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The Hidden Secret To 3X Performance Improvement with Henry Mittelman
As a coach, you spend your time working with serious and enterprising business owners. Most of them have this nagging sense that their business could, or should be doing much better.
Hopefully they have a proven product or service that’s been accepted by the marketplace. Hopefully their business isn’t a hobby—but rather their primary source of income. They’re working long hours, but when they consider how hard they’re working, they’re not satisfied with their results. While they may hate to admit it—they’re a little bit stuck and they’re not sure why.
The truth of the matter is, anyone can “start” a business. It’s easy. All you need is an idea and some capital. However, as professional coaches, we know that developing and operating a “successful” business is no easy task. The annual failure rate proves that.
Now most successful people have been trained since childhood as well as through their education and prior business experiences to be accountable to others. Parents, teachers and bosses let us know what they expect and we try our best to live up to their standards. But now, you’re client is running his/her own business (or possibly someone else’s business), and if they’re struggling, there’s a good chance they’re not sure why.
From my thirty years of business experience I’ve learned that the most successful people were not always the smartest, not always the most knowledgeable nor did they always possess the most resources. More often than not, they were the people who had the rare ability to maintain a razor-sharp focus on their goals and do the right things—the most important things—day after day after day.
Don’t get me wrong, they may have also had knowledge and the necessary capital resources, both of which can help kick-start things. Knowledge is clearly a prerequisite for getting into the world of business.
But I found that more importantly, it was focus, consistency and above all, the ability to hold themselves and their employees 100 percent accountable which would eventually make their vision and goals a reality. As a professional business coach, my experiences with getting stuck—and getting unstuck—aren’t just anecdotal. I’ve listened to hundreds of stories and I’ve experienced it firsthand.
The Biggest Thing I’ve Learned
Too many CEOs, business owners and serious entrepreneurs have never learned how to hold themselves and their people accountable. Unfortunately, most business books ignore the crucial issue of accountability, focusing instead on loading up readers with cookie-cutter academic or technical knowledge: people skills, productivity, finance, operations, sales, you name it.
There are literally thousands of books that outline the many essential steps to becoming a successful CEO, business owner or entrepreneur. There are even more books about time management, marketing, leadership and motivation (all important).
Luckily for book publishers and authors, people have an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge.
People continue to buy books thinking the concepts or step-by-step instructions of how to do this or that will be the “magic bullet” to success. All of us have been told from our early years that the more knowledge we acquire, the better chance we have at becoming successful. Don’t get me wrong—that’s true. But it’s more than that.
Assuming your client has the proper knowledge and capital to succeed in business—and if they don’t, they never should have entered the race— the only thing really holding them back is not using that knowledge effectively day after day after day.
I am going to share with you the key to a process that no one else is talking about: ACCOUNTABILITY. Why it’s so important? What it can do for your client. How accountability can make the difference between success and failure. And how you can teach your client to use it effectively with their employees to transform their performance.
The concept of personal accountability dictates every choice we make: (1) how we spend our time, (2) how we spend our money or someone else’s money, (3) whether we effectively delegate or compulsively over-control, (4) whether we blame others, (5) make excuses or take responsibility, (6) or how we plan our workday or let distractions control us.
Accountability is where the rubber meets the road. It’s also where most businesses get STUCK. I realize I’m making it sound simple even though we both realize it’s not.
After running a hugely successful national business platform for over twenty years—and mentoring and coaching hundreds of CEOs, serious entrepreneurs and managers for even longer—I know that without a formal level of accountability in a business, success will always just be a hope and a dream.
Let’s face it, there are literally hundreds of major and minor things that need to be done for a business to succeed over the long term. With that being said, operating a successful business will be next to impossible unless the business owner masters the skill of holding people accountable. It’s the same skill and methods I used to catapult my company from $24 million to $400 million.
If you can get your client to put these skills to good use (and I stress use), they will not only dramatically and positively affect the bottom line of their business but also help to reduce the levels of stress your client experiences on a day-in, day-out basis.
The barriers blocking growth exist in businesses and companies of all sizes, so whether your client is a small-business owner or the CEO of a multimillion-dollar corporation this strategy will work and make the business dramatically more effective.
Your client may have bought into the myth that business ownership requires exceptionally long hours, lots of hard work and sacrifice. While this is clearly true during the early stages of a business life cycle, owning a business should not be viewed as a life sentence of hard time.
Some business owners are convinced that they are “experts”— they know it all and are not willing to challenge old assumptions or consider new ideas that could substantially improve their business and life. They’re so busy defending their position (even though they’re miserable) that it’s almost impossible to help them.
If they do want help, all that’s required is a simple and effective shift in approach—a shift in mindset—a better way to manage.
Too often when I sit down and listen to my clients who are CEOs, business owners and others in leadership positions, I get the feeling they’re leading through mental telepathy. Rather than communicate clear expectations—how success will be defined—they assume their employees know what to do and how to do it.
Thinking that people understand exactly what you say, and what you want, is a myth. What results is hesitation, indecision, uncertainty and failed outcomes. Healthy teamwork, initiative and productivity go out the window.
Properly setting expectations for employees or team members is a critical dimension in quality workplaces according to a huge study undertaken by The Gallup Organization.
EDUCATE YOUR CLIENT: THEY HAVE TO STOP ASSUMING EMPLOYEES UNDERSTAND. Provide your client these guidelines and they will see their employees deliver more consistent high level performance.
1. When you speak with an employee, start with a vision of what you want the end result to look like…“The Goal.” Not just what you want done but the outcomes you want to achieve and when you want the project completed.
2. Discuss how YOU define “excellent performance.” Paint a complete picture for the employee. Remember in many instances what you say and what people hear are two very different things.
3. When you’re done explaining what you want and when you want it (“The GOAL”), the single most important change you can make is to have your employee re-explain to you in their own words “The GOAL”.
4. They need to be specific in how they plan on accomplishing it, and confirm they understand and commit to when it will be completed. If what you hear doesn’t make sense to you, it’s time to re-explain “The GOAL” and objective… and start the process of having them state it in their own words all over again. Before they leave the meeting or your office you need to know for sure (by hearing it from them) that they know exactly what’s expected of them and by when. Do this step consistently and you’ll be amazed at how much better they perform.
5. Follow up by putting the expectations in writing. This way there’s no misunderstanding down the road as to what YOU expected, how YOU will define success and when YOU expect completion.
6. Give them feedback—and often! This is one of the major failures of business owners. If it’s a long-term “Goal,” check in with them regularly and get an update to see if they’re on track. If they aren’t, you need to understand why and potentially provide guidance.
7. The annual performance review is too late to let employees know if they’re not meeting your expectations. Schedule an informal review time with your employees at least once a quarter. For an employee that’s underperforming, you should be meeting with them weekly or monthly.
8. During the feedback meeting ask your employees how they think they’re doing. You want to make sure you’re both on the same page. There’s nothing worse than having an employee who thinks they’re doing a great job and you think they’re performing at a sub-standard level.
Follow these steps and you will see performance improve, stress levels go down and bottom-line results accelerate.
About the Contributor Henry Mittelman
Henry Mittelman provides his clients an unbiased clear lens, guidance, sounding board and the strategic counsel to effectively implement the appropriate procedures, systems and tactics necessary to drive the business forward day after day! Henry is a distinguished member of Forbes Coaches Council, a Keynote Speaker and author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling Book “Get Your BusinessUnSTUCK for GOOD!” www.ceoadvisorypartners.com Phone: 617-901-6159
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