When “Bob” (not his real name) finished college, he got a job at one of the large packaged goods companies that is based in New Jersey. Within a few years, Bob had climbed the corporate ladder, had changed jobs along the way a number of times, and ultimately (and by the young age of 38) became president of a $50 million organization based in Los Angeles.
We have Frank Stronach (now retired) on the other side. Frank never finished high school and decided to open his own business at the age of 22. Frank started with one staff member, bootstrapped his business, and over the course of many years—and many acquisitions—grew the company from a fledgling startup to a worldwide conglomerate with offices around the world and many thousands of staff.
Both Bob and Frank carry the title president (or CEO).
There’s a big difference, though, between these two individuals.
Yes, they are both clearly successful, and yes, they both know how to manage and run a company.
The main difference is one is an entrepreneur and the other is a president for hire.
In both cases, however, Bob and Frank manage a large team of people. What they both figured out, which is probably one of the hardest parts of running and growing a business, is how to manage people.
Is Managing People the Hardest Part of Running a Business?
That’s the million-dollar question. Literally and figuratively!
Your ability to grow a business, or manage your way up the corporate ladder, is almost entirely dependent on how well you manage people.
When you first start your business, everything is about YOU. How good you are at marketing. How good you are at sales, customer service, delivery, strategy, and so on.
As the company gets larger, the dynamic switches from being about YOU to being about THEM.
By THEM, I mean your staff. How good they are at marketing. How good they are at sales, customer service, delivery, strategy, and so on.
It’s not whether you’re the best salesperson at the company. It’s now a matter of you hiring the best sales manager and salespeople—people who know more than you and people who are better than you—and leaving them alone to do their jobs.
Your role shifts from tactical to strategic.
Goal Aligned Leadership
A number of years ago, I was introduced to Michael Caron who runs a company called Northbound Sales. Michael introduced me to his training program, “Goal Aligned Leadership.”
Although his training program is centered around managing salespeople, I adopted some of his recommended practices throughout my day-to-day cadence, not just within the sales department but across all direct reports.
As part of his Goal Aligned Leadership process, Michael trains the manager (or leader) to conduct a structured weekly one-on-one meeting. He calls these meetings “Goals 2 Growth,” or as he’s acronymized it, G2G.
The idea behind this structured prescheduled G2G weekly meeting is that you establish a formal process, where you sit down with your direct reports and review what their key goals and priorities are for the upcoming week. These goals are, of course, discussed and agreed upon by both the manager (you) and your direct report.
The goals need to be clearly defined, and obviously attainable, and since your direct report is agreeing to these goals, the hope is that they will achieve success.
Let’s say, for example, that the direct report suggests they have five key goals for the upcoming week. You discuss the goals and agree that they’re important to the department and business.
A key goal isn’t “meet my sales quota for the quarter.” Yes, that’s a goal, but inside that goal, there are many smaller goals, for example, hire two new salespeople, a sales assistant, or sales engineer.
If hiring the sales assistant is something the direct report believes will contribute toward them achieving their team’s sales quota, and the hire is within budget, then one of the goals for week 1 could be to write a job description for the sales assistant role and share that with HR.
In week 2, presuming your direct report accomplished their goal, and the job description is written, the new week’s goal could be to conduct first-round interviews with at least two sales assistants.
Your direct report needs to email you their G2G report at least one day prior to the G2G meeting. Inside the G2G report will be the last week’s goals, their priority level (A, B, or C), and whether they were accomplished (100%, 75%, and so on). On the same page will be next week’s goals, listed in the same way.
When you sit down with your direct report, you now have an organized document you can review. Did they achieve last week’s objectives, yes or no? And if not, why not? Discuss.
During the week, and unless there’s an emergency, you should leave your direct report alone, and same holds for the direct report seeking guidance from you. Unless the place is on fire, leave them alone to accomplish their goals. You will find out soon enough how they’re doing.
If they’re consistently achieving their goals, then you’ve got a potential rock star. If not, then you need to understand why.
Are they setting unrealistic expectations of themselves, are you setting unrealistic expectations for them? Or is it possible you have the wrong person in the role? Either way, Lucy, you have splainin to do.
The Making of a Bob or Frank
Both Bob and Frank, the two people from the beginning of this blog post, grew into their roles. They didn’t just start by managing dozens, or hundreds, of staff at the start, but rather, they managed maybe one person, then two, and then slowly and over time, they grew into their role as a leader.
Being successful is not about how great you are. It’s about how great your team is and how well you manage your team.
If your business has been stagnant for the last few years, it might be time to look in the mirror. If you’ve been struggling in that capacity, then maybe it’s time to try the G2G. You never know … it just might work.
Whatever you choose to do, good luck.
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