Strategy

14th October 2015

Has the team had a good day?

When your team goes home on an evening, do they know whether they have had a good day or not?

It is a very simple question. It is also a very profound question. It is a question I ask my clients frequently. Of course I get all sorts of answers. The most frequent goes something like this; “They know whether they have been busy”.
I didn’t ask whether they had been busy. I asked whether they had had a good day. It is a different question. To be able to answer the question we must first of all know what constitutes a good day. In your business, do you know what constitutes a good day? I suspect that you probably aren’t as clear on this as you need to be. If you aren’t clear, how can the rest of the team be clear?

I once asked a client what constituted a good day for him and he was able to give me an unusually precise and succinct answer. He said that if he had despatched a minimum of 8 products a day he was in profit for the day and had therefore had a good day. I was pleased. It seemed that he knew his numbers; he knew his business. Of course I needed to test the validity of the assumption but before I did I asked him, “and how do you know how many products you have despatched each day?”. With a smile he said that before he went home he went into despatch. They kept a log of every shipment and he counted them up. More than 8 and he went home happy. Less than 8 and he was not so happy.

So far so good. I then looked him in the eyes and said, “so tell me, do the guys in despatch understand that more than 8 is good and less than 8 is a worry?” the widening of his eyes told us both all that we needed to know. So I pressed home the point. “Do you think that if they did they would be more keen to make sure that they despatched at least 8 each day and every day?”

This was a classic situation where the team did not have the ability to know whether they had had a good day or a not so good day and yet the ability to do so was so simple and so obvious.
The next day the business owner spoke to the despatch team and together they devised a simple but compelling scoreboard. Each day they would update the scoreboard using a red marker pen until the score was greater than the target of 8 and a green marker for all scores above 8. And so, in that particular business, the concept of the compelling scoreboard was born.

If you think about it, in any environment, if the team do not have an understanding of what constitutes a good day, or a not so good day they will have less involvement, less engagement and less focus than a team that does. As leaders it is our job the help provide this and the compelling scoreboard is the world’s simplest tool to enable this to happen.

Scoreboards can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. By far the most effective is the simplest. A large whiteboard trumps the most sophisticated computer every time. Why? First of all it is visible and unavoidable. A correctly positioned whiteboard is in your face. It cannot be avoided, it cannot be ignored. It is obvious if the score is green or red and if the scores are up to date. And secondly the whiteboard needs to be updated manually. Someone physically has to go to the board, pick up a pen and write the latest scores in. He who owns the pen owns the results, so this should not be delegated. It is simple to use a straightforward protocol. Green for above target and red for below target.

A blind man on a galloping horse can see instantly whether we are having a good day or a not so good day, and either congratulate or respond as appropriate.

Do your team know whether they are having a good day?

Book Recommendation

Some clients have asked that I append some reading recommendations to my weekly blog. I hope you get value from the books I recommend. The books are mentioned at random and will have no relationship to the blog above.

The E Myth Revisited by Michael GerberIf there is one book that I demand all clients read it is this. Why? Well the secret is in the subtitle. “Why most small businesses don’t work, and what to do about it” It is the story of every small business and if you have or are involved in a small business I will guarantee that by about page 48 you will be saying “This is about me”.Written some time ago it is always relevant. Gerber isn’t always the most flowing of authors but you cannot afford to be unaware of the concepts and business truths contained in this seminal book.In many ways this is the story of the development I achieve when I am “growing the business leader to grow the business”.