Share the Credit, Own the Blame

When someone introduces me as a superior, boss or supervisor I always correct them immediately, and explain it’s my job to get the best out of people, to never do more than share credit and always take the blame. They usually laugh and look at me like a confused puppy, but it’s true. If you look at those you lead/supervise as people you need to elevate and if they fail it’s your fault just as much you’ll get much more out of your team and them from you.

Many will tell you taking the credit is the majority of what they strive for, to be recognized and be promoted.  My theory is simple it is better to have the world giving you credit than yourself asking for it and screaming for attention.  But in all honesty I am not driven by credit, rather helping the companies I work with grow from the ground up, building a strong foundation and the people to carry it on well past my departure. Its more than quick fixes and illusions; instead hard work and dropping pillars ten feet into the ground that may never be seen but always be needed.

Why “share” the credit versus taking it? It’s extremely simple, in that I believe people are smarter than we give them credit for, and if your name is constantly being associated with shared credit people will see the pattern.  The amazing thing about coaching and growing others is the affect it has exponentially.  If you are building a network, a team of people that trust you, grow with you and challenge each other your ability to affect change grows at an exponential rate versus that of one person.  If your goal is ultimate success you need to work with those around you to build a strong

Imagine if you are one person who has the credit for building one great product at one business; it is great to have that distinction, feather in your cap.  Now imagine your name is associated in conjunction with the success of five different companies, not as the sole person, but an integral part. What do you think will carry more weight long term?  The lasting effect one can have on an organization by allowing others to share in the success and credit is the trust others will see in them.  This confidence is paramount when rebuilding structures and companies regardless of size and industry.

Confidence drives markets, drives investors and drives our economy.  If you are the sole person to gain credit that confidence leaves with you. If you share that credit, that confidence there is a lasting impact as you leave and continue to grow.  The next step is about being accountable for your team, your company and those around you.  If you want your team to be leaders, you need to take blame when their actions affect your company.  When leading, we are responsible for the actions of those below us, this is not a new idea, but one that has lasted centuries through military and social constructs.

Leaders were held accountable for those in their command from the times of Romans and present day.  Being a leader, a supervisor or “boss” is about putting your hand up and taking the blame and sharing the credit is how you build a culture of the same.  If your staff, employees and company work collectively towards a common goal you achieve much more than a group of individuals working in parallel towards common goals.

The difference lies in the communication, the buy in and overall movement towards the goal you are trying to reach.

 

Listening Speaks Volumes at Work and in Life

To “say nothing” was the hardest skill I’ve had to learn in my career.  Though self confidence, experience and title have helped to minimize the need to be heard, learning how to affectively listen is a skill greatly needed.  I’ve learned that getting people you are trying to coach or impress upon to finish the thought on their own leads to greater psychological buy in. Getting people to work through the smaller problems towards a greater collective goal is great leadership, merely telling them what to do is not.  Though I have lead and learned from failure, one of my favorite practices is approaching the problem with follow up questions.

Utilizing follow up to direct the person you are coaching to notice the issue on their own and ask for help, or find the solution on their own creates a different emotional tag to the problem.  The idea to allow someone to have a say (even if only an illusion) in something will cause them to care more about the issue at hand.  We have all been in meetings with minimal to no interactions at all and take almost nothing from it; even if the information given was needed, it’s the way it was communicated.

If you care about it, have some form of buy in, you’ll pay that much more attention to it. Make sure you give time for those you interact with the time to share, converse and respond.

Attentive

For Example:

A few years ago while in the process of turning around a restaurant franchise they had recently purchased an existing company to double their size.  They had been doing things a certain way (which we perceived wrong) for many years and needed to be coached to change.  If we put our foot down saying change this way today with no buy in it would take quite a long time to get them to turn things around.  If we lead with asking them what they feel is wrong, then lead them to our solutions with questions and coaching it allows for a greater buy in of the same information.

You can tell someone to turn left because it’s the right way to go, but you can also point out a landmark to the right that you both know is the wrong direction allowing them the perception of choosing to turn left.  This allows them a feeling of buying in, feeling apart of the solution and growth towards the ultimate goal you are trying to achieve.

Habitually we talk too much and leave little time to listen and understand what is being communicated; this same approach has taught me to listen and repeat back even if it’s merely to acknowledge they understand. This is important because we (myself included) waste breath over explaining instead of giving what’s needed, asking follow up questions and listening to ensure proper direction was given and received.  I’ve had issues with this in the past where I speak up when it isn’t needed, instead of pointing to someone who understands and leading them to direct the group.

When you are in charge of multiple units and groups it is just as much about the ripple effect that you cause to ensure communication. Simply stating the information and hoping it is heard is not effective; ensuring people who are there every day in that unit are bought in and will echo the cause greats the ripples you need.

Have you ever been certain you told someone or emailed something to find out you never did? Taking moments to listen, ask and let things simmer give your brain time to process and store information more effectively than a fleeting event. If you put the same amount of attention into communicating your drink order as you do work items your probably missing things.  Listening and leading go hand in hand, it’s not just about giving the orders; it’s about setting up others for maximized retention.

Communication

The 5am Sunday Meeting & Self Awareness

This is not to say that you need to have a meeting at 5am on a Sunday; this is about conforming to your team to help them when it’s convenient for them; not you.  You can gain much more from the direction you are giving if you are sacrificing on your end just to give the message.  Through this small sacrifice we gain the undivided attention of those we are working with and coaching.

There was a location having operational issues, overall mismanagement and consistent profitability issues; We took the time to meet with the managers at their 5am crossover.  We could have easily made them come to us mid week in the afternoon but that would change the sentiment of the meeting.  By going to them on a Sunday at 5am to talk to them it showed that this is more than a blip on our radar but something that affects our daily life and we am treating it as such.  If you always make others conform to your schedule, your ideals and your structure you won’t be nearly as effective as you can be.

The message at 5am is received with proper purpose, as opposed to defensive kick back by making them come at an inconvenient time for their routine.  By showing up at that time and date, where the problem is happening, though inconvenient you gain the respect and attention immediately of those whom you are giving your message to.  Instead it hits home at a time that is quiet (early Sunday) and allows for undivided attention.  By putting their schedule first (almost to an extreme) you are working to remove obstacles for the message to be perceived and acted on properly.

“What do you think is more effective, a meeting at 5am on a Sunday to correct issues with Sundays shift, or a meeting on Wednesday afternoon to address it?” 

We had their attention before we even opened our mouth; seeing us walk in at 5am got their undivided attention to the problem they were already aware of and not properly addressing.  The human condition has the ability to help and hurt us in how we manage situation, react to variables around us and allow emotion to control our motivations. The common practice for a meeting is to set a time, sit down and review at my discretion (leader of the meeting); it changes the attention and importance of the information when it’s given to them in this fashion.

Next time you need to get someone’s attention at work, show a little humility, sacrifice and show it’s a team effort and see how the results and overall effort needed is changed.  Rarely when operating, coaching or interacting do many of us pay attention to how ever detail can affect the way we are perceived; leading to diminished returns on our work relationships and ability to lead.  Self awareness takes time (some never truly achieve it), but it is key to leading those around us properly. Without being aware of whom we are how we are perceived and our actions affect on those around us we will never lead to our full potential.

The ability to be aware of who we are and how we affect others can sometimes be of greater importance in our ability to lead than the knowledge we have in our field.  Though it may seem to be farfetched, think of those you’ve worked with in the past that have great knowledge but fail to work well with others, lack common sense or have minimal social skills and can’t truly help the team.  Whether you are looking for support for your career, solutions for your company or to rescue your company from ultimate demise we at Blue Rock have the tools to help you succeed.

 

The psychological ripple effect at work

Having a great system with highly educated and experience employees doesn’t guarantee you will maximize the true potential of your company or the people within.  Taking time to think through communications, ensuring the coaching you are giving is not only important but also timely can make all the difference.  Whether you are coaching someone on being aware of a common issue that leads to failure or explaining to them how they missed a common issue that led to their failure ones tact, the way the communicate and when they coach all affect the equation.  If you are not timely or respectful when dealing with your employees what are the chances your employees will treat your customers properly when it matters most?

Imagine your team (staff) as a room full of eight-year-old children and realize that not every child is going to learn the information you are trying to give them the exact way.  This does not mean that the kids who learn it the quickest will be the brightest in the long run or most successful, merely that they caught on quick.  Often times from a motivation standpoint the child that has to work the hardest and pushes themselves because of outlying factors will create a greater work ethic through the obstacles they face where those whom it comes easy might shine short term but lack substance as they progress and stressors arise.  When coaching/training employees giving someone the goal or information needed is the beginning, follow up is key to proper growth and success.

The psychology of the workplace comes in to play daily; in the ways we communicate with each other.  I have written piece before that speak to the affect we have on each other’s daily lives more than we realize (How you effect your team).  Even our superiors in the workplace can be affected by the way we interact with them, it’s called the mirror effect in the work place.  The way we present our self to others will be reflected back to us and others as the person we have imprinted moves on to the next interaction in their day.

Think of the times where you ended up talking about the negativity someone brought into your meeting and time wasted that could have been used being more effective?  Though we like to think we aren’t that easily distracted or affected in our daily routine the opposite is quite true.  The average person will be distracted, slowed down or completely thrown off their routine for the day through negativity.  That is why it is important to have the right culture, communication and overall atmosphere at your workplace. It starts with

The complete “mirror effect” as it pertains to the daily interaction with our staff as a leader.  If you staff comes to you and ask you to look into something and you deny it time and time again they will look into your requests (the average person) less and less.  You are showing them that their input or ideas do not matter; even if you have the knowledge showing it doesn’t work.  It’s the speed and way to which you respond that can make the difference in keeping them motivated and bought in to the critical thinking needed to be an integral part of your team’s success.  Instead of responding to them immediately, tell them you will take it under advisement (look into) and then either wait for them to follow up or respond later explaining to them the decision.  This delay from time of request to response can stage the perception that you spent time thinking about it.  They understand you probably did not spend the whole time, but the mere fact you didn’t shoot it down immediately reinforces the importance of taking your time on decisions.

How does this affect our customers; the interactions we have with our teams? 

Some people refer to it as the “ripple effect” where as you start a chain reaction with the way you handle your employees.  They will in turn treat their employees and their customers in a similar fashion. Though we like to think of ourselves as completely independent from suggestion and outside factors the reality is that we are affected by so many different variables in a given day and can let it derail our day and the people we interact with.

When we prop up our staff with confidence and positive attitudes they will handle a negative customer much better than if we met them with negativity and aggression.  We have a lasting impact on ourselves, our teams and our customer daily.  How we carry ourselves, communicate and operate carry more weight in today’s mobile and social world than ever before.  The ability to react to and communicate to others is at an all time high, this leaves little room for error and negativity.

Don’t misunderstand steering clear from negativity as never holding people accountable and coaching them on their weaknesses or mistakes.  That is what strong systems and procedures allow us to do; hold people accountable without making it personal. If they failed a procedural step and not you as a leader the conversation is completely different and so it the turnaround time on the coaching. This is why we work tirelessly to help businesses of all sizes work on and develop proper systems and procedures to maximize team effectiveness and company growth.

How do we take this and run with it?

We have to show the traits we want to instill in others, often times at a greater pronouncement that otherwise noted.  This over the top approach (10% more than normal) to ensure they see the action helps to mirror the positive qualities we are trying to instill. It is very hard to lead a team to have qualities you do not retain yourself.  That is why we must be patient, support and also hold people accountable to the expectations we seek to empower consistently.  There is no short cut to raising a child, coaching up future leaders or building a company.

In our daily lives we must be aware of the negativity we spread, how we affect others and the effect we are trying to instill.  There are books, classes and degrees dealing with psychology in the work place and how to structure your routines and systems.  This is just one insight across many spectrums that we can affect change in a positive and negative light.  Its up to us to set the standard on a consistent basis; what affect will you have on your staff, on your company and your goals?

 

These are just some of the items we help coach and support in our 1 on 1 support services.  Teaching leaders to maximize the potential of their teams (daily, weekly or monthly support) with the proper sound board to learn and coach with makes all the difference.   Follow us on twitter for more daily information @bluerockcon.

How a Bonus leads to small business profits

Using a structured bonus system for your business allows you to maximize on the hard work and sacrifices you’ve put in to grow your company. How can you be certain they see the weight you have to carry, the struggles of owning a business. There are great things that can come, if your lucky enough to make it past the first three years of struggle, debt and sacrifice. Though it may seem hard to think that the best way to get others involved is to tie them into the profits that you’ve worked so hard to build along the way.

If your leaders are tied to the success and failure of the business they will carry some of the weight you as a business owner must bare. A structured bonus based off measurable metrics tied to the profitability (or lack their of) of the business keeps your managers/leaders driving towards the same goal of profitability that you seek.

How to structure a bonus for your warehouse?

When it comes to costs in your warehouse common variables start with loss of product (damage, theft etc), labor costs and safety. If you tie in acceptable, target and unacceptable ranges for each to hold your supervisors to it allows you to set terms to hitting a bonus, with different variables. These mixed with operational costs can allow you to develop a graded scale for bonus opportunities . The key is to develop a  system that is graded; not all or nothing.

  • Hit labor = 30%
  • Hit operational target = 30%
  • Must hit both to make you eligible for next group
    • Safety hazards = 15%
    • Shrinkage target = 15%
    • Hit all get remaining 10%

Tie them to a percentage of the profits (5-15%) depending on the operation and that is the total max they can accrue. The percentages is the amount that they become eligible for (max). The goal is to target it with short 4 week periods to keep them focused, if the range is too long people can get behind and give up on targets costing money and operational slow down.

 

How to structure a bonus for your restaurant?

Similar to the above structure you tie your leaders to the labor, food cost and other metrics involved. If you are a franchise you are probably tracking complaints, audit scores and regional rankings, all that can be used to hold your team accountable, reward them for great work and keep your business growing (you can find information all over explaining how this works). Managers quickly learn how to grow profits when their pay is on the line, short cuts will be found out quickly if done on a quick and efficient 4 week period.

When auditing from week to week (and period) the numbers if faked will catch up in purchasing and payroll. If they hit food and labor costs but faked the numbers profits wouldn’t be there on the PnL because money spent to pay for purchases would pull from their. This keeps people honest and pushing towards the same goals of success.

 

How to structure a bonus for your Web development company?

Unlike the above examples when a service based system you have to tie more people into total project time, hours used, profitability of projects and maintenance. Breaking down the bonus structure into 50% breaks when the first 50% is paid out after project is finished and the other 60 days later after total review of revisions and after project adjustments.

 

This is just one of many ways to manage the human element of your company and keeping people tied into the big picture and overall success of your company.  Utilizing the tools in our Blue Rock Library  and our Range Solutions can maximize your costs, growth and overall profits.

Teens in Restaurants & Small Businesses

How is it that we forget so quickly what it is like to be young?  To be a teen with minimal vision, over confidence and a sense of self-worth disproportionate from our reality?  How quickly we forget the lack of vision we had, gravitas we often walked with and issues we missed in the world around us.  When working in industries such as the service industry (restaurants) companies have to deal with the ever-growing teen population, the difference between what most of us (thirty or older) and the teens of today deal with is a perception and ability to question things we never could.  We used to have to accept what was told to us or do a lot of work to question it; before the internet looking for the answer took a lot of extra leg work (literally).  Even with the information one often had discussions with others on the findings because of the medium they gathered the information from (a book 4 to 40 years old).

Today’s youth has grown up with the ability to search for answers in the palm of their hands and know no other way.  This leads them to question everything, sometimes they can put a little bit too much faith in the internet, but as technology becomes more ingrained in our culture people are learning how to vet the internet and the sources they use.  Though there are still issues, misinformation and misdirection will always be a part of our everyday life.  With an ever growing youth work force (Department of Labor statistics), capitalizing and utilizing the right tools can be the difference in the profits of your business.

How do we relate these issues of our culture with that of coaching up our youth in school, sports and restaurants/retail?

Having to go a little further in explaining, giving out information or solidifying what you are asking of someone is the difference; when your employee questions more you need more answers.  Simply stating that it needs to be done, (just because) doesn’t work.  It’s about connecting the dots from the company that pays them, to the solutions that the brand utilizes and the expectations you as a manager have for them.  When you get them to understand the motivation needed, regardless of the job it will carry them further, then the simplistic approach of demanding it.

What are the best ways to communicate and coach up teens in your restaurant or small business?

Don’t be afraid to reach them on their level when communicating; utilizing text messaging more than calls leads to better communication with your staff.  When trying to interview often times you can get a heads up on other employers who aren’t willing to text someone for an interview. In our surveys we have found that employers that text their applicants (for minimum wage jobs) received a much higher return rate than those who didn’t (this was true and well surveyed throughout the restaurant and retail industry).

When utilizing text messaging to communicate scheduling changes and other items help to hold accountability because a manager can save the messages for recall later if needed.  This also opens the door of communication between staff and supervisors because of the informal nature of text messaging.  A generation of people spend more time communicating through a keyboard than in person or on the phone, if you don’t work to meet them in this medium you can lose out on great employees that want to learn, work and succeed.

Sometime dealing with Teens means revisiting the same issues multiple times.

Though we always want to hold people accountable when we are training up inexperienced young adults in the workplace often times we have to repeat ourselves and deal with their defensive nature.  This is why utilizing formal write ups for coaching come into place; if I they are done regularly and used for coaching (not just when you want to terminate someone) your staff will understand and learn from them.  Lack of communication, detail in direction and coaching are often issues we run into regularly when working with retail and service industry businesses.  When working with a younger, inexperienced work force feedback (good and bad) is needed.

Though we were all teens, many of us misguided, ill-tempered or short-sighted we often forget (quickly) that it takes time and experience (aka failure) for many of us to learn properly. All we can hope as we grow older is that the mistakes we make are small enough and correctable as to not derail our future.

Remember what it is like to be a young adult, pair it with the issues of today’s youth that we may have not grown up with (depending on age) find a common ground and form an expectation of their success. Knowing someone will fail from the moment you hire them, make a poor decision and may be hard to work with gives you a starting point to grow them.  I often tell new hires of any job and industry you will make mistakes, you will fail and it will be your fault.  From those failures we ask you to learn, improve and not repeat them, that is what it’s about.  If there are no failures, no issues and no problems there is usually someone doing a great job hiding it (problems keep us all employed, if everything was perfect there would be no need for teachers, coaches, etc.).

When we take the time and invest knowledge and experience into someone we can get great things from them.  Once in my career I trained up a 19-year-old delivery driver (of a restaurant) into a shift manager, later a General manager of a quick service restaurant doing over 1 million a year in revenue.  Before their 22nd birthday they took the store to the highest sales of any store we had owned at the time. He later became an area manager and has since moved on to other leadership positions in his career. The point of that story is that the company would have never had that amazing talented employee for almost a decade had we not invested time and knowledge into them.  Building up a constant bench of training to invest and grow your team, even if they move on to other things as they grow is how you keep your company and business relevant, operating and profitable.

If managers are afraid to coach up talent and teach others, it often comes from a place of fear in losing their job.  It’s up to you as an employer and business owner to ensure that you empower that make your team better, even if they out train their own position.  A great manager that coaches up future leaders for your company can get paid properly, even if you don’t have a different position for them.  There will be people who fail to the point of no return with whom one hopes they learn from the lessons taught, the failure and grow moving forward.  We cannot forget that it starts with our young adults, taking time to coach them up and allowing them to fail along the way.  If we strictly promote the people who have a good record, minimal issues and show up all the time without looking at leadership qualities, failures they have overcome and character traits we are doomed to repeat issues and minimize our operational ability.

Coaching up employees (young adults) is about patience and cultivating talent.  It’s expensive to one’s costs in refusing to train up than it is to have someone fail along the way.  When you hire someone with “experience” for a job, what are you getting and how do you know they are experienced and don’t come with external issues that can affect your company? Chances are they failed before they got you (which is fine), that is why they need a job (which is ok).  That point alone should remind us to train up our staff, teach anyone who will listen every day to ensure we understand who are leaders are and can become.  When a farmer plants crops they don’t plant just enough for what they will need, they plan on a failure rate and hope that they did enough work along the way to have the proper yield.  You should treat your company and employees the same way; constantly training up and cultivating talent knowing some you will lose; some will fail but the finished product gives you a great return on your investment.