Let’s say you’re a big baseball fan (I know I am), but you spend every game way up in the bleachers because that’s all you can get. You try to follow the games, but eventually you lose interest because it’s just too far away.
Then one day, you get a chance at amazing seats, right over home plate. Sitting there, so close to the action, all of a sudden you’re aware of all these nuances of the game that you never noticed before. You really understand what’s going on, following everything that happens. In fact, the time flies by so quickly that you barely notice the hours pass. At the end of it all, you felt like you were literally IN the game.
In your business, the action is going on down on the field – but where are you? In academia they call it the ivory tower; in business they call it the executive suite, C-suite or penthouse. The point is that when you’re up there, you’re not part of the game. You have completely lost touch with your players. You can’t see the subtleties, the nuances and the details that win or lose a game and you have lost your power to do anything about it.
When it was raining clients, you could get away with that; in today’s economy, you can’t – you need to be in touch and know what’s happening on a daily basis. Otherwise, no one is accountable for their actions. It’s only when you’re on the field or in the front row that you are part of the game; only from there can you see what’s winning or losing the game. And then you’re in a position to influence it.
Sound radical? This is not a new way of doing business; it’s actually a return to an old way that works.
Are you ready for this? It’s time to move your desk.
Executives and managers have to get out of their offices and back onto the floor, back out into the meetings with their clients, back into the rooms with their team, back into their sales force and back onto the production line. It’s time to close the gap between “us” and “them.” If you’re going to keep people accountable, you need to see exactly what they’re doing.
Here’s how this worked for one of my Coaching4Accountability™ clients. When he came to see me, he was stuck and perplexed about an underperforming and inexperienced sales department and didn’t know what to do.
I asked him several open-ended questions that led to an action step of moving his desk from his “throne” upstairs right to the sales department.
Here’s what that move led to:
- Within a few days the owner realized his Sales Manager was not managing at all, but rather managing his kid’s sports teams on the owner’s nickel to the tune of $125,000!!!
- The Sales Manager happens to be his best salesperson, so he put him back on the road immediately; within 10 days, it led to re-capturing a key account that was previously lost due to lack of follow up and accountability; this led to an immediate return of $200,000.
- Within one week, my client identified a salesperson that was clearly not performing, not really even needed; letting him go was a savings of $85,000.
- My client decided to reestablish relationships and personally call on his largest customers. This, along with other actions, led to more than $600,000 in only six weeks!
When we stay in the penthouse, as leaders we’re distancing ourselves from our people. When we’re “up there,” we can never fully understand what’s going on that is destroying our business day by day. Only by getting out of his executive suite and moving his desk could my client identify the under performers on his team.
When people are taking up a disproportionate part of our budget and not contributing proportionately in return, they need to be let go (like the salesperson above) or reassigned (like the Sales Manager). From the front row, you’ll see all the bottlenecks that are blocking productivity and performance, as well as the daily practices that are actually profitable.
What’s really going on in your business, and how do you know? A good leader must check in and check up on a regular basis. Get down there and ask people straight out, “What are you doing? How many people did you call on today? What did they say? What’s your next step to follow up?”
This is NOT micro-managing; this is taking a leadership role – and a coaching role – in ensuring that people meet their expectations. You’re the coach and it’s your job to keep your players accountable. The buck starts with you.