Be Great at People

The left funnel of the Business Model highlights people elements that are needed to successfully deliver a business vision. There are 5 key practices:

  • Joint Ownership for coordination & monitoring
  • Individual Ownership by all for action
  • Right People
  • Right Seats with the right responsibilities
  • ACT to develop people who grow with the vision

Being great at the people part of business requires improving across these practices.

Lets explore the tools and best practices for them.

Joint Ownership of for Coordination & Monitoring

The funnel shows that the high-level Positioning elements, Themes and Context of the business model are jointly owned. This is not just a lofty idea. Everyone in the business should know the Mission, Vision and Values. Leaders must Communicate and share positioning regularly. They should share and give access to the Cheat Sheet and reference it as needed. All should understand how the work they do conforms to and helps to deliver Themes and Vision. They should work to deliver the parts they can impact.

Everyone should reserve time identify how they impact delivering the business model. Everyone should Monitor what could affect the strategy elements as they go about their daily work such as:

  • Issues: Any problem, bottleneck, or mistake that you have identified
  • Insights: Any fact, observation, or experience that you learned
  • Ideas: Any solution, improvement, or innovation that you identified

Everyone should monitor the Context environment while they work to ensure the Business Model remains relevant. Consider how internal resources and capabilities are impacted by external trends. Your business model must continue to update and refine how you will compete to win within an evolving business environment through your product market fit, go to market activities, and other Themes.

The most important monitoring is listening to customers and employees. Support reps on sales calls. Conduct customer surveys. Check your support desk and other customer facing processes that define your business to the world. Understand their needs and ensure customers see you how you want to be seen.

Another tool to consider is scheduling regular Adapt and Grow time. Leaders especially should schedule time blocks that focus on creating the feedback loop that all complex systems need to be successful. Schedule alone time to work “on” the business away from the day-to-day “in” the business work. Many leaders I know schedule at least one hour per week for this “thinking time.” The best leaders schedule longer blocks of time weekly and schedule full day or longer blocks each quarter.

Traction (pg 214) calls these Clarity Breaks. This is not time to catchup on work tasks. Instead be alone, away from work, with a note pad, and no distractions. Focus on important questions like Positioning, context, priorities, people, processes, themes, products, nagging issues, emerging trends, ACT feedback, and how you structure your own time and work. You can start with written questions from the week, or focus on what comes to you. The outcome should be ideas that can lead to expanded opportunities, accelerated success and more relevance.

Many of the ideas can be added as Issues for your Leadership Team meetings and implemented quickly. Or, they can be larger Issues to work on at the next Quarterly. The most important insights create a learning loop that feeds back into you Business Model. In early stage companies, it can create a pivot causing major changes in Positioning. Or, more typically in established companies, it impacts the understanding of Positioning and feeds annually into your strategy review to create new Themes and clarify priorities.

Other team members coordinate in monthly Council meetings to create strategy dialogue that discuss Issues, Insights and Ideas they have that could affect business model elements. These meetings check across all Themes to ensure continued:

  • Relevance: Do we still have the right business model?
  • Progress: Are we making the right progress?
  • Mood: Is everyone still onboard?

The output of these meetings should be action items specific to a team with individual ownership to make incremental improvements to how they deliver business model Positioning elements and their part of Strategy and Plan elements. Learning should be shared with the leadership team to help them understand any impacts to the business model or need for adjustment to Positioning or Themes.

Individual Ownership by All for Action

As we go down the list and get more specific and nearer-term, more focused teams and responsible individuals take primary ownership for delivering specific Plans and related action items.

Some teams will have ownership for specific initiatives that help to deliver company Themes. For example, in a new product launch, development may be responsible for creating the product, while procurement sources materials, marketing works on the go to market plan, and sales generates pre-launch orders.

All teams should know how work contributes to delivering Themes. Each member of the team should know the impact their actions have.

Rocks, Issues, Action Items, and measures all have One DRI (Directly Responsible Individual) who is the owner or directly responsible individual. Others can help with any of these, but there is only one owner. This owner will lead decision making, and coordinate input and activities, and do work to deliver what is needed to meet the goal and deliver results.

Beyond that, One Hour Strategy suggests that everyone should Reserve Time to work on strategy related actions. Senior leaders should reserve at least 1 hour per day, team leaders 1 hour per week, and all others 1 hour per month to help deliver the business model. For most, this means real work to monitor Theme elements, deliver the Rocks and other action items they own.

Get good at managing actions and Make it part of Daily Acts. Create a shared team accountability tracking. Tracking can be in Google Sheets or, better, adopt a shared tool like Monday, Trello, Clickup and Asana.

Right People

The term “Right People, Right Seats” from Traction reminds us that first priority is to have the “right team on the bus” (Good to Great) even before we know where we want to drive it.

Values are the initial screen for deciding whether people are right. People that do not embody the company values create distractions by not getting along well with others, and making decisions that do not best support the vision. Evaluate for Values; people either believe in the values in a way that adds value (+), subtracts from value (-) or is neutral (+/-).

Next, for each person Evaluate if On-board. Are they on the bus to deliver the business model. Start with Vision and Mission elements then evaluate around specific Themes where they contribute. Traction suggests using three criteria; decide ‘yes’ or ‘no’ whether they:

  • Get it: do they understand and by into what is needed
  • Want it: to they have a self-motivated dedication to make an impact
  • Can do it: do they have the time, experience, discipline, and the right disposition to do the work

Rate everyone. Ensure they buy into the Values, Vision, and Mission of the business and want to make the positive impact it delivers. For shortcoming, either coach improvement if possible, or likely you need to find people that want to embody the company positioning.

If they are not the right people, changing their seats on the bus won’t make problems better. It is best to change people quickly if they are not right for the business. Help people that are not right for your business to transition to a place that is a better fit for them.

Live by this advice from Jim Collins:

“To let people languish in uncertainty for months or years, stealing precious time in their lives that they could use to move on to something else, when in the end they aren’t going to make it anyway—that would be ruthless. To Deal with it right up front and let people get on with their lives— that is rigorous.

Practical Discipline #1: When in doubt, don’t hire—keep looking.

Practical Discipline #2: When you know you need to make a people change, act.

Practical Discipline #3: Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems.”

Right Seats with the Right Responsibilities

Each person must fill a needed role where they can perform best. Design how roles should be structured. This is first done without considering who is currently working there. How best can you Organize to support Themes and the work of the business.

You can create this design with any number of online tools. Once the role design makes sense, evaluate each person on the bus for which seat they can fill better than anyone else. Be realistic. If a role is needed and there is no one to fill it, accept that a new hire is needed. If a person is in the wrong role, move them to one that fits their unique capabilities.

Now, with the people in mind, Create an AOR = area of responsibility list. Great CEO Within suggests you: “Create a document that lists all of the company’s functions and, for each, the directly responsible individual (DRI.) This is the AOR list. It serves as a routing layer for any questions and ensures that no functions fall through the cracks. Make sure everybody in the company knows how to access the list, and update it as new functions arise or as responsibilities shift.”

Organize this list to match the structure of your org chart. Ensure that it covers Themes in your business model and all routine work done in the business. Pay special attention where you have shared executive leadership (President vs SVP, CEO vs COO, Visionary vs Implementer) to ensure they jointly agree to where there are boundaries and if any shared responsibilities exist.

A final useful tool is to actively monitor the work you do to look for areas where you can create focus and offload work. Focus on the things you enjoy most and that add the most value. Traction uses a 4×4 matrix. You should:

  • Q I – Prioritize: create more time and focus for this work.
  • Q II – Tolerate: make time to do the work until you can give it to others with your oversight; help them deliver the same value as you.
  • Q III – Elevate: either make the work more valuable, or stop doing it or give it to others; help them find joy in the work.
  • Q IV – Delegate: stop doing it, or automate or offload this work to others completely if it must still be done.

This can help others grow their contribution and highlight the need to hire a new role to take over the required work if there is no more capacity for you or others. And it makes your work more valuable and joyful.

ACT to Develop People who Grow with the Vision

ACT is an acronym developed in The Great CEO Within that reminds leaders how to motivate people and create great cultures. It stands for:

  • Accountability: getting things done by Leading and Managing well
  • Coaching: asking for and providing help
  • Transparency: creating trust and 2-way feedback

Start improving your team’s culture and performance by setting up Recurring ACT meetings. These are 1-on-1 meetings between managers and their reports. They should happen about weekly at all levels of the organization.

At these meetings, the three elements of ACT should get focused discussion:

Accountability is agreeing to:

  • A priority outcome (vision, theme, objectives, results, goals, measures);
  • Actions to deliver it (action items, rocks, initiatives, resolving issues);
  • Whether actions were completed
  • If you achieved the desired outcome

Coaching is assessing the current health of a person, team, department, initiative or business.

State both the good and the not good.

For the not good detail:

  • What the issue is and its causes
  • A proposed solution (by the person raising it)
  • The best solution together

Solutions can include providing resources for success like:

• Training
• Tools and Technology
• People
• Focus
• Advice and Guidance
• Support

Transparency is sharing (to a manager, peer, or report) feedback on what they are doing, using the following format:

Like: “These are the specific actions that I like that you are doing.”

Wish that: “These are the specific actions that I wish you would do differently.”

The receiver of the Feedback should practice emotional intelligence by reflecting on any feedback. Always get an A at hear feedback:

  • Ensure understanding by rephrasing it
  • Thank and let giver know that you will consider how to address it
  • Decide what changes, if any, you will make
  • Get back to giver with decision and reasoning
  • Follow-up later to see if changes help

Once you see some success at 1-on-1 meetings, you can Add ACT elements to any meeting or event:

  • Retrospectives with each person noting a team good and a needs improvement idea
  • Set goals, track and share outcomes as a team
  • Make problem solving an agenda item
  • Rate meetings and share improvement ideas
  • Identify needs and support each other as a team
  • With radical transparency, individual feedback can be shared openly in group meetings

In addition, teams should periodically Rate yourself on ACT around how well you are implementing components. Look for the areas where you can most improve. Get all team members to rate themselves, then problem solve solutions for areas with low average scores.

Find out more about evaluating ACT and get the check-up survey here.

In summary, Being great at people covers these practices…

Joint Ownership for Coordination & Monitoring:

• Communicate and Share Positioning, Themes, Context
• Monitor:
o Issues: Any problem, bottleneck, or mistake that you have identified
o Insights: Any fact, observation, or experience that you learned
o Ideas: Any solution, improvement, or innovation that you identified
• Adapt and Grow Time
o Alone with a note pad
o Work on the business: positioning, emerging trends, context,
processes, themes, products, nagging issues, priorities, people,
ACT feedback, and how you structure your own time and work
• Council Meetings – All levels, All People, All Themes, Monthly (1 hr)
o Relevance: Do we still have the right business model?
o Progress: Are we making the right progress? 
o Mood: Is everyone still onboard?
• On-going part of Leadership Team Meetings

Individual Ownership for Action:

• Know how teams and individuals contribute to delivering Themes
• One Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) for:
Rocks – Cheat Sheet
Issues – Issue Tracking
– Action Items – by Team
Measures – Score Card
• Reserve Time – 1 hr per
• Make Part of Daily Acts
– Shared Accountability Tracking
– Google Sheet, Monday, Clickup, Trello, Asana

Right People

• Evaluate Values
• Evaluate if On-Board
– Get it
– Want it
– Can do it
• Deal with it Up-front

Right Seats with Right Responsibilities

• Organize to Support Themes
• Define AORs (Areas of Responsibility)
• Create Focus and Off-load Work

A.C.T. (Accountability, Coaching, Transparency)

• Recurring ACT 1-on-1 meetings
• Add ACT to all Team Meetings
• Rate Yourself on ACT for Improvement

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