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What’s the “Real” Business Challenge?

by Trilogy Partners on Dec 04, 2018 1:59:04 PM

What holds a business back? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see even successful companies struggle to grow. When working with Trilogy clients, challenges typically surface in the following categories:

  1. Fundamental business issues
  2. Culture of the organization
  3. Attitude towards change

Let’s explore each of these critical areas in more detail:

1. Fundamental business issues can be defined in two categories:

Growth: Strategy, Sales/Marketing and Organizational
Sustainability:
People, Financial and Processes

Examine the company and ask the following questions:

  • Is there a clear, concise written strategic plan that is aligned by all members of the team?
  • Are marketing and sales efforts being tracked, measured and getting consistent results?
  • Is there a current and future organizational chart outlining expectations, gaps and opportunities for advancement?
  • Is recruiting, training, onboarding, and compensation putting the right people in the right seats?
  • Does leadership understand what is “behind” the numbers and utilize a financial dashboard to guide decisions and increase the bottom line?
  • Are processes current and effective, making the business more competitive and more profitable.

2. The culture of the organization as measured by the following characteristics:

Foundation: Trust, Conflict, and Communications
Results:
Accountability, Courage, and Passion

Consider the following questions:

  • Is there real trust; that is, the ability to tell one another the hard truth and not be afraid to offend because of the positive intentions?
  • Is healthy conflict encouraged to get the best ideas from different point of views?
  • Is there 2-way communication that is understood at all levels of the organization with clear expectations?
  • Are all employees consistently accountable to specific measurable results?
  • Does everyone in the organization have the courage to make tough decisions and admit to mistakes?
  • Are people engaged and passionate about the company’s vision?

3. Attitude towards change

Change can be intimidating and can mean many things. When we talk about change, we focus on a willingness to embrace change, how much change can the organization handle, and what rate of change is acceptable?

What is the company’s attitude toward change? Consider the following:

  • How much change can the organization handle with its current employees, processes, technology and resources?
  • How fast can the company change emotionally, financially and organizationally?

For change to take hold, leadership must address these questions otherwise, any fundamental or cultural initiatives will fail.

So, what’s the “real” business challenge? It’s rarely ever just one thing but rather, some combination of the questions above. At Trilogy, we don’t believe that these challenges should hold a company back. Rather, addressing common issues can give a business the boost it needs. Find out how we can help; call Trilogy Partners at 609-688-0428 for a complimentary consultation.

 

 

School Smarts + Street Smarts = Success

by Trilogy Partners on Oct 01, 2018 12:46:28 PM

When working with Trilogy clients, I often tell them the story of Mitch and Jack, two high school friends with contrasting personalities.  Mitch was a loner, a straight-A student who always completed the extra credit homework and was essentially the pompous, go-to answer man when the rest of us stared back at Mr. Carmen with dazed expressions.

Jack, on the other hand, was a good student who finished his homework during lunch, right before class.  He often showed up a few minutes late, usually detained by friends seeking his brotherly advice. Jack was a very good listener and involved in many school and community activities.

Many years after graduation, I saw both men at a high school reunion.  I found it fascinating to learn how their lives had evolved. Mitch graduated at the top of his class from an Ivy League school with a law degree.  He had moved around and through various prestigious law firms as well as three wives.  His continual complaining and negativity turned off our classmates and sadly, they drifted away from his table.

Conversely, Jack earned his Associates degree and started working at IBM where he was able to complete his Bachelors.  Through the years, he moved with the company and had been promoted many times.  He now led a huge regional sales team, was married with two children, had settled into a new home and was thankful he could become more involved in the community.  The same classmates who sought his brotherly advice decades earlier were still his friends.

Like many, I grew up believing that success in school equaled success in life and in the workplace.  Intellectual Quotient (IQ testing) dominated society’s view of human potential for a hundred years.  People with school smarts or high IQs, were analytical, logical, rational and could retain and recall information at high levels. At the time of my reunion, I was reading about street smarts or people with high Emotional Intelligence (EI) who can recognize, understand and manage their own emotions and recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.

This new concept of emotional intelligence was clarified when I reflected on how Mitch and Jack’s lives transformed into such dissimilar directions.

So why is EI important for business owners and their employees? Scientific data shows a correlation between emotional intelligence and proven success in our personal and working lives.  Daniel Goleman, who first published Emotional Intelligence in 1995, shares that Johnson and Johnson found that in divisions around the world, those identified at mid-career as having high leadership potential were far stronger in EI competencies than were their less-promising peers. This is further supported by Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, who wrote, “Ninety percent of top performers are also high in emotional intelligence.” and states that there is a direct link between EI success and earnings.

Is there someone like Mitch in your organization? Self-perception, Self-expression, Interpersonal skills, Decision making, Stress management and Happiness can all be assessed in an emotional intelligence test and these skills can be improved no matter our age. At Trilogy Partners, we identify barriers and help develop emotional brilliance. To learn more, call us at 609-688-0428 or email results@gettrilogypartners.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Time for a Plan!

by Trilogy Partners on Jun 05, 2018 10:04:50 AM

Companies large and small often deliberate on the need and/or depth for a strategic plan or roadmap. Is there really any reason not to have a formal plan documenting where you are; where you want to go; and how you will get there?

At Trilogy Partners, we guide business owners through the strategic planning process, allowing the organizational leadership to get out of the day-to-day and look at the business from “the clouds” or using the cliché, “working on the business, not in the business.” There is an essential difference between tactics, operational effectiveness, and strategy and we have seen first-hand how strategic planning improves overall organizational performance.

In the past, strategic plans were onerous to develop and often sat on a shelf; dusted off only when the plan was requested by a significant stakeholder. Today, the plans are living documents with magnitude and direction. Although plans are specific to each organization, here are 4 initial steps to consider:

  1. Who should participate in the process? Develop a preparation timeline with accountability.
  2. What are your core values? These are your current values, not the values you aspire to be.
  3. Is your vision or mission clearly defined? The vision is an aspirational description of what the organization would like to achieve in the mid or long-term future. It’s a guide for selecting courses of action. The mission statement defines the organization’s core purpose and overall direction. The vision is the cause or pursuit and the mission is the means to achieve the cause. Many companies are combining the vision and mission into one statement.
  4. Do you understand your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT)? A SWOT analysis is a powerful tool to learn more about your business, people, and many other factors.

These four points create the foundation from which your plan will develop.

So, what does this look like? I worked a company on the 4 steps outlined above and from this, we identified that that growth required an investment in their people and their facilities. One year later, they have hired the right people, expanded their facility and have seen an increase in revenue and a moderate increase in profits. They are encouraged and expect that both revenue and profits will continue to grow.

Trilogy doesn’t only help you develop your plan, but we work with you to ensure that it is put into action. It’s energizing to see the results when a roadmap is not just an exercise but rather, a guiding tool that provides focus, unlocks potential and brings about necessary change. With a roadmap in place, purpose is understood, and it is easier to make critical decisions, differentiate your business, and create a more sustainable organization with higher levels of employee engagement.

So, is it time for your plan? For help with strategy and ensuring that everyone on your team is moving in the same direction, call us at 609-688-0428 or email results@gettrilogypartners.com.

 

 

What You Said is Not what I Heard

by Trilogy Partners on Feb 28, 2018 7:01:33 PM

Has this ever happened to you? You are speaking with someone and their response is not at all what you expected based on what you said.  At least, what you thought you said! At Trilogy Partners, we frequently hear this frustration from business owners which prompts the question, do you communicate effectively?

Communication is complicated all by itself.
Imagine how complicated communication gets when we mix different cultural understandings, gender-speak, frustration, unhappiness, underlying tensions, and the pressure of expectations and deadlines. It’s amazing we get anything right with all the challenges of effective communication and these are just some of the barriers we face!

Communication ‘gaps’ create unexpected challenges – an example:
Recently, I facilitated a training class attended by leaders of a multinational company. Suddenly, there was a big “AHA moment”.  While watching videos of themselves in conversation with each other, one leader after another said, “Why do I sound like that?  That’s not the message that I was trying to convey.”

At that moment, it became self-evident that each person experienced a ‘gap’ between their intended message and their actual behavior when communicating that message.  Why does this happen?

Components of effective communication.
How we say what we say makes a big difference in others understanding or even listening to our message.  The value of our words is only one of many components of communication.  When speaking – words are not nearly as important as your tone of voice and body language.  It has been estimated that words account for only 7% of communication while tone is about 38% and body language is 55%.  (Albert Mehrabian, 1967). How we say what we say has more meaning than the words themselves.

What these leaders saw in the video was the impact of their tone of voice and their body language.  It was their tone that communicated most loudly.  It communicated how they were feeling in a way so strongly, the words did not matter. And when they added in their body language, such as rolling eyes, dropping or shaking one’s head and even the use of a cell phone, the message was even stronger.  One leader said, “I can’t believe I came across so harshly, so rude, so disrespectful. I really do like you guys, honestly!”

Remember, we judge others by their behavior; however, we judge ourselves by our intentions.  These leaders had a gap between their intentions and their behavior.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Tone is the most powerful tool when speaking. Being aware of your tone is critical to make sure your intended message is received the way you want.
  2. Feelings and attitudes beneath the surface show in tone and body language. Be aware that you may sound criticizing, attacking or even nasty when you are simply frustrated.
  3. Rely on others and check in with each other to ensure the right messages are getting across in the intended way. Asking others for feedback about your communication style is the beginning of changing the way you communicate.

Leadership is not about doing what is easy, it is about facing challenges and committing to change.  This change needs to start with ourselves.  Ask yourself how can you become a better communicator? And consider ways to gain an outsider’s perspective on your communication style.

If you are interested in improving your communication effectiveness, email me at results@gettrilogypartners.com or call 609-688-0428.

Why You Must Over-Communicate

by Trilogy Partners on Jan 03, 2018 2:53:21 PM

When coaching Trilogy clients, I often make a comment that you may find valuable: “In the absence of information, most people fill in the blanks, make up their own story … and usually add negative assumptions.”

As a leader, your life is full and the last thing you’re worrying about is what other people know or don’t know. However, you understand what it feels like to be kept out of the loop. It’s uncomfortable and can lead to a lot of wasted (and wrong) assumptions.

For example, let’s say George has been coming to the office late and leaving early. He’s not himself. He doesn’t seem as engaged as he used to be. He seems a little secretive. What are you thinking?

Is George looking for a new job? Is he having trouble in his marriage? Is he suffering with an addiction or medical issue? Is he engaged in a major conflict at the office? What’s going on with George?

The answer is, “We don’t know because we’re not George.” Until George speaks up and says, “My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and has been given less than a month to live,” we don’t know. He’s not looking for a new job. He’s not intentionally letting balls drop at work. He’s just dealing with the shock of losing his mother. Now, consider the time and energy given to wrong assumptions.

So, how do we get out of this conundrum? Well, here are a few ideas:

1. Remember that not everyone has access to all the information you have

One of the main reasons why this problem exists is because we fail to remember that people don’t always have the same access to the information we do. They don’t sit in the same meetings. They don’t have the same conversations. They don’t think about the same things. And that’s a problem.

You must remember to frequently communicate relevant information to your team, to encourage dialogue, minimize distractions and keep engagement high.

2. Remember that people often forget

Another common communication issue that plagues many leaders is that they tend to think that once they’ve communicated something, everyone present heard it and will remember it—two very bad assumptions.

You know that just because someone said something in your presence doesn’t mean that you heard it. And how many things have we “heard” that we didn’t remember a few hours or days later, let alone weeks or months.

Don’t worry about over-communicating! The best communicators and leaders stay on point over long periods of time because they know that information is often not processed or forgotten.

3. Remember that Alignment and Focus are rare

While we’d like to think that the “world” is conspiring for us, the reality is that individuals often have their own agenda, including your employees. And unless someone stands up and says, “This is where we’re going” and enforces alignment and focus toward that preferred future destination, many on your team will head in the way that best suits their own self-interest. Every organization needs someone at the top continually over-communicating what’s important so that there is a clarity of purpose, focus and alignment.

So, if you want to maximize understanding, focus and results, encourage communication and set the example. When possible, share information with your team that they might not have access to. Refuse to trust their memory and never assume that saying something once will keep your team in alignment. Instead, over-communicate. Keep everyone in the loop. And don’t allow your people to fill in the blanks. Remember: “In the absence of information, most people make up their own story … and usually with negative assumptions.”

So, what do you need to communicate today? For more ideas on how we can help you elevate your communication skills, contact Trilogy Partners at 609-688-0428.

 

Visionary and Integrator: The Most Valuable Relationship in an Organization

by Trilogy Partners on Nov 29, 2017 9:35:25 AM

In October, Hal and I had the opportunity to speak about our Visionary/Integrator (V/I) relationship on VoiceAmerica’s radio program “Operationally Speaking” with Sergiu Simmel.  It was a chance to explain our unique roles at Trilogy Partners as well as showcase the benefits of having a Visionary and Integrator within a company.

The terms Visionary and Integrator are used in the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) and are also explained in Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters’ book Rocket Fuel.  Visionaries, generally business owners like Hal, are creative, big thinking, idea generators while Integrators like me are analytical, process oriented and drivers of the day-to-day operations.  Integrators are responsible for implementing the ideas of the Visionary.

A valuable aspect of this relationship is its complimentary yin-yang dynamic.  To put it simply, Visionaries and Integrators have opposing points of view because of their inherent “wiring”.  This healthy conflict enhances an organization since perspective on issues broadens.  When the V/I partnership is in sync, more robust resolutions formulate and, under the direction of the Integrator, lead to realistic goal setting, positive results and ultimately traction.

We at Trilogy have seen many Visionaries who have tried to fill both roles.  While not impossible, we strongly recommend having a V/I partnership since it allows for the Visionary to fully concentrate on his/her own competencies.  Just think about this:  How can a Visionary’s groundbreaking idea take flight if he/she does not have the time, bandwidth or natural skill set to keep it in motion?  As Hal mentioned on the radio program, it was only until he hired an Integrator that he felt comfortable letting go of certain areas within the business and focusing on his strengths.  He also realized that the company could scale at a faster pace with an Integrator’s support which it indeed has.

The V/I relationship is built upon trust, honesty, mutual respect and requires constant communication.   The commitment to adhere to these elements is key to its success.  It is well worth the effort and investment as a Visionary and Integrator working in conjunction with varying capabilities can be instrumental in taking a company to new heights.

Interested in listening to our radio program?  Click HERE.  Let us know what you think.

If you are curious about the Visionary/Integrator relationship and would like to learn how Trilogy can provide guidance, please email me at agrubb@gettrilogypartners.com or call at 609-688-0428.

 

 

 

 

Happy People are Better Leaders – Some Proven Tips to Improve Your Happiness Factor

by Trilogy Partners on Oct 31, 2017 2:12:46 PM

Have you ever worked with someone that seems genuinely happy? A person that others gravitate to because of their positivity? At Trilogy Partners, not only do we address business fundamentals, we also tackle behavioral and cultural issues and have witnessed first-hand the impact of positive psychology in the workplace.

What is positive psychology? It is the scientific study of “what makes life worth living”, empowering individuals to purposely develop an optimistic state of mind to live a rewarding and happy life.

Working on how to become happier, the research suggests, will not only make a person feel better but also boosts energy and creativity, fosters better relationships, fuels higher productivity, improves the immune system and even leads to a longer life. Data shows that happy people are better leaders, negotiators, earn more money and are more resilient in the face of hardship. Yet, there is no one secret to happiness. Each of us needs to determine which set of strategies will be most valuable. The following actions are happiness-increasing strategies supported by scientific research:

  • Positive Thinking: Gratitude & Optimism – Expressing gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry and irritation.  Building optimism isn’t only about celebrating the present, it’s also about anticipating a bright future and noticing the right rather than the wrong.
  • Social Connection: Kindness & Relationships – Helping others makes us aware and appreciative of our own good fortune. When we commit acts of kindness, we perceive ourselves as compassionate which promotes a sense of confidence, optimism and usefulness. Moreover, these social bonds provide support in times of stress, distress and trauma.
  • Managing the Negative: Stress reduction & Forgiveness – Taking care of our bodies through meditation, physical activity and proper diet makes us feel in control of our health, reduces anxiety and increases mood-lifting hormones. The process of forgiveness, while sometimes difficult, allows one to be open to build happiness.
  • Living in the Moment: Joy & Savoring – Savoring life’s joys requires stepping outside of an experience and using our senses to embrace it. Data shows that when we make a habit of hanging on to pleasant feelings and appreciating good things, we are less likely to experience depression, stress, guilt and shame.
  • Achievement: Goals & Meaning – Committed goal pursuit provides us with a sense of purpose and a feeling of control over our lives – something to work for and look forward to. Having meaningful goals bolsters our self-esteem.

These strategies may sound trivial, yet Positive Psychology researchers have empirical data showing that when effort is put forth, they have been highly effective and are represented in the thinking and behavior patterns of the happiest participants.

Want to infuse more positivity in your personal or professional environment? Contact Blair Turner, Trilogy Alliance Partner, at bturner@gettrilogypartners.com or (609) 688-0428.

 

Strategy – What’s your ONE Idea?

by Trilogy Partners on Jul 31, 2017 2:46:29 PM

It may not be a surprise that business owners often juggle multiple strategies when planning for the future. What I have found is that having many strategies can create inconsistency, ambiguity and misalignment within an organization. As an Alliance Partner at Trilogy Partners, I urge owners to focus on one single idea to drive decision making and growth.

In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins supports this approach stating that organizations are more likely to succeed if they focus on one thing and do it well. Collins contends that answering three questions is essential to creating an effective, unifying strategy for any company. They are the keys to making a great company out of a merely good one.

#1 – What are you deeply passionate about?  All of us know that to succeed in any business, you must be passionate about it, particularly in the competitive world in which we operate. But what specifically are you passionate about as you lead your company? Is it customer delight? Creating a great place to work? Designing unique products? Achieving operational excellence? The task here is not to create or inspire a new passion – it is to discover what truly makes you passionate about your business.

#2 – What can you be the best at?  No business leader wants to be “pretty good” at their business, but few have a deep understanding of their company’s strengths, core competencies and, most important, potential for greatness. As you create a strategy for your company’s future, you must come to a deep understanding, not only of what you want to be the best at, but what you can be the best at.  This awareness will provide the unique competitive advantage that can propel your company’s growth and prosperity. It will require honesty, courage and determination to make the changes necessary to achieve “best in industry” performance.

#3 – What drives your “economic engine”?  There are countless benchmarks for measuring your company’s economic and financial performance. What is most important is that you must select the single driving economic denominator from which all your strategies and tactics will derive. Is it pure bottom line profit? Profit per product line or per customer? Many possibilities exist based on your operating model, financial resources and long-term goals. Selecting your economic denominator is an essential step in building your growth strategy as your future investment and tactical decisions will be made accordingly.

Trilogy Partners can help you answer these questions to shift your company from good to great. If you need guidance unifying your strategy, contact me at (609) 688-0428 or mhodges@gettrilogypartners.com.

 

 

Seize the Moment: Recognizing how Initiative can Grow your Organization

by Trilogy Partners on Jun 30, 2017 2:05:29 PM

“Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.” – Victor Hugo

Who in your organization has the requisite initiative associated with high performance?  Do any of your employees and colleagues seem to lack initiative?

If either of these questions resonate at some level, it may be time to identify and develop leaders that can create the organization you envision.  Often, tension is associated with ensuring that we have the right people, on the right projects, at the right time.  Failure to properly attend to one or more of these variables can render even the most well-intentioned effort a money loser, morale crusher, or worse, a death knell for the organization.

When you have high performing, motivated employees engaged in meaningful, transformational projects, those who are holding the company back are clearly recognizable. Simply stated, cultivating the strengths and talents of those who demonstrate high initiative is the best insurance for sustainable organizational success.

The descriptors of high and low initiative are provided below so that you may begin to assess those in your organization on this important construct.

High initiative

Seeks responsibility above and beyond the expected
Will go the extra mile to help others
Strives to add value in all that they do
Follows through on tasks with consistency and tenacity
Appreciates the need to take reasonable risks

Low initiative

Requires considerable specific direction
Frequently adopts a “not my job” attitude
Prone to reacting to situations rather than anticipating them
Fails to persevere when faced with challenges
Postpones decision making and misses opportunities

In his book, How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed, author Robert Kelley suggests that taking initiative involves more expansive thinking than going after ideas that make you more productive at your own job. It is a desire and willingness to move beyond a job description to reach a goal that benefits the team. Kelley asserts that an individual can be evaluated for performance on any given project by the following five standards:

  1. Doing the job well.
  2. Ensuring that others benefit from their efforts.
  3. Understanding how the project pleases customers and clients while proving profitable to the organization.
  4. Developing focus on increasingly high-level efforts.
  5. Appreciating the potential payoff in light of risks and costs.

Taking on more responsibility, active problem solving, taking risk and adding value are behaviors we want to promote and develop. If you want to learn more about how leveraging initiative can advance your most important projects and your organization, please contact Trilogy Alliance Partner Marc Celentana at (609) 688-0428 or mcelentana@gettrilogypartners.com

Shut Up and Lead!

by Trilogy Partners on May 31, 2017 9:38:36 AM

Have you ever thought, this would be a great place to work if we didn’t have any employees? Truthfully, it has crossed my mind on a few occasions over the years. How can any leader have such thoughts about our most valuable assets? The answer is simple, we shouldn’t. John Maxwell states “a leader is one who knows the way; goes the way; and shows the way.” Effective leaders will model the expected behaviors through actions, not words, leading to the concept of “shut up and lead.”

During the early 1990’s, Zenger-Miller published The Basic Principles for Success. Since then, I have adapted these principles as the foundation for professional relationships and the paradigm for expected organizational behavior. The principles are truly basic in concept but often difficult to achieve. They require faithful modeling from the highest level within the organization for success.

Principle 1: Focus on the work process, issue, or behavior, NOT the person. It’s human nature to make things personal in the workplace but this automatically brings emotion into the equation. Principle 1 will drive an objective approach allowing for better problem solving and decision making. My observation is that Principle 1 is more difficult in closely-held and family businesses however the results are often more powerful when practiced consistently.

Principle 2: Maintain the self-confidence and self-esteem of others. Leave sarcasm at the door! It is the greatest form of aggression in the workplace and highly demotivating. Contributing fully and risk taking is easier in a climate of trust and acceptance.

Principle 3: Maintain strong partnerships with your internal and external customers. Everyone knows how they want to be treated as a customer. Think about the potential if every employee within the organization was a customer of each other. How about other strategic partnerships and connections? The possibilities are endless for constructive and effective relationships.

Principle 4: Take the initiative to improve work processes and partnerships. Don’t only take the initiative, encourage others to do the same. Acknowledge and respond to all initiatives so your employees know that you welcome ideas and feedback.

Principle 5: Hold yourself and others accountable for commitments. Make sure there are identified positive and constructive consequences and be consistent in all interactions.

Principle 6: Lead by example. Employees want you to “know,” “go,” and “show” the way through your actions, not words. Leaders have much to gain when they can model the needed actions and attitudes to deal with the demands of business and relationships.

Effective leaders strive to practice The Basic Principles in their daily interactions. I have found that adhering to these principles will allow you to “shut up and lead” more confidently and with greater optimism to achieve your desired results.

If you are interested in implementing these principles to create an atmosphere of trust, cooperation, and positive action, contact Trilogy’s Alliance Partner Bill Ehrhardt at (609) 688-0428 or at behrhardt@gettrilogypartners.com.

The Latest

What’s the “Real” Business Challenge?
What holds a business back? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see even successful companies struggle to grow. When working with Trilogy clients, challenges typically surface in the following categories: Fundamental business issues... read more
Maximize your Business Value
I enjoy working with Trilogy clients, helping them to better understand their financials to set strategy and drive growth. But what happens when owners want to exit the business? How can they ensure that they get the highest value for the business... read more
School Smarts + Street Smarts = Success
When working with Trilogy clients, I often tell them the story of Mitch and Jack, two high school friends with contrasting personalities.  Mitch was a loner, a straight-A student who always completed the extra credit homework and was essentially... read more