By Molly Hall (shared with permission from all parties involved)
I remember the defining moment of truth when I realized I was slipping into the Yes Chick zone.
We’d hired a marketing company that we paid a big (no, huge) monthly retainer for 12 months to take the company to the next level. We were a small company of three and I served as the Marketing Department/Member Services/Coaching Department…you get the idea. So, naturally, I was responsible for managing the marketing company. We hired them for their reputation and for their track record of elevating like-minded organizations. My role was to manage, direct, and lead them in the company’s new direction, meet deadlines and so forth. Here is what happened instead.
Month Two: The president of the marketing company called me and said, “We can’t work with your boss. He is steamrolling my team and they refuse to get on another marketing call with him. We prefer to only deal with you because you get the job done and you’re a focused pit bull.”
Month Seven: After we spent a tremendous amount of time on a major website project, the boss decided the work we’d done was worthless and ordered us to go in a different direction. Note: The boss never had time to look at the website and “delegated” the entire project to me because he “trusted” me. (Visit our website for the “Why You Should Never Use the ‘D’ Word” blog post or refer to Chapter 4 of “Don’t Be a Yes Chick!”)
During a weekly marketing meeting, back when I was a Yes Chick, my boss decided we were going to “talk website” because the buddy he had breakfast with told him the five “musts” of every website. On fire from that breakfast meeting, he pulled up our website five minutes before our meeting and wanted to change seven months of work. He was motivated enough to declare, “This project is priority number one. In fact, let’s hop on a plane and get Molly and me in a room for two days with the web team and get it done. If we don’t, we’re dead in the water.”
We were all deflated; but hell, we could rise above and do it. If he was this passionate about the website and what he had learned, I was with him. I got on the plane. The marketing firm prepared for our arrival and put three full-time employees in a conference room with us for two days. Everyone was ready to put to bed this project that we had worked on for so long and hard. Two days, slam dunk – it would be done!
Day One: We met with the web team. My boss began the meeting with a “brief” history of the company, which morphed into three hours of technical-legal mumbo jumbo that clearly no one understood (nor cared about). Their eyes glazed over and they nodded their heads, saying, “Wow that is interesting.” Then he went on and on about vision, mission, and standards – never once going through the website page by page. We walked out with our heads spinning. We had no clear direction. It had been a complete waste of time.
Day Two: The web team didn’t even show up. He had annoyed them so much that the owner of the marketing company asked them to not even go in because he knew it would be another day of the same thing. So, here we are, the boss and I, in a city away from office and home, sitting there alone. So, we started talking numbers, re-creating an annual budget and bonus structure that we had created two times before but still hadn’t implemented. We then moved to the “future direction of the company” conversation; you know, the one that entrepreneurs like to have spontaneously when they want to get out of actually doing the task at hand.
At 9 a.m., I realized I had to catch my plane in five hours. At that point, I said to myself, “I will sit here and nod, then quit when I get home.” Then I had an epiphany. I realized that I was just as responsible for this conversation and the direction of my future as he was. Seriously, I had heard people speak of those “light bulbs” going off, but I’d never gotten it. But I got it then.
Immediately, I stopped him dead in his tracks and requested a time out. In that moment, I chose to abandon Plan A – an unprofessional hissy fit that would include two or three “F bombs” and a bucketful of tears. That would be the old non-confrontational Molly in rare form. Instead, I chose to dig deeper into my toolbox. I announced, “We need to stop, conduct an Aggravation Auger, and talk about what is not working, not only in this conversation, but for me in my professional role.”
What came out of that conversation without question changed my life. We had an honest, respectful discussion that fused our adult, professional relationship more tightly, and I won a deep respect from my boss because of who I chose to be in that moment. He also appreciated that I would hold him accountable, help him see his blind spots and not allow him to show up in disarray. Since that day, December 8, 2009, we have worked efficiently and effectively together.
What came out of our meeting became known as our House Rules of Engagement. If you would like a copy, contact us at www.yeschick.com.
We invite you to join us for our free webinar, “Essentials to hire, empower and keep great employees” on Tuesday, December 3rd from 5-6pm ET. Click here to register.
In your corner,
Molly and Laney