The Case for Doing a Reverse Accountability Chart

The Case for Doing a Reverse Accountability Chart

I am blessed to be part of a community where people help each other. Over the past couple of weeks, my fellow EOSi’s (our name for other EOS® Implementers) have shared countless bits of wisdom that have helped me in the conversations I have been having with the leaders of companies that have been affected by the coronavirus and in my own business.

The Accountability Chart is designed as a key growth tool to cast a vision for the roles in your organization going forward (i.e., creating the right seats) and leveraging that and your values to make sure you have the right people in all those seats. In a dramatic downturn, this core tool of EOS can also be used to project needed changes, and we call that doing a reverse accountability chart. Here is a link to our lead coach, Mark O’Donnell, explaining how to do that activity. As we come up to our quarterlies, I will be putting that on all the issues lists and we will have a conversation about when or if we do it for your leadership team. In a recent conversation with a leader, they questioned the ‘humaneness’ and ‘awkwardness’ of doing such an activity with their leaders. Their question – What if a seat is eliminated? My return question is always – What if it isn’t and it should be?

This post is not about explaining how to do a reverse accountability chart because Mark does that in his post. I want to focus on the why, to make the case that being open and honest up front is actually less painful than hiding it. Let this be my Johari Window moment, and I will share a piece of my story that is actually at the root of my passion for the accountability chart, because I personally experienced a transition where it was not done in an open and honest way.

My role was leading people and strategy for a financial institution that made most of its income through mortgage products and the income off a nine-figure portfolio of loans. When the mortgage crisis started to unwind in 2008, our CEO reacted by coming in one day and making the declaration to the leadership team that we needed to stop offering our core loan product at our 3 non-Michigan sales offices, switch everyone to selling conventional mortgages, and stop opening new offices. It became clear to me almost instantly that my seat and accountabilities changed dramatically, and the part of the role that I really GWC’d was gone. Remember my role was to direct strategy and help achieve RP/RS, so almost immediately I knew the organization really did not need my role anymore. There was very little conversation around the change and we all quickly jumped into action mode of doing it.

As a father of four young children, and with my wife taking a break from her career as a nurse to stay at home with the kids, I kept my thoughts to myself and threw myself into helping the organization through the changes ahead. We retrained our salesforce to sell a new product and with a new customer experience, and later, through a similar decision directly from our CEO, implemented a 10% reduction in our staff. Finally, 7 months after that initial announcement, I set up a time to go talk to our CEO and shared with him that my job was really no longer needed and I needed to leave the organization. The first conversation was him trying to convince me that I had value and my assignment was to think about it. We set up a time to talk right after Christmas. The second conversation was short, because my mind did not change, and we picked a date of March 31 that I would leave the organization.

There’s more to this story, and in the end I look back and realize it was a necessary step for me ending up here, being an EOS partner with a handful of great companies and dozens of great leaders. But there was a personal and professional cost to this path, and it was one of the toughest things I ever did. It would take pages to share the personal pain and anguish it caused within me to take the road of silence and hidden realities. To reference a Robert Frost poem, my passionate plea is that in these situations the road less travelled is the open, honest, and vulnerable road of the reverse Accountability Chart. Speaking from experience, that road can make all the difference and when it comes to hard conversations, I work hard to make the road less travelled the one I take.

Take a look at Mark’s post, and I encourage all of you to think about how this tool could help you face some of the uncertainties that could hit us over the months ahead. Also know that when I am talking about it, it is not just a tool, but an option I wish I had in 2008 because I would have gladly chosen that option vs the road I travelled.

Several tips for navigating your work:

  1. Remember, this is a time when your values and culture can come alive despite the remote nature of our work – or even for those of you having to do temporary layoffs. Here is a post from me that will give you some actions to take: Leadership and Social Distancing: 5 Tips To Increase Trust and Team Health Despite Our Current Reality
  2. Wisdom from an EOS peer of mine, Ken DeWitt, about An EOS Company’s Guide To Surviving The Coronovirus
  3. There are opportunities in this situation, and part of seeing them as leaders is just stepping back and shifting our perspective. The two questions I have in front of me every day are: Why is this a gift to me? What is it offering that I don’t see?
  4. Finally, here is the post from Mark about the Reverse Accountability Chart. Keep it handy, and watch it when it is time. If you don’t get the blog posts from EOS worldwide, it would be a good time to sign up as they are particularly helpful right now.

Final Tip: Sometimes kids have the answer for all of us. Here is a timeless YouTube video that reminds me of that and always makes me smile. Jessica’s Daily Affirmation

Stay healthy and lead well!

EOS® for Everyone: Feeling Overwhelmed / Too Busy? Here is Step One…

EOS® for Everyone: Feeling Overwhelmed / Too Busy? Here is Step One…

Earlier last year, I was 45 minutes from home and 30 minutes from the start of an EOS session when I realized I had left my bag at home with all my notes for the day – including a bunch of handouts for this team.

I panicked, then I took a deep breath and went about solving the problem. Thanks to a quick delivery by my wife and a few deep breaths, we had a great day – ending with a 9.1. In 225+ days, that has never happened.

Remember the EOS lesson of Hitting the Ceiling?
Total transparency – forgetting things I should not is my symptom.

My next step was to fix me so that never happened again. I dusted off the Back to the Basics Checklist on page 33, under the Toolbox tab in the EOS manual, and the issue was Q4-Following the Process and Q5-Taking Clarity Breaks. If you want to know next steps, just call me or ask me at our upcoming sessions and I will tell you the rest of the story.

My message – when you start feeling and/or showing the strain of handling your accountabilities, the first step is acknowledging it and the next step is proactively solving the problem.

I have seen some very hollow looks from leaders in the last 6 months, and my heart kind of breaks a little each time because I know how that look feels intimately. It is sad when the team is open and honest and the leader either deflects it with some sarcasm or says something like “I got it” – because I cannot think of a time when a leader actually got back on track after making that statement.

We are in a new year, and it is a time to reset rocks and goals, get your life at work and at home aligned with your priorities. The annuals are a great time to handle the professional part, and if you are wondering about the personal part let me know and I am glad to pass on some things that have built my own capacity in the past.

Here are some EOS tools that will help you address that overwhelmed feeling at work:

  • Back to the Basics Checklist
  • Delegate and Elevate (do it at least once a year)
  • Clarity Breaks (here is a video of me talking through my form)
  • Scorecard: Start tracking some of the habits you have around refreshing and reenergizing. For example, I track Clarity Breaks and Days of Exercise as personal health measures. For me, if those numbers stay on-track, I stay on-track.

Don’t forget to join the Me Time for Leaders learning journey if you need support in building the Clarity Break habit.

EOS® for Finance: Developing financial literacy

EOS® for Finance: Developing financial literacy

As the finance lead, you are in a unique position help the whole organization with their own financial literacy. I have heard several leaders in the finance seat get feedback to increase their facetime with the organization, so I want to remind you of the unique opportunity you have to help strengthen the DATA component (remember the EOS® Model) and equip the leaders with knowledge to be more data-driven decision makers.

A few ideas:

  1. Facilitate the 8 Cash Flow Drivers tool with a group of leaders. If having a co-facilitator would help, let me know and I would be glad to do it.
  2. Volunteer to come to any L10 to help a team IDS a topic that needs financial input.
  3. Set up a review rhythm of budgets, capital plans, or anything else you drive in the organization (some of you do all the quoting) with the group of leaders that are impacted by your decisions – to review, listen, and help develop and/or tweak the process so it works better.

Here’s the past post that has a couple of other ideas: http://www.thetrugroup.com/2019/10/eos-for-finance-developing-financial-literacy-in-your-organization/

Contact me if you need more guidance.

EOS® for Visionaries & Integrators: Breaking Through the Ceiling

EOS® for Visionaries & Integrators: Breaking Through the Ceiling

In the last 6 months, I have looked into the eyes of some overwhelmed leaders. You are both in a tough position, because the team looks to you for strength and leadership, and yet you are human and hit the ceiling like anyone else.

  • Who does the Integrator turn to for support? The Visionary
  • Who does the Visionary turn to for support? The Integrator
  • What if you sit in both seats? See below

Both of you should find a peer group in which you can feel safe to talk. Some examples include Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), Vistage, Young Presidents Organization (YPO) or, in West Michigan, Jandernoa Entrepreneurial Mentoring (JEM). Having a mentor or finding another peer group that meets monthly can also be a great place to get some help.

The most powerful thing you can do is to admit to your team that you are hitting the ceiling and then do something about it. Remember our first conversation about being a good leader is a lot like being a good parent?

  1. Have a few rules 
  2. Repeat often 
  3. Walk the talk

If you don’t walk the talk on taking care of yourself so you don’t hit the ceiling, your team won’t either – it is that simple.

Make sure you are supporting each other (or getting support from an outside group) and you are walking the talk when it comes to being your best.

TIP: Remember the Back to the Basics Checklist under the toolbox tab (p. 33) to help you think through what you need to do to break through the ceiling. And contact me if you need more help.

EOS® for Everyone: How You Can Get to All Yes’s on LMA

EOS® for Everyone: How You Can Get to All Yes’s on LMA

As you look to 2020, consider the perpetual challenge for all leaders working in an EOS organization – Do you want to be a GREAT leader?

Remember the statements I shared in the 90 Minute Meeting about the assumptions we make about leaders? The two assumptions we make about leaders in EOS are:

  1. You genuinely care about your people
  2. You want to be a GREAT leader

If either of these are no, then likely the organization needs you to look for another seat.

Are you pushing yourself to be a GREAT leader? Prove it – give me two things you are doing outside of working in the business to become a more effective leader.

The good news is, in EOS we have something called LMA, which stands for Leadership + Management = Accountability. In addition, we give you checklists for both leadership and management (pp. 20 – 21 in the Toolbox tab of your orange binder) and a measuring system of yes or no (with feedback from your people). I can almost guarantee if you have some open and honest conversations, one of these will be a No and give you something to work on.

We also have the Back to the Basics checklist (p. 33 in the Toolbox tab of your orange binder) that helps you analyze why your Rock % is low, why your team is missing key metrics, or why you just feel a little out of control or unbalanced in your work/home life. The answers to these questions actually translate into key skills you might need to acquire with some outside training. (Call me if you want to talk through this.)

As you head into 2020, take some time to reflect on whether you put the necessary effort in to being a great leader in 2019? If not, take a look at both of these checklists and identify a couple of focus areas for 2020. We will do some of this work in an upcoming annual with the Team Health/1 Thing exercise, but why wait?

As always, how can I help?

(Top tip: If you are looking to do some leadership development with your managers, look no further than these lists!)
 

Book studies are also a great way to learn; here are 6 simple books that will provide input to help you become a GREAT leader:

Extra support:

Working on listening at the heart of being a great leader?
Here are some blog posts + TED talks to help:

EOS® for Operations: The Importance of Meeting Rhythms

EOS® for Operations: The Importance of Meeting Rhythms

In most organizations, your role has the most direct reports, the most key measures on the Scorecard, and – along with the sales team – the most pressure on it when the organization is not meeting financial targets. As a result, mastering the EOS tools and cascading them is really important for you and your team.

Have you cascaded the EOS meeting rhythm to your team?
This includes:

  • Weekly L10
  • Quarterly Planning
  • Annual Planning

If the answer is no and you have been doing EOS for over 18 months, my next question is: Why not?

As your company grows, your role will grow – and probably faster than any other area because you are at the heart of the product/service your company delivers. Your ability to delegate and elevate with your leadership team will allow your team to grow along with you. If you would rather stay in a more hands-on role, that is also great too if that is your unique ability. It takes courage to have that conversation. I have seen it happen twice, and it made everyone happier and more successful.

As we head into annual season for many of you, expect me to ask this question. If you aren’t doing it yet, it is time to start. As always, how can I help?

(PS: If you want to connect with leaders already doing this well, let me know and I will be glad to connect you.)

Extra Support:
I’m offering regular support on your journey toward people-centered leadership, with weekly reminders and a free coaching session. Bookmark this page to enroll on an experience when needed.

EOS® for Integrators: The 6 Key Areas You Need to Master

EOS® for Integrators: The 6 Key Areas You Need to Master

The one position that I see the most incredible growth in is the Integrator. It is also the one role that I am sometimes too easy on as an implementer, which I have been working on correcting for the last year.

The two themes you will hear a lot from me are 80% Rock completion and same page meetings. Here are 6 key areas all current or future Integrators need to make sure their team masters (if mastery is not happening, I urge you to look in the mirror first…):

  1. Regular same page meetings with the visionary: You define ‘regular’, but the feedback I get is at least every 2 weeks and weekly in critical times
  2. L10 meetings that are routinely a 9 or 10
  3. 5-5-5 Feedback sessions with the leadership team
  4. LMA checklists: Yes on all items for each leader, especially you!
  5. Your VTO being shared EVERY quarter with everyone
  6. Core documents always updated and accurate, plus constant pressure to be great (VTO, Accountability Chart, Rock sheet/plans, L10 Agenda, and Scorecard)

Your role is important. But remember – the 6 things above don’t have to be done by you alone. Sometimes the Integrator is not great at meetings, so you get someone else to run them. The Scorecard is often owned by the most detailed-oriented (high fact-finder) member on the team, and sharing the VTO is often done by the passionate Visionary.

As you end this year and look to improve in your role next year, look in the mirror and ask yourself if these are being done. If not, commit to making sure it happens.

Learning from Others:
I had a team go from sporadic Rock performance to straight 100%.
The difference?
A new Integrator that created a stronger sense of accountability within the team. The feedback from the team – thank you!

A mentor of mine has taught me that leaders create conditions where accountability can happen. Since learning that I have caught myself saying hold people accountable, and I realize that one you do with people, and one you do to people, so they are very different! We create the conditions with our actions, repeated often.

In the situation I referenced above, the conditions of accountability also came with supportive statements like “How can I help?” Seeing these outcomes, and looking in the mirror myself, has resulted in a personal change of becoming stronger in creating conditions where you feel challenged to be your best. Also, it will always be followed by the next important words: “How can I help?”

Extra Support:

I’m offering regular support on your journey toward people-centered leadership, with weekly reminders and a free coaching session. Bookmark this page to enroll on an experience when needed.

EOS® for Visionaries: The One Thing ALL Visionaries Need to Do

EOS® for Visionaries: The One Thing ALL Visionaries Need to Do

I teach and coach in a leadership development program through a company founded by Paul Doyle, a leader who I both like and respect. It is the one piece of non-EOS work I kept after I ‘burned the boats’ last year, and that is only because I like being around Paul. Hopefully you have a Paul in your circle.

In a recent class, he shared some of the wisdom of doing management by walking around. As a Visionary, your eyes see things differently than the Integrator or the other members of the leadership team, so give yourself a chance to go connect and observe.

Here are four things that Paul Doyle shared with a group of leaders that will help your walks provide a great return on time:

  1. Make the focus on learning, not problem solving (let people fight through their own problems – don’t direct them on how to fix it)
  2. Listen more than you talk
  3. Spread time equally over the whole organization, don’t just go to problem areas
  4. Comment on successes as often as you comment on problems

You know something is broken when people start saying things like, “Oh no, here he/she comes!” The Visionary is most often an owner too, so remember to take the owner hat off, get to know the people, and make sure they know this is your listening time to just check in and learn from the experts – them! The only way to work through the fear this new habit might generate is to just do it well for 6-12 months.

Don’t let fear of not knowing names, hating ‘small talk’, or not wanting to end around on the integrator keep you from spending time in the business with the people that run it each day. If you do it right, you stay connected, the people are inspired, and the learning will help you build a great culture and company.

As always – let me know how I can help if you have some restraining forces that need to be overcome.

Extra support:
If you’re not already taking weekly Me Time, I suggest you enroll in my Me Time for Leaders learning journey. Schedule this weekly time in conjunction with your walk around to allow you quiet time to digest what you learn and make notes to help you later. Find out more about this learning journey here.

EOS® for Everyone: Retention Strategy – Cascading EOS Rhythms

EOS® for Everyone: Retention Strategy – Cascading EOS Rhythms

Lots of companies are talking about retention strategies for their people. As an EOS company, here is a case for why doing EOS really well and cascading it is the best strategy for keeping your people.

The Gallup organization came up with 12 questions that assessed an organization’s strengths in customer satisfaction, profitability, productivity, and employee turnover. The four questions they ask that statistically tie to turnover are:
Q1 – I know what is expected of me at work
Q2 – I have the tools I need to do my job
Q3 – I have an opportunity to do what I do best
Q5 – Someone at work cares about me as a person
(Here are all twelve questions)

If improving retention/engagement is a goal for 2020, here is how the EOS rhythms will help:

 Q1 –
Expectations
Q2 – Needed ToolsQ3 – What I do bestQ5 – Cares
about me
100% RP/RSX XX
Quarterly
VTO sharing
XX X
Weekly L10XX X
MeasurablesXX  
Qtrly 5-5-5XXXX
RocksXXXX

The power of cascading these tools is that, if done well, it becomes a powerful tool to keep your entire team engaged in their work and contributing at a high level.

Extras:

  1. A great post about clarity breaks from one of my partners – Mike Kren at BizStream
  2. A quick video around Daniel Pinks book – Drive that gives a simple answer for What motivates people? I would point back to the EOS tools as actions that make this happen.
EOS® for Finance: Developing Financial Literacy in Your Organization

EOS® for Finance: Developing Financial Literacy in Your Organization

This is a note especially for those in the Finance seat.

Remember when we did the cash flow drivers tool?

In my experience, half of my teams roll their eyes like they don’t need it. I can only think of one team who told me there was no/little value in the activity.

My questions to you:

  • What is the financial literacy of your leaders?
  • What do you do every year and/or with every new hire to continue to build it?

In a past role, I spent five months of my life taking leadership teams through a financial literacy/cash flow activity. It was an 8-hour class, averaging 15 people per class, and I trained over 1,500 people across the US and Mexico. I will never forget when a plant manager told me, in an excited voice, that he finally understood EBITDA! The irony was that was a key metric in his bonus, and he did not really understand it. That experience taught me never to assume financial literacy and how it is such critical knowledge for the front-line leaders to possess so they can understand the CFO and make great business decisions.

Question for 2020: How are you assessing/building financial literacy in your leaders?

I encourage you to do the 8 cash flow drivers with your leaders and find other ways to repeat that learning event in creative ways. I would be glad to help co-facilitate it if that would help, and I have a few other ideas that I have seen work if you are interested.

Extra Tips: