One-on-ones: Yes or No?

One-on-ones: Yes or No?

In EOS – One-on-ones . . . Yes or No?

I have been getting this question lately, and so I want to answer it for all.

First, my early clients will attest that I was a pro one-on-one and EOS® person. After implementing EOS® with 30+ clients I have learned a few things:

  1. The most important time for interaction and feedback between leader/manager and team members are:
    1. Weekly connect points (L10 or set time with team)
    2. Quarterly 5-5-5™ (feedback / check-in conversation)
    3. Regular (never missed) same-page meetings between Visionary/Integrator
  2. Too often one-on-ones are used because team members don’t want to bring up issues in the L10.

If you are currently doing them and want to keep doing them, here are three tips to make sure they are having a positive impact on team health (building capacity for honesty, vulnerability-based trust, and teamwork) and alignment.

3 tips for keeping one-on-ones from derailing team health and making the Integrators job harder than it should be:

  1. Any issue brought up that involves teamwork with a peer should either: 1) go to the L10 Issues list, or 2) become a To Do to take the issue directly to the person who can help solve it.  If it is a conflict that needs the Integrator to be involved to solve it, then make it a Personal Issues Solving Session™ (see toolbox in your LT manual). In a healthy team this should almost never happen.
  2. Agenda should reflect what the team member needs. Just like the 5-5-5, the individual and not the leader should own the agenda.
  3. Objective should be to work to a point where these get less frequent or end altogether.

Situations where one-on-ones have been used effectively by EOS leaders I have worked with:

  1. New team member: having them weekly/bi-weekly for 3 to 6 months helps keep their onboarding plan (you all have one, right?) on-track and deals with any issues more quickly.
  2. Struggling leaders: more frequent check-ins for coaching and support helps leaders through a difficult situation, which is sometimes warranted.
  3. New leader: if you are a new leader to the team, these might be an effective way for your team to educate you on what they do, the decisions they face, and even gets you out to tour their operation on a regular basis for a while to learn the business.

I have come to see one-on-ones as not needed if all of the other EOS tools and habits are in place. If you do one-on-ones and want to come to an organizational agreement on when/how they will be used, put it on the IDS list and solve it at an L10 or an upcoming quarterly/annual.
Whatever you do, remember One Team, One Voice – so move together on whatever you decide.

Lead well! ~ Scott

EOS Integrators: Everyone should be in a great weekly meeting

EOS Integrators: Everyone should be in a great weekly meeting

Special topic for EOS Integrators

In recent meetings with a few clients—in one case doing a lunch and learn with some key managers around the L10 Meeting™—I have realized that a key learning has been missed. The concept of cascading L10 meetings has transformed into a belief that everyone has to be in an L10. In some cases, even every meeting must be an L10.

Here are the basics, and I go back to the Organizational Check-up that we review at every annual:

               Question 13: Everyone is engaged in regular weekly meetings.

The concept is that we use great meetings to keep everyone connected to the changing priorities of the business and provide an opportunity for messages and issues to be quickly cascaded up and down your accountability chart.

Some meetings will not fit the L10 format and that is okay, just review the points made in your Off-Line Meeting Track tool and make sure that it is still designed to be a great meeting for all attending.

If I can ever be a resource for your team please let me know – I love the interaction and it helps me hear what is working and not working in helping the leadership team achieve EOS Mastery.

Lead well . . . . ~ Scott
For Visionaries: 2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact

For Visionaries: 2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact

2 Tips to Maximize Your Impact on the Business AND Decrease Your Frustrations

You sit in the visionary seat because of your unique ability to see big trends, solve big problems, build/maintain important relationships, and generate ideas that will help your business get to the next level.

Lately I seem to be having conversations with visionaries that are seeing EOS® as a system that restricts their access and voice in the business. That is not the intent of EOS and of the accountability chart that created a much needed structure in your organization. Here are two key truths:

  1. Your opinion moves people when they hear it: I heard a story of a financial executive touring a trading desk one day when he made kind of an off-handed comment about gold looking interesting. When he revisited the area a week later he noticed the large positions they had taken up in gold. When he asked about the reasons for the shift, the team responded that they were just “following his advice.” A single comment had moved hundreds of millions of dollars! A leaders words move people, so choose them wisely.
  2. The Integrator – Visionary relationship is critical to your business: The reason Rocket Fuel was written was to equip you to do that. In the opening paragraph it says, “You will learn to utilize this partnership the right way to free yourself up, maximize your potential, and achieve everything you want from your business.”

Also recognize that all your ideas are not great, and some are gold and need to be done. Here are two things that will help you leverage your unique abilities and have a big impact on your business:

  1. Same page meeting with your Integrator: This is a critical time to prioritize your ideas, support each other, and IDS big topics that need to be supported by both of you before they hit the business. Follow the guidelines in Rocket Fuel to set this up, and call me if I can help refine this time for the two of you.
  2. Define the core processes that most impact your work: Generally it is either the sales or product development process that the Visionary spends the most time in. By defining the process and what parts or steps you will be the owner, it frees you up to be involved in the business without having to worry about the day to day follow through. Remember the story of the financial leader? Your voice just shared without the context of a process will most likely result in priorities being shifted without debate, and ultimately it will negatively impact the clarity and focus of the team.

Don’t stop being you because the strengths you possess are needed by the business. The lesson we all have to learn is that strengths overused become weaknesses, so put in the work to build up the relationship with your Integrator and refine the processes that will help your ideas get vetted and gain traction that you can see without having to be there every moment.Lead well . . . . ~ Scott

The 2021 EOS Conference in Houston is still open. Might be a good retreat to spend time ON the business and network with other visionaries.  Here is the link if you want to check it out.

IDS Like a Rock Star

IDS Like a Rock Star

Problem solving as a leadership team is the one of the most important skills you can build because the organization needs you to do it so the issues that get identified during your EOS® journey get solved. It is also critical as you cascade your L10 meetings that you facilitate it well to help all your people master the skill of IDS.

The reality, I see some teams do this really well, and yet I see others struggle with this. At my recent quarterly with all my EOS peers, Mike Paton did a deep dive on IDS that I wanted to review with you. Here are some key tips.

  1. Core Activity #1: Do the L10 Meeting Well –  Remember, the basic structure of the L10 with a scorecard, rock, people headlines, and To Do review should generate a strong issues list each day, including the brainstorm before IDS where the team bring other issues to consider. If this is not happening regularly the team needs to step up.
  2. Core Activity #2: Prioritize your issues to identify your top 3 first – Start with one, and don’t move on to #2 until the question is asked of the person that brought up the issue: Are we solved on this issue? and the next steps (usually a To Do) is documented).

Here are some tips from Mike Paton (past Visionary at EOS)

  1. Great IDS is not: 1) like a suggestion box in a lunchroom – throw a bunch of ideas in there and then never talk about them  2) A shoot the messenger activity – in a culture of courage people bring up tough things, stay to contribute to IDS, and work to solve the issue. Do you see that?
  2. Identify Best Practice #1: Ask lots of questions in I to get to the real issue – After the person bringing the issue up states the root cause of the issue in a single sentence, use these questions to drill down to the root cause:
    1. What is the REAL issue?
    1. I hear you saying the problem, what is the root cause?
    1. Can you restate that in a single sentence that focuses on the real issue?
    1. Tell me a little more about that?
    1. Could you unpack that a little more for us?
  3. Identify Best Practice #2: Use the EOS mode – The root cause of almost every issue is weakness in one of the core components of EOS. Go to the EOS model and ask: Is the root cause a weakness in the  Vision component? The People component? The Data component? The Issues component? The Process component? The Traction component? Once you get an answer go back to #2 and dig to the root cause. (I am having a local shop make a printed copy of a dry erase board that will have the model on it. if you want one email me.)
  4. Identify Best Practice #3: Be visual – Write all the Issue statement on a board. It is that simple and will help your teams focus on the root cause.

Here are some other tips:

  • Discuss: If it is going too long you are either 1) Not solving the real issue or 2) Not being open or honest 3) Repeating opinions/politicking  4) On a tangent (say Tangent Alert!)
  • Discuss: Some humorous statements to keep statements focuses: Your plane is running low on fuel so we need to land it.  Thank you Governor (their name), but you are not answering the question we are trying to answer.
  • Solve: Based on our accountability chart – who should know the answer? Look to that person to summarize the solution or next steps based on the discussion.
  • Stalling for more info: When people are asking for more info 90% of the time they are just stalling. Go to the staller, ask specifically what info they need, and ask if they would be willing to go get it. Make it a To Do if you have time, or if a decision needs to be made the Integrator is the tie breaker.

As you cascade your L10’s to your teams, remember to work hard to refine their skills in IDS. Teach, coach, and facilitate to the model I presented above. One thing I realized from Paton’s presentation is that I need to tighten up my own skills in our quarterlies so that you see an example of great IDS facilitation as you challenge yourself to grow in that area.

As always, if you want me to attend an L10 let me know. Another best practice is to have an outside leader attend your L10 to give you feedback, and maybe help you facilitate some of your IDS topics to strengthen this skill.

Clarity Breaks!

Clarity Breaks!

#confidence #clarity #focus #gettingbacktoourbestself

I recently had a conversation with a visionary, and I ended it with the question, What else can I do to support you? His response – Anything you could do to encourage our team to continue their clarity breaks™ would be really helpful. He went on to say that they had all started doing them, and while the team was enjoying the new habit and experiencing the value, he worried they would stop.

Instead of getting preachy with you, let me share some feedback from two EOS® leaders I work with.

  1. In his blog post, The Power of the Clarity Break, Mike Kren (Operations – Bizstream) shares his journey from thinking Who has time for that?! to the realization that In the extremely fast-paced and busy world we live in, it is important to take time to relax and refocus no matter what you do for a living. Here is Mike’s full post.
  2. After just starting the clarity break habit as the assignment from our discussion on the LMA tool, Kelly Plawinski (Integrator – Adamy Valuation) shared: Yesterday’s clarity break lead to a breakthrough on something I have been pondering for a while no. Love it!!!

It has been called lots of different things, and if you have investigated mindfulness, been a regular at the practice of yoga or meditation, or read extensively in the self-help section of a bookstore, this is not a new topic. It is also a topic that was recommended by the likes of Stephen Covey and Peter Drucker.

The pushback I get from you most often is that your clarity break is in a pool or on a run. My response is always the same – it only counts if you document some sort of actions after so your thinking time results in increased clarity, confidence, and focus that you feel and the people around you see/experience in your actions. Keep exercising, taking breaks during the day, and days you unplug from the office, but those are not clarity breaks.

As things go fast, and the uncertainty results in you spending lots of time doing the things you don’t like to do (scrounging for cash, being ignored by customers, furloughing or firing team members, etc.) it is easy to get stuck. My passionate plea is to take care of yourself and stay focused, and clarity breaks are designed and endorsed for doing just that. If you need a reminder, take a look at page 25 in your Leadership Team manual or page 73 in How To Be A Great Boss by Gino Wickman and Rene Boer. If you don’t have either of these email me and I will send you copies.

Let me leave you with a great quote to ponder:

Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.

Henry Ford


Stay healthy! . . .  and lead from that healthy place. ~ Scott

A few of extra links for continued learning:

  1. A video I made describing my clarity break. Don’t copy me, make it yours!
  2. Blog post: 5 Tips for Building Resilience (and we are all going to need more of it)
  3. NEW: A video from some of my experienced peers – some great tips and learnings! It is called Clarity Breaks in a Crisis, so it is very focused on the conditions you are leading in today.
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: