Summer is Coming – It’s Time to Heat Things Up!

The first four months of the year can be tough – you’re coming off the holidays, trying to creating new goals, getting your taxes paid… Now that we’re into May and summer is just around the corner, it’s time to shake off the excuses and double down on growing your business. It’s time to heat things up!

Explain Your Goals: Whether or not you’re working with a coach, at this point you should have your goals set for 2022. At The Growth Coach, we recommend breaking those down into 90-days goals. Having shorter timelines and smaller goals makes those goals more achievable, even if the 12-month total goal is the same. However, even the most amazing goals won’t go anywhere if you don’t explain those goals – and the actions you’re going to take to reach them – to your staff and leadership team.

Set Expectations: As part of those goal conversations, it’s vital that you set expectations. People need to know not only what you’re trying to achieve, but also their role in helping you get there. We’d recommend having a large staff meeting and then meeting one-on-one with your leadership team to outline those expectations on a team-by-team basis. It’s also important that you give your team the support and resources they need to actually meet those goals – sometimes it’s about time, sometimes it’s about money and sometimes it’s just about support.

Train Your Managers: If you’re really trying to make significant changes and improvements to your business, you need to remember to support and train your managers. So many managers are in leadership positions because they are great technicians, but that doesn’t mean they have the skills they need to lead your teams and grow your business. At The Growth Coach, we offer Strategic Manager Coaching, which is designed to help members of your leadership team to focus on supporting teams, growing profits, streamlining operations and improving customer satisfaction.

Build Up Your Teams: The trick to having high-performing teams is not just having the right people – but having the right people paired into the right teams. You can have three absolutely fabulous employees, but if they can’t work together or they don’t have the right complementary skills, they probably shouldn’t be paired together. Our High Performance Teams training is focused on two things: helping you and your managers recognize your team’s strengths and weaknesses and then helping you build your teams in the right way. Whether or not you work with a Growth Coach, if you want progress, you need the right teams.

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Talk the Talk & Walk the Walk

As companies around the world continue to try to figure out what the “new world of work” looks like, remote work, hybrid schedules and teams in multiple locations are becoming the norm. But whether your employees are 20 feet away or 2,000 miles away, the key to a great relationship with your employees is still great communication. Here are four things you can do to build better lines of communications with your team as we look forward to a bigger, brighter future.

First of all, let’s start with the big one… Is what you want to talk about a meeting or an email? People are busy and, while sometimes meetings are important – either in person or on ZOOM – and they allow you to read the room and understand body language, it’s also important to realize that not everyone on your team is going to take to a group meeting the same way. Will your introverts be as likely to participate if you need feedback? Will people be distracted? Are you asking them to be on camera just because you want to make sure they are present? Sometimes meetings are great opportunities to relay information, brainstorm, get feedback, huddle up on important topics… but sometimes they are a waste of time. Before you ask people to come to a meeting, be honest about the best way to communicate whatever it is you’re trying to say. Basically, is this a one-on-one meeting, a group meeting, a team meeting, an email, a phone call, a lunch meeting out of the office or something else? What outcome are you trying to achieve?

Secondly, communication styles are not just about you. Consider how the members of your staff like to communicate. Do they want you to stop by their cubicles once a day to build rapport or do they prefer to check in with you and the rest of your team on Slack or Microsoft Teams? Would they prefer you to pick up the phone if there’s an issue or shoot them an email? Your preferences and your staff’s preferences may not be the same – and that’s OK. Sometimes compromising to make sure they get what they need in the way they need it is part of being a great manager.

Next, communication is a two-way street. If you’re doing all the talking, you’re not communicating – you’re just relaying information. How open is your open-door policy? At some companies, staff members clock in, do a job and clock out. That’s fine for many businesses. But if your business requires additional brainstorming or feedback or if you could benefit from the innovations your staff might be able to build, then it’s important to understand that everyone brings something to the table. You need to learn to listen. This is also a good time to remind some of you that “tone” in an email or Slack message matters. How you say things is as important as how you say them – and that applies to digital communications as much as it does to in-person or phone conversations. “Thanks.” “Thanks!” and “TY” all say the same thing… or do they?

Finally, set expectations about communications. If your team overwhelmingly prefers to use Slack for their day-to-day conversations, then it’s important that you figure out how to use it and make an effort to meet them in that space. If a daily standup is what works best for you and your staff, then make it clear that everyone should be present, whether it’s in-person or online. If you want a daily or weekly update on their projects, don’t assume they know that. If you want someone to come into the office for a meeting rather than attending hybrid, just say so. Employees are trying to figure out how the new “world” works just as much as their managers and business owners. Being clear and setting those expectations takes a lot of guess work – and consternation – out of the process.

If your company struggles with communications or you need some training yourself, your local Growth Coach can help. Find them online at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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How Systems and Training Can Help You Cope with Fewer Staff

As we recover from the COVID-19 Pandemic and businesses are reopening their doors, they aren’t finding a shortage of customers, but they are dealing with a shortage of staff. It’s easy to find a “Now Hiring” sign in almost every window, especially at restaurants and small businesses.

But you can’t keep your business on pause while you wait to find a new equilibrium – in many cases, businesses have already been on pause for the better part of the last two years. So what can you do? At the Growth Coach, we’ve found that it comes down to supporting your existing employees, creating systems that allow you to operate with fewer resources and cross-training wherever you can.

Supporting Existing Employees: With so many companies hiring – and paying a lot more than they did two years ago – you have to work harder to support your team members. Obviously paying them a better wage is a great place to start, but for much of today’s workforce, it’s not all about the paycheck. It’s important to find ways to be flexible, especially for employees with children. Do you give back to the community and support causes that resonate with your team? Do you take suggestions and complaints seriously? Are your providing opportunities for growth and professional development? These are all things that can improve your company culture and keep your employees from stepping out.

Creating Systems: Doing more with less has always required systems, but up until recently, that didn’t necessarily mean operating with fewer less staff members. Often systems were to save money, reduce waste or set up layers of staff responsibilities to make sure work was covered accordingly. Now new systems might need to be put into place to help you and your team simply get the job done with fewer people. For example, if you own a restaurant and you only have two servers on the clock, maybe you have to close half of the dining room. Of course that means you can serve fewer people, but it also means you won’t fry your staff members or create expectations of service that you can’t uphold. Maybe a system needs to be put into place that the number of tables you can seat directly correlates to the number of servers rather than expecting whatever servers you have available to cover the entire restaurant. That just one example, but we’re sure there are systems you can create within your own business to help your team run things as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Providing Cross-Training Opportunities: This one can be a little tricky because you have to proactively make time, but cross-training your team members to do multiple jobs – or at least pick up tasks from multiple roles – can make a huge difference, especially when you’re short staffed, someone is on vacation or someone calls out sick. First of all, take a look at your team and, if you have managers, meet with them to talk about which staff members might like to cross-train and which part of your business might benefit the most from having backup. Then encourage your managers to have conversations about providing those kinds of training opportunities and, possibly, small pay increases once training is complete. Cross-training or professional development opportunities have to be mutually beneficial to both your business and your staff if you want everyone on board and a small incentive – whether it’s money, an opportunity to grow within the company or both – can make a big difference.

If you could use help building out systems, creating training programs, improving your company culture or planning for the growth of your company in an uncertain time, your local Growth Coach can help: https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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Shameless Plug: You Could be More Awesome with a Coach

We’ve been posting to this blog for well more than a decade and, throughout those years, we’ve tried not to spend too much time talking about what it means to work with a business coach or why we think it’s so important. We’ve used this space to offer up bite-sized pieces of content that we hope can inspire you to be a better business owner or company leader. We tried to inspire you and help you find answers to some of the biggest questions we hear from our clients. We’ve worked to offer you solutions to issues we’re coming across every day.

Today we’re changing our tune. After more than 20 years in franchising and 12 years of blogging, we’re just going to say it: We’d all be better with a coach.

Why do professional athletes work with coaches? Haven’t they spent their entire lives getting great at their sports? Do they seriously need a coach? Why do the most amazing business owners have mentors? Aren’t they making bank doing things their own way? The answer is simple…

“A coach is someone that sees beyond your limits and guides you to greatness!” – Michael Jordan

At The Growth Coachhttps://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach, we know that statement applies to business and to life just as much as it does to sports. Having a coach means having someone invested in your success to help you step back, see your challenges, create a plan for improvement and work to get there. We don’t try to tell our clients how to successful run their businesses – we work alongside them to help them pave their own path to whatever success looks like for them individually.

We aren’t consultants you pay to fix things. We are coaches you bring onto your team to help you be awesome. Sports coaches. Life coaches. Business Coaches. We coach because it works and we’re passionate about helping business owners find success in their professional lives without sacrificing their personal lives.

If you’ve gotten this far through this shameless plug, then we think you might be one of two kinds of people: Either you are a moderately successful business owner who is thinking about the next steps or you’re a business owner who loves their business, but who is just staying afloat. For the first group, we can help you figure out your next steps, set short- and long-term goals, train your next generation of managers and think about your eventual exit plan. For those who are just staying afloat, we’re ready to talk about finding your challenges, building on your successes, setting 90-day goals, building and training a staff, creating systems and getting back to your why. Let us show you how great you could be with a Growth Coach.

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Helping Employees Manage the Transition to Management

With end-of-the-year reviews all wrapped up and plans for 2022 well underway, mid-winter seems to be the time for big promotions. Depending on the size of your company, there are a few kinds of promotions but, for the purpose of this blog, we’re going to tackle the transition that presents the most problems – supporting a staff member who is moving from being an employee to being a manager.

Moving from being a cog in the machine to the person making sure the machine is running is scary. Even the most skilled and confident employee or technician might be amazing at their job – and truly deserving of a promotion – but they might not understand what it takes to be in management. The way you set that person up for success will define their future with your company.

When an employee is promoted to a management role, helping them excel in their new job starts with setting expectations and helping them understand what you need from the top down. You need to help them set goals, develop communication styles and give them an opportunity to see the larger machine at work. Senior leadership often over estimates what employees understand about a company, which can backfire when it comes to internal promotions. Your new manager doesn’t know what they don’t know, so make sure to be clear.

Next, give them an opportunity to pursue professional development opportunities around leadership, management, business, human resources and anything else that can help them lead their team. Unless they are a veteran or coming from a previous management role, there’s a good chance they haven’t done that kind of leadership training and the time you allow them to invest in training is going to save you time and energy later. Help them better themselves to better lead within your company.

It’s also important to let your new manager be a manager. It can be hard, especially at a smaller company, to step back and let them shine. Certainly you promoted that person because you were confident they could do the job. Nothing undermines a new manager like being micromanaged or overstepped, especially within the first year. In many cases, that person is now managing their old coworkers, so you have to let them sort out that culture shift without stepping in the way. If something is wrong, pull them in for a private meeting to discuss the situation.

Finally we think open communication is absolutely vital. Younger generations are hungry for feedback – even when it’s not positive – so only meeting with them once a month or once a quarter to discuss goals isn’t going to cut it. We’re not saying you need to check in on them every day, but they need to feel like they have an open line to you or to their new senior managers for clarity, assistance and overall feedback.

There’s much more to transitioning to management than we’ve included here, but hopefully this gives you a great start. If your new manager or team of managers would benefit from training together to better lead your company, it’s time to explore our Strategic Manager Coaching program. Here’s to supporting the next generation of leaders!

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Throw Your Resolutions Out the Window? (We Did.)

We talk about resolutions every year around this time. Sometimes it’s about making and keeping those resolutions, but often it’s a joke about how long we can go before we admit defeat. That’s the problem with resolutions: without SMART Goals, we aren’t able to make the kind of progress we’re hoping to see in ourselves. What does it really mean to eat healthier? And how do you just find more balance in life? How do you measure that? And when do you get to say “OK – I’ve reached my goal!” And if you never reach your goal, how can you celebrate success and set a new goal? It’s a cycle that sets you up for failure.

But it’s OK – we threw our resolutions out the window a long time ago and we think you should too.

Instead of resolutions, we’re focused on SMART, 90-Day goals that we can use to keep ourselves motivated and help us to make real, actual progress. We do this ourselves and we encourage our clients to do the same. In fact, our Strategic Business Mindset program – our most popular and famous program – is actually built on the whole concept of 90-Day Goals.

Why 90 days? Our brains already think in terms of quarters and seasons when it comes to the year and three months is just short enough to keep you motivated and just long enough that you have time to make real progress. For Growth Coaches and clients, 90 days is the sweet spot for goal setting. Knowing you have to accomplish something by the end of 2022 doesn’t sound nearly as pressing as knowing it needs to be done by the end of March, right? That feels both urgent and doable.

If you’re on board with the whole “throw out the resolutions and focus on 90-day goals” thing, we can help you get started.

First, you have to focus on the goal itself. Creating a SMART goal means wording your goal in such a way that it is Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound. Let’s do a really easy one. If you want to grow your business in 2022, you’d want to set some parameters to make that goal SMART. For example, you might say: I want to grow the online portion of my business by 3 percent by March 31, 2022. That gives you something firm to aim for that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. If you reach that goal before March 31, you can create a new goal. If you don’t make it, then on April 1, it’s time to reevaluate.

Secondly, you have to create plans to actually reach the goals you set. You can’t do the same thing you’re doing today and just hope for improvements. What kinds of things can you adjust within the time frame of your goal to help you reach that goal? If you’re looking to grow your business, maybe your action items include partnering with a local nonprofit or hiring a company to help with SEO or offering new training opportunities to your sales team?

If you’re struggling to create goals, create strategies and implement the changes you need to move the needle with your business or organization, The Growth Coach can help. Find your local Growth Coach at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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Setting Up Employees for Success

January is always a big time for hiring and onboarding new employees, even in a world where everyone is looking for help. But finding and hiring the right people is only a part of the battle. If you don’t set them up for success, foster them as members of your team and help them grow, you’ll be posting that job again in just a few months.

At the Growth Coach, we have programs designed to help you train your managers, build your staff, use personality insights strengthen your teams and much more. But if you’re hiring someone next week and you haven’t started working with a coach yet, you’ll need some tips out the gate. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it’s a great place to start.

Assuming you’ve gone through the hiring and negotiation process and you’re preparing for your employee’s first day, it’s important to be clear about your expectations for things that might seem simple – what should he or she wear, what kind of paperwork do they need to bring on the first day, when should they expect to arrive and leave for the day, etc. Depending on the kind of business you run, you might also want to schedule meet-and-greet meetings with other members of your staff to start things off on a welcoming foot.

Once that first day is under your belt, set your new employee up for some early wins. Give them meaningful tasks that can make a big impact, both to help them feel like part of the team quickly and to build their confidence as a new staff member. This will also give you a sense of their workflow, how quickly they work, the kinds of management they require and so forth.

It’s also important to take time to understand your new employee’s preferred communication and management style. No one wants to be called a micromanager, but perhaps your new employee enjoys that kind of constant feedback that comes with their manager having a hand in their day-to-day work. Maybe your new staff member is quiet in meetings, but does a great job summarizing their thoughts in an email.

Next, make time to help your employee continue to learn and acquire new skills. Employees – especially younger ones – are hungry for continuous improvement and professional development. Giving them the opportunity to grow and stretch their legs, while continuing to do the work you hired them to do, can pay dividends for your company and your employee retention. New employees can bring tremendous value to your organization – let them show you what you could be missing.  

Last, and certainly not least, coach your new employee and offer feedback whenever there’s an opportunity. Most people like to know what’s going well – and what could be improved upon – well before a formal review. Don’t wait and waste the investment you’ve made into this new employee by simply being out of touch.

If your company’s onboarding process could use a revamp – or your managers need help making these suggestions a reality – your local Growth Coach can help. Learn more at https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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Find Your Focus Before the New Year

If you look at previous December blog posts, even going back 10 years, you’ll see we often talk about a lot of the same topics at this time of the year – evaluating the your goals, setting new goals, thinking about 90-day goals, celebrating your successes over the last year, etc. This year, we’re going to lead with something a little different: ending the year by renewing your focus.

We’re talking about Focus this year because it’s important to realize that, without focus, evaluating, setting goals or trying to start the new year on the right foot is an uphill battle.

Before we get started, we want to clarify that we’re talking about your overall focus on your business, your personal life and the balance between the two. We’re not talking about turning off your email so you can tackle a big project or getting up for a glass of water when you get stuck. In this post, we’re talking about the big picture.

Basics: As our businesses grow and evolve, they often get more complex. Sometimes that complexity is good because it allows you to have a variety of revenue streams and to adapt, but sometimes it makes it too hard to wrap our arms around the challenges we’re facing. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and your business is struggling, even if it’s not financially, it’s time to get back to the basics. Where did you start, what are your key products and services, and what do you need to do to build a successful future? We’re not saying make a slew of tough decisions all at once, but start peeling back the layers until you find your bedrock. Having your feet firmly on that bedrock is the first step to finding your focus.

Step Back: Once you’re back to that bedrock, it should be pretty easy to see which parts of the business are struggling and, perhaps more important, which ones stand entirely on your shoulders. As a business owner or leader, you can’t be the go-to person for every project, product or service. You have to build out a team to support your company so you can focus on sustainable, responsible growth. You can’t refocus your business if you’re pulled in too many directions. Where are your challenges and opportunities and where can you push to keep your feet on solid ground?

Rebuild Your Vision: Stepping back and finding that bedrock is a huge part of what we do with our clients at The Growth Coach, but once you find that clarity, what do you do next? That’s where you start thinking about what you actually want out of your business so you can start setting goals and creating plans to reach and exceed those goals. We won’t spend too much time on goals here – we’ll get to that in January – but now is a good time to check in with yourself and think about what your vision should be moving forward.

Make Time: This is the most important part of finding your focus. You’re busy – we’re all busy – but you have make time to find evaluate, find focus and set goals. You have to make time for your business, yourself and your family. You have to set boundaries and create business systems to keep those boundaries intact. For some, that comes down to creating schedules, setting out of office reminders and taking real vacations. For others, it’s just taking yourself out to lunch or meeting a friend for coffee. Owning a business isn’t just about the bottom line – it’s about building a future and you need focus to get there.

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Combat Turnover with Mission-Based Leadership

The job market is tough right now. Everyone is hiring, pay is competitive and many employers are offering bonuses to get the right employees in the door. But once you’ve hired someone and invested in their onboarding and training, how can you convince them to stay when there are so many other opportunities?

At The Growth Coach, many of our clients are facing the same kinds of staffing challenges. While some businesses focus specifically on pay-driven success – like restaurants – many companies and organizations can leverage something more than pay: mission.

When employees are considering whether or not to stay at a current company or in a current job, they weigh a variety of factors: How happy are they at work? Are they making a competitive wage for the job? Does the wage allow them to live the life they want to live? Does the flexibility of the job match their priorities? Do they feel good about the work they’re doing? Does the mission of the company or organization speak to their professional and personal goals?

It’s this last one that we want to talk about. We all spend a lot of time at work and, for many of us, it’s important that we feel like the work we’re doing is making an impact on others and the world. Of course everyone wants to be rewarded for their work and have flexibility in their jobs, but if your mission is strong enough, it often becomes a guiding light and a priority for employees too.

Now ask yourself this: Do your employees understand your mission? Are you and your leadership team regularly reminding your team how the work they do every day helps the company strive toward that mission? Most importantly… do you understand your mission?

A mission isn’t just your goal as the owner of a company – it’s OK if you just want financial success – but the problem your company is trying to solve. What is the end goal of the service or product you’re selling? For example, if you own a nail salon, is your goal to see as many clients as possible or to help as many people relax and love their nails as possible? It’s all about the approach you’re taking and how that approach aligns with your leadership, your staff and the decisions you make about your company.

If you’ve lost sight of the mission of your company, there’s a good chance you’re as burned out as your employees. It’s time step back and find your why again. Reach out to your local Growth Coach, not just for yourself and your employees, but for the employees you’re hoping to hire too.

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It’s the Fourth Quarter: What’s the Score?

In football, if you’re behind in the fourth quarter, you have to rally your team, buckle down and, sometimes, go for the Hail Mary. That’s because, when that countdown clock hits zero, the final score is the final score. Win or lose.

The fourth quarter in business isn’t the same game at all. Sure, of course you want to finish the year strong and you can pull out all the stops for an amazing holiday season, but you aren’t looking for a winning score on December 31. You are looking for a pattern of continuous improvement and growth that will carry you into the next year, the next five years and beyond.

So today, rather than look at the fourth quarter of the year as the “end,” we want you to check in with yourself, evaluate your goals, consider what you can do with the time that’s left in 2021 and really start building that foundation for 2022. If you are setting 90-day goals, you have plenty of time to hit some awesome milestones in January to start the year strong.

Where do you start? First of all, head into that proverbial locker room to clear your head. Take yourself out to breakfast, silence your phone and take the time to evaluate the big picture of your business. Schedule a time to meet with yourself. Lock the office door. Leave early and sit at the park. Whatever works for you, you need that time away from your day-to-day and, yes, your email, to find honesty and perspective.

Ask yourself the big, important questions, even if you inherently know the answers. What goals did you set for 2021? How are those goals coming? What were your strengths? What went really well? Where did you fall short? What challenges is your business facing right now? How has that impacted your progress? What can you change moving forward?

Once you have those answers in front of you, think about the last 90 days and the next 90 days. What have you done that has really worked in the last three months? Could you build off of that success for the next three months? What goals can you reimagine for today’s challenges and opportunities?  

The importance of asking yourself these questions is not just to plan out the next 90 days and get ready to jump into 2022, but also to practice building a more strategic mindset. You have to get off the dance floor. You have to get out of the weeds. You have to see the forest. Whatever idiom you want to use – it’s important. Taking a step back to see your progress and make honest, data-driven decisions is how you’ll build a successful future. If you need help reaching that point, The Growth Coach is here: https://www.thegrowthcoach.com/find-a-coach.

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