Are you dragging your team along as you grow?

Are you dragging your team along as you grow?

 “The only way to grow a company is to grow the people first.” Verne Harnish, in his book Scaling Up.

As I told you in numerous articles, People are essential to your company’s growth and success.

But… do you have the Right People doing the Right Things, with clear accountability and metrics?

Sometimes your team that was great last year just can’t keep up with the growth in your business today. 

As you grow, you need everyone to step up, learn and do more, and work together on the right things.

You need your team leaders and managers to become awesome trainers, coaches, and cheerleaders for their people and for the company’s goals.

Sometimes the opposite happens— your key people become frustrated with the added responsibilities or avoid them altogether getting stuck in the day-to-day. 

Or they start having “communication” or staff issues that just get worse.

When you think about the Right People, there are 3 levels that you need to get right as part of an aligned team for growth.

PEOPLE summary from the book Scaling Up

PEOPLE summary from the book Scaling Up

When we say “People”– there are three levels that are all important to get right as you build your team of A-Players:

For each of the 3 levels, there are three elements to “get right” as part of an aligned team for growth.

1. LEADERS- define clear accountability for every role

  • One Page Personal Plan– Each leader should examine the 4 key areas of life/work to ensure their personal goals are being met
  • Functional Accountability Chart [FACE] – This tool helps you map the key functional areas of your business, to make sure that everyone has a person accountable for results
  • Process Accountability Chart [PACE]- This tool maps your core processes in your business, again clarifying who is accountable and how the function should be measured for success.

​​​​​​​2. MANAGERS- Retain and super-charge A-Players with good managers

  • Keeping People Engages– Play to their strengths, remove obstacles to performance, align individual work to company goals, recognize and reward them for great performance 
  • Develop people from Day 1 – create a first 90-day onboarding plan, create training plans and show managers how to develop their team and transfer skills

​​​​​​​3. TEAM- Hire A-Players at all levels

  • Clarify Roles: Define the job purpose, outcomes, competencies. I like to call these roles- Responsibilities- Results. 
  • Blend specialists into a complementary team and cross-train as much as possible.
  • Attract the Right People who fit the job AND your culture/ core values.
  • Update your selection system with a more systematic process to evaluate Job Fit and Culture Fit, attract A-Players with opportunities to grow and make an impact

I hope this helps you visualize how you can get all three levels of your team- leaders, managers, and staff aligned and rowing in the same direction.

Next step- develop your “human” resources by:

1. Get the Right Managers—to engage with these 5 critical activities:

To retain A-Players, you need great managers. 

• Help people play to their strengths, i.e. do what energizes them.
• Remove obstacles that hinder performance.
• Set clear expectations and help people see how their work links to the company goals/priorities.
• Recognize and appreciate people.
• Don’t hire many average employees. Hire the best, pay them above-market rates and invest in developing them.

2. Develop people. 

  • Invest at least 2-3% of your payroll on training. 
  • Use onboarding to inculcate your new staff into your company culture, expose them to the organization’s key work areas and connect them with other colleagues. 
  • Leverage modern learning platforms and start weekly coaching conversations to focus, train and develop your people.

I have seen the “best places to work” do all of the above, and those that don’t commit to getting the right managers and developing people [by great managers] continue to struggle with attracting, retaining and motivating their staff. 

Is your team healthy and aligned? (10 questions)

Is your team healthy and aligned? (10 questions)

I am just back from presenting “Scaling Up Your People for Growth” two times last week– one to a startup incubator and once for the Scaling Up Workshop in Niagara on the Lake with established growing companies. (Take a look below for a short summary of the “People” section from the book.)

One of the exercises we used at the workshop was for the owners/ founders to evaluate the “alignment” of their team.

The leader’s final job is “to keep the main thing the main thing” — to keep the organization on message and everyone heading in the same direction”  -Verne Harnish, in his book “Scaling Up,”

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Here is a list of questions you can use to evaluate the health and alignment of your team:

  1. ​​​​​​​ The executive team is “healthy” (no dysfunctional behaviors) 
  2. ​​​​​​​ Everyone is aligned with the #1 thing that needs to be accomplished to move the company forward 
  3. ​​​​​​​ Communication rhythm is established and information moves through the organization accurately and quickly
  4. ​​​​​​​ Every facet of the organization has a person assigned with accountability for ensuring goals are met 
  5. ​​​​​​​ Ongoing employee input is collected to identify obstacles and opportunities  
  6. ​​​​​​​ Reporting and analysis of Customer Feedback data is as frequent and accurate as financial data 
  7. ​​​​​​​ Core Values and Purpose are “alive” in the organization * 
  8. ​​​​​​​ Employees can accurately articulate the key components of the company’s strategy: Who are our core customers? What is our brand promises? Where does the company sees itself in 5 years? What is the company’s elevator pitch?
  9. ​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​All employees can answer quantitatively whether they had a good day or week [“everyone has a number”] 
  10. ​​​​​​​ The company’s plans and performance are visible to everyone 

​​​​​​​ I am sure you have experienced the challenges when “one hand does not know what the other is doing” — and you know it is not the most effective way to run a team or a business.

​​​​​​​–> So take a few minutes to rate your team on the 10 questions above, and see where you need to improve clarity, focus, and alignment for a healthy team and to achieve more success.

Which Do You Want- a Culture of Results or Culture of Caring?

Which Do You Want- a Culture of Results or Culture of Caring?

According to a very informative and detailed Harvard Business Journal chapter, there are 8 different and distinct “Cultures” in organizations.

If you are looking to increase your organization’s performance in a positive way, you might choose to shift your culture to include characteristics from both Results and Caring.

Here are some excerpts from the main article, describing both types and how they can be combined:

Results is characterized by achievement and winning. Work environments are outcome-oriented and merit-based places where people aspire to achieve top performance. Employees are united by a drive for capability and success; leaders emphasize goal accomplishment


Caring focuses on relationships and mutual trust. Work environments are warm, collaborative, and welcoming places where people help and support one another. Employees are united by loyalty; leaders emphasize sincerity, teamwork, and positive relationships.


It is common to find organizations with cultures that emphasize both results and caring, but this combination can be confusing to employees.

Are they expected to optimize individual goals and strive for outcomes at all costs, or should they work as a team and emphasize collaboration and shared success?


The nature of the work itself, the business strategy, or the design of the organization may make it difficult for employees to be equally results focused and caring.

Each of the 8 culture types can be effective if properly aligned with strategy and leadership behaviors.

For a small or mid-size organization, much of the direction is set by one or two owners, and based on their personality and core values.

Clarity around the strategy, core values and then the what and how of expected results is imperative for any organization to function at it’s best. That is why many business planning frameworks, such as the One Page Strategic Plan and Entrepreneurs’ Operating System start with Mission, Vision and Values before even defining Strategy.

As Peter Drucker is credited for saying “Culture eats Strategy for breakfast…”

For more inspiration, see this Slideshare overview of 12 Reasons Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch.

Work Expands to Fill The Time

Work Expands to Fill The Time

Last week I had very similar conversations with general managers at two very different businesses.

They both had teams that seemed to be less focused, productive and efficient the more time they had.

One is a seasonal business where everyone works overtime for 4 months and then have very little to do during the off-season. Yet despite the “extra” time, the wish list of improvement projects never seems to be completed.

The other business sells short-term consulting solutions to clients, so they are “all hands on deck” for 1-2 months and then may only have smaller tasks to fill in between the big installations. Yet during a slower schedule, clients wait a bit too long for response to their smaller requests.

You may see this in your own business, or in your own week. I know that I sometimes don’t have a large list of “done” items when I have a whole day to work on them, but can check off 1-2 proactive items in a few hours between client meetings.

The cause: What you are witnessing is an actual documented sociological principle I learned in college:

“Work expands to fill the time.”

The solution: plan, develop work habits, and track for accountability

  • make a list of what needs to be accomplished – whiteboard on the wall or online tool such as
  • plan the week with your big 3 (projects, not just ongoing work)
  • begin each day tackling the next priority item
  • end each day re-prioritizing what to focus on the next day
  • review regularly, track progress and expect results
  • remember that deadlines are motivational– pre-schedule a time to review a specific outcome

These steps will improve your own focus on activities that achieve results.

They also work well to focus your team members, build their work habits and hold them accountable.
The key is planning with progress reports in a weekly coaching conversation.

Perhaps take this Friday afternoon to plan out a few items on your “wish list” and then assign one 90 minute task to each day next week to make progress on the first one.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at


Is Accountability a Pink Elephant?

Is Accountability a Pink Elephant?

Last week I was speaking with a small business owner who told me “you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know…
but HOW do I get my team working together to grow the business..
HOW do I get out of overwork and overwhelm

In a sentence, his firm lacks Accountability.

But what can/ should he do?

To quote an owner who has made this transition: “Knowing doesn’t make the difference.. it is Doing that matters.”

We talk about Accountability as if it is a “thing” that other companies have but we can’t seem to find, an elusive dream, a pink elephant.

Accountability is not something that is “done” to people but a contract between you (as coach) and your team member.

They know the Right Things to do, how and when to do them, what Right looks like, and agree to Get’r Done (said in your best Jeff Foxworthy voice).

It’s a process of being clear, getting people to commit, and then coaching with feedback, re-direction, praise, follow-up and sometimes tough love. It’s the proverbial “holding someone’s feet to the fire” or “inspecting what you expect.”

It’s also important that you have process to setup, agree to and expect Accountability.

The aforementioned owner thought his main problem was “finding better people”– yet a “better employee” will not be much more effective in a team who lacks accountability as a system.

Here are two quick videos from leaders on the accountability front to explain more:

From the Zenger Folkman group’s author Kathleen Stinnett, Accountability Success in Coaching

Great overview from Roger Connors of the Oz Principle: Steps to Accountability- Above the Line and Below the Line