One of the biggest challenges for any entrepreneur or business person is what Gino Wickman; author of the book Traction, calls “Letting go of the vine.” This simply means to trust those around you more and put responsibilities on others. There is a very important step before this is prudent, and that is to surround yourself with people who have a love for the “vine” and a clear understanding of how the “vine” operates. Ultimately, a team who is worthy of the “vine“. The challenge of building this team falls squarely on the entrepreneur or business person shoulders.
So how do you get a team of people assembled that are ready to allow you to let go of this precious “vine“? I have learned much over the last 16 years by creating and operating multiple multi-million dollar businesses along the Mississippi, Alabama and Florida Eastern NC. In reality, most of what I have learned is through failure and the relentless pursuit of excellence. It is very strange how the pursuit of excellence and failure go hand-in-hand, but this is one of the immutable laws that God has put in place that mankind cannot seem to thwart.
Although the aforementioned statement is explicitly true we are able to obtain more excellence and suffer less failure through the study of other people’s successes and failures. Below are six items that I believe can help any entrepreneur or business person in putting together a team worthy of caring for your “vine“.
- Getting Rid of What Does Not Belong. One of the toughest challenges is to believe in your gut what is right and then to act upon it swiftly. As it relates to people, this is of utmost importance. What I have found is that A Players want to work with other A Players. B Players want to work with C Players and it goes down from there. These underperformers are very easy to spot and caustic to the organization. They are the ones that don’t like accountability, they are very inconsistent and don’t like to be responsible for anything. You instinctively know who your weak players are and you know which one are never going to change no matter how much coaching you give them. Once this decision has been made, the only option is to get that player off the team. The faster the better for your sake, your client’s sake and the overall company’s sake.
- Setting Great Key Performance Metrics. Key Performance Metrics is simply looking at your business and determining what are some things that you can measure and can be reported on that will have a great impact in getting you closer to excellence. We all know that anything measured improves and that which is also reported on improves exponentially. Not to beat a dead horse, but the ones on your team that are most resistant to measurement are usually going to be your B and C or below players. The trick here is to really spend some time asking yourself questions about the fewest number of things you could measure and gain the greatest impact. If you ask better questions you will get better answers. Write the questions out! The answers will follow.
- Define Clear SMART Goals. After arriving at your companies KPI’s set some specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time bound goals. The best way to do that is to get buy-in from the team so that everyone has a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. One of the biggest areas of failure comes from a misunderstanding of responsibilities. Without assigning responsibilities it is difficult to determine why things fail to work and goals are not met. It is important to meet regularly and measure the progress and not be afraid to deal with people who are irresponsible with their duties.
- Define the Win. I believe that most business owners truly love the work and they can actually forget to define what a win looks like. The thing to remember here is that when you are working a team of people that don’t have the full vision that you might have you have to define the win. It is equally important for the win to be a true win and not something that does not move the organization towards excellence. It is a fallacy to believe that everyone is a winner. The reality is that people who are disciplined and fulfill their responsibilities are the winners and they need to be rewarded. The others need to be reminded and coached to be winners. If this is done consistently, the non-winners will not want to stay on the team.
- Celebrating a Win. A great win deserves a great celebration. If you have put together the right team, set the correct KPI’s, defined SMART goals and defined the win properly you should celebrate largely. Your team deserves it and so do you. It is very important that we refuel ourselves so that we are able to persevere. A great business career is a marathon – not a sprint!
As a leader and entrepreneur it is of utmost importance to realize that in order to grow our companies we have to ultimately grow ourselves and grow those around us.
President & CEO
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