Intentional techniques to honest, respectful, effective keys to support you on a daily basis and boost everyone’s value creation, efficiency and productivity.
“Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” – Astronaut Chris Hadfield
The quote above sums up perfectly what we consider effective leadership. But what specifically does it take from an intrapreneur’s perspective to keep your team focused and motivated? Here are nine ideas that, in our long experience, have consistently shown results.
No. 1: Experience the mission/vision/values of the company
Attend every meeting with prospective clients, existing clients and power partners. If your business conducts workshops, attend those as well. Know every step in your process, from what it takes to get the phone to ring (marketing) to moving clients through your system.
No. 2: Permission standards
Permission standards help you define standard answers for the most common problems that generally block your workflow. Standards allow you to solve a problem or answer a question immediately, without having to ask your boss for a decision and cause a slowdown or inconsistency.
For example, it’s common to have to go to your boss when a client asks for a discount. This either takes too long to get an answer or it invites a discussion of pricing, neither of which you wanted. And nine out of 10 times you lose the client in the meantime.
If you don’t want to constantly ask for permission, create standards (rules) that you have permission to follow without checking with your boss. Perhaps you can agree that you are allowed to offer up to a 10% discount if appropriate without asking. This allows for quicker responses to potential clients and avoids the pitfall of constantly re-creating your pricing. Or perhaps you have to check with your boss on whom to refer people to for different types of services; instead, create a list of approved referrals you can use without asking.
For two weeks, keep a list of questions you ask your boss for. Then choose the most common ones and create standards around them. You will find your frustration reduced as you are able to respond to situations faster and avoid having to put things on hold. Permission standards also allow you to consistently respond to situations and not re-create the wheel.
Set boundaries. And hold to them. Be clear about what you will and won’t do. For example, when you are in the middle of your marketing huddle and your boss starts checking email or Google searching a topic you are discussing, remind him he wanted you to be productive and you could use those 10 minutes to get work done for him. When he opens a browser, politely remind him of “the boundaries,” or politely (not dramatically) get up, leave the meeting and go back to work. Or our favorite, blow a whistle and tell him “flag on the play!” Whatever works for you; do NOT tolerate going outside the boundaries. It doesn’t serve your boss, you, or your firm.
No. 3: Run the day
Take ownership of the entire day. Know what’s on the calendar and what’s coming at you, your team and your boss. If your boss is back to back with meetings, make certain to provide food, water and whatever special items they like so they can keep the energy and focus on point throughout the day.
Another example: Suggest you take over your boss’s email and voicemail. We understand this looks like more work for you, but think about the amount of time you spend tracking things down and going back and forth with the clients and the boss. If you can be the point of contact, you can manage requests and expectations. You will always know the state of the union and won’t be caught off guard with requests.
Rather than your boss having an email exchange with a client and promising something they can’t fit in their schedule, you can instead talk to the client, clarify the project and schedule a meeting or appropriate next action that fits into everyone’s schedule. The few extra minutes you spend handling the client’s call is FAR less than the amount of time you spend fixing the mess.
No. 4: Proactively over-communicate
Think of a locker room huddle before going on the playing field, then the halftime speech and the end-of-game debrief. This is how you want to interact and communicate with your boss and team. “Here’s what we have on deck today, if all goes to plan. And if there is an emergency, we will pivot.” Midday, check-in on how people are doing with appointments, who’s running over, etc. and finish the day with your end-of-day snapshot report.
For example, if you know they have a hard stop to be out the door at 5:10 to make it to their child’s band concert, at 4:45 knock on their door and help them start packing up their day to get out the door by 5:05. Entrepreneurs are serial opportunists; if they have three minutes before they have to leave, they will push every boundary to complete the most they can in that timeframe, and inevitably, they find themselves late.
If you’re aware it is your co-worker’s husband’s birthday and they have dinner reservations 30 minutes away at 5:30 and she is still in a meeting with the boss at 4:30, knock on the door and inform everyone they have to start wrapping up to honor family commitments. Ask if there is anything you can do to help wrap up the meeting or step in.
This is not babysitting, it is working cohesively as a team. It allows for flow and ease in the office, so at the end of the day you feel victorious. You’re able to go home and be present with your family and enjoy your evening without feeling stressed and anxious about tomorrow becoming Groundhog Day.
No. 5: Weekly BOD meetings
Start scheduling a purposeful meeting led with the intentionality of a Board of Directors meeting. This is a hyper-focused meeting where you move projects forward and make decisions, and it is a good thing. It’s just the never-ending meetings where nothing gets resolved that drive us intrapreneurs crazy. And we know marketing brings out the worst of the never-ending meetings, for it’s a favorite indulgence of entrepreneurs.
So use this marketing huddle as a defensive technique. When your boss comes to ask you to talk to him about marketing-centered ideas, write down the discussion point or idea on the marketing huddle agenda and remind him there is a scheduled time to discuss marketing. When you come across something marketing-related that you need to discuss with your boss, hold it for your huddle. This designated time becomes the time and place for marketing discussions, which keeps the day-by-day interruptions to a minimum.
No. 6: Know your 3 most important activities
Know and discuss your three most important activities in your weekly Board of Directors (team) meeting. This will support you during the week, when “emergencies” pop up and your boss and/or a team member want to add to your weekly priorities. You should clarify, “My top three for the week are xxx. Do you want me to put those aside and put this at the top of the priority list now? I want to remind you that x has $ attached to it that I will be able to bring in this week if/when it’s completed, on schedule for tomorrow. Want to confirm that you want me to put that on hold?”
That level of communication is not only refreshing but strategic. That is our goal for running our day with this level of mindset, intentionality and focus.
No. 7: High-performance day (monthly)
Schedule a high-performance day monthly. This is a day where you clear all the clutter, cleanups and tolerations sitting around your office that rob your energy. This is a day for every person in the firm. See our “Clean Office Clutter Workbook” in the Academy.
No. 8: Creativity/Growth Day (monthly)
Schedule days to work on the growth of the firm. We call these Growth Days. They are different than Money Days, which are days your boss is meeting with clients or giving presentations, whatever it is that brings in money. They are different than Construction Days, which are days when your boss works on getting work done, documents prepared, paperwork completed, etc.
Growth Days are when the firm gets together to specifically work on projects that will grow the business. It could be a new marketing project, a new system or restructuring the organization. While these activities are necessary, it’s good to have scheduled time to work on them so they don’t interrupt things that bring in money and work that has to get done. Usually your boss is excited about these growth projects, so he may be apt to want to interrupt things and work on them. Scheduling a Growth Day allows everyone to sync their schedule and be attentive and ready to hit the ground running on these projects. However, there are some keys to having a productive Growth Day:
- Chip away at the BIG elephant, one small step at a time. Scheduled four hours each Friday afternoon for the company as a whole to work together on a growth project.
- Start with lunch, in house, on the company. The rest of the day is 100% Growth Day.
- Only ONE project at a time. And the entire team should work on that project together.
- Don’t move to another project, especially when you are almost at the finish line. You WILL be tempted to say, “Susie, just complete these two tasks and we are done. Sally, get a head start on the next project.” DON’T DO IT. Trust us: Wait until you have all, together as a team, completed the project.
- Don’t cancel or reschedule. If someone is going to be out of the office, still have the growth day with the mindset of progress, not perfection.
No. 9: Forced recovery day (monthly)
Exactly how it sounds. This is a full day of NO WORK for the boss. Rest and rejuvenation, to head off resentment. We highly recommend the entrepreneur have a full day, out of the office – not working from home – where they power away from the office and client work. Have fun with it; if they try to call your or email you, bust them! Tell them if they work on their forced recovery day, they have to pay each employee they try to communicate with a $50 fine.
The ultimate goal with running your business in such a focused manner is to make room for the fun. Fun is a great way to handle potential tense situations. A fun way to approach the problems of not staying on task is to play the “Show Me the Money” game. Make a game out of keeping on task. For example, each time you catch your boss off the task he agreed to be working on, “catch” him and make him give you $1 of play money.
But it works both ways; each time you interrupt your boss when he is working on an agreed-to task, you have to give him $1 back. At the end of the week you cash the play money out for real money, or the money can be used as credit toward time off, a Starbucks gift card or whatever it is you agreed to. It can be a fun way to ease the tension of holding each other accountable to what you should be doing. It’s much less offensive to yell “You owe me $1” than “Why aren’t you doing what you are supposed to?”
If you want to discover more about Hiring & Empowering and how we can support you and your team working together, schedule a FREE 30-minute call with us! Click here to book now.
Molly & Laney