Five Ways to Win at Accountability

Posted by johngies
Image Courtesy of Wikimedia modified by JRG

“I am so frustrated, Steve just won’t do what I asked him to do. He is always late and I don’t know what to do”. This is what one of my clients recently shared. Actually, most clients share some version of this frustration, they feel their team is not being ACCOUNTABLE.

You Can watch the video here

What is accountable? Common expectations of the term means there is someone to blame if things go wrong. I’d like to suggest it is as simple as keeping our word to ourselves, our colleagues, and our roles. It is really about making and keeping commitments.

What I have learned is that there are several things that must be in place for accountability or ownership to be present.

The first is clarity of expectations. Is everyone clear on what is expected and when? You would be surprised at how often we are not clear. Ivan used to always promise a result by the close of business on Friday. That sounds specific, doesn’t it? Let’s dig deeper.

  • Is that East coast or West coast time?
  • Is it 5:00 PM or is it when Ivan stops working?

For me, close of business is 5:00 PM MST… for Ivan it was midnight PST. See the problem?

Next, does the employee have the capability to achieve the goal. You may think they do but do they feel they can? One of the biggest de-motivators is feeling like you can’t do the job. Ask yourself and them:

  • Have they performed a task like this before?
  • How do they plan to approach the task?
  • Are there resources they need or obstacles in the way?

Have you all agreed on what the measurement of success will be? Are you really measuring the right things? I can remember a sales team where the only measurement was $2.5 Million in new revenue per sales rep, per year. This sales team had a 76% annual turnover in the two years I was with them primarily because they were measuring the wrong things. They could have been measuring the activity that leads to $2.5 Million in sales.  Number of calls, number of presentations, number of proposals, etc. You really can’t control your results you can only control the activity you put  in , in pursuit of your results.

Continuous feedback. We’ve all heard practice makes perfect. That is Bull S^%$. Deliberate practice makes perfect. Deliberate practice is executing the activity and then learning and adjusting the activity. It’s like a baby learning to walk. They stumble, they fall, they crawl they take a few steps, and then they are walking. If they just practiced stumbling over and over again, they would never have made it upright. They were getting constant feedback from parent, and from the activity to move themselves forward. What makes you think that as an owner or manager that you don’t need to give your team feedback?

And then there are consequences. When the job is well done, everyone can move forward. Sometimes it leads to bonuses and promotions. If the job is not well done… Well, there can be negative consequences ranging from write ups to demotions to being given the opportunity to find a job that better suits one’s temperament and capabilities. There you have it. Five steps you can take to help your team be accountable and to get stuff done.  If you would like to learn more about how you can build, grow, and scale your business, check out the resources at

Leverage your Algorithm and Protocols to Overcome Overwhelm

Posted by johngies

Lately, many clients and colleagues are complaining of overwhelm. With too much to do, they feel like they are on the hamster wheel.

Man running on hamster wheel
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

This is crazy. If you google productivity and time management, you will get 495,000,000 results. Clearly, there are a lot of tools. I have recently reviewed John Wooden’s book on Leadership. For those that don’t know, he is one of the winningest coaches in college basketball ever. In his book and legend, he was famous for protocol.

Day one of training was how to put on your socks so as not to get a blister. For Coach Wooden it was not about if you “won” the game, it was about how you played the game. Did you play your best game. That was his standard.

Taking that now to the subject of overwhelm. We live in a world of distraction; there are so many shiny, interesting things.

I can go on. The point is where is your work in here?

One of the best metaphors that I have found useful in this last year is the idea of creating algorithms and protocols.

Algorithms are “IF” – “THEN” formulas. If this happens, then I will do that. For example, IF I wake up within 20 minutes of 5:00, THEN I will get up, then brush my teeth, THEN drop to the floor for my morning stretching routine and so on.

There are two algorithms here:

  1. IF I get up THEN I will brush my teeth.
  2. IF I brush my teeth THEN I will drop to the floor and stretch.

Think about your business. When a customer schedules a service call THEN you pull up their record and attach the file to the service call. THEN prior to the service call, your representative reviews the record so they can personalize the call.

There are all sorts of ways to create algorithms in your business:

  • Mortgage Broker – IF I drive by an open house THEN I will stop to introduce myself to the Realtor.
  • Roofer -IF I meet an Insurance Agent, THEN I will schedule a call with them.
  • Wealth Advisor – WHEN I meet a business owner, THEN I will ask about their 401K or retirement plans in line with Colorado regulations.

Take a few minutes to think about your business and what algorithms can you create that will propel your business forward.

Want to learn how to create a winning customer attraction algorithm? Come check out the resources at

Quit Fighting Fires: Four Steps to Conquer Overwhelm

Posted by johngies

I have quite a few clients these days who are feeling overwhelmed. It feels like they are all fighting fires. And while it is exciting to fight and extinguish fires, if this is how you are spending your days, you are not living life as an owner. It means you are not spending the appropriate time planning and executing on strategy. Instead, you are reacting to the crisis of the day.

It doesn’t have to be this way. You can schedule an appointment with yourself EVERY week and KEEP IT. This appointment is to review your strategies, which one or two will you move forward this week? What specific action will you take that will be most effective? Now schedule that in your calendar.

Now let’s look to your team, why are they interrupting you? Are there questions you have not definitively answered? Can you schedule a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly 1-1 conversation with them and KEEP IT? This 1-1 will cover what they are working on, what’s working, and where can you help them gain access to resources to move forward.

Now ask yourself what systems are broken, such that that your work is not moving forward as expected? Have you even thought of your business systems because “everybody knows them”? Taking the time to document your systems, and then ensuring the appropriate members, have access to the documentation and understanding of expectations, will prevent a LOT of fires.

Quit Fighting Fires and Invest in Fire Prevention by taking the time to:

  1. Review your plans
  2. Choose your Priorities
  3. Schedule your team conversations
  4. Build and Monitor Your systems

If you would like to learn more about how you can stop fighting fires to enjoy your days and weeks, Let’s schedule a call,

The Dead Zone!

Posted by johngies

When you and I turn our thermostat up or down the equipment kicks in and the temperature adjusts to a nice comfortable temperature. You and I call this our comfort zone. HVAC professionals call this the Dead Zone!

As I graduated from college, I completed my first Five-year plan. Then life happened. I got promoted and if I wanted the job, I was going to have to move to St. Louis MO. (This was not in my plan). I was 24 years old and had been out of college about eighteen (18). I had a core group of friends, and I was comfortable. However, I wanted the experience, And I wanted to be an executive, so I moved 700 miles away to St. Louis, Missouri.

I got there, went to work the next day and …said OH MY Cuss WORDS WHAT HAVE I DONE. You see, I wasn’t very good at my first job in selling, I was lonely, I was uncomfortable and well just miserable…Then I remembered that I liked Tae Kwon DO when I was in school, so I found a club and began to experience some success. I changed jobs into a new industry. I was just starting to get comfortable in the new role when my new company said… “John, we’d like you to move to Denver,” This was in my Plan. I moved to Denver and 5 years and two (2) months after I wrote out that five-year plan, I achieved it. I was living in Denver as a professional, earning more than I had even planned on and I had earned my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  If I had been unwilling to step out of my comfort zone this would not have happened.

What is this Comfort Zone that everyone talks about? Wikipedia the online Encyclopedia says it is an artificial set of mental boundaries we’ve set up. While we operate within those boundaries, we are comfortable and secure. The result can be that we become rigid, and rule bound by these boundaries. Then, there will come a day when we know we need to change but we will be afraid to leave the comfort of our Comfort Zone and it will become our Dead Zone.

The law of Entropy that says it is the natural order of things to degenerate into chaos or disorder. That’s what happens when we fall into our comfort zones and become satisfied with life. When we don’t continuously push our limits and stretch, we start to move towards disorder.

Here are some thoughts on how you can avoid the Dead zone while enjoying the comfort zone:

1.    Recognize it when you are in the comfort zone. When there are things you will do and others you will not and then only in a certain way…it might be the dead zone.
2.    Continuously review your progress and decide what area of growth will enhance your life. Right now, for me it is building relationships with business owners in a variety of industries that I have not worked in to help them grow their business. The imposter shows up. And yet I have helped Auto Shops, CPA’s, Attorney’s, Tech Companies and more, significantly enhance their business. And it is still Very Uncomfortable. Studies at the University of Chicago concluded that the highest achievers are those who consistently push themselves out of their comfort zones.
3.    When you get comfortable in your new level of performance savor it.  Then Start all over again.

When you make the commitment grow and move from one achievement to the next from one comfort zone to the next, you never have time to enter the Dead Zone.

Check out the resources

Communication the Number One Soft Skill with Hard Results

Posted by johngies
Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Last year LinkedIn recently released a report on the top ten job skills employers wanted in new hires. Communication was number One! I could have told you that. Unless you are a hermit or you are truly working alone, your ability to communicate is crucial to your success. Everything you do involves communicating to other people.

Some studies say we lose anywhere from $15,000 per employee per annum to $26,000 per employee per annum due to poor communication. Think about it:

  • Email ping pong because people are not clear in their emails
  • Misunderstandings
  • Policies that are not clear
  • Conflict
  • Quality errors

I am curious. We all communicate, and we have all been communicating since before we were born. Why are so many people so bad at it.

I suspect the following four things:

  • Lack of Emotional Awareness

It is interesting to me how many people are not aware of the impact their communication is having on others. They leave an emotional wake behind them as they move through the day, spewing whatever they think of. Or the impact of demanding a result without building the context for their team; The Why?

  • Self – Centeredness

This was a lesson I had to learn early in my career. It cost me a promotion and a raise. The principles in Dale Carnegies book saved my career. I learned how to connect with people, how to understand their needs and how to create alignment.

There is an agenda to every communication. The challenge we all face is that because we see the world through our own eyes, we assume everybody else sees the same thing we do. They don’t. When we slow down and as Stephen Covey said, “Seek First to Understand before you seek to be understood,” we get remarkable responses to our communication.

  • Not understanding the Chemistry of Communication

The way we communicate has an electro chemical reaction in your body which then produces a response, positive or negative. Just seeing the word “NO” on a screen will release cortisol, adrenaline, and other chemicals in our body. And as those chemicals reach our nervous system it shuts down and goes into Fight Flight or Freeze.  It limits our capacity to think clearly. It reduces our willingness to collaborate.

I don’t think any leader wants their team or customer in this state.

The opposite is also true. When we communicate with the behaviors and language of trust, the body responds with Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin. These chemicals hit the system and open us up to collaboration, creativity, and trust. And it is not hard to do.

Behaviors like a smile and eye contact work remarkably well. Words like, “I trust your judgement, I believe in you,” can do wonders.

  • Not having a clear outcome in mind

Lack of clarity is a major stumbling block in communication, especially the important communication. Again, it goes back to our self-centeredness.  Often we will have an outcome in mind. And, because the brain is lazy, we will shortcut the communication. A simple example from my workshops is as follows:

John: My wife and I are considering a dog. What would you recommend?

Audience: A Dachshund, Schnauzer, Poodle, Border Collie, A Golden.

John: I forgot to say I am allergic to most dog’s and my wife wants one under 20 lbs.

Audience: A Havanese, a Poodle, A Maltese

As I clarified my desires, I got better results. Think about the projects you assign to your team. Are you clear about the outcome you are looking for?