Business Building Skills You Need To Transform Your Business
leadership, performance management

The 4 Business Building Skills You Need To Transform Your Business

To lead a successful business it’s essential to build a solid foundation first, yet some business owners are in such a hurry to grow their business they end up learning a hard lesson: too much growth too soon, or weak systems within the business can cause businesses to topple unexpectedly.

Nothing illustrates this better than trying to stack stones in a fast moving, frigid, North Carolina mountain stream.

Unexpected Inspiration on Business Skills

Recently we took our RV on a late-spring trip into the NC mountains. Earlier in the year we found a small RV park located right on a mountain stream. When we arrived at the park we backed our unit into its space.

Right behind our RV we found this beautiful, gurgling stream. Before setting up camp I walked around to take a better look. What I found was a delightful surprise.  Right there in the stream were stacks of stones people had built and left behind. It was so picturesque and calming. We felt like we hit the jackpot in finding this park and securing a reservation. This was going to be fun!

While the purpose of the trip was to get plenty of down time, we did get away from the park to explore the surrounding area. We found hiking trails to several waterfalls, and went into town to find a local brew pub to take it all in.

Yet the mountain stream was the main show. We spent a lot of time watching and listening to the moving water. It didn’t take long before I began envisioning the stack of stones I was going to build, and leave behind for the next travelers.

At some point it occurred to me. Stacking wet stones in a moving stream is a lot like building a business.

Not only that, it's a perfect metaphor for MY business. Here’s why:

I created an original business model called The PACE Principle. In it, I identify 4 essential areas where every business owner needs to focus in order to become a stronger leader for their business.

The 4 Essential Skills of A Business

The 4 ESSENTIAL areas are: Strategic, Analytical, Efficient, and Influential.

I’ve found over the years that helping an owner get better in each of these areas results in them becoming better leaders of their business, and their business consistently growing.

If you think about it, each of these four essential areas represents a pillar of a strong business foundation, and each of these pillars can stand on their own, just like a stack of stones.

Your Business Foundation Matters

I ventured into the chill mountain stream to try my hand at stacking stones. I quickly learned that finding the next best stone was more difficult than expected. Getting oval shaped, smooth, wet stones with all kinds of imperfections to fit together takes finesse, trial and error, and stacks falling unexpectedly. Not as easy as one might expect, yet one thing became perfectly clear, besides the water.

Stacking stones requires you to start with larger ones, and get progressively smaller as you build. I contend the same goes for building a business. A business owner who has strong Strategic skills may have a good business, yet they may be leaving money on the table if their Analytical and Efficiency skills aren’t as developed. In other words, you may be able to build one stack, but can you build all four?

Here’s the challenge though, business owners who push for fast business growth may not recognize the need for their own personal growth in these four essential areas of business. 

Personal Growth Leading To Business Growth

Think of the four pillars of The PACE Principle as four separate stacks of stones. Every business owner is in the process of building their own stacks within their business. The greater the proficiency they gain in these four pillars, or stacks, the greater the chance their business will grow and thrive under their leadership.

Just like with anything, stacking stones in a mountain stream becomes easier with practice. The same can be said for a business. With practice any business owner can learn to become a stronger leader for their business. 

The PACE Principle is designed to guide business owners on their journey of becoming more proficient leaders for their business. The model’s structure forms a foundation every business needs: an owner who leads by being Strategic, Analytical, Efficient, and Influential.

The value of The PACE Principle is that it delivers a simple approach for business owners seeking something new in how to become better leaders and attain greater business results.

There are so many stones from which to choose when you’re in a mountain stream, or when guiding your business. Leave the smaller stones until the time comes to start building. It’s the stacks with the strong foundations that best survive in the most inclement conditions. 

And consider this, a young kid with a stick can quickly topple a stack of stones, but NOT its foundation.

Learn more about The PACE Principle and the 4 business building skills: Strategic, Analytical, Efficient, and Influential.

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You're welcome to connect with me, Asa Beavers, on LinkedIn and I'll invite you to join my LinkedIn Group: Strategic Leadership Essentials for Entrepreneurs and Other Business Leaders.

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performance management

Performance Management Begins with This One Thing

​I remember as a kid going to the mall and trying to walk up the down escalator.

Only, if you walked too slow, you’d still be ​sliding backward, but if you began running, you’d eventually make it to the top.

That’s exactly how far too many business owners operate their business. They are running against the escalator when trying to keep up with everything they need to do.

Too often they are running hard like this because it’s all they know to do.

Instead of delegating to others and managing expectations, the business leader continues running hard, and the business struggles to reach its full potential.

This can easily happen to any busy business owner who is too nice, or they don’t communicate well, or they don’t make time to inspect work, or they have too much trust people are doing their jobs. Does any of this sound familiar?

Business Culture Influences Fulfillment of Expectations

It’s in this kind of business where the culture tends to feel a bit chaotic, and where results don’t meet the desired expectations. It also leads to a frustrated, unhappy business owner finding it difficult to gain control and make the necessary adjustments, or not knowing even where to start.

​Based on my experience, ​what owners really want is for people to do their jobs well, and to have a business where customers continue to return, and employees are happy to stay.

So what’s the one strategy to solve this business challenge? ​Establish Clear Expectations.

Responsibility vs. Accountability

And that’s where these two words come into play: Responsibility and Accountability. Responsibility and accountability are the yin yang of performance management. They work well together, but they don’t mean the same things.

Yet, as business owners, we sometimes haphazardly interchange them. And when we do, we’re not always aware of the impact it can have on our businesses. For instance, what exactly do we mean when we tell our staff they have certain responsibilities? Or when we tell them they are being held accountable?

These are two powerful words when it comes to employee performance management, and they are necessary if you expect your team to meet your expectations. Ironically the dictionary definitions of these words look similar. The word “responsibility” has accountable in its definition, and the word “accountability” has responsible in its definition. What gives? They seem interchangeable.

Digging Deeper into The Differences

So, let’s dig a bit deeper. In his book Scaling Up, Verne Harnish offers his definitions. He defines accountability as the “one person who has the ability to count” and defines responsibility as “anyone with the ability to respond”. Using his definitions means the one person accountable is the person tracking progress and speaking out when issues come up.

It means that everyone is responsible for proactively supporting the team, the business, and its processes. To put it into even simpler terms everyone is responsible for their actions and how they represent the business. Only one person can be held accountable when it comes to measuring the results. Measuring is the key to achieving results.

The rule as stated by Verne is: “If more than one person is accountable then no one is accountable, and that’s when things fall through the cracks”. In all probability, you have a list of responsibilities for each of your staff positions. You discussed these responsibilities when you made the hire and may revisit them on occasion throughout the year (and specifically when you evaluate performance). After all, responsibilities are how you expect this person to act in their position.

But accountability is a whole different thing. Unless you’re hiring a sales position where outcomes are very clear, chances are you didn’t discuss accountability when you were interviewing. These are the specific results one would expect from this position. Take, for instance, an administrative staff member in a dentist’s office.

The responsibilities may include answering the phones, helping patients set appointments, checking patients in and out, taking payments, setting return appointments, and conducting reminder calls while remaining pleasant and helpful. These are all actions to be expected from anyone working at the front desk.

Performance Management with (KPIs)

The outcome (or results of these actions) is the practice having a full schedule where patients are placed in a time slot that allows the practice to operate efficiently and on time. That is the power of KPIs (key performance indicators).

Now, in order to have accountability, there needs to be a measurement. In this example, it might be the percentage of available provider appointments filled by a patient, or what I’ll call a fill rate. This is how a percentage of available appointments get filled, and a patient was seen.

The admin staff is responsible for keeping the schedule full, so if a patient cancels it’s also their responsibility to fill it. They are accountable for maintaining a minimum fill rate for the practice. The accountability goal could be a 90% fill rate. A team leader or a manager would be accountable for keeping track and raising the red flag if problems arise.

It’s all about keeping score in your business. These accountability measurements are also known as KPIs or Key Performance Indicators. It’s possible that every member of your staff can have their own KPI. At a minimum, though, there should be a handful of KPIs the business tracks in each of its functional areas that measure performance daily, weekly, and monthly. Measuring is the key to achieving results!

This brings us back to these two words: responsibility and accountability. As you can see, they aren’t interchangeable and they’re both crucial to the success of your business.

Individual and Team Responsibilities

Responsibilities are how you expect your team members to act in their position and within the business. Accountability happens when the outcomes you expect occur because of the actions they take.

Everyone has responsibility for their actions, but only one person is accountable to the results, whether that be you, a manager reporting to you, or an individual staff member. Performance management is essential. Measuring is the key to monitoring results.

Business Performance Tips

Use These Business Performance Tips. To get the most from your team it’s imperative you are crystal clear on what you expect:

  • First, establish position descriptions that clearly define the responsibilities of the position. Make sure you implement a system for inspecting what you expect.
  • Second, establish accountability by setting clear KPIs and goals for the business and assigning one person to keep track. Measuring is the key to achieving results.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, communicate with your team frequently. Let them know how they are performing against a KPI. Responsibility and accountability become part of your business DNA the more you talk about it.

Importance of Clear Communication

You create alignment among your team when expectations are clearly communicated and reviewed. You create precision in your business using KPIs to hold the team accountable to expectations. This enables effective performance management. When a business achieves a high level of Precision and Alignment, the business result is delivering an exceptional customer experience every time.

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business scorecard
performance management, productivity

How To Accelerate Business Results Using A Scorecard

Let’s cut straight to the chase right now because, after all, what business isn’t seeking to accelerate results?

And this strategy might just be THE best thing you can do.

So, how does a business scorecard accelerate results? One word…

FEEDBACK

That’s right. Feedback is the special sauce your business needs to accelerate results. But the type of feedback I’m talking about might not be what you think.

Having a scorecard is one way to know if your business had a good day or not, and it provides essential feedback on the most critical business activities.

The Human Psyche

Before I get into the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of creating a scorecard for your business, let’s first take a journey into the human psyche.

We, humans, love our freedom of choice. Yet recent surveys show that ⅔ of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. Our lives are full of things we have to do, and then there are things we want to do. We typically enjoy things we want to do and aren’t as excited about things we have to do.

At work, employees are told exactly what to do and how to do it, and for many, work just isn’t very fun. Since the choices employees have in their work environments are limited, work turns into something they have to do, and enjoyment disappears.

And so does productivity!

Managing underperforming employees is one way to go about increasing productivity, and it works when done well. But when we’re talking about under-performing businesses or teams, there are underlying challenges or opportunities that need to be uncovered and addressed.

So to summarize… we have employees who have to work, in jobs where their choices are limited, in businesses that tell them what and how to do their jobs, which results in a workplace where ⅔ are unhappy.

It’s no wonder there are businesses where the staff is indifferent to the needs of the customer, where productivity suffers, and results are inconsistent.

If this strikes a chord with you, here’s how we’re going to change things.

Activities Outside The Workplace

As humans, employees engage in activities outside the workplace. These are things they want to do and what they find enjoyable. Many of these activities are different types of sports and recreation. It’s usually something they choose to do, and it’s something they can learn to excel at.

And guess what?

Every sport and recreational activity has a set of rules and a system for keeping score.

Rules allow everyone to participate on a level playing field. And keeping score records of how they are doing in their activity of choice WHILE they are participating.

Outside of work, humans have an innate characteristic to measure progress in the recreational activities of their choice.

To create a more engaging workplace for your staff and your customers it’s crucial to tap into this human characteristic.

The Measurement Problem

The problem with many work environments is performance and results are measured after the fact.

Too often business owners don’t know how their business performed until after the end of the month.

Too many employees have no idea how they’re doing in their jobs or understand the contribution they’re making to the business.

And unlike the recreational activities, they do outside of work, their work activity doesn’t provide the same kind of feedback. They don’t know the score.

This makes it virtually impossible for them to understand how they’re doing, and make adjustments during the month that could lead to better results, quicker.

Therein lies the challenge or opportunity: providing team members with a “score” so they can embrace their work activity in the same way they embrace their recreational activities.

Why A Scorecard?

Many businesses have some type of software collecting and storing the kind of data that measures business activities. They often have a reporting function aggregating data and a list of available reports from which to choose.

From my experience, the data is usually there, but the formats of the available reports leave much to be desired. There’s either too much or too little data, the reports are difficult to modify, and when you export the data it’s difficult to build a report on your own. That is unless you’re a whiz at spreadsheeting data.

Don’t get me wrong. They have some good data points when you have time to invest in analyzing the business, but they aren’t a great scorecard. I often help clients use this same data to build their own scorecards.

What is a Scorecard?

Let me first say this, in my book having a scorecard, is essential for EVERY busy business owner or team leader.

Here’s why…

Your business scorecard is your ‘go-to’ place to see the most important, and up-to-date measurements for your business.

When done correctly it will provide you an at-a-glance tool to:

  • Quickly view business results
  • Quickly view daily/weekly key performance indicators
  • Measure how your business is performing to goal
  • Measure performance for bonus programs
  • Use as a tool in huddles and meetings
  • Help employees to understand ‘the current score’ of the business
  • Make adjustments quicker when results are lagging

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY…

… to make your business a place where employees want to do better because they understand how their efforts affect the overall business results.

And if you do it right, it can actually make your business environment a FUN place to work.

Practice Owners Love This

I’ve had massive success implementing Scorecards into all types of businesses, but it’s in my work with Optometry and Dental practices where they have really embraced it and made it work.

WHY? One reason is that doctors as practice owners have limited time to analyze business performance. Another reason is they quickly come to realize the simple act of measuring, and talking about it, leads to improved results. And finally, once they learn to set daily goals for themselves and the team everyone is more focused on the most important things.

Hmm… sounds like that could work for just about any kind of business.

Building Your Own Scorecard

By now you understand why having a Scorecard that provides constant FEEDBACK is essential for any business. It also fits in well with how humans measure performance in their recreational activities outside of work.

Again, people simply want to know that the efforts they provide the business contribute to the success of the business in a measurable way. And when feedback is provided “during the game” it’s more likely they can make adjustments to improve performance and achieve the goal.

Click the download button above to receive a workbook with a full example of a Scorecard and a 5-step action plan to help you build your own Scorecard.

Reach out to me if you’d like to dig deeper on this topic and find out how you can gain better control of your business and unlock its full potential. Comment below, use this contact form or click below if you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute strategy call to explore what might work for you. And, if you found this article useful, please share it so others can learn how to find focus in their lives and businesses.

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keeping score
performance management

You Are Keeping Score In Your Business, Right?

Scorekeeping is essential in sports AND in business. You ask someone how their work is going, and the reply is “pretty good”, or “it’s coming along”, or “just about done”, only to learn a bit later that the job is really only 20% complete. English teachers call these verbal diversions euphemisms (or escape words). They are a long way from the truth and they are rampant in business.

 

Using Exact Measurements

For some people, there is too much truth in exact measurement. They just don’t have the courage to face the truth of exact measurement and instead focus on activities, not results. Along the way they collect reasons – excuses – why the job they are working on is “almost…”, or “just about…” done.

Using key performance indicators (KPIs) is a great way to turn your business into a game. Here are some tips on creating your own scorekeeping system…

When exact measurements are made in your business, things are brought into clear focus, and there is no place to hide.

Measuring Teams

Introducing measurements to our teams can be challenging because there’s always going to be resistance to change. When managers have been primarily focused on activity and then decide to implement measurements it’s sure to create some uncomfortable feelings. After all, we haven’t been held accountable before, why now? Explaining the “why now” is simple – it establishes a system to tell whether we are winning or losing and allows us to make real-time changes so we can continue to improve.

 

Basic Rules to Set Up an Effective Scorekeeping System

Scorekeeping must be simple and objective

Often there are many intricacies in how a job is completed and we can’t create a measurement for every “what if” scenario. A good scorekeeping system doesn’t tell you how – just how many. In bowling, we count the number of pins knocked down, period.

Scorekeeping must be self-administered

This is a case where if the participant keeps their own score then they will know immediately whether they won or lost that day, and also how much they improved, regardless of whether or not the coach had a bad day. In golf, we keep our own score on every hole.

Scorekeeping must offer a comparison

Between current personal performance, past personal performance, and an accepted standard. Whatever your recreational activity of choice is, you probably measure yourself against you, not the person best in the world at it.

Scorekeeping should be dynamic

We should be able to review our performance during the game, in near real-time, to be able to make adjustments. If your goal is to lose weight then you’re probably measuring yourself daily to see what works and what doesn’t.

 

Scorekeeping

Scorekeeping is about creating exact measurements that are simple to use, comparing current and past performance, and allowing for immediate feedback. It’s the only way to know if we are winning or losing in the game of business. But most importantly, and you can ask any championship sports team and their fans, scorekeeping primarily exists so that we know when to celebrate.

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