The one question to ask yourself when you want to take (for real) time off this summer

If you take time off and still have to work… is it really a vacation?

I daresay it’s not!

And yet I get it… as business owners this is easier said than done. We have clients who rely on us. Stuff to be done. The business needs to keep on running even when we want to step away for a few days, a week or more. (We might even be just a *little* bit addicted to our work, but hey… that’s a convo for another time.)

So does this mean we never get to take time off? Heck no!

What it means is that we need to be PURPOSEFUL and PLAN for how we are going to take time off… unplugged, no checking in with clients or team kind of time.

It all starts with asking yourself one question:

“If I was to take this week off [INSERT DATE HERE], what could fall apart while I’m away?”

What is on my to-do list for the week? What are my ongoing tasks that need to be completed?
What could happen with clients? With team? With projects?
What could stall? Or fall apart?

Take a few minutes and make a list… go ahead, I’ll wait here for you.

Now let’s look at your list and run it through the following filters…

  • Which of these things could I get done ahead of time?
  • Which of these things could wait until I’m back?
  • Which of these things could I ask someone else to take care of for me?

Mark each item on your list accordingly, and then it’s time to make some decisions.

  • For those things that could be done ahead of time, set aside some extra time to do so (I get that this isn’t 100% ideal as it means working more before you take time off, but that can still be worth it to enjoy some for real unplugged time)
  • For those things that could wait until you are back, go ahead and reschedule them (we often think things *need* to be done when in fact it could be OK to postpone them for a week or so)
  • For those things that other folks can take care of in your absence, this is where we need to create solid, documented processes so that others can do the work while we are away (and that we work together to train and empower them to feel confident to take care of things during this time.)

This is exactly what we are doing in my business right now. Each of us on the team has chosen a week off this summer, and then each person is responsible to ask themselves this question and plan/prep accordingly (with a focus on updating/documenting our processes so that as a team we can take care of each others work.)

Whether it’s a stay-cation or a ‘travel again now that the world is opening up’ style vacation – my wish for you is to be able to fully unplug, rest and enjoy some time just for YOU. (Because we all need it!)

I’m curious – what are your plans for taking time off this summer? Pop a comment below and let me know…

The Management Trap

Yes, it’s important to hire. Yes, it’s important to delegate. Yes, team makes all things possible.

BUT there is something that many business owners aren’t prepared for when they start hiring.

The management trap.

Let’s first dig in and define what management is.

  • Management is about planning – taking a goal and turning it into an actionable plan
  • Management is about people – ensuring the right folks are on the team to execute on the plan
  • Management is about process – finding the best way to get the work done
  • Management is about progress – seeing the plan through to completion and getting stuff done!

It’s the role of a manager to make sure the right things get done, in the right way, at the right time and by the right people.

In the earlier days of our business journey – before we hire – the management part is pretty easy because we only have to manage is ourselves!

But as we grow, and with each new hire… we have people to manage. They need communication around what is going on in the business. They need clarity around their role and what they are doing. They need support to ensure they have all they need to do their best work. They need accountability to get things done right and on time.

We also have to manage projects. We need to create systems and structure. We need strategic planning to keep everything on track.

Put simply… The bigger the business becomes, the more there is to manage.

The question is – who is doing the managing?

There is a ‘rude awakening’ moment with many of the early to mid 6-figure coaches, trainers and agency owners that I work with.

They hire, thinking that will free up their time and they will be able to FINALLY focus on the things they really want to do in their business. Only to find that instead their days are now filled with things like:

  • Checking in with the team to make sure stuff is getting done
  • Thinking constantly about what is coming up
  • Wondering if they have the right folks on the team or not?
  • Answering team questions
  • Trying to figure out the best way to get things done
  • Dealing with the ‘odds and ends’ that come up in the day to day running of the business

This is the management trap.

It’s a rude awakening for many CEOs because a) they didn’t realize how much work management actually is and b) they aren’t very good at it! They find it tiring, frustrating and draining. It’s taking up so much of their time that they can’t actually focus on growing their business and doing what they do best.

If you don’t purposely hire someone to help here – like a Certified OBM – then management will fall on YOUR shoulders. Which may not be the best thing for you, your team or your business.

A Team You Can Trust

I was having a conversation with a colleague recently and he said something that really hit home:

“I know I need help Tina, but I just haven’t been able to find anyone I can trust yet.”

Mmmmmm – I felt this one deeply, because I totally get it.

Trust is the heart of everything when it comes to team.

And it often gets misunderstood…

We think that trust is about the other person. It’s about “finding someone I can trust”.

Trust is something you create as a leader – it’s not just something they show up with.

Let’s break this down a bit. What does trust look like?

  • They keep commitments and get stuff done
  • They own mistakes when they happen
  • They are real with what they can (and can’t) do
  • They care about the business and your customers
  • They are there when needed (within reasonable boundaries of course)
  • They have your back

It’s easy to look at this list and think it’s all about ‘them’. About who they are. That these are innate qualities that they either have (or don’t have.)

That’s simply not true.

Everything on this list is more about your leadership than it is about them. It’s about how you engage with your team. It’s about expectations and agreements. It’s about speaking their language and making sure everyone is on the same page. It’s about communication and culture.

When we look through the lens of leadership, trust is something that we get to build! It’s something that we can own and create with our team. It’s not something that we have to “cross our fingers and hope that we finally found someone we can trust.”

So much more empowering when we look at it that way, yes?

To be clear, it is important to find the right person for the role. To make sure they are a fit for what you need and bring the skills/aptitude you are looking for.

But when you hire the right person for the role then it becomes your responsibility to lead them to success. To build the trust that you so deeply crave.

This is the heart of what I’ll be teaching in our 3-part Team Leadership Workshop that starts next week. If you are interested reply to this email and I’ll send over the details.

Does it ever feel like you and your team are speaking a different language?

Maybe you are…

I see this often with the clients I work with – visionaries in particular – where they share their big ideas with the team, and then assume that the team automatically knows what to do from there. They think that stuff is happening only to find out later that the things they thought were happening aren’t (or that the team is off in a totally different direction.)

My dear fellow visionaries, allow me to say this with all the love in my heart. You may be confusing the heck out of your team because you are speaking a different language than they are.

Visionaries think in big picture. Ideas. Possibilities. We think in generalities. We are future focused. And we generally like to move fast (“I’ve got this great idea and it’s going to change everything. Let’s make it happen now – woo hoo!!”)

The folks on your team don’t think the same way you do. They think in specifics (“what will it actually take to get there?”) They think in terms of priorities (“Here’s what needs to happen first, then we can look at this next”) They think in terms of capacity and what it will actually take to get things done well (“I know you want it all now but this is going to take longer than you think it will…”)

Ultimately this a good thing. We need each other. Visionaries need doers. We need operators. We need managers. We need the folks that will see all the steps and get things done.

Likewise our team needs us to set the vision, the goals, the focus… they need our big ideas, otherwise there is nothing to work towards.

BUT it all falls apart when we don’t know how to communicate – when the way we show up as a leader ends up bringing more confusion than clarity. <— Oooof

If you’ve ever felt like “ugh! why aren’t they getting it!” or “I swear we talked about this but they went off and did something else.” If you feel like you keep having the same conversations over and over again this is pointing to a communication issue.

The good news is – this is VERY fixable when you know how to speak their language.

When you know how to translate your big ideas into actionable items. So that your team really gets what you are asking for, and you can all move forward together and be on the same page.

This is exactly what I’ll be teaching in the first class of our Team Leadership workshop that starts next week. I’ll be sharing with you a specific process to have these conversations, including ‘what to say’ (and what not to say!).

Bottom line is this – it’s up to you as the leader to ensure that your communication is clear and everyone is on the same page. It’s not up to them to try to make sense of what you are saying.

If you are interested in the workshop email me at tina@tinaforsyth.com and I’ll send over the details.

Accountability

Have you created a culture of accountability in your business?

Or are you just assuming (hoping) people will ‘get stuff done’?

Every leader wants to have a team of folks who are accountable. Who take responsibility and get their stuff done correctly and on time. (This is also referred to as a self-managing team.)

But not all leaders get that it is THEIR responsibility to create a culture of accountability.

Accountability is not a solo act – it’s not just about hiring the right person, crossing your fingers and hoping they will (finally!) be the one to get stuff done. On time. Correctly.

Accountability is the RESULT of your leadership – of all the things that come before the stage of actually getting the work done.

Does your team get the overall vision and direction of the company? <– folks want to be a part of something bigger than themselves

Does each person understand their role in service of the big picture? <- folks want to understand why their work matters

Are you making clear requests? <– there are 3 parts to a clear request, it’s not just “hey, do this thing”

Have you set an expectation of what you are looking for? <– it’s important to lay out what successful completion of a task or project looks like

How are you ensuring that your team is operating in their strengths? <– many problems arise when we ask folks to do stuff that, truthfully, they shouldn’t be doing at all…

Are you on the same page re: deadlines & priorities? <– SOOO many problems arise here, especially when there’s a lot going on.

How are you going to communicate with each other around progress? <– if you aren’t in the loop re: progress then don’t be surprised when progress isn’t being made

What happens if your team member gets stuck? Or falls behind? <– how are you there to support them through this? (vs. just leaving them to fend for themselves…)

This is exactly what we are going to be working through together – and what I’ll be teaching – in my new team leadership workshop coming up later this month (reply to this email for details…)

Here’s the bottom line:

Like many things in life – you get out of it what you are willing to put into it.

Team is not just about ‘finding the right person’ – so that you can get back to work and they can just *magically* get stuff done (with little to no effort on your part.)

It’s about working together – especially in those early days – so that you can all be on the same page, working towards a common goal, each of you in your strengths. It’s about supporting each person to do their best work, to be allowed to make mistakes, to keep learning and to empower them to be all they are meant to be.

Accountability is not a solo act – it’s the result of strong leadership.

Encouraging your team to make mistakes

“Say what? Why the heck would I want to encourage my team to make mistakes?”

As I’ve been prepping for a new team leadership course that I’m working on (details coming soon) one of the things I’ve come to see is this:

There are a lot of businesses out there that have a culture of perfectionism.

And perfectionism could be the very reason why their team is struggling.

A culture of perfectionism means that people feel like they have to do it right. The first time. All the time.

And when they mess it up or make a mistake, it becomes a BIG deal.

They become so afraid of making mistakes that they can end up:

  • constantly second guessing themselves
  • getting caught up in every little detail to the point they don’t get things done
  • relying on other people (you?) to give them the right answers or tell them what to do before taking action
  • quitting because they are too overwhelmed and stressed out about it all

Put simply, when it’s not OK to make mistakes then people can’t do their best work. And that is a problem.

Now perfectionism can be sneaky… as leaders we may not even realize that we have created a culture of perfectionism!

Perfectionism sneaks in when we do things like:

  • Take over when someone makes a mistake. When our response is “just let me fix it”… instead of empowering them to fix the mistake on their own
  • Expect them to ‘hit the ground running’ the day we start working together… and then question why things aren’t happening as quickly as we would like. (It takes time for people to get to know you and your business.)
  • Let someone go the moment something is done wrong or it feels like something is missing… vs. digging deeper to see if it can be resolved (others on the team will see this happening too)
  • Get outwardly mad or frustrated when someone makes a mistake… it’s OK to feel mad or frustrated (we are all human!) but to lead and respond from that place is damaging. Especially when it happens on a regular basis.
  • Hang over their shoulder and question their every move, with things like “why are you doing it that way? I would have done it this way”…
  • Question their recommendations or advice, especially when you’ve hired them to bring those recommendations to you.

“So does this mean I just let mistakes slide?”

Heck no! We don’t want mistakes to happen on a regular basis, and nor do we want to just let things slide when they do.

Encouraging mistakes means that we create a culture where two things are true:

  1. It’s OK to make mistakes
  2. We EMPOWER our team to fix their mistakes

When we create a culture where it’s OK to make mistakes a few things start to happen. People start taking more action because they aren’t getting as caught up in “I have to do it right!!” They move faster. They become more creative and innovative. They are more engaged in their work. They may also bring more caring to their work (because they are no longer afraid of judgement or having to operate in defensive mode all the time.)

And when they do make a mistake – because lets be real, we all do – then they are empowered to fix it. To explore options and bring solution to the table. To get support from you or other team members as needed. To do what it takes to make it right AND prevent it from happening again in the future.

I’ve always said that I don’t care if someone on my team makes a mistake – what I do care about is if they are willing to own it and fix it. And in my 20+ years of being in business I have yet to see a mistake that couldn’t be fixed…

Here’s to making more mistakes! So that we may move forward faster & together.