Updates Kill Meetings

I was surprised to hear my new client had been conducting five general update meetings each month across various departments. They spent 37.5 total hours sharing updates on activities, schedules, and projects! After implementing EOS, they eliminated 100% of those meetings. Why? They were wasting time. Updates are of little value by themselves. The EOS Level 10™ meeting agenda is basically broken into two major sections: sharing information and problem solving. Employees want information, and they want to make things better. Pure and simple. That’s why they love L10 meetings. In the L10, updates are always done against a standard. Are projects on track or off track? Do results match the weekly goal? Did assigned tasks get done, yes or no? What’s new we should know about? That’s it. If everything is on course, we don’t waste time with “general” updates. It’s only when there’s an issue to solve that we dig in.Otherwise, we move on. How much general update meeting time can you eliminate this... read more

Soft Skills are the Hard Skills

As leaders we focus on production and technology — they link directly to the bottom line. The “soft” components often play second fiddle to “making the numbers.” However, the culture of an organization plays an equally important role in sustainable success. Culture is how you maintain market advantage; your competitors can’t steal it. In EOS®, we say you have to be “healthy and smart.” The challenge for leaders is to have the courage to enrich, enhance and preserve company culture. It’s hard to manage culture because it’s less tangible. It’s also riskier and more personally threatening than addressing production, quality and other technical components. Ask yourself: Are you willing to hire for values and train for skills? Or do you entertain candidates who look good on paper but don’t embody your values? Are you willing to confront toxic behavior? Or do you tolerate it because a person has an important skill set? Are you willing to listen more and be a role model for “open and honest”? Do you shut people down, simply by your expression and tone when you choose to? Do you hire, fire, recognize and reward according to values, not just skills? Culture always reflects core values. Pay attention. Stand for what’s... read more

Decide

Successful leaders are unafraid to make decisions. This seems simple and intuitive; that’s what leaders do, right? Unfortunately, not always. There are countless excuses for putting off decisions. We don’t want conflict. We’re not clear about what’s really important. We don’t have enough information. It might not be the right decision. All that may be true. However, indecision is not the answer. Right or wrong, making decisions keeps you moving forward. Gino Wickman’s free e-book Decide! has great insights on how to make decisions, including The Ten Commandments of Decision-Making. Along the way, however, we all get stuck from time to time. Then ask yourself: What’s the real issue preventing me from making a decision? Underneath all the excuses, what’s really going on? What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that could happen from making a wrong decision, and what are the odds that it will? A mistake isn’t the end of the world. Especially when you know you can pivot. Who could you bring into the decision-making process? If you’re mired in “head trash,” another perspective can clear the way for action. Somebody else said it best. “Just do... read more

Are You All In?

The Six Key Components™ and the process of EOS® make it a balanced, sustainable and powerful system. Sometimes people want to pick and choose. For example, they want to use Rocks and the Level 10 Meeting™ because they seem easy. To succeed, however, you have to be “all in.” You need to take the good with the bad. You need to be willing to do the hard work over the long haul. It’s not quick, and it’s not easy. It’s about being balanced and principled. Great leaders knows this. Mahatma Gandhi’s prescription for being “all in” is to avoid: Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience Knowledge without Character Commerce without Morality Science without Humanity Worship without Sacrifice Politics without Principle What do you, as a leader, want to... read more

Teach ‘Em to Hustle

EOS companies come in many sizes and shapes. In my experience, a common ingredient of successful EOS companies and their leaders is a heightened sense of urgency. They want better results right now. They are action oriented. Harvey Mackay calls it “hustle” in his Star Tribune column this week. It’s a great read. Mackay points out that “…it doesn’t take special ability to hustle, just a burning desire to get ahead.” Many of my clients translate that sentiment into a Core Value, using words like “urgency,” “get it done” and “make it happen.” Hustle is energy-producing. Customers feel it when they do business with you, and they respond with greater loyalty. Employees feel it in the culture of the company, and it’s infectious. It generates enthusiasm. Like any value, “hustle” doesn’t exist in a vacuum. To avoid wasting time and energy, it requires a focus on the right opportunities and disciplined action, both of which are integral to EOS. How does your company score on the hustle... read more

End It, Change It, or Live With It

End It, Change It, or Live With It Leaders face difficult people decisions. In EOS, we say “Right People, Right Seats.” Employees must live our values and do their jobs. But leaders often resist making difficult employee decisions. The advice we give is: “End it, Change it, or Live with it.” Don’t waste time and energy having the same conversation over and over. Make a decision. Typically, reassigning or terminating the employee is the right business decision. That’s not always feasible, especially in family businesses. When you’re considering “Living with it,” think carefully about the impact on other employees.They have to put up with a sub-performer, create work-arounds, compensate for lost productivity, and deal with the emotional drain of toxic behavior. If you have to “Live with it”: Enforce performance expectations with the employee. Often employees make right decisions all by themselves. Communicate your rationale to key stakeholders. Minimize the consequences of the decision. Keep the situation on your radar (Issues List) because circumstances change. Stop complaining about it. You stand for what you tolerate. Choose... read more

What’s the Story – I Just Wanna Know

Employees perform best when they know what is expected and where they stand relative to expectations. When and how should you provide feedback? In EOS, we use scheduled quarterly conversations. Spontaneous feedback in the moment further ensures employee engagement. Here are four best practices to make feedback conversations easier and more effective. Expectations. Are expectations crystal clear – both ways? Preparation. Do you rehearse difficult conversations? Choosing the right words requires you say them out loud in the mirror. Imagine you are receiving the feedback. How does it come across? Details. Do you have a system to keep notes on specific examples? Both good and bad? It’s easy to forget the details. Let the employee know exactly what was exemplary or deficient. Venue. Do you praise in public, critique in private? Always be looking for opportunities to give honest feedback but be sure the venue is appropriate. It takes attention and discipline to consistently stay in touch with employees. The payoff is worth... read more

The Greater Good

Should you commit to a bad team decision? Think about it. In EOS, we say One Vision, One Voice, One Team. Inside the room, you voice your opinion about an issue, along with everyone else. Disagreement is healthy. Open and honest. Outside the room, leaders have to speak with one voice about a decision. The consequences of a bad decision are far less than the turmoil caused with leaders disagree publicly and undermine each other. EOS colleague Jim Coyle gave great insight in a recent blog. Acting for the greater good means subjugating your personal feelings and well-being long enough to make a wise decision. It also means sacrificing popularity with courage to speak up when it would be a lot easier and safer to be silent, let things slide, and go with the flow. How to act for the greater good: Pause, take a breath, and assess the situation. Be honest with yourself. What are the consequences of my action? Will it strengthen or weaken the team? Is it consistent with our values? Will it stand the test of time? The answer is yes. Commit to a bad decision for the greater... read more

Counterintuitive

As leaders, we trust our instincts. We have experience. We’ve been successful. Our instincts are a big part of our success. But our intuition is sometimes off. When should you be counterintuitive instead? When you absolutely know you’re right, ask questions first. No one plays with a full deck. Instead of obsessing over weaknesses, build on strengths. Don’t dwell on shortcomings. You’ll get more productivity from motivating. Break a bad cycle. Under stress, we counterpunch. Unfortunately, we encourage bad behavior by engaging in it ourselves. Break the cycle. Do a reality check when you’re stuck. Overused skills become weaknesses. For example, decisive devolves to controlling; excessive fact-finding delays decisions. Don’t sacrifice the important for the urgent. Catch yourself when your instincts say “I don’t have time to take a Clarity Break, to complete my Rocks, to build relationships, to coach, to delegate…” Remember the objectives behind your checklists. It’s about being effective, not just efficient. Our instincts are powerful. Know how to ignore... read more

Just in Case

We all accumulate things. Many of them reflect what I call the “Just in Case” syndrome. I’ll keep these old files just in case I need them later. That pile of books to read “one day.” Implementing some new productivity software. Those things we wish we could get done, but somehow never do. You have your own examples. They’re usually “important” but not “urgent” (Steven Covey’s distinction in Seven Habits). We make lists, collect documents, and stack them on the corner of our desk. When the stack gets too big, we put it in a box. Then we add another box. Eventually we throw them all out. The reality is “Just in Case” never happens. So how do we stop the cycle? Have the discipline to say “no” to those things that are only “nice to do,” i.e., not important. Manage an iron-clad “Issues List,” which you consistently monitor, prioritize, and weed out. Schedule time for important but not urgent activities Often that appointment is just with yourself. The key is to treat it like any other important meeting – don’t blow it off. Have a disciplined approach to dealing with issues. In EOS, we call this IDS. I just threw away three boxes. It was painful for a second, then energizing. Try... read more

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