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This Creates Championship Performance in Small Business, Yet It’s Not Extraordinary

Carli Lloyd, the U.S. Women’s Midfielder, three weeks ago put on an extraordinary performance in the World Cup Finals with three goals in the first 16-minutes of the game.

It was an unprecedented accomplishment in the history of the sport and truly extraordinary.

Yet, what it took to set the stage for Lloyd to score those goals, plus three others in the last seven games of the tournament, was not extraordinary.

Some might even call it boring, monotonous, and brain numbing.

It’s the stuff we all hate to do.

But, champions know they MUST do them if they want to achieve championship caliber performance.

It’s the fundamentals.

Every sport has ‘em. Here’s a just small sampling:

• In football it’s blocking and tackling.

• In baseball it’s hitting the cut off man on relays to keep runners from taking extra bases.

• In basketball, it’s shooting free throws.

The athletes and the teams that become extraordinary at executing the fundamentals are the ones that deliver championship caliber performance when it counts.

What are the fundamentals of your business?

Here are some to think about:
• Clarity on your value proposition
• Clarity on your organization’s purpose and core operating values
• Clarity on your goals that have specific measurements for tracking progress
• Executing on a performance management system for employees’ goals and expectations
• Making the necessary outbound marketing calls
• Doing the promised follow up calls in a timely manner

Things like those are the fundamentals of business success.

Just like the fundamentals in athletics, they can be viewed as boring, monotonous, and brain numbing.

Yet, they are the foundation for success.

Business champions practice the fundamentals to achieve extraordinary execution that leads to championship results do you?

Remember, “champions do not necessarily do extraordinary things, but they always do the fundamental things extraordinarily well!”

Leave a comment below to continue the discussion.

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3 Steps to Foster Better Teamwork in Small Business

A prospective client told me she wanted to create better teamwork among her staff.

I asked her if participating in teamwork was part of her annual performance evaluation process with employees. She looked at me like a deer in headlights.

I immediately gave her three strategies to employ to foster more and better teamwork:

1) Make teamwork and collaboration with colleagues an “expectation” of performance. Define the terms and the teams so everyone understands. Too often because it’s a “small business,” collaboration and teamwork are assumed to be understood. Even if it is, often environmental factors get in the way of teamwork manifesting to the levels desired.

2) Create team rewards. Most team members on small business teams are rewarded based on singular effort. This creates competition, not collaboration. In professional sports, all team members receive the three same rewards:

  • the championship ring,
  • an equal share of the dollars in the bonus pool, and
  • the label of a champion, which increases each athlete’s value in the market place. Those three rewards are 100% equal across the board regardless of the athlete’s regular season contracted salary.

Small business owners can likewise create team rewards that foster the desired teamwork behavior.

3) As soon as a team member is identified as having acted detrimental to the team effort, it must be addressed promptly, directly and respectfully, by either the small business owner, or a teammate (in athletics it is often the team captain and not the coach who addresses the issue on first or second instance).

Those three strategies will give any small business a solid framework for making teamwork, work.

What do you think? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation.

’til next time,

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3 Reasons Small Business Leaders Don’t Communicate As They Should

One of the keys to the U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer championship was coach Jill Ellis’ ability to communicate promptly, directly and candidly with her team members. (see this blog article)

Not enough small business owners communicate with employees in this manner, even though they know they should.

But, knowing and doing are two different things.

Three fears prevent small business leaders from communicating as they know they should:

  • Fear of being unfair
  • Fear of saying the wrong thing or the right thing in the wrong way
  • Fear of the reaction
  • Fear of Being Unfair
    In a recent seminar three small business leaders admitted one of their concerns in directly addressing performance issues with employees is there own uncertainty with having originally communicated their expectations properly. Their fear was that without having set expectations at the beginning, giving constructive feedback to the employee would be unfair.

This creates a real conundrum they have to get over because in avoiding this conversation poor performance perpetuates.

  • Fear of Saying the Wrong Thing or the Right Thing in the Wrong Way
    Few small business leaders are confident and comfortable with the proper way to frame candid and frank conversations with team members so that it gets the desired result. Because of the uncertainty of how to best frame the conversation, they avoid them.
  • Fear of the Reaction
    Having candid conversations with employees can go one of three ways and leaders are uncertain about how to address at least two of these three.

    The employee will either :

    • Embrace the feedback and adjust their performance and behaviors
    • Resist the feedback and get defensive, making excuses and blame external factors
    • Seem to embrace the feedback, while acting passive-aggressive moving forward

These three fears prevent small business leaders from having the conversations they should be having with employees, and prevents them from communicating to motivate.

Next time, we’ll explore strategies to get everyone motivated to contribute to “teamwork.”

’til next time, to add to the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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Leadership Communication Lessons for Small Business from the World Cup Champions

The U.S. Women’s national soccer team captured its third World Cup last weekend with a dominating 5-2 win over Japan.

A New York Times feature on coach Jill Ellis described her coaching style as “connecting on a personal level with her players to build trust, though not at the expense of honesty or the collective needs of the team.”

Ellis was quoted as saying, “At my very first meeting I said I will connect with you, but I will always make decisions based on what I think is best for the team,’ ” Ellis said.

The story also noted “Ellis held one-on-one meetings with team leaders during the tournament, asking their opinions.”

Quotes from players in the article mentioned she actually incorporated some of the players suggestions.

A key change some of the players asked for was to play a more aggressive, offensive style as the tournament moved into the Knockout Round after getting their with a very successful, tight defensive approach.

Two keys any small business leader can take from Coach Ellis’ approach to create a championship workplace culture:

  • Ask employees for their opinions
  • Look for ways to incorporate the suggestions

Employees want to feel as if they are contributing to company success and are not just a cog in a machine.

Employees are human beings with a perspective much different from the company leaders. They see, feel and think differently.

Embrace those differences.

Use the ideas, insights, suggestions that are in the best interests of the company.

Doing so will help create championship employee performance because they will be able to see their contribution being incorporated and they will take more initiative looking for more ways to contribute.

Next time, we’ll explore some reasons why business leaders don’t take this approach.

’til next time, to add to the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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Measuring Success Accurately to Create Championship Performance

The United States Women soccer team made it to the semi-finals of the 2016 World Cup tournament.

They’ll be playing Germany tomorrow night.

Last week I watched the U.S. women seal a spot in the Quarterfinals of the Knockout Stage by wining their final Group Stage game, 2-0 over Columbia.

But, if you just watched the post game commentary by the soccer pundits without knowing the actual score of the game, you would have thought the U.S. women lost.

The pundits harped on the fact that the heavily favored U.S. women did not dominate the game and failed to perform at the level expected.

When interviewing the players and coaches afterward the pundits tried to frame the questions to get admission that the team underperformed.

They wouldn’t take the bait.

Across the board team members responded with a focus on only two
points:

  1. On the result, having achieved their goal of getting through to the Knockout Round to play for a chance to win the World Cup, and
  2. That there are always things to improve and they’ll look at them as they prepare for the next game.

At that stage nothing else mattered. It’s about success, not perfection.

In business, too often leaders are focused on the “how” of things get done instead of the result that is achieved.

Perfectionists are never satisfied with the end results achieved, focused solely on everything they did wrong on the path to their successes.

This type of mindset and approach does not create championship performance.

Championship performance comes first from identifying the success factors causing the positive results, and looking to replicate those, then look to “cleaning up” things that can be better.

What are you and your team’s key success factors than can be used to create championship performance?

’til next time, to add to the conversation by leaving a comment below.

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The 4 Levels of Small Business Championship Performance

The last two blog posts discussed the concept of defining what constitutes “championship” performance.

In athletics, it’s easy.

Championship performance is determined by who won the last game, the championship game. That’s the team or the individual who gets the winner’s trophy, the label “champion,” and all the accolades.

In business, championship performance is less objective.

The competition for a small business, as discussed in this article, is against no outside opponent, but against itself and whether it is improving over time.

Yet, the sports metaphor still applies to small business performance.

It’s just that the assessment is based on the context and criteria important to the company.

Regardless of context, you can use the The Small Business Championship Game Plan assessment (see below), which has four levels:

  • Championship Contender
  • Playoff Participant
  • Winning Season
  • Losing Season

In addition to grading the key contexts of your business, decide on an overall level for your company, then identify the specific contexts where it needs improve to get to the next higher quadrant (in upcoming articles we’ll begin to identify some contexts you may want to assess).

Realize every athletic team wants to win the championship.

In training camp each has a pretty good idea of it stacks up.

Some will be contenders for the championship, some hope to be playoff participants, while others realize they are in for a losing season and in the midst of a 3-5 year strategic growth plan.

Your small business is exactly the same. Keep in mind you may need 1-3 years before it can be performing at the championship caliber level.ChampionshipPerformanceDoubleAxis’til next time, leave a comment below to continue the discussion and let me know what you think of the Small Business Championship Performance Assessment Grid,

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Attaining Championship Performance In Business Is Easier Than This

Last week champions were crowned in the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association, the Chicago BlackHawks and the Golden State Warriors, respectively.ChicagoBlackhawksLogo.svgGSWarriors_primaryLogo

Those championships came after a long arduous road through an 82-game regular season, and a 23-game and a 21-game playoff campaign, respectively.

The physical toll on the players often shows as teams lose in the playoffs often not because of lesser talent, but due to attrition. The healthier team often comes out on top.

In the NBA Finals, the case could be made that injuries to the Cleveland Cavaliers team significantly impacted their ability to defeat Golden State. The same could be said for the Tampa Bay Lightning whose goaltender played with a torn groin muscle and a key goal scorer played the final 4 games with a broken wrist (many on the winning side also played with  injuries).

What does this have to do with a small business, a pmo, or even individual project managers or sales professionals creating championship performance?

Simply this…

In athletics there is always an opponent that on any given day, or over a short series of games, may be able to perform at a higher level.

In business, there is no outside opponent to conquer.

In business, championship performance need only be measured by whether you’re better than yesterday, last week, last month or last year.

Are you, as an individual contributor to your “team” (company), getting better?

Are you learning each day and refining your approach?

Are you asking others for feedback as to how you’re doing?

Is your organization, company, team getting better by evaluating its performance with AARs (After Action Reviews), getting feedback from customers, and refining its approach?

In business, creating championship caliber performance is simply committing to, and measuring, constant never-ending improvement.

How do you stack up?

’til next time, leave a comment below to continue the discussion and let me know what you’re doing for committing to, and measuring, constant never-ending improvement.

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Champion or Losing Organization, You Decide By How You Define Your Small Business

It’s been 70 years since the Chicago Cubs won their National League Championship and 107 years since they won a World Series Championship.

By that one measurement scale the Chicago Cubs could be labeled a losing organization.

On another measurement scale the Cubs could be just as easily labeled as a championship organization because of their ability to maintain the most loyal fan (customer) base in Major League Baseball.

For 17 consecutive baseball seasons the Cubs have never played to less than 70% average stadium capacity, getting as high as 88% in 2008, having only been a playoff caliber team twice in those years.

Other teams over those years may played to higher stadium capacity levels, but also have had much more on field success and new, state of the art stadiums to lure fans (e.g, San Francisco Giants).

The Cubs brand and the aura developed with their “historic” ballpark, Wrigley Field, is a championship brand.

So, on one hand, people might label the Cubs a losing organization and on another they are championship caliber.

The moral here is that there are different ways to define and measure success.

How are you defining “championship caliber performance” for yourself and your organization?

Where, in your organization is performance at a championship caliber level?

Next time, we’ll take the metaphor a little deeper and look at the four levels on your path to championship caliber performance.

To begin creating championship performance at your company or on your team download my newest report, The Missing Ingredient to Improving Employee Performance at www.YourChampionshipCompany.com

Feel free to leave a comment below and keep the conversation going.

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