing is once you say it, it starts to happen.
This seems simple and unnecessary, but it’s SO, SO powerful. All teams will face tough times, problems and disappointments. It’s your respect for each other and relationship with the team, as a whole, that will make people stick it out and see things through. This simple gathering can begin to build that team respect and team loyalty. Loyalty and commitment to the team, as a whole, is very different and much more powerful than loyalty and friendship between individual team members.
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb
To your team’s continued success,
Molly and Laney
It’s common for many law offices to send out Holiday cards. It’s even more common for law firms to scramble every year to get together their mailing list, order their cards and get them out on time. How it is that Christmas sneaks up on us each year and catches us unprepared, wherein we “reinvent the Holiday card wheel” year after year. Our Ninth Day of Christmas suggestion is to stop now, while it’s fresh in your head, and clean up your Holiday card process. If you put it aside “until you have time”, it will be Christmas again before you know it!
Helpful Hints for Crazy Card Clean Up
1. Use your database management system to organize your mailing list. Most database management systems, such as Time Matters, Goldmine, Abacus, etc., allow you to create Codes. Simply create a code for “Holiday Card list” and code the people you send cards out to. This will let you easily sort, merge and print labels or address lists. It also lets you get an accurate, current count so you don’t over order cards. Note that some programs limit the number of “codes” a person you enter can have. If this is a concern for you, instead use one of your available fields as your “Holiday Card field” and standardize the answer to either a checkbox or YES/NO. If you don’t standardize the answer, it will be filled in inconsistently and mess up your report and mailing list. As always with data entry, garbage in – garbage out.
2. Go basic, use Excel. If you don’t have a database management program or don’t know how to customize and use your codes or custom features, go basic and use Excel. An Excel spreadsheet can more than accommodate your need to track your mailing list. You can also mail merge labels or envelopes directly from Excel.
3. Create an EASY system for keeping your list current. Creating your Holiday card list is only half the battle. Keeping it updated is the other half. Create an easy system for adding people to the list throughout there year so come December, its ready to go. Here are some suggestions:
- Literally write a code (CARD) on a person’s business card, evaluation, or whatever piece of paper lists a person’s information. Hand to your receptionist, assistant, scan in and email to your VA – do whatever you need to do to immediately hand this OFF to someone else who will add this person to the list. In fact, in the law firm I worked in, our attorney had no idea what happened to the information after he wrote “CARD” on it and left it in the receptionist’s Inbox. He just knew the system worked. Since the receptionist was the person who usually sent out the cards, we let her create the tracking system. (Just make sure whoever creates the system types up instructions and adds it to your Office Operations Manual.) Point is, this doesn’t have to be, nor should it be, a “hands on” project for the attorney.
- Create standards on who gets a card. For instance, all referral sources that send us a client who hires us or all new estate planning clients. As this person is added to your database, the team member entering their data can add them to your list. This removes the “having to stop and think about it” from the attorney’s mind.
- Make the “Holiday card” field required in your database system. Many database management programs will let you with the click of a button make a field ‘required’. This means that it has to be filled in before you can Save and Exit the screen. If you make “Holiday card” a required field it forces people to stop, consider, and answer this question while the person is fresh in their mind. This lets you avoid the “who is that?” question at the end of the year. Another great ‘required field’ is “Referred By” – this is SO critical to track it should literally be required.
4. Delegate it and get out of the way. Your team probably knows your database management system, how to mail merge and what it takes to send out your cards as well as, if not better than you. Define what you ideally want your Holiday card system to be and then get out of the way and let them create it! Then you can focus back on your revenue producing activities and know your team’s got this one handled for you.
5. Schedule time now to create a custom card. If you are going to spend the time and money on sending out cards – do something unique that will stand out. Most graphic companies can also take your team’s photographs and Photoshop them into a holiday scene. The years we did this we received allot of client compliments. We even found cards stuck inside our clients’ estate planning binders so they could use it as a reference when they called us to see who they were talking to.
A few hints:
- Ask your graphic person or photographer for suggestions – they do this all the time and can help you.
- Choose your scene and discuss with your photographer ahead of time. You want to have everything you need to get it done in one shot.
- Be crystal clear with your team on attire. I mean crystal clear! Things like one person having open toed shoes or shirts tucked in or out can make a big difference in how professional your picture turns out.
- It’s sometimes easier to choose an image that allows each person to have their picture individually taken and Photo shopped into together. It’s harder to get one shot with everyone smiling and their eyes open!
- Stick with a “feel” that represents what clients love about you. If they love your humor, be funny. If they love your compassion, be sentimental. Be you! Clients will love it.
To your continued success,
Molly and Laney
On the “Twelfth day of Christmas” blog, we shared how to clear up some “messes” so you can start 2010 with a clean slate and with energy and focus. Today on the “Eleventh day of Christmas”, we will share a quick and easy recipe for creating a great client experience.
In today’s world of online information, email communication and virtual relationships, anyone in the professional services world must capitalize on opportunities to create a client “experience” that will help build a relationship that is valued and unique in your client’s mind. Quality advice and service is a must, but it’s often the small, thoughtful things we do that resonate with our client and makes us distinct from our competition. Here is an easy, fun way to use the ingredients of the holiday season to put some warmth in your client relationship.
Create a Holiday Season Experience
1 Jug Apple Cider
1 Cider Seasoning Packet
Paper Cups or Coffee Mugs
A pinch of holiday cheer
Simply mix the cider and seasoning, warm it up and place in a thermos in your reception area. Place sugar cookies on a plate with napkins and mugs nearby. Print and hang a sign inviting clients to join you for some holiday cheer. Add a footer to all your emails inviting clients and referral sources to stop by and join in. If you send out newsletters or e-zines, add a short invitation. Not only will it fill your office with an inviting aroma of spiced cider, it will give clients an opportunity to stop in and interact with your team in a non-legal, more relationship way.
Now, I know some of you are thinking, an attorney can’t just eat cookies all day with drop-in clients! Of course not! This can be a “team” experience. Encouraging your clients and team to interact can be a powerful way to leverage the attorneys time by utilizing their friendly staff, and in the process, NOT having to be personally available for every client interaction. Most employees are already giddy with holiday cheer this time of year, put it to good use! Let them share it with your clients! This is an easy, in-expensive way to create a client experience. You may not get tons of clients coming through the first year, but it can be an easy tradition to start and let build.
1. If you are in a small office, or work solo, add “between the hours of ___ and ____” to your announcement. Make sure you are there during that time and the doors are open. This will limit the expectation that you are there and available all day, every day.
2. Don’t assume the attorney has to come and personally greet each client. If the attorney happens to be out and about in the office, that’s great, but don’t interrupt them each time a client stops by. The team can be your best “cheermeisters”.
3. Use small cups, it makes the cider last longer.
4. Acknowledge client comments, but don’t overreact. The first year we did this idea, we had one stern and serious business owner comment to our attorney that “he just needed to come get his legal documents signed, not be served cookies – that it was silly”. (Note, this didn’t stop him from having a cup of cider and a few cookies!) Certainly there will be a handful of clients who will care less about some of the ideas you implement. However, be sure to compare them to the numerous clients who like the idea. Quantify, before you knee-jerk react and pull the plug on something new. Usually, as was the case with this particular client, clients are still going to work with you even if they think an idea is silly. They aren’t going to be so offended you served them cookies they fire you…they are just expressing their opinion. If you are concerned about how a new idea is being received, have your team give you feedback – often they hear the compliments from the clients and you, as attorney, only hear the complaints!
5. Set boundaries and delegate it! This is an easy idea to set a few boundaries and delegate to someone on your team. The attorney doesn’t need to be “hands on” with this. Decide how much money the team can spend ($20 should be plenty!) and how much time they can spend on this idea (1 hour to buy supplies and set up is more than enough). With some clear boundaries to make sure you are on the same page, your team can definitely handle this one.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Tenth day of Christmas blog. Happy Holidays!
Molly and Laney
“If you want to go fast, travel alone, but if you want to go far, travel together.” – African proverb
The team we work with is the make it or break it part of our performance and ability to succeed in the workplace. We’ve seen people quit lucrative jobs because of their coworkers. And we’ve seen people take pay cuts and drive an hour to and from work each day to work with a team that motivates and inspires them.
In the workplace, you have a critical responsibility on both ends of this equation.
First, are you working in an environment of coworkers that inspire you and allow you to grow? Second and often overlooked, are you being the coworker that others will drive an hour to work with? This doesn’t mean you are friends with everyone and socialize with them. It doesn’t mean you let yourself become the office psychiatrist everyone dumps on. This might make you popular, but it won’t inspire a person to want to work with you because they see the opportunity for long term growth by being in your presence. In essence, ask yourself, are you the person team members would always pick to be on their team, because they know you get the job done? Are you that team member that people come to when they have a work related issue they don’t know how to solve? These are signs of greatness in the making.
But I can do it faster myself!
The biggest trap you can fall into is the trap of “I can do it faster myself” and this is one I have fallen into myself time after time (Laney). The problem is it does take you less time to do something yourself than training someone new. Well, of course, you already know how to do the task and you are familiar with it. But there are only so many hours in a day, and you can’t do everything. If you are overloaded with work and feel you don’t have the “time” to stop and train someone how to help you, things will never change. You will continue to be overloaded and overworked. But by carving out the time to properly train someone to help you. You will piece by piece lighten your workload and ultimately free up your own time for “future” building. The cardinal rule for “moving on up” is to replace yourself in your current role. Create a bigger future for yourself and find someone to replace you so you can move into that future. But you need to do it properly – in order for training to be effective it needs to be in writing and it needs to be step by step. Casual verbal references to “the way we do things” won’t work.
I worked at a law firm once where they hired a new attorney to help turn around work for their business clients faster. They were getting behind and clients were getting unhappy. After a month or so, the “boss” complained that the new attorney took 2 days to do something that would only take him 15 minutes to get done. While she suspect that was a bit of an exaggeration, even if it was accurate, she reminded him, that if it took him 3 weeks to find the free 15 minutes to complete the task, then it still got done faster with the new attorney taking 2 days to do it, because she had the 2 days open right away. This is how team works. Team can unlock the gridlock or bottleneck of workflow and allow things to get done faster. So just because you are the fastest at something doesn’t mean you should be the one doing it. And it certainly doesn’t mean it is the best revenue producing activity for you.
Systems save time and your sanity!
One of the best things you can do is force yourself to stop and write down step by step instructions for anything you have to train a new person or another team member on. We know, we know… its time consuming and painful enough to show them how to do something, much less to write it down step by step. But sometimes that new person doesn’t work out, and you end up training another new person and another new person until you find that perfect fit. To save your time, and more importantly your sanity, putting pen to paper and writing down the instructions and placing them in an instruction manual, WILL save you time the next go round. After writing the instructions, let the person you are training attempt to follow the instructions without you chiming in. This will let you see if you missed any step that needs to be added in. And if after 90-days they still don’t work out……at least you have a training manual for the next person that comes along….look at that, already saving you time.
If you want to go far, go together…
The other devastating effect of “I can do it faster myself” is that you not only harm yourself, but you take away the growth opportunity of your team. A team that grows together stays together. If you have quality team, but don’t provide them opportunities for growth, they will get lazy, sloppy or leave. To empower yourself and your team, create growth opportunities for you and your team. As you move forward you create opportunities for them to move forward.
Take the first step towards empowering yourself and your team. Join us November 9th at 4-5PM EST as to learn the “Keys to An Empowering Conversation“.
Limited space – click here to register now!
There are many techniques to hiring, training and developing team, some of which we will cover later in this blog. But no matter how many people are on your team – if it’s just three of you or 100 of you – there is one key to hiring that is an absolute and can never be ignored.
When dealing with people, and team members are people, it’s hard to deal in absolutes. Sometimes people defy the rules or the expectations, but this one is a definite. The key is hiring 100% of the time based on integrity.
Webster’s Dictionary Definition of Integrity: A firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values
Our Definition of Integrity: Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it with a 100% authentic stand -every step of the way.
Integrity is one of the most crucial yet mind boggling of terms. Integrity is an ‘airy fairy’ term rarely understood. To give you perspective, it is sometimes used at the same time with “moral”, but it is separate and distinct. Let us help clear up the distinction and more so, share why it matters in the hiring process!
If a team member doesn’t have integrity it doesn’t matter how talented they are, how good they are at what they do, how many hours they work or anything else you normally judge performance on, they are not a fit for your team. Not only will they eventually not work out, but they will poison your team and you will lose good team members along with them. Or worse yet, team members who are out of integrity will stay and continue to be a communicable disease to every client and new team member that walks through your door. Don’t continue to allow a poisonous apple to take root in your workplace.
If your gut is saying “something doesn’t feel right in the belly”, don’t even bother hiring them. Integrity is not trainable, you have it or you don’t. You can’t pay for it, work harder for it or teach it – it’s there or it isn’t.
Let Molly put this into perspective for you with a real life example…
Amy passed every interview, Kolbe matching and reference check with flying colors. Less than five days into the job, red flags were popping up everywhere. Here is one simple illustration – and you don’t need much more than this. This is more than enough evidence of lack of integrity. It started off with her first business trip on the proverbial company dime where her room service bill was $65.00… for one person, for one dinner. Let me paint the picture, this was a single mom of two teenage boys who were getting ready to head off to college, on public assistance and her annual salary was $19,000. This was not a CEO making six figures. This was a person with the entitlement mentality that she was going to get fat (literally with a $65 meal!!!) off the company hog. Lack of integrity. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that friends.
Keys of Integrity
Integrity is a tricky thing. Sometimes the people with the least seem to have the most talent, charm and charisma. Talent, ability and knowledge is not enough. In fact, these should be the last ingredients added to the mix. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can work around lack of integrity. Hiring a team member with no integrity is the biggest mistake you can make.
Integrity IS…when these might show up in the workplace:
• Doing the right thing when nobody is watching
• Taking a complaint to someone who can do something about it
• Refraining from gossip & when a co-worker has a complaint they say “how can I help you with this? vs. going along for the gossip ride and creating a truth that the “workplace sucks”
• Their “weekend” life is totally in line w/their “weekday” life (when you have integrity you have it everywhere in your life)
NO Integrity is … when these things show up in the workplace:
• Talking of cheating on a spouse/partner, shopping till they drop when they say they don’t make enough money, slamming friends, neighbors and ex-coworkers
• Starting conversations with “don’t tell anybody, but…” or “you didn’t hear it from me…”. If you say it out loud, it will and should be expected that it will be repeated.
Declaring Integrity As a Must Exercise:
As a team leader, get everyone involved and develop a set of core values for you as a team to live by. Have each team member define the core values that are important to them. Then everyone convene (we always recommend over coffee and food) and declare what your team as a whole will stand for, operate by and expect every employee/team member to live by.
Some examples: respect for others (we treat others how we wish to be treated), commitment to family (we put our families first and support everyone in putting their families first), community contribution, spiritual guidance and growth (we contribute to our community by sponsoring a local charity each year/do the breast cancer walk/work in a soup kitchen at Thanksgiving, etc. that will contribute to an environment of peace that will greatly impact our clients and our lives.)
These core values can be used to assess new team members as well evaluate existing team during team reviews. Think about framing your list of core values so your clients, referral sources and even vendors know what is important to you as a “family and community based business” and why we do what we do for you. Not only are you creating a place of peace and possibility but a beautiful, deliberate by-product of increased referrals. Who would read those core values and NOT want to refer their friends and family to you?
Creating core values is one small way to begin to get you and your team on the same page. To learn the fundamentals to the Attorney & Team Mindset Necessary to Create an Extraordinary Practice, register now for our Webinar, November 5th from 4-5pm EST. Limited Space! Register Now!
Last week we spoke about the key to finding your intrinsic motivation and using it to energize your passion at work which is to focus on your strengths. If you’re honest with yourself, you probably don’t know exactly what you’re passionate about. You’ve been so busy serving as a good employee that you may have lost touch with what you’re passionate about. Most of you want to feel like you make a difference at the end of the day, that you helped the world to become a better place by helping others or creating something beautiful to inspire others. You may not be a doctor, a teacher, or an artist, but you can create that same sense of “meaning” in your job. In fact, it’s there already—you’ve just been stepping over it.
Too often people “search” for their passion. They run from job to job, relationship to relationship, place to place searching for passion – only to repeat the same burnout and dissatisfaction. They don’t know how to set the stage for passion. Passion doesn’t have to be searched for. You simply have to be still, quiet the noise and set the stage and your passion will become clear. Certain environment, activities, people and self-thoughts will kill any possibility of passion in your life.
Passion + Unique Ability
Your Passion is what ultimately fulfills you – makes you feel like you made a difference for what is important to you. Your Unique Ability is the activities you not only are terrific at, but that actually give you energy and “charge your batteries”.
Passion is the driving “force” – your energy. Unique Ability is the “activities” you do – your strengths.
Your Unique Ability is a combination of your talent, the passion you have for using it, and the value it creates. The goal is to work 70% of your time within your Unique Ability. Don’t waste time improving your weaknesses. Spend time in your Unique Ability and dump the rest that does not serve you.
Our Mentor, Steve Riley, introduced to us to an exercise created by his mentor, Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach® (www.strategiccoach.com ), The Unique Ability Exercise. We added our own twist to The Unique Ability exercise and it has worked very well for us personally.
Step 1: Answer the following questions.
What things are you NOT so good at?
What things do you NOT enjoy?
What things are you ok at, not great, but ok?
What things are you really good at?
What things are you really great at AND you find fulfillment in doing them? They recharge your spirit and your energy.
What kinds of actions or projects do people most often compliment you on?
Do you see a pattern concerning these expressions of appreciation, gratitude, and acknowledgment?”
Do people keep acknowledging you for similar qualities or skills?
Step 2: Ask 10 people (personal and professional) the following questions.
“What words would you use to describe me?
“What activities do I do well?
“Where do I have endless commitment and passion in my life?
In considering the answers your friends, family and colleagues have given you, review your Unique Ability answers and if necessary, revise. Be sure anything you are adding isn’t just something you are great at, but that it fulfills and energizes you. Don’t waste time and energy to correct “weaknesses”, let it go and don’t get sucked into “well I’ll do it but I don’t really enjoy it”. Some weaknesses can be corrected, like physical weakness, smoking or obesity. But most weak points are inherent in you. The correct response to them is not to try to eliminate them but to put yourself in situations where they are irrelevant or insignificant. It is imperative to know your Unique Ability so you can create the job and life you want and that enables you to get on an eternal growth track.
Once you discover your passion and unique ability, you’ll have to learn how to honor it. As an intrepreneur, it will be a balancing act that you’ll have to continually monitor. There will always be certain tasks that you’ll be required to perform that you’re not good at, or that you dislike. As the responsible team player that you are, you’ll be tempted to force yourself to just do it. You’ll just suck it up and take one for the team. That’s all well and good, and something to be done on occasion; but do it with awareness. Monitor your feelings and moods as you do these non-unique ability tasks, so that you don’t lose your passion, energy, good humor, momentum, and productivity. Know your own limits. If you keep saying “yes!” to every one of these tasks because you’re a “do-gooder” and team player, you’ll end up spending 80, 90, or 100% of your workday engaged in non-unique ability work, and you’ll grow to hate the job you once loved, and wonder why you’re going home from work exhausted.
If you still stuck and wondering “what the heck is my passion?” We recommend you hang out with the right people; they will help unleash it for you. There’s an old saying, “Show me your friend, I’ll show you who you really are.” Hang with the right people, those who call you to be your best, believe in you and encourage you. They don’t “YES” you and let you get away with playing a small game in life (or your BS) and they don’t expect perfection, but expect you to share your greatness over the long-term for a lifetime.
These are the ones who not only call you to be the best that you can be, but who refuse to let you be any less. The right people don’t let you sell yourself short. They believe in you, and encourage you to believe in yourself. They may be in a position as mentors or serve as role models.
No flame of passion can ignite or continue to burn in a vacuum. A world of negative, passionless, going-through-the-motion, goal-free people is a vacuum and an emotional vampire. It will suck out any passion that you have or worse yet, never allow you the space to discover yours.
Stay tuned for 4 more keys to finding your passion. Until then, remember, “When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.”
Are you stuck in a rut in your career? Do you feel somewhere deep inside that your work should be more fulfilling; that this can’t be all you were meant to do?
Sometimes you may love what you do, but feel out of control of your work environment. You might be frustrated by your company’s chaos and lack of efficiency and leave work so frustrated that you couldn’t get everything you need to get done completed.
Or maybe you are in a new job and hoping this will be “the one”. If so, you are probably nervous about how to show your new boss your full potential.
Or maybe you love your work and those you work with, and feel ready to take on more responsibility and continue your career.
Are you unsure where to go to get what you need to take the next step to fulfilling your future? Are you considering going back to school, getting more training or certifications or searching for a new, more fulfilling job?
Whether you are feeling out of control or uninspired by your current job or excited about a new one, this blog is for you. It’s a no degree required, no night classes needed way to take control of your professional life and learn to run your office, and stop letting it run you. This blog will help you realize your passion and help you find it in your professional life. That’s right; we just said passion and professional in the same sentence! It is possible! Just like it’s possible to achieve at work, while still keeping boundaries between your work time and your personal time.
In this blog we will break through many sugar-coated clichés like “leave your personal life at the door” and “the boss is always right”. Let’s be for real…. You can’t leave it at the door and the boss isn’t always right. But how do you deal with that? In this blog we’ll teach you not just how to deal with it, but how to turn it to your advantage and excel.
This blog is written for you, by people just like you. Molly and Laney walk the walk and talk the talk of a time-stressed, overachieving, worked their way up professional, just like you. We go by many names. They call us “assistant”, “secretary”, “administration support”, “support staff”, “the right hand” and at some point you have or will have been called “the assistant who really does all the work” (Tongue in cheek by some other professional trying to compliment you, of course…) None of those titles sum up that in real life, let’s face it, you are the one juggling your tasks while reminding your boss of theirs, balancing your urgent needs with theirs and doing it all while grabbing the phones for your receptionist that is late, straightening a picture on the wall no one else notices is crooked, preparing important documents for a presentation your entrepreneur is making and returning 5 phone calls they didn’t have a chance to – and that’s all during the lunch break you never take!
You will find this blog radically different than other “professional growth” blogs. First and foremost because it’s written by two people just like you. We have no fancy degrees and no psychology background; just tried and true methods learned and perfected in the field of battle – the office!
Even more than learning how to survive life with an entrepreneur, after reading this blog you will know how to find your dreams, and have the meaningful, fulfilling life you always wanted. And guess what, that doesn’t mean you have to jump up and quit your job to wander aimlessly and “find yourself”! We’ve never understood why finding yourself has to mean being unemployed and without a plan. In this blog we’ll teach you how to find your dreams, without losing the progress you’ve already made in your life. And you may find them closer to home, well closer to the office, than you think. And if you don’t, you’ll at least have the tools to recognize them the next time you are job hunting.
If you are reading this blog, you are that type of person that has that intangible quality of “getting it done”. You are probably the person people have always called when they have a problem, the one whose opinion is asked, the one who people always look to when they need someone to trust to get the job done. While that might be a great compliment, that intangible quality is hard to express in a resume. It doesn’t show up as a skill or certification. There is no degree in “trust me to get it done”. Often that inability to articulate and measure this quality results in you being underpaid, under-promoted and let’s face it, under appreciated. This blog will teach you how to harness that skill you already have, develop it and be able to clarify it to those you work for, which will result in more money, more respect and more personal satisfaction.
Welcome to The Ultimate Smart Solution™!