“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Of all the 8 Wastes, Talent waste scares me the most. Talent built all our businesses, and only talent can drive them to the next level. If you aren’t nurturing it, then you’re wasting it. Unused talent in a business is like water freezing and thawing across a mountainside: eventually it will bring the whole thing down.
This article isn’t about how to drive people to work harder, put in more hours, or even close more sales. It’s about how to inspire people to want to build your company. Pressuring people may get your more short-term sales, but only coaching them will yield the creativity and innovation you need to stand apart.
Tough Love for the Boss:
The hard thing for those in charge is that when our staff’s talent is wasted, it is usually our fault. We all know a team member who we feel isn’t contributing in growing the company. But before you call them into your office, ask yourself if you’ve been proactive to help them improve.
We all know the baseline of what we need to contribute in our jobs. These are expectations. Whether that’s closing a million in sales in Q2 or making sure your patient’s teeth are clean and healthy, these are the things we must do in our jobs.
Most businesses do a good job at communicating expectations. Whether it’s in a job description or more abstract, expectations are easy. But expectations only maintain your company, they don’t grow it.
You’ve got your goals. You know what you want your revenue to be next quarter. You’ve probably projected your Gross Margin and Net Profit. But do you have a plan for how your team will grow your business?
A Quarterly Rock is a goal that you set with key team members that acts as a roadmap for personal and business growth. It’s a simple concept that is shockingly easy to complicate, so here are the basics:
- A rock cannot be something that would have happened anyway (it shouldn’t be an expectation)
- If you’re just starting, aim for 3 or less per quarter per individual
- The team member chooses the rock and must be personally invested in it. Don’t force something on them they don’t like because you think it will be better for the company.
- The boss works as a coach both during the choosing and meets regularly to see how the goal is progressing and to help it will happen on time.
Turning Goals into Reality:
If you set Rocks with your team and then don’t follow up, they’ll probably fail. Not because they don’t care, but because it will appear like you don’t. If you don’t follow up, expectation-driven tasks will rush in like weeds and choke the Rock out.
Nurturing Rocks for your team is a significant time investment, so choose your key team members wisely. You’ll need to work with them individually and over/above your existing expectations-based meetings.
Whether or not the Rocks are achieved is up to both of you. The team member has to do it, but you need to nurture, prioritize, and provide the resources necessary for it to happen.
The Impact on your Business:
Rocks shouldn’t be a secret. Other team members should know about them and be engaged. Achieving them is both a personal and a business win.
People will be watching how you deal with the Rocks as much as the person doing them. They’ll be watching how much you support and in what ways. They’ll watch your reaction when the Rocks are met as well as your reaction when they aren’t.
If you stand by your team member, help them to see their Rocks through and make that commitment, you will have done more than stem the waste of their talent. You’ll have challenged the others to step up just by showing how invested you are.