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Success Key - Passion (#10-28-14) Newsletter #158

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Wed, Nov 5, 2014

Due to my health I’ve been unable to attend my son Noah’s concerts until recently. Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to attend his high school’s Fall Evening of Chamber Music.  Watching my son provided a key insight into what drives business success.

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My son’s performance put a big smile on my face.  He made eye contact with us in the audience but by far the greatest joy came from observing how Noah moves with the music.  He’s in synch with each movements rhythm.  At the conclusion of the concert I felt a tap on my shoulder, turning around a woman behind us asked, “Is that your son playing the bass?”  My wife, Michelle turned around somewhat embarrassed and said, “You noticed him smiling at us?”  The lady responded, “We just noticed how he moves with the music and how enjoyable it is to watch him!”

I couldn’t agree more.  We learned she and her husband have a daughter who plays with Noah and she’s also a sophomore.  We’ll be able to enjoy their performances together for another two years.

As Gazelles coaches when we discuss People, one of the four decisions every business must get right to succeed, we offer the outcome of getting People right in your organization as a harmonious culture of accountability.  Your people enjoy coming to work; they get along and most importantly are responsible for their performance.  It’s your business in harmony. 

Wouldn’t it be great if we could all spend our days working in perfect harmony with the people and functions we perform?  I’ve written previously how your business can and should be like a symphony with you the conductor while the instruments of your business perform with consistency, predictability and uniformity. 

Noah has a passion for music.  A customer sent me a quote by Mac Anderson, ”Find a purpose and your passion will follow.”  In Noah’s case I’m not sure his purpose is yet connected to that passion.  He’s just 16. It took me until I was 40 to discover my purpose.

The key to success is living your purpose.  Having a passion for what you do makes it easier to overcome any obstacle that arrives or presents itself as a barrier to your goal.  It makes it easy to apply the Henry Ford’s principle, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals.”

A very fulfilling part of my coaching is to serve as a catalyst to help businesses I work with to discover their Core Purpose.  Several of my customers have found this to be a wellspring of energy, inspiration, and resourcefulness. 

You may have struggled with this concept yourself.  It took me until I was 40 to discover my purpose, and going through my challenge with Acute Myeloid Leukemia offered a deeper understanding and knowledge of how I should follow my purpose.

My oldest son, Dan, loved music as well, so much so that between his freshman and sophomore he learned to play the trumpet after playing the clarinet through high school.  He also trained athletically in order to withstand the rigors and discipline of the Wisconsin Marching band.  It was a proud moment to watch him perform on TV, Camp Randall and at Kinnick Stadium when the Badgers played the Hawkeyes. 

Dan loved ships and constructing things.  It’s no surprise he’s now in the field he loves, working for Military Sealift Command in Washington DC. 

Joshua is in his 2nd year at Iowa State.  He’s struggling to find his major after choosing software engineering.  He’s chosen another road to follow this semester after discovering his passion for writing code isn’t as great as he thought it was. 

In Joshua’s case and perhaps in yours or with your business the key is to continue searching.  What’s your passion?  What can your business be best in the world at?  Why did you exit, as a business and as a person?

Discovering your Core Purpose is key element to business success.  It is central to the three rings of the Hedgehog Concept that Jim Collins describes in Good to Great.  Discovering your Hedgehog Concept distinguished the Good to Great companies from their comparison competitors.

If all this discussion about passion and purpose feels too soft and squishy to you, preferring the logistic, analytical, and reasoning side of the business, then consider these quotes:

“People want to work for a cause, not just for a living. When there is alignment between the cause of the firm and the cause of its people, move over—because there will be extraordinary performance.”

-      William Pollard, author The Soul of the Firm

“ needs a lifting purpose greater than the struggle for materialism.”

-      Herbert Hoover

"Without a compelling cause, our employees are just putting in time. Their minds might be engaged, but their hearts are not. Meaning precedes motivation."

-       Lee J. Colan 

Perhaps you need a more prominent name and authority like Socrates credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, "The unexamined life is not worth living."  Or possibly the list of companies with a meaningful purpose (download here) will consider the value of this tool.

People and businesses that tap into the passion of themselves or the people that work for them always succeed beyond the levels of their peers.  Does your business have this drive, this passion, and purpose to achieve?  Are your people driven by a nobler cause? 

The next time you observe someone performing with passion, ask yourself how deep your convictions and commitments are?  Perhaps the difference between you, your business, and those who you wish to surpass is the absence of a purpose defined or exercised in your company.

Positioning Systems is committed to bring best practices and top thought leadership to you  If these ideas appeal to you and you’d like to discover how to implement them in your business attend the  Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop.  Find a list of the agenda for this event here.    Download the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop flyerRegister to attend this event November 12th in Cedar Rapids.

360 Review (#8-26-14) Newsletter #156

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Sep 1, 2014

Recently one of my clients introduced a 360 Review to their leadership team coupled with a six month Topgrading Evaluation.  The latter process involves using the same Job Summary Scorecard used to hire someone for the position to evaluate the performance of the current position holder.  It’s great because it serves two purposes and allows you to evaluate how the person is performing against your “A” standards you’ve previously setup.  The 360 is a look inside those people who should know you the best in your management position.  It asks to score you on several leadership and management qualities so you can get their view of your capabilities.  If you have not done a 360 on your leadership team or yourself, I’d encourage you to do so.  Here’s why: 

Review360 resized 600Each Leadership team member including the CEO was reviewed by the staff in the following ten areas:  Leadership, Planning & Managing Achievement, Flexibility, Collaboration, Innovation, Risk Management, Organizational Sensitivity, Strategic Thinking, Managing Customers, Networking, and Personal Impact.  Grade levels were on a scale of 1 through 7, with the bottom level extremely poor and the top level excellent.  There were also categories for Not Applicable, and Don’t Know, in case the evaluator had not had an experience with the person or simply had no context to grade them. 

Participants were also asked to comment on three questions:

What are this Manager's Strengths?

What are this Manager's Weaknesses?

What Steps does this Manager need to take to increase his or her skills as a Manager?

I must warn you that the process of reviewing the 360’s as well as the Topgrading Evaluation is time consuming.  To perform both required a minimum of 90 minutes with each process.  In some cases the participant required longer as we dove into some aspects that required more attention seeking to solve some deep rooted issues. 

Only if your business and your leadership team is truly committed to growth and self-improvement should you decide to undertake this. Only a business that is truly committed to its people would invest the time to complete this arduous yet rewarding engagement.

A link was set up to allow everyone to provide their score anonymously.   Once the results were received the outcome is provided to the leadership team member ahead of their meeting.  My customer did the meetings in tandem with the CEO and I providing observations and input along with taking notes from the meeting.  The first step is to review the grades and determine the validity of the scores from the individual’s perspective.  It is one thing to hear an employee you’re supervising make a comment, it’s quite another to see the results of them scoring you on these leadership skills and have several others agree.  That includes positive and negative results.

Are your people truly interested in improving their performance and ability to manage and lead?  I can tell you each of the leadership team members I sat in on were excited to get this feedback.  They truly are invested in their future.  They were eager to see the results and willing to discover where they can improve their leadership styles.

We’ve discussed the idea of Priority, The One Thing focus that we emphasize with our customers in coaching them to grow. The same target is ideal for growth and improvement generated from the results of the 360 reviews. 

While there are arguments and discussions about some of the results, at least in our meetings there was always agreement from the leadership member on some aspect where they could improve.  The key is developing a plan to initiate and make that change occur.

The 360 Action Plan is precisely for this.  It asks the individual to assess the results, brainstorm ideas for correcting or improving a behavior, discover obstacles and support for making the improvement, and then to take specific steps to achieve the desired change.  It asks for whom you will have support you, how you might reward yourself for achieving the desired result and finally a commitment statement as to what you wish to achieve. The emphasis here is on focusing to improve or change one thing. 

Most importantly this isn’t intended to be a canvas of commitments and changes, rather a focus on one change, one improvement, one acknowledged area that you, your team members you supervise, and your peers agree that would make a difference in the quality of your leadership ability.  One Thing is the priority.

Most people will want to change multiple elements.  I urge you to suppress their ambition for doing this.  More progress will be made focusing on one change or performance improving skill set than by selecting more.  Indeed it’s likely that other scores will improve by simply improving one area.

If you’re looking for questions to ask in a 360 you can ask Positioning Systems for help or search the web or articles like Sample Questions for 360 Reviews.  It’s important to ask the right questions, yet without a dedicated desire to improve and an action plan to follow the possibility of achieving any results from this exhausting exercise will be precious little.  Furthermore without an impact from this the likelihood of those who participated enthusiastically responding again greatly diminishes.

If you’re going to launch this process you should do so with the commitment from the people being reviewed that they intend to utilize the results and make measureable improvements in their behavior and skills from the feedback received.  Otherwise the gains from this will be negligible now and for the future.

Do you have a leadership team that is sincerely committed to improving?  Are you looking for a tool that provides feedback to expose and discover aspects of leadership and management that will help them improve their performance?  Consider the 360 Review/Feedback.

It’s too early to tell the outcome from these initial meetings but judging by the tenor and tone of the meetings, plus the degree of commitment I felt from these leadership team members, I’ll be very surprised if this leadership team doesn’t take a dramatic step forward in their performance and ability to lead their teams.

You can download an example of the 360 in Action to provide your team with a way to take action on their results.  Ask Positioning Systems if you’d like help initiating this growth exercise tool in your business.  

Topics: Employee Feedback, employee engagement, Business Growth, employee performance, mentor, 360 Review, Employee Evaluations

The Value of Priority: Your One Thing (#7-29-14) Newsletter #155

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Sep 1, 2014

If you’ve been following my blogs you know that I’ve dedicated several to the “Less is More” concept and specifically the book Essentialism.  Author Greg McKeown dives in to how so many of us continue to pursue more and believe we can have everything, ignoring the waste and dissatisfaction that this endless pursuit leads to.  In our Gazelles best practices we teach our customers to focus on a One Thing Priority for the year and quarter.  The word priority has changed in definition through the early 1900’s.  Let’s explore priority’s origin and the value of One Thing Priority can have in your business and life. priority stamp resized 600

The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular.

It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did it pluralize and with it the start of talking about priorities.  Illogically, did we reason that by changing the word we could bend reality? Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.

What has happened with the pluralization of priority?

Many things.  All lead to a lack of focus and clarity.

In fact Gazelles and I have been guilty of pluralizing the idea of priorities.

If you look at our One Page Strategic Plan you’ll see room for up to five rocks or priorities.

I won’t excuse this.  I will emphasize that with every customer I work with I maintain and have them commit to ONE THING being the priority for the quarter or year.  We place special emphasize on this, yet I can’t deny that when you begin to work on Quarterly Priorities and have more than three, many times by the time a quarterly review comes around, the leadership team has lost sight of what that One Thing is. 

Because of that we’ve began reminding the leadership team at the beginning of each weekly meeting what our One Thing is for the Quarter and the Year.  It may be as simple as placing the priority on the top of the document we record the weekly and monthly meeting on.  (Google Doc’s works great for this, particularly for having everyone insert their notes/discussions prior to the meeting time.)

The difference between having one priority and having several is dramatic.  While it’s still important to have a balancing priority, it might be better if we begin to call every other goal or target for the year and quarter something other than a priority. 

Having multiple priorities muddles the focus and clarity of your One Thing.  While we want and need to get more than One Thing done, in my experience achieving the One Thing always pulls multiple other efforts along with it at a much faster pace than having no priority at all. 

Please forgive me for referring again to my struggle with Leukemia; however it reveals an important facet of the word priority and the clarity and focus that having a simple One Thing mentality can provide.

I’m not the only one to have miraculously survived a fatal diagnosis of cancer.  Andy Grove of Intel certainly made discovering a remedy for his prostate cancer a priority when he discovered it in 1994. 

The urgency and immediacy of cancer provides a whole new meaning to the word clarity on what your priority is. 

You make clear concise decisions on what you should and should not be doing.  Once you determine the path to follow to eliminate or recover you never, and I do mean never steer from the path of activities that will resolve it.

Imagine if your leadership team, your entire business would have that same resolve to achieve its priority?

Here’s my suggestion for you and your business.  Ask yourself when you sit in your next planning meeting for either the year or quarter, will your people have the resolve to attack the priority you choose with the same determination and commitment that a patient facing a death sentence of cancer would?

Ask yourself whether or not the activities that you choose to support your priority are 90% or more on target of attaining that measurement?

Make sure your priority has a metric to measure and answer the following questions:


“How will we know when we have succeeded?”

Cancer is a pretty yes or no proposition.  Either you have it or you don’t.   In my case health and remission are still a top priority.   My two year anniversary of bone marrow transplant is coming September 5th.  Reaching that date will mean I will be in full remission.  That’s an accomplishment I’m proud of.

What event, what condition, what priority has your business approached with that amount of resolve?

Have you made something the “very first” ever in your organization?  Have you had that type of commitment, resolve and determination to achieve anything?

What’s the One Thing that would impact your business the most in the next quarter, year?

Do you believe you could achieve it if you had the type of commitment Andy Grove and I had to beat cancer?

Is it time you reversed your definition of priority and focused on One Thing?

For helping achieve the level of discipline required to achieve your Priority.  Contact Positioning Systems or one of the Gazelles Coaches at  

Topics: One Thing, Balanced Priorities, Business Priorities, priorities, priority

The Best Coach in the World 2-24-2010 Newsletter #102

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Sep 1, 2014

Question:  When choosing a business coach, what would you suggest are the most important characteristics to look for?

Answer:   There are a number of answers to this question from authorities and sources if you Google this question on the web.  Please allow me to share a story with you to offer what I feel is your most important consideration.

Imagine that you’re a high school basketball player. You’ve completed your freshman season.  It’s been a disappointing season since you were accustomed to winning.  Your team finished with just 6 wins and 12 losses.  You averaged 8 points a game and are the team’s second leading scorer.  The varsity team at your school failed to win a game, prolonging  a consecutive game losing streak that has now extended past 30 games.  The varsity coach invites players to continue to scrimmage after the season and you’re more than happy to continue playing.  You love basketball and want to improve.  describe the imageIn fact immediately after the last game in your disappointing season you recommitted to a promise you’d made to practice a minimum of an hour each day.

The new coach has a plan for the next season.  He begins to push his agenda immediately.  In these scrimmage sessions each evening after school as you and your teammates practice he preaches, shouts and scolds the team to “Pound the ball inside”  “Get the ball down low”  “Go to the hole”  “Drive when you get it down there!”    He’s adamant that his team will get the ball inside to his 6’4” center.  Each evening over and over he repeats his message.  He’s building his approach around one player, the center. He believes this person has the commitment, dedication and ability to turn the high school program around.

Your sophomore season is worse than the freshman season in terms of wins.  As a starter on the varsity your team wins just two games, but it breaks the better than two year victory drought that the team had slumbered through.  Your point production improves to 16 points a game.  That’s because the center the coach wanted to pound the ball into is you.  The team shows dramatic improvement in your junior season improving to 12 wins and 7 loses.  You lead the team and the entire conference in scoring – 24 points a game. 

Your coach leaves after your junior high school season, but his work has set the foundation for a turnaround in the team and your personal fortunes.  As a senior you again average more than 24 points a game and the team wins 16 games and loses only 5. 

My high school coach was named Gene Wick.  While his name is the same as mine he was not my father.  My father never played basketball and would have had no interest in the game had not I played it.  Yet this man, Gene Wick, had possibly as much influence on my life as my father did.  Why?  Because he believed in me! 

At the core of your decision to choose a coach is that coach’s belief in you.  That means that they must know the powerful influence that someone can have in the life of another.  They must recognize that believing in you and what you are capable of can profoundly influence your ability to achieve your dreams.  The example provided from my own life isn’t an isolated incident of people who have had deep affect on my life.  A sales manager, college teacher, my wife, brother and family members have all impacted my life by their faith and confidence in me. 

You would be a rare person to have not been influenced significantly by someone in your lifetime.  The insight here is that if you plan to hire a coach, it is critical that you find someone who will believe in you. 

That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t also remain objective and be able to criticize you, because among the other critical elements I feel are important in coaching are discipline, accountability, assertiveness, asking questions, and experience. 

 A coach’s bottom line requirement is the ability to keep you accountable for your commitments. They need to ask questions to discover what you know and how you feel.  They are best if they help you discover the answers within you because then you will respond best to your own enlightenment.  In many cases they will help you uncover what you already know, you just forgot it somewhere in the deep recesses of your mind and heart. 

The final piece of the puzzle is the last element in our Gazelles 4-3-2-1 formula.  The 1 in the formula is: A coach is a catalyst.  Their work should catapult you to greatness, to achieve your potential.   They must stick with you through thick and thin and believe in you even when you’ve lost faith and find it difficult to do so yourself.  They need to kick your butt and pad your fanny when you need it most.

Having been a sales manager, general manager, owner and sales person, among other titles in my career I know of no other source that can stimulate higher achievement than a mentor, coach, or friend who believes in you and your capabilities.

The ability to look into our souls, to be able to love and believe in us despite the faults that we are all too familiar with, in my personal opinion, is the critical element to selecting a coach who can vault your performance to the pinnacle of achievement.

It is an honor to work with my clients.  It’s become second nature for me to believe in them and what they can achieve.   I sincerely hope that I will have the privilege to work with you someday.  If not, it is my sincerest wish that you discover someone who is capable of help to make your dreams come to fruition.   May you find as I have the best coach in the world.  

Topics: Coach Advisor, Catalyst, Culture of Discipline, positive reinforcement, confidence, mentor

Good to Great Action Plan for Success (#5-27-14) Newsletter #153

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, May 26, 2014

Jim Collins book Good to Great is filled with success ideas on what made good companies become great.  In in he suggests that a great company requires disciplined People, disciplined Thought, and disciplined Action.  Collins provides the blueprint without an action plan to achieve it.  At Positioning Systems, and Gazelles (Rockefeller Habits) we’ve developed the action plan to help you plan your path to a great company. Our resources and tools produce great companies when accompanied with our outstanding coaching.  In today’s newsletter I walk you through how the process works to develop the end result of Discipline People, Discipline Thought and Discipline Action:

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The most important ingredient in any business is People.  Yet before you start building a business at all it begins a leader, the owner, entrepreneur and/or CEO who envision the business that will reach for a higher standard to serve customers.  If the person starting the company is unwilling or unable to realize how important creating an environment where discipline is key the process of building the business in a pattern that will resemble a Good to Great company, the potential for greatness will never emerge.

Disciplined People

Disciplined People begins with a thorough and disciplined approach to the people you hire.  In many cases business starts with people you are familiar with.  You have a history and pattern of performance with people at the various businesses you’ve worked at or started and you immediately know who you’d like to join your team.  If unable to acquire these people and settle for less capable individuals the business is doomed from the start. 

Once the people with your personal experience with candidate’s runs out, the need for a disciplined approach to hiring is critical. 

This is where Topgrading serves an essential role in getting the right people on the bus.  If you’re using Topgrading already you know the vital role it provides in acquiring the right talent for your company.

Let’s assume you’re using Topgrading and started with A Players to begin with.  Please don’t assume you can shortcut this step.  It’s absolutely the most critical.  As Jim Collins points out in Good to Great, “First who, than what.”  Everything you do beyond getting this right will most likely fail or take longer until you make sure you have DISCIPLINED PEOPLE!

Disciplined Thought

How do you get your business to have disciplined thought? 

Well you’ve already made sure that you have the right foundation by hiring the right people.

Still you need to install a disciplined approach to igniting the disciplined thought.  Here’s where the Rockefeller Habits Three Disciplines, or what at Positioning Systems we call “Strategic Discipline” comes in.

The Three Essential Disciplines are Priorities, Metrics, and Meetings.

Priorities include determining your One Thing for the year and each quarter.  It should also include determining the One Thing for each position.  Everyone in your organization should know what their position is accountable to produce.  If you’re Topgrading, the Job Summary Scorecard will not only set the stage for identifying their top 5-7 accountabilities (with metrics) but can also serve as an annual or even monthly report card to evaluate each position’s progress.

One Thing each year and quarter should require top focus from everyone in the business.  You will have additional priorities, and it’s good to limit these to no more than a total of five, which includes your # 1.  Remember less is more.  What we’ve discovered is that by focusing on One Thing that will impact your business the most, the journey to accomplish this naturally pulls with it many of your other priorities as well.

Choosing your priorities is a good start.  You’ll need to align everyone in your organization with these (A tool like the One Page Strategic Plan helps with this), yet you must measure them as well to ensure you are making consistent progress toward them.  This requires building a dashboard.  Start with the company and then for each contributing department and where possible for each contributing member.  Creating a success criteria that provides colors to identify progress (Red, Yellow, Green, Super Green), will ensure that it’s clear where your winning and losing.  When dashboards are displayed in the meeting rhythms we’ll talk about next, everyone knows where attention needs to be placed. 

Often times it can take a business that’s not used to either measuring success or focusing on metrics a couple of weeks and sometimes months to get this right.  Once in place everyone follows this habit and it gives instant feedback on how everyone is doing and contributing to the success of the enterprise.

Disciplined Action

The last part of Disciplined Thought into Disciplined Action is Meeting Rhythms.  A well-orchestrated series of meetings puts Disciplined Thought into Action.  Each week team leaders report their progress in weekly executive meetings.  This discipline should be cascaded down to their meetings with their direct reports so that everyone is reporting weekly on the progress of their individual and company dashboards.  Action is then dictated by how well the dashboards success criteria look.  All green; continue to do what you’ve been doing.  Some greens and yellows; dedicate extra time to the yellows to get them in line with their targets.    Yellows and reds dictate immediate concern and higher investment in time and energy or risk not reaching your targets for the month and quarter.  All red is possibly a good indication that either the goal was set too high or that you may have the wrong people on the bus.   

Of course there’s a lot more to building a Good to Great business.  Strategy is critical to keeping the right people focused on the right things.  All this is included in the disciplined approach we take to helping you grow your business.  Four Decisions, Three Disciplines, Two Drivers and One Catalyst are part of the 4-3-2-1 formula that has helped thousands of Rockefeller Habits coached businesses move the needle on growth and profitability while building a culture that delivers consistency year after year.

Are you eager to achieve success with your business?  A Disciplined Approach often requires the steady, disciplined and questioning hand of an outside observer.  Someone to steer you in the right direction and keep you focused on Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought and Disciplined Action.

Is it time to consider adding a catalyst who knows how to implement an action plan to keep you on track?  Contact Positioning Systems or a Gazelles coach in your area.  We can help. 

Management Decisions, Training & Mentoring (#4-29-14) Newsletter #152

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Apr 28, 2014

In Finding People to Lead & Manage we discussed the difficulty in finding and hiring managers. Gallup discovered that companies fail to choose the right management candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time! In my personal experience in being hired, then managing, and hiring managers along with coaching managers and leaders, I’ve learned a lot of lessons.  There is critical value in having support, a mentor and tools available to improve your leadership and management capabilities.  Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned:

McKeown Managers Role Defined resized 600

My management career started as a sales manager.  While not being a particularly great sales person, I was sincere and persistent.  Looking back the reason I believe they moved me to sales manager was to prevent me from taking another job.   Perhaps the timing was right to do that, however I can’t help believe that some of the orchestration happened due to the possibility I might leave since I’d been offered a sales opportunity the previous year. 

I had some definite opinions on how I was going to be a sales manager.  One was to avoid the autocratic style the previous manager had.  For some reason I felt I could allow sales people more freedom, and in doing so they’d respond better and produce more sales.  Computers were just becoming the rage at the time.  There was a desire to master the data and reporting ability they offered.  Being in control of reporting I felt I could get my salespeople to produce better results. 

My first year was a disaster.  At the end of the year in a review with my General Manager (the former sales manager) he indicated if my team didn’t improve their performance I would be let go.  I was fortunate at the time to have someone who was patient with me, and a good sales team to work with.  I’d always been a learner, possessing a ravenous desire to figure things out and do better.  Investing in self-development books and tapes, I’d purchased Tom Hopkins complete set of audio tapes to improve my sales skills.  One of my clients ran a car dealership with his brother.  He was the sales manager.  I asked him for help running sales meetings. He provided a structure remarkably similar to what we recommend our clients follow for weekly meetings.

The first portion of the meeting focused on specific good news the salesperson had achieved the previous week.  Then we reviewed their numbers, how were they today versus last week.  We also discussed how they plan to meet their monthly goal.  We had a specific time for learning: we’d role play, listen to an audio tape or presentation on sales or radio, plus discuss specific objections or problems the sales team was having.  It was a mini stage for collective intelligence.

We eventually agreed to build a sales presentation that got everyone involved to help build their belief in radio, the station, and how to sell better. 

That year we grew sales like never before.  When I announced at the end of the year that I was leaving to take another position the feeling my sales team gave me was extremely gratifying.  There was a sense of loss and yet an overwhelming feeling of joy from how I’d helped these four salespeople achieve more than they thought they had been capable of.  It is one reason I enjoy coaching so much today.

Had I not had a manager who was patient with me, had I not been so ravenous about learning, and had I not found a mentor who pointed me in the right direction to conduct better sales meetings I certainly would have failed.  I suspect I would fall into that group that did not have the innate skills(one in ten) to be a manager, and was more the two in ten that exhibit some characteristics of basic managerial talent and can function at a high level if their company invests in coaching and developmental for them.  In my case my company provided the patience.  I discovered the coaching and development plans on my own.

Dave Kurlan runs Objective Management Group, a leader in evaluation and candidacy test in sales.  In a recent blog The Real Impact of Coaching Your Salespeople, Sales Managers Kurlan notes, “My own data shows sales managers, who consistently and effectively coach their salespeople, grow revenue by an average of 26% annually.  However, according to Objective Management Group's data from evaluating more than 100,000 sales managers, just 18% are capable of the effective part of the equation and even fewer are willing to invest 50% of their time on coaching.”  Not surprisingly he adds, “That's a huge problem!”

The problem with sales managers he offers, “For many of them, their ego screams, "I don't need any help.  I know how to do this.  I don't need anyone telling me to do it differently.  I'm probably better at it than they are."

I’m afraid that can be true for any manager, not just in the sales field.  This suggests that when selecting someone for a management position we need to be acutely aware of their openness to learning and guidance.  If a candidate is unable to be open to instruction, coaching, and training you better hope they know everything they need to about managing people and getting results or you’ve definitely chosen the wrong candidate. 

Kurlan offers several questions as a test whether you are providing effective sales coaching. These same questions I feel can be adjusted to any management position.

We know that when the coaching is really effective and impactful, the following things occur:

  • Salespeople can't wait to come back for more. 
  • Are your salespeople begging for your coaching?
  • Coaching leads directly to positive changes in behavior. 
  • Do your salespeople change after each coaching session?
  • Your coaching has a direct impact on your salesperson's ability to close a deal on their own. 
  • Do your coaching sessions lead directly to closed business?
  • Your sales force becomes exponentially better. 

The question:  Is your sales team or any other management position producing better results?

Is that happening?

Kurlan asks what is the single biggest sales skill gap.

It is knowing and recognizing what to listen for.

Could the argument be this is the same skill gap necessary for any management position?

Positioning Systems and the Rockefeller Habits coaching principles offer a disciplined approach to developing your people and building a successful organization. 

How are you developing your leadership and management team?  Is it time to consider a more disciplined approach to grow your next managers and achieve the success you want for your business?

Topics: Training, Leadership Training, leadership, Objective Management Group, Dave Kurlan, manager, training and education

People Lazy or Exhausted? #105 5-25-10

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Sat, Mar 29, 2014

Question:  I can’t get my people to follow the systems I’ve designed.  I think they are just plain lazy.  How can I tell whether or not they’re lazy or if there’s something wrong with the system I’m asking them to follow?

Answer: As an E-Myth coach we learned the first place to look is your system.  The book Switch by Dan and Pat Heath reinforced this with an emphasis on what looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.  It’s a new take on an old E-Myth coaching philosophy that every frustration is due to the lack of a system. 

Further evidence of this paradigm lies in the research Switch provides on how test subjects wear out when they are required to use high levels of discipline.  Self-control they discovered is an exhaustible resource.  The longer they use their discipline the less likely they are to be able to respond when they are in a stressful situation. 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your people managing the impression they are trying to make on others? [Here’s another good reason to hire people for their strengths, people who don’t exhibit strengths in influencing others will wear out sooner in a job that demands them to.]
  • Are your people coping with fears with the changes you’ve made to your system?  [Consequences like possibly losing their job could increase their level of self-control and exhaust them faster.]
  • Are they required to control spending or watch carefully that they don’t expend resources unnecessarily?  [I’ve found that businesses that are under severe financial constraints get exhausted faster and fail to concentrate on building their business.  They’re in a position of severe self-control.]
  • Are they trying to focus on the opposite of what they should be producing?  “Don’t make a mistake, philosophy.”

If you’ve changed a system after your people have been accustomed to performing it a certain way you will find it takes time to establish new patterns.  Getting upset or placing further consequences probably will increase the pattern you are seeing and confirm your suspicion that they are simply lazy.  Instead they are exhausted. 

The bigger the change you’ve suggested the more it saps their self-control.  When you change things you are tinkering with behaviors that have become automatic, and changing those behaviors requires supervision by what Switch describes as the “Rider.”

When your people exhaust their self-control they’re exhausting the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus to inhibit impulses and persist due to frustration or failure. 

Looking for the bright spots [Switch] or conducting Appreciative Inquiry may be difficult to do especially when you’ve invested a lot of time and energy to improve a system.  However it can help build your teams confidence and give them the support they need to carry on and overcome the exhaustion that is preventing them from achieving success.

Here are the steps Dan and Chip Heath describe to Shape the Rider in their book Switch:describe the image

FOLLOW THE BRIGHT SPOTS. Investigate what’s working and clone it.

SCRIPT THE CRITICAL MOVES. Don’t think big picture, think in terms of specific behaviors.

POINT TO THE DESTINATION. Change is easier when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.

It could be you’ve also been using negative reinforcement to direct your employees versus positive reinforcement.  If so you need to review your practices and consider the difference between how you manage.   A good look into this is provided in my blog Positive and Negative Reinforcement – Oops [From Aubrey Daniels book Bringing out the Best in People.]

Effective leaders are able to recognize human nature.  It is easy to blame your people.  They may be the culprit. You can exhaust a great deal of energy and spend a great deal of money chasing symptom.  Focus first on the situation or system.  Make sure you’ve gotten to the core of your issue before you begin changing people. 


Topics: employee performance, People, People Decisions, Switch, change, Aubrey Daniels

Client Perspective – Where a Business Coach Helps (#3-31-14) #151

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Mar 24, 2014

Build up to Break Thru (Good to Great) Chapter06 01 resized 600This week I met a former customer to discuss how his team was doing without having a coach facilitating their meetings.  While he indicated they’d maintained the cadence of accountability of meeting rhythms, he noticed a number of concerns he felt my presence would improve and wished to discuss working together again to help elevate his leadership team’s game. Here are some of the highlights from that discussion:

My customer asked not to have his name revealed in recounting one of the mistakes his company made.  We’ve worked together several times, starting with several Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 4 Decision Workshops, quarterly planning sessions and then last summer for six months to help them develop annual, and quarterly plans as well as develop the meeting rhythm cadence of accountability.  

My customer indicated that since January they’ve worked through their meeting rhythms doing a good job of maintaining their discipline of daily huddles and weekly meetings.  Where he feels they’ve fallen down a bit is how stringent they are on their accountabilities and meeting their quarterly priorities.  He feels without Doug there to ask the tough questions they aren’t extending themselves to achieve any more than what they are comfortable doing.  He feels they are limiting their growth by not having another set of eyes to objectively rate both their effort and their achievement.  Another limiting factor is the collective intelligence time along with learning and education. 

The meetings lack some of the intensity and breakthroughs they had with a coach leading them.  They’ve not been conducting the learning and education portion of the meetings to impact their leadership skills. They’ve also not completed the elements of their One Page Strategic Plan and Strategy, components they all agreed in their Annual Planning meeting they needed to focus on in order to grow revenues in 2014.

The value of questioning your team’s accountability to their priorities and responsibilities is not lost on another of my customers who asked me to develop a series of questions to ask each time one of his leadership team members is falling short of meeting one of these objectives.  If you’d like help asking the right questions to discover why someone is falling short and how this failure will impact your business, request the free download below. 

Most impactful is an event that made my customer realize the importance of accountability and identifying and following systems.  The business is a construction company, and through the growth and development of the two owners they’ve also created several other businesses including a rental company. 

Recently they had a construction job out of state which required renting equipment to meet the job requirements.  The job was completed and when they reviewed the costs they discovered they’d lost money on the contract.  After reviewing receipts they discovered the primary cause of the loss was the expensive rental costs for equipment.  Apparently no one had taken time to review the rental bills to discover the rental company had overcharged them for their equipment.  Unfortunately when the bill came to the desk of the partner in charge of paying them he naturally assumed they’d been reviewed and approved and paid them before anyone could catch the gross overcharges. 

As owners of a rental company themselves they could easily see they were being charged one time rates versus rates usually charged for days, weeks and months for actual use of the equipment.  Yet no one had bothered to review the bills or monitor the invoices for excessive charges as they arrived. 

My customer estimated they overpaid in excess of $50K for the equipment rentals.

As a coach I’m not sure that even had I been working with them I’d have been able to help them with this issue.  However we have discussed and planned to identify the 7-9 Work Process Flow Charts.    These are your businesses critical systems that differentiate it from your competition and require you to identify accountabilities and metrics to ensure they are always running consistently and predictably.  Having these in place surely would have identified the overcharges by the person accountable when the invoices arrived, and alerted them to contact the rental company for appropriate charges.

$50,000 in overcharges on one job he noted is embarrassing!  To his credit he was more than willing to accept his portion of the blame for this occurring.   The positive from this is he realizes a lot of the margins they are challenged to achieve are correctable.  They simply need to be more disciplined and systematic in their approach. 

Most challenges like these are preventable when the right systems are in place.  Identifying the 7-9 crucial systems that your business relies on to perform to its highest level is essential to developing consistency and predictability in your business.  That’s how growth is achieved year over year.  Disciplined systems, operated by disciplined people. 

As Jim Collins states in Good to Great, "A culture of discipline is not just about action. It is about getting disciplined people...who engage in disciplined thought and...who then take disciplined action.”

Collins also said, “Everyone would like to be the best, but most organizations lack the discipline to figure out with egoless clarity what they can be the best at and the will to do whatever it takes to turn the potential into reality.”

Is your business struggling to achieve what it’s capable of?  The role of coaching is to provide accountability and questions, questions that you’re not asking.  Questions that explore the potential of your people, your strategy, your execution, and your cash decision making.  Mastering the Rockefeller Habits provides the disciplined tools and resources from best business practices and top thought leadership. 

Is it time for you to consider what it takes to achieve the greatness your business is capable of?

On April 29th Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop will explore fundamental tools and resources to help you achieve greatness.  Plan now to attend.  Or request the flyer for more information.  

Topics: Discipline, Culture of Discipline, Cadence of Accountability, meeting rhythms, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, One Page Strategic Plan

Collective Intelligence: The Most Impactful 15-45 Minutes of your Week (#2-25-14) Newsletter #150

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Sat, Mar 1, 2014

collective intelligence map resized 600Solving issues, challenges, concerns, and simple brainstorming by calling on the Collective Intelligence within the knowledge and experience of your team of co-workers is an infrequent manifestation in most businesses.  Think about all that brainpower and the capacity it has to hurdle any obstacle, and you realize what an untapped resource you are probably underutilizing.  One of the magic’s of the weekly meeting is a dedicated time frame called Collective Intelligence where your team provides obstacles or ideas to discuss.   It applies the intellect of your team to solve challenges which would otherwise remain frustrations obstructing progress in your business.   The 15-45 minutes (depending on your weekly meeting designated length) will be the most productive time you receive from your business. Here some stories from clients on why:

In the past several weeks the following were topics discussed at the weekly meetings in collective intelligence from two of my clients: Sales Force Realignment, Industry Trends, Full-Time HR Position, The Great Game of Business (Book & Application to their business), vacation and holiday compensation, outside source for generation leads, organic growth of sales position, strategies to grow sales pipeline, salesperson hiring process, display art for trade show booth, company work process flow chart (7-9 essential systems), testimonials, pricing model and much more. 

Several of these topics resulted in impactful changes for my customers.  One determined that their approach to hiring sales people should be changed. They decided to outsource lead generation and develop their next sales person by first assimilating them through the company to learn the value it offers prospects and customers before placing them in the role of converting leads/prospects.  It’s been a challenging process to find sales people for this business based on the nature of their service.  After several recent hires didn’t work out they decided to look hard at their process and determine if it was poor hiring decisions, or not having defined the position and process.   Ultimately they determined they had several people internally functioning well in the role of sales conversion.  They desperately need to drive more leads.  For the time being they determined an outside resource can do that part of the lead generation process better than they could, and for a lower investment then hiring a salesperson to focus on this.

Another customer is debating the configuration of their sales force.  They presently have account managers, merchandisers and sales reps.  What’s the proper number to have in each category?  Is having one person do two or all three roles better or worse use of efficiency? 

We discussed the Great Game of Business and the value of transparency of financial information and the incentive this would provide.  The company determined that they were on this path already, sharing financial data with departments and developing incentives to reward contribution to the bottom line on a trimester and annual basis.  Long term the Great Game may deserve another look in the future.

There was a discussion on the fairness of their present holiday and vacation compensation, since some employees don’t take their share of vacation each year, and then get paid for the weeks they don’t use.  How is compensation paid for commission versus salary and union workers, and what’s fair?  Another discussion surrounded whether at their present level of employees (over 100) it merited changing their Human Resources position to a dedicated full time position with HR training and education.

In the past we reviewed sales presentations to get everyone’s input, discussed theme and incentive programs, one of which resulted in an annual theme that decreased returns for a beverage company by over $600,000.

Discover the power of your leadership team’s Collective Intelligence.  Gather the issues, concerns and discussion points at each weekly meeting that impact your business.   Once collected, decide which ones are priorities and then have someone lead the discussion searching for the best solution.  McKinsey in their excellent 2007 survey on Internet Technology“Collective Intelligence refers to any system that attempts to tap the expertise of a group rather than an individual to make decisions.”

You’ll quickly enjoy the impact that comes from your team’s observations, contributions, and discovery.  Solve your most pressing issues and discover the impact of Collective Intelligence in just 15-45 minutes of each week!   One of my clients requires I make sure we move through the Good News, Numbers and Customer and Employee Feedbac, Accountability pieces of the weekly meeting so we always have 45 minutes for Collective Intelligence. He finds it that constructive! 

If your meetings are not aligned you’re not receiving the full benefit of Strategic Disciplines execution and strategic value in your business. 

For an opportunity to learn more about Strategic Discipline and the power of the Rockefeller Habits register now for the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop coming to Cedar Rapids, Iowa April 29th.  Bring your leadership group to really stimulate the value of collective intelligence and learn first-hand how to implement the critical pieces that can make your business soar!  

Topics: Customer Feedback, Employee Feedback, weekly meetings, collective intelligence, Business Growth

Missing Ingredient:Training & Education (#1-28-14) Newsletter #149

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Jan 27, 2014

Education resized 600Positioning Systems and Gazelles coaches work with thousands of mid-market Growth companies from all over the world.  Top performers commit to 3 key disciplines (habits) that both differentiate them AND lead to their consistent success: #1 They consistently apply the Four Decisions content and tools to their daily operational routines; #2 They build into their leaders’ schedules a regular, ongoing commitment to executive education (learning); and #3 They develop and utilize an ongoing accountability relationship with an outside, independent business Coach.  In this newsletter we look at why training and education is so critical to growing your business: 

Michael Dell is a great example of ongoing Executive learning and education to provide Dell a competitive edge in the PC market. Michael’s quote sums it all up…”Start with smart executives and then keep them smart.

Any mid-size business that wants to be successful recognizes and applies the principles of training and education to their staff. Leadership succession, growth, and competitive edge come from growing the people in your business.  Learning today is one competitive advantage that keeps your business sharp, insures progressive improvement, breeding a culture where knowledge and action produce dynamic results.

One of my clients, Fleck Sales, a beer distributor, takes growing and educating its people seriously.  The beer industry is extremely competitive.  Craft Brands have introduced new competitive pressures and expanded SKU’s complicating and increasing inventory, turns, and obscuring the retailer’s decision-making on what products to carry.  In addition recent trends to sweeter alcoholic beverages put increased competitive pressure to improve last year’s numbers and increase market share.

It’s critical that their sales, merchandising, and delivery people have knowledge of the increasing number of brands they carry to help their retailers make the right choices to improve their bottom line and revenues.

Their distributor Miller Coors provides excellent resources for training and education.  Yet these tools are

worthless if they are not resourced and utilized by their staff.  Fleck Sales recently embarked on developing training programs not just for entering employees, but mandating each supervisor require a specific designation of courses to be completed by each employee dependent upon their experience and development level. 

Several of the staff has already truly embraced the opportunity to learn.  Can you guess where these people are headed in the development of their careers at Fleck Sales? 

With the number of selections now available with the emerging Craft Brands, Fleck recently required all of their sales staff to be tested to earn the ascending titles of Certified Beer Server, Certified Cicerone, and Master Cicerone. 

The practice of learning and education is continuous in this organization.  Monthly leadership meetings frequently conclude with the CEO providing a learning and education element.

Too many businesses profess conviction to training and education, yet fail to practice it in action.

Monthly and Quarterly Meetings utilizing Positioning Systems and Gazelles meeting rhythms process embrace and implicitly respond to this fundamental practice.  Learning and Education should be a critical part of your Strategic Learning process.

Have you experienced the disappointment of hiring a candidate whom you felt had great potential to succeed in your business, yet never realized their potential?

Perhaps the fault is your businesses inability to provide them with a path to follow to unleash their possibilities through training and education.   There’s nothing worse than failing to provide development to someone who is yearning to release their capabilities!

What restrains your business from providing the training and education your people can benefit from? 

For a limited time Positioning Systems with the help of Gazelles Growth Institute is providing our readers with several free learning courses as a gift to you.

Outlearn your competition, click here to select a class including:

Patrick Lencioni’s - The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Liz Wiseman’s - Multipliers

Seth Godin’s - Purple Cow

Jack Stack’s - The Great Game of Business

Fred Reichheld - The Ultimate Question 2.0

Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s - Who: The A Method for Hiring

Sign up for free and choose from these selections to present to your staff at your next leadership meeting. 

Positioning Systems is committed to helping our clients have the best people through providing top thought leadership and best practices to our clients.  Learn how you can improve your staff’s performance through education and training by selecting a class to develop your people now.   This is our gift to you.  Do something about it NOW!

Topics: quarterly meetings, Strategic Discipline, People, Training, monthly meetings


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