It’s NORMAL to feel stuck. There, I said it. Yes, plateaus are normal (as in, everybody experiences them). Problem is, many people stay stuck for YEARS when they are in
Leverage Your Accountability
Predictably reach much bigger numbers every year by having your team improving accountability by being responsible for growing the business for you, and by always knowing where you stand, so you can course-correct in real time.
OF THE BUSINESS owners I’ve worked with over the years, the majority are initially resistant to setting big stretch goals. At first, this came as a surprise to me...
OF THE BUSINESS owners I’ve worked with over the years, the majority are initially resistant to setting big stretch goals. At first, this came as a surprise to me. (“Didn’t they come to me to
learn how to grow their business significantly? If so, why the resistance?”)
I’ve since narrowed down this resistance to four reasons:
- They can’t see how “it” (doubling or tripling their business in one year) could actually happen. They haven’t reverse-engineered how it would happen, which means that it feels too improbable.
- They think they would have to work much too hard or longer hours to achieve it. (They’re already overwhelmed, and so the belief that “more clients equals more problems” keeps them on their current plateau.)
- They feel alone in getting it done, even with a team. (The belief that they are the only one responsible for building the business, that it’s their role and no one else’s, keeps them stuck doing more of the same, instead of going for exponential growth.)
- They would feel embarrassed if they didn’t reach “it.” (I mean, who wants to commit publicly to a big stretch goal and not make it? This keeps them focused on building their business in incremental steps, rather than big leaps.)
Here’s what I know for sure. By virtue of you reading this book, it is probable that you are not interested in having your business stay at status quo. Instead, you are likely interested in or at least curious about moving past your current reach or impact in business, and looking to really stretch and create bigger results.
More of the same, as you know, produces more of the same. If you’d like to achieve new big results in your business, then we must strive higher.
This Activator requires that we put on our big girl or big boy pants when it comes to stretching our goals and, most importantly, how we show up to achieve them. The idea is that “getting away with not being responsible” is no longer attractive as much as “being responsible and accountable.” It’s about having our actions (and our team’s actions) be congruent with our stated goals. This requires regular accountability.
For some time, even at the seven-figure level, I too caught myself goofing off a bit, not being congruent with my actions and my big commitments. I was focused on immediate gratification as an act of rebellion (“Nobody tells me what to do. I do what I want.”) I resented not having enough downtime and so I stole it during the day, when I should have been productive.
I wasted time, and stopped hustling to get things done the way that I had in the early days of my business. I simply wasn’t taking personal responsibility for my results and this not only set a bad example for some of my Team members, but it also made people on my Team resentful and frustrated. I had wanted the company to grow exponentially, but when the rubber met the road, my actions didn’t match. As a result, some of my Team members didn’t fully step into being accountable in the business.
Until I did.
I asked myself, “How would my world be different if I acted with more personal responsibility and accountability? What would actually happen if I tracked everything in the business and committed to reaching my big stretch goals every year?”
It dawned on me that immediate gratification is incongruent with getting to Seven Figures and beyond. To grow to the next big level, congruence and accountability (yours and your team’s) are what will significantly move the needle forward. It requires a new mindset and a new way of showing up.
You are capable of achieving much bigger goals each year than you currently believe. Growing the business predictably requires getting clear on your goal, stretching a bit more than you usually would...
You are capable of achieving much bigger goals each year than you currently believe. Growing the business predictably requires getting clear on your goal, stretching a bit more than you usually would, and then strategically approaching this goal with a plan that is reverse-engineered to keep you (and your team) accountable to reaching it. You make it happen by tracking this target on a quarterly, monthly, weekly, even daily basis.
I’m known by the members of our program for what they lovingly refer to as The Fabienne Stretcher. When asked what their goal is for the next twelve months, many business owners have either not thought about it or come up with a nice “respectable” idea for an income increase, or an increase in clients. Often it can be to make the same as they did the previous year, or 5 percent to 10 percent over the previous year’s revenues.
I will always say to them with a smile, “Sure, if that’s what you really want.” But I believe that most people creating goals for themselves, their company and their team are really playing not to lose. In my experience, it often takes just as much effort to increase 10 percent as it does 40 percent. Sometimes 40 percent is even easier, because it puts a little fire in your belly, the way a “soft goal” doesn’t.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you come up with a financial goal for the year out of thin air. It needs to be an educated guess, where you’ve crunched numbers and, even though it feels like a little bit of a stretch, you do believe that it could be reachable. Without this substantiating, data-driven piece, 1) the goal is harder to reach because there is no rationale for it, 2) there’s no real plan for reaching it, 3) because there’s no plan, you have no belief, conviction or expectation that you will actually reach it, and therefore, 4) you won’t put accountability measures in place to know where you stand at any given time as it relates to your yearly goal.
And when these four elements aren’t in place (a rationale, a plan, a belief or expectation, and accountability measures) it can really affect your confidence for the long term should you not reach your numbers. This can really shake you, as it did me, when I pulled a number out of thin air many years ago, and declared it as my goal for a particular project we were working on, only to not meet that goal. I had announced my intention to the team, proudly expected it, and when it didn’t happen, I felt embarrassed and, frankly, a bit humiliated.
Here’s what happened (and I hope you will not judge me for the elevated numbers that follow. If it makes you more comfortable, bring the number down in your own mind so that it feels easier to grasp.)
I had been hesitant to state a financial goal for a particular event we were hosting, but when pressed, I reluctantly said, “Well, let’s hope for Seven Figures in revenues for this project.”
Was it calculated and were the numbers crunched? No.
Was it strategically reverse-engineered? No.
Did I really believe we could reach it? Well, I was hoping so, but hoping and conviction are vastly different. So, no.
We did the event, and yes, it was a great event. The attendees loved it, but when the final numbers came in, we fell short and only brought in 75 percent of the stated goal. I felt it was a failure, and I walked away from the experience deeply disappointed. I questioned my manifesting abilities and it produced self-doubt that stayed with me for a long time thereafter.
Instead of reaching the Seven Figures, the event brought in $750K, which is obviously a very lucrative weekend and in line with other events we had done in the past.
Nonetheless, at the time and because I had put my stake in the ground and announced the goal to others, I couldn’t see the positive behind the disappointment, just that we were short from the stated goal.
It’s the same feeling I had felt ten years before when trying to fill a group with fourteen clients (a goal I created out of thin air) and only signing on nine. The number itself doesn’t matter. It’s the feeling of falling short that can really mess with one’s confidence going forward.
It wasn’t until a friend who knows me and my business offered to crunch the numbers with me that the picture changed. He asked me about the number of eligible buyers that had attended the event, what my price point for the program I was offering was going to be, and what my standard closing percentage rate usually was for an offer such as this one. I answered him and in a few seconds, he told me what my revenues should have been based on the data. And wouldn’t you know it, it was exactly the number that I had actually sold at the event, not the seven-figure goal I had pulled out of thin air.
This was a huge lesson, one I’ve never forgotten, and it’s changed the way we set goals now.
Instead of using the “out of thin air” approach to goal-setting for the year ahead, or having no goals as some do, there is a more strategic approach. You can look at the following to create a “realistic” goal, but a bit of a stretch:
- What were your gross business revenues last year?
- What is your typical percentage increase in revenues year to year?
- Decide how much you are willing to raise that percentage in the coming year. (For example, if you typically increase your revenues by 10 percent each year, would you be willing to double that for the year ahead, and reach for a 20 percent increase? Would you be willing to shoot for 30 percent?)
- Where will this increase in revenues come from? More clients or customers? The launch of a new product or program? Increased rates?
- Reverse engineer how you would make that happen, in a spreadsheet, creating different scenarios of how many clients or customers you would need for each product, program or service, to be able to reach those numbers. (In the Leveraged Business program, we use a Forecasting Spreadsheet template to make this an easier process.)
- Monitor your progress weekly, as we will discuss shortly.
The point at the end of this exercise is that you create a very specific stretch goal, one that is indeed doable and you feel somewhat confident (even if a bit nervous) that it can be reached with the right plan, tracking measures and accountability structures.
There are many roads to Rome and you should pick ten. Having a clear financial goal for the next twelve months is not enough. Doing more of the same in the everyday of your business will create more of the same results. Big increases come from implementing new projects or maximizing an existing revenue source to full capacity. The key is to focus on what will help you experience exponential growth in the business. It’s about thinking strategically.
Start thinking in terms of Exponential Growth Activities, the specific projects you and your team will put in place over the coming year to get you to that stretch revenue goal by the end of the twelve-month period. It could be a new program or initiative, additional offline marketing channels, the addition of online marketing to significantly increase lead generation, implementing a sales team, etc. that will have you take significantly bigger steps toward your goal.
The way to do that is to, once a year, select the ten big-scale projects or processes that will effectively get you toward your big goal, financial or otherwise, even if that plan gets tweaked over time. These are your ten Exponential Growth Activities (we spend a half day creating these at the beginning of each year).
This is simply a process of reverse-engineering your targeted revenue increase and asking yourself, “If this is our financial/client goal for the coming year, then how specifically will we predictably reach it within the time frame we’ve given ourselves?”, or, “To increase revenues by 40 per- cent in the coming year, what needs to be in place that is not currently in place? What projects, actions, and new processes need to be implemented?”
If you have a team, this is an exercise you’ll want to do together during one of your end-of-year quarterly offsite meetings. Putting this list together with them (as opposed to you alone working in a vacuum in your office), will create buy-in and excitement from each team member, especially if there’s an end-of-year reward for them once you collectively reach it, such as a team vacation or extra paid time off for the whole company.
Each of the ten exponential growth projects (it can be fewer, but we’ve found that eight to ten gives you diversity) then gets even further reverse-engineered, chunked down, given timeframes and roles, and tasks are assigned to team members in a project management software, such as Asana, Basecamp, etc.
What you track grows, pragmatically (and energetically too). For too many years, I was unknowingly asleep at the wheel of my business, letting others look at the numbers, and not holding myself or others accountable for growth...
What you track grows, pragmatically (and energetically too). For too many years, I was unknowingly asleep at the wheel of my business, letting others look at the numbers, and not holding myself or others accountable for growth. What invariably happened is, in month ten of a twelve-month year, I would ask how we were coming along with our yearly goal and we would be significantly short.
In that period of a few years I stopped growing the business exponentially as I had when I was tracking everything on a day-to-day basis.
I had taken my eye off the ball and wondered why we weren’t growing as we had been when I was in charge. What I’ve come to embrace is that tracking is everything and what you track grows.
Your role as business owner is to be like a hawk on your progress, not with a greedy, dictatorial energy, but from an intentional perspective. What you focus on (and measure consistently) manifests itself. This is true on a pragmatic, practical basis because, if you see a dip in sales, you can immediately increase marketing spend or efforts. Energetically speaking, quantum physics has long proved that what we put our attention to is what materializes. This is scientific.
Predictable growth is a weekly process that embraces course correction. If you don’t know where you are weekly as it relates to your overall end-of-year goal, and your Ten Exponential Growth Projects, you can’t effectively make educated, strategic decisions in real time and you will find yourself between a rock and a hard place when there’s no time left in the year to reach this goal. Being informed about where you stand with your goals allows you to take quick action to course-correct any dip and get back on track.
Once you embrace this, you’ll come to realize how incredibly beneficial and productive it is to review your targets and progress on a weekly basis, rather than once a month. It’s essentially the equivalent of checking in on your business fifty-two times a year, rather than only twelve. It also leaves a lot of time and wiggle room for course correction, if need be, which, let’s be honest, is always required, in any business. Nothing ever goes perfectly 100 percent of the time, so it’s good to plan for unexpected surprises.
Regular accountability “blips” cause heightened activity and a healthy sense of urgency on a regular basis, rather than having heightened activity twelve times a year, or none at all, as is the case for most business owners who fly by the seat of their pants.
The way to create this type of “regular healthy urgency” is with daily team huddles and weekly accountability meetings with your team focused on the progress of everyone’s Exponential Growth Activities so you can get a sense of exactly where you are as a company on your collective roles and projects. When you commit to these tracking sessions, and make attendance to these meetings non-negotiable, you will achieve increased movement on your set quarterly goals, and therefore your yearly goals.
Switching to this “accountability mindset” produces dramatically better results and is indicative of a leadership of personal responsibility. But the accountability mindset is not just for you. Instead, you will involve the whole team in being accountable.
You are not meant to be the only dragon-slayer. Once you person- ally adopt and leverage an “accountability mindset,” you must now understand that you are not the only one in your company who is responsible for the exponential growth of your business...
You are not meant to be the only dragon-slayer. Once you person- ally adopt and leverage an “accountability mindset,” you must now understand that you are not the only one in your company who is responsible for the exponential growth of your business. It must become a common goal, embraced and followed by all.
For this to become a reality, the next mindset shift that must occur is the realization that every member of your team, beyond their regular “job description approved” day-to-day role, is also directly responsible for getting these Ten Exponential Growth Activities implemented, with the intention of reaching the yearly stretch revenue goal.
Growth is a team effort!
Each role within the company, such as marketing, sales, finance, human resources, technology, customer service, operations (even if you are currently wearing those hats until you can hire someone in these roles) has a hand in working beyond their “job description activities.” In addition to their regular roles, they too will take on additional projects that will make the company grow.
They too will select their own ten yearly Exponential Growth Activities to move the business forward in their specific area. They will be held accountable for implementing the collective company-wide Ten Exponential Growth Activities.
(If you feel some resistance around this or are questioning whether a team member will actually want to take on additional projects to move your company forward, rest assured, we will address how to do this next.)
Your business is an entitlement-free zone. To leverage and scale your business consistently, you must shift your company culture to one where “cushy,” “entitled,” “fly under the radar,” or “not my job” are out- dated concepts that no longer exist, at least not in your organization.
This was a significant revelation for one of our members who had a team of practitioners, many part-time, who had been with her for many years, some as many as fifteen to twenty years. They came and went as they pleased, dictated their own hours, clocked-in and clocked-out whenever they liked, and often chose to take vacations during the busiest times of the year for the business. And never, ever, did they feel that they had a role in the business other than doing the least they possibly could.
At the same time, the business owner was burning the candle at both ends, working nights and weekends, sometimes not taking a paycheck herself, and watching her business either plateauing in terms of revenues, or, sometimes, making less than the previous years. She was the only one pushing the boulder up the mountain and knew deep down that she was essentially babysitting a group of lazy prima donnas, in her own words. She felt resentful about it, but didn’t see how she could possibly make a change.
She couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and was too tired to push the boulder up the mountain by herself any longer. Sadly, she admitted that, before joining our program, she had many times considered throwing in the towel and shutting down the business after close to thirty years.
The whole arrangement reeked of entitlement.
Some tears flowed when we shared with her that, no, this is absolutely not normal or how businesses are meant to be run, even if it is not entirely unusual. Next, we advised her to make some serious changes, first in her mindset and self-worth around boundaries and getting her own needs met in her business, rather than meeting all her team members’ needs, at the expense of her own. Then we gave her some best practices to help her tweak her style of leadership, and finally, in setting the bar much higher in her expectations of her team.
They were either going to stop acting entitled and jump in with sleeves rolled up, or, they would have to go. She was scared to do so at first, but agreed that she really had no choice, unless she wanted to fire them all and start from scratch. The future seemed too bleak to not do anything differently.
In the end, she boldly followed the steps we provided and was surprised that some members of the “entitled bunch” of her team did step up. She was also not surprised that some others left in a huff. Both scenarios helped her turn over a new leaf on the way she was managing her team and in the accountability of each team member. She went on to dramatically increase her business and her quality of life.
Perhaps you are experiencing some entitlement within your own team. Experiencing a change in how to exponentially grow your business requires creating a culture of personal responsibility, one in which everyone must directly contribute to the growth of the company if they want to work there, just as you contribute to it.
Yes, it requires building a team of people (maybe from scratch) that have a great deal of stamina and enjoy working hard toward a common worthwhile goal. You want to be surrounded by individuals who take great satisfaction in being busy and productive, and who find fulfillment in making a difference in people’s lives.
In fact, you deserve this high level type of support. These team members exist, at least somewhere in the world. But you must first accept that it is possible to have them and then believe that you deserve them.
Otherwise, if you accept mediocrity or entitlement, you are not the true leader of your company, you are in servitude to a group of people who are taking advantage of you on a daily basis, and who know this full well, but who keep doing it anyway. This is not why you started your business, and frankly, if asked whether you would still want to be in this entitlement situation in five or ten years (let alone one year) you would probably say no.
So, a shift must happen.
And yes, admittedly, this can be a very frightening shift to make. It can bring up fears that some team members will leave if presented with a new way of working that they won’t accept (and the likelihood is that they should probably leave, especially if they’re unwilling to see things your way). But your business is not here to provide a cushy existence for people who take advantage of you and your kind heart. No, your business exists to provide a benefit to many, many clients and customers, and you cannot increase your impact with a team that is riding on your coat tails, expecting you to do all the heavy lifting.
There will surely be room for this type of person in another company, just not yours. So, perhaps it’s time to lovingly release them into the workforce so they can find a better home, one that will fit their expectations.
From now on, everyone on your team is a player and your company culture will focus on collaboration, acting as a cohesive family, with an all-hands-on-deck approach, for the greater good of all. This will be your New Normal.
It may not be their business, but everyone on your team will be running their own “company” within yours. One of the reasons you likely feel so overwhelmed in your business is that everything currently rests on your shoulders...
It may not be their business, but everyone on your team will be running their own “company” within yours. One of the reasons you likely feel so overwhelmed in your business is that everything currently rests on your shoulders. Over the years, you’ve been responsible for sales, marketing, the financial and legal aspects of the business, hiring and firing, training staff, signing on and onboarding new clients and customers, making payroll, handling the operations, delivering the end results to the clients, even ordering new staples and toner for the printer. And that doesn’t even include growing the business past its current stage!
No wonder you’re overwhelmed and exhausted, working on evenings and weekends, not taking a totally unplugged vacation! How would you?
To scale your business further, you’ll want to start seeing your business differently. Not you at the bottom of the pyramid, shouldering all the responsibility, but rather the one at the top of the pyramid, leading a team of people who are each in their different domain, with each owning that domain.
Having each team member own their “area of expertise,” running it and being personally responsible for it as if it were their own business is what we call intrapreneurship.
An intrapreneur acts like an entrepreneur within an organization. They are usually highly self-motivated or responsible individuals who act proactively, are action-oriented and perfectly comfortable with taking the initiative once they understand what their role is, what their tasks are and how to do them. They like (actually, prefer) autonomy, and at the same time, they like working closely with others in pursuit of a common goal. They know it’s not technically their company, but they take responsibility for their “area” as if it were.
Here’s an example I’d like to share with you. In a marketing campaign we ran a while back, the team member in a particular position was supposed to set up a pre-recorded webinar to run at a particular time on a Saturday morning. Thousands of business owners had signed up to watch it remotely and tuned in to do so at the appointed time, only to find a blank screen. The person “in charge” had set it up to run on its own but after “pushing the button” had walked away and gone about their Saturday activities with their family and friends.
We heard about this fifteen minutes after the start of the webinar, when lots of messages came in asking what had happened. The problem was eventually fixed, but not without having people who’d signed up for this video presentation wait a full twenty to twenty-five minutes for it. Hundreds of attendees gave up and left, never experiencing the webinar they signed up for, and we lost possibly tens of thousands in potential revenues from the program being offered at the end of the webinar. Obviously, this is never what we would hope for, especially since it was caused by a simple mistake.
Once everything was fixed, I spoke to the team member in question, found out exactly what had happened and then asked the key question that shifted the conversation and forever changed this team member’s approach to the business.
“What would you have done differently in setting up this webinar to run if this had been your own marketing campaign, your own business?”
The answer impressed me:
“I would have paid closer attention to the steps that needed to be taken to ensure proper set up. I would have checked in with all team members
involved fifteen minutes before Start Time to ensure all items were properly in place before the video presentation was to begin and I would have been online during the event. I would have owned it in a bigger way. I take full responsibility for the presentation not starting on time and I will ensure that this doesn’t happen again by taking the necessary steps to plan, set up, and check that all items are properly in place before launch time.”
That is what we now call fully “owning it.”
That’s what you call intrapreneurship and it’s the true meaning of accountability.
You will love team meetings when you’re doing them right. In my early twenties, I worked at three large Manhattan advertising agencies, each time in the media planning and buying department. It involved working on large teams, and, admittedly, I was the low woman on the totem pole within my department.
To navigate working as a team on large client accounts with millions of dollars in magazine and television advertising placements, we would meet regularly, weekly, sometimes even daily. Truth be told, I dreaded these meetings for several reasons:
- People were often late.
- Meetings sometimes got moved at the last minute, and took several days to be rescheduled to fit everyone’s availability.
- I wasn’t sure I actually needed to be in all the meetings (some- times, it felt like my presence was the equivalent of simply copying me on a company-wide email) and I could have used my time differently and more productively.
- Certain team members were unnecessarily long-winded and the meetings took much longer than they actually needed to.
- The pace of the meetings didn’t move fast enough.
- Even after a long meeting with lots of discussion, we sometimes didn’t come to any resolution or decision and made another meeting to discuss the same topic again.
Having a huge pile of work already waiting for me at my desk, I felt that this was a big waste of time for all involved, including me. At the meetings, I nervously tapped my pencil on the conference table or my notebook. I know it sounds arrogant, but all I kept thinking was, “I have so many better things to do! How soon can I leave?”
Perhaps you too have felt this at one point or another in your own career? Could this be why you may now avoid meetings in your own business for the same reason, wondering if they’re actually effective and worth your time?
Fast forward years later and after leaving corporate to start my own business, it was freeing to know that it was just me and that I wouldn’t ever have to be accountable to anyone else; I now had the freedom to come and go as I pleased and I definitely did not have to meet with anyone ever again!
Until I did.
In my second year in business, I hired my first virtual assistant and we started meeting on the phone weekly to review the progress on certain projects, and plan the week ahead. As my Team grew over the next twenty years to include a combination of full-time employees, part-time help and independent contractors making up many separate teams, I’ve found myself having meetings again. In fact, several meetings per week.
Because the meetings we now run are based on accountability and are closely related to reaching the weekly goal, which leads to the monthly goal, which is tied into the quarterly goal and practically predicts reaching the annual goal we’ve set for ourselves, I actually enjoy them. They are now based on accountability.
This wasn’t the case in the beginning though.
After many false starts and lots of improvements and modifications over the years, and a decision to take my own meetings seriously as opposed to continually blowing them off or finding them irrelevant, I turned a new leaf. I have found that meetings can be highly structured, incredibly productive, meaningful and something you can look forward to, contrary to what I had experienced in my early days.
How does one make the switch from not taking their own meetings seriously to treating them like the most important part of the week?
It starts with a mindset shift.
The shift requires that you think like an owner (not an employee) and strategically approach meetings as a system to get things done, one where everyone’s time is respected, important updates are shared, results are tracked, and progress is measured. These types of meetings are where team members are lovingly held accountable to their company-wide stated goals, and issues are quickly resolved because meaningful deci- sions are made, all on a weekly basis. Goals get met because everything is tracked and, if something is off course, the plan is course-corrected.
What I realized early on after making this mindset shift is that these meetings are not only useful but crucial, and very beneficial for all team members. I started showing up on time, if not early. I took them seriously without rushing them as I had done in the beginning. And I noticed that the other members of the team took the meetings seriously too, now that I did.
Imagine what would happen if you had these kinds of meetings with your team every seven days?
Doing so puts you in control of your business. It puts you in control of your outcomes. You are never a victim of chance because you always know where you stand in terms of your stated yearly goals, and you’re always on top of the quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily goals you have reverse-engineered.
There is a case for meeting regularly too, as opposed to meeting “every once in a while” or “when we need to.” Meeting weekly instead of haphazardly or monthly means that you catch upsets or derailments toward your goal fifty-two times per year, as opposed to only twelve times per year if you were to meet monthly. That provides a lot more accountability and much more room for course correction if needed!
In this new commitment to productivity and adopting a non-negotiable new meeting model, everything comes down to progress, account- ability, transparency, and personal responsibility, on a weekly basis.
Where there is transparency and accountability, there is great forward motion. What you track, grows. Whether you’re getting your first team member now or you already have a full team and would like to increase productivity and profit, it’s your job to set the tone for “how things are done around here.”
When you take the business seriously, have a non-negotiable attitude around how you meet, and treat these meetings as the most important part of your week, it changes everything, especially your results and the effort your team puts in.
Inadequate growth points to a deficit in team accountability. Without accountability, even team members who are eager to grow the business let things slide (as you would) because they have so many other day-to-day activities on their plate...
Inadequate growth points to a deficit in team accountability. Without accountability, even team members who are eager to grow the business let things slide (as you would) because they have so many other day-to-day activities on their plate. They feel justified to work on the most pressing things (immediate gratification), rather than on Exponential Growth Activities, which often provide delayed gratification.
I have been guilty of having this kind of team in the past AND of being the one who didn’t get her tasks done because no one held me accountable.
If that’s the case, how do you bring your team to embrace delayed gratification, with an eye on growth? You do so by sharing the big vision of where you are going as a company and each team member’s individual role in making a difference in people’s lives.
Every team member wants to feel significant and that they belong to something bigger than themselves. It is, I believe, part of human nature to want to belong. To your team members, it needs to feel like the work matters, and it is your job as the leader of the company to educate them on the fact that accountability is the key to making that positive impact.
With the right accountability and by tying it to “making a real difference,” team members feel proud to accomplish epic work, especially when it feels like their own “baby.” They appreciate being a part of something bigger than themselves and when they feel like their work matters, they actually appreciate tracking how much of a difference they’re making.
Your company’s numbers help you locate the issues in your business, in real time. When you have an accountability system in place, visible by all, everything changes. Once results are transparent and everyone is held accountable, you will begin to see a lot more forward motion on the ten projects that will ultimately get your company to that 40 percent or 100 percent growth you set your sights on.
Transparency comes when everything is measured in terms of numbers and each team member is assigned a “number” of their own, tracked weekly. Where many business owners look at their numbers monthly or quarterly, tracking weekly allows you as the chief strategist (as well as your team), to see trends on a much more frequent basis. Instead of identifying a trend over a period of four to six months and not being able to move quickly on reversing the damage, you will see one in three to four weeks and can act accordingly. This makes rapid company-wide decisions and course corrections possible sooner rather than when it’s too late.
We teach our members to keep a dashboard or scorecard of every- thing that happens in the business. Key numbers (some companies call these Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs) are designated so as to tell a story. A team member’s number could be the number of clients signed up that week, a financial benchmark to strive for weekly, a number of leads received or a cost per order.
(I recommend starting with just three or four numbers company-wide and to expand over time. Otherwise, it can feel very complex and overwhelming, which is the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve.)
Eventually, every team member will own “their number” to which they will be responsible on a weekly basis. It is a different number for everyone, and this number becomes for you (and them) like a weekly pulse on whether they (and the company as a whole) will reach your year-end goal.
As a simple example, if you want to have signed up an additional sixty clients in twelve months, an easy way to track that is to sign on five new clients a month. This will dictate how much marketing and how many sales conversations need to be had, based on your typical closing of the sale percentage.
Each team member’s weekly number (and results) are visible to all on a master spreadsheet. If their number is down from the stated weekly goal, it is that team member’s responsibility to come to the weekly meet- ing with proposed solutions, rather than the attitude of “I have no idea why my number is down and frankly, I don’t know what to do about it.”
I recommend keeping a rolling thirteen-week average that allows you to see numbers in context, rather than in a vacuum. So, if a team member repeatedly doubles their sales goal, you can determine that she’s the rock star of the sales team and reward her accordingly. You can also ask her what she’s doing to create such outstanding results and pass on the learning to the other sales team members and create best practices, new processes and methodologies that are then documented in the Operations Manual to be rolled out company-wide going forward.
Conversely, if someone is barely meeting their weekly goals, this is the time to come in to see what could be causing the consistent dip in results, determine a different course of action, ask them what further resources they need, coach them and see what else you can take off their plate to help them achieve their goals.
If you are certain that the goals are fair and the team member continues to produce results below par, despite all the new resources and coaching over a several-week period (at most), this type of regular transparency and accountability will allow you to more quickly replace a team member who is not necessarily a right fit, and solve the problem sooner rather than later.
After repeated coaching and no movement in results, releasing someone from your team who isn’t working out is better done after three to four months rather than three to four years.
Your role now is to empower your team to be proactive about solving the problem, without you generating solutions for them. This means that you can no longer have a drive-by attitude to delegation. Your role is to coach them in reaching their number each week. You are now here to help them and give them every tool they need.
Team members are responsible for predictably promoting or firing themselves. Based on this model, your team continually knows how close they are to reaching their goals (and therefore their bonuses, if you offer this). They are in control of their career and how much they make because they can a) dig a little deeper to achieve it, or b) ask for coaching or resources if they haven’t quite met their goals. They drive their results. They are personally responsible and always aware of how they’re doing.
Having this information available to everyone creates a positive sense of control for each team member as they are in the driver’s seat, with available navigation advice from you if they want it. This can be really exciting for the type of person who takes personal responsibility for their life and career. It creates a camaraderie and group of people who love working together toward a common goal which, in the right culture of collaboration rather than cut-throat competition, translates to a really healthy team of people who like being together.
In the end though, if a person’s numbers don’t get better with your coaching, or if they’re uncoachable, they will realize (often on their own) that it’s not working out. It will be no surprise to them that they are probably not suited for the role.
Yes, in life, we must put people first. But in contrast to what might be happening in other companies, you’re not here to babysit team members who are content with creating mediocre results. I know that this sounds harsh, but I’ve noticed over the years that the right team members appreciate knowing where they stand and having this kind of autonomy in their career. They will stay with you longer because they feel in control.
The key to succeeding with this kind of transparency and autonomy is to create a culture that is focused on metrics and key performance indicators, yet in loving and supportive ways.
When a team member knows they are going to be held accountable for certain tasks and benchmarks being accomplished on a regular basis, this also tends to very quickly weed out people who are happy to just clock in and clock out, which leaves you with rock stars rather than people happy to slide by under the radar.
Each team member knows exactly where they stand and has a constant opportunity to take control of their path within your company. Within a transparent, accountability-based company, and with clear opportunities to make more money and advance in the company by moving the company forward, you “put the power” into each team member’s hands to either create a very lucrative career path or to be “lovingly released back into the workforce” to find something they’re better suited for, as I like to call it.
If a salesperson regularly doesn’t meet their weekly number (one that the other salespeople are meeting) you can inquire about what they might be doing differently. If after a fact finding mission, you realize that they’re going off script and not using your processes, you can coach them to follow the methodology that works. If within a couple more weeks, you continue to see the results haven’t changed and that they’re still going off script, you’re not really firing them. You can see that the team member in question is firing themselves by not following the systems or coaching, and repeatedly not meeting their numbers.
Conversely, the right team members can also see this as a huge opportunity to make extra money throughout the year and continually promote themselves, increase their salary and win goal-tied bonuses, as well as unexpected job-well-done bonuses.
If a team member is not doing well, my view is that there is nothing wrong with the team member in question. It’s rather that their role in your company is probably not their life’s purpose. That’s where we can put any anger or resentment aside and have compassion for them.
By releasing them sooner rather than later, you are doing them (and you) a favor. It allows them to find more fulfilling work elsewhere. Although they might not thank you immediately for it, over time, they will realize that if they’d stayed much longer doing something they don’t love, it would have been a disservice for them, as it was for you.
In the end, it’s your (the business owner’s) responsibility to lead with accountability, so that you are never surprised at the end of the year. Your results have been predictable the whole time.
A keen focus on execution and implementation trumps another brilliant idea, any day. That’s how you predictably reach your stretch goals and reach Seven Figures (or more).
What’s the impact of applying the Accountability Activator in your business? Sheri explains it to you in her own words: “My name is Sheri Chaney Jones, president and founder of Measurement Resources Company, where we help government and non-profits measure and communicate their impact and value.
“I had been following Fabienne, a successful business owner who had three little kids and I thought, ‘I want to be her.’ So I came to one of her live events seven years ago, and even though I didn’t sign up right away, I knew that I was supposed to work with her.
“That event was a huge trigger in my life. At the time, I was working full-time in a fairly high level government position with a side consult- ing business which made about $10,000 per year. I realized that I could not make more than $10,000 if it was just a side business because I also had two small children at that point in time.
“I do not advise you to do this, but I resigned the Monday after I came back from that event. My husband, Matt, was there with me, and we both agreed that I should join.
“The success that Fabienne had while raising children was inspiring to me. I wanted to learn from her because there were other coaches who were teaching similar content, but they didn’t have kids. I knew that she would understand what it’s like to be a mother and to grow a business without compromising.
“A year after I joined the program, my husband quit his corporate job and joined my business because we had done so well in that one year. We had our fourth child and I’ve had two babies since I started my business. Now we have four kids and it’s been an incredible journey. I have now reached Seven Figures in my business, and I work less than I used to at Six Figures.
“Because I launched my business with Fabienne’s teaching, training, and skills, the Leveraged Business process is woven through the fabric of my business. I don’t know how to separate our success from everything that I learned here. Accountability, leveraging teams, leveraging my time, how to hire, and even the exercises we do at our team retreat have all come from Fabienne’s curriculum.
“I feel so blessed to have found Fabienne at the beginning because I can’t separate the wild trajectory I’ve had from implementing everything that I’ve learned. It’s the accountability from all of the other amazing people in this room that makes me know that I can do it.
“Becoming a member is an extremely wise investment. We invest in our education so we can get a good career, and I’m an academic and a researcher at heart, so to me, it made sense. I didn’t know how to market. My biggest fear when I started my business was, ‘How will I get clients? How will I market?’ I went to the best. If I’m going to learn how to market, I’d better learn from the best. Just like you would go to the best university to get your degree, I went to the best business coach to learn how to grow my business.
“This is the best business investment I’ve ever made.” —Sheri Chaney Jones