You’re a couple of months into your 2019 plans - the honeymoon phase. Your plan still looks good, you’re excited to see it as often as possible, can’t stop talking about it, probably taking annoying selfies with your plan. I get it - it’s pretty exciting. You are bound to learn throughout the year things you didn’t know about your plan when you first fell in love. Perhaps the way it's executed isn’t the way you would do it, or others aren’t excited about it and it’s bringing you down - making you second guess.
Shortly after my son, Jack, was diagnosed with autism at age two, I set the big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) that he will graduate college. Mind you, at two, Jack spent most of his days in his own, wordless world. I didn’t know how he could even attend ½ day preschool program let alone complete college. Fast forwarding to his 4th grade year (as this is a blog, not a novel), I felt panic when I realized that by being in a self-contained classroom in South Carolina public schools, Jack would receive a certificate of completion rather than a diploma. My BHAG was at risk.
I am incredibly lucky to work with clients quarter after quarter, year over year. We’re part of each other’s extended family. My home state of South Carolina was hit with two hurricanes in recent months and my clients were ping-ping-pinging me making sure I was safe - inquiring, perhaps, as to whether or not they needed a new consultant. Luckily, we were in a boring section of the storm and three McBride boys with no school benefited on all accounts. I might add my state also sold the winning Powerball billion dollar ticket, and these same folks texted me to again see if they still had a consultant. They do. I would still do what I do with a billion dollars. I would just look AMAZING doing it.
To remain in the fabric of my client’s lives, I feel the need to keep things fresh.
During World War II, a Chief Petty Officer of the Royal Navy was called on by his Captain of the HMS Stork to explain why their ship sustained damage but, unlike other Royal Navy ships, did not blow up after a direct hit from an enemy submarine torpedo.
The Chief Petty Officer admitted he failed to follow the standing orders that the depth charges be armed with detonators. He continued to explain to his Captain that to avoid the risk of charges imploding during enemy fire, he and his crew were trained and ready to arm the charges with detonators within a matter of seconds. After all, large barrels full of high powered explosives are innocuous without installed detonators to set them off.
The best advice I was given before my boys reached their teenage years with wild emotional swings was "don't ride the roller coaster with them.” I smiled and nodded and thought to myself, “my sweet boys are going to be the exception.” I was wrong. Hormonal imbalances are the real deal, but...enough about me.
I’m living in the parallel universe of handling teenagers and being a strong leader in the face of adversity. Both can feel like a ride you can’t wait to get off of, may make you feel unnerved, and once you've recovered, will leave you with an intense craving for funnel cakes or your carb of choice. I’m finding whether I face the difficult person in an office or a messy, disgusting bedroom, there are key strategies that work in both situations:
Specifically, the intersection of these three questions:
- What are you deeply passionate about?
- What can you be the best at in the world?
- What drives your economic engine?
Now comes the easy part, right? Simply take that information, determine where these three questions intersect and craft a long-term goal that drives on that intersection - your BHAG. Are you having writer’s block?
One of the top 10 moments of my life was the Predictable Results book launch party at our Breakthrough Conference last October. To sweeten this moment, the MVP subject to one of my chapters was co-presenting a breakout session with me. I was incredibly proud to showcase Randy Carr, the CEO of World Emblem who is featured in chapter 11. Yes, that’s right - chapter 11. Such an unfortunate number for a chapter regarding a CEO. As Randy said, “Dude! Chapter 11? That’s bad juju! What are you doing to me?” Randy describes his chapter in his bi-weekly letters to his employees at World Emblem as: “The chapter after 10.”
All juju aside, Randy’s story was the perfect ending to the book because this playbook rings true to many CEOs in different points of their reign. CEOs may naturally revert to the skills and backgrounds that got them where they are today - and there may be more they need to do. Perhaps, like Randy, they inherited the company and don’t automatically feel the love and Core Purpose of the family business, perhaps the organization is hitting a growth plateau and what worked before just ain’t cutting it anymore, and, more commonly, CEOs feel they are being crystal clear on the expectations and are baffled when seeing the chaos and missed goals.
“World Emblem was doing fine, but revenue was stagnating. When leaders are overwhelmed with the fires of day-to-day work and the fear of making a misstep, focus on growth suffers. And so does the leader’s confidence. What most are missing is an operating system that offers a clear definition of the critical role they should play and a path to fulfilling it effectively.”
When rolling out a new process, it’s best to start with a core group of champions who will help integrate the system into existing processes and authentically evangelize it to the rest of the organization. At Rhythm Systems, we start with the CEO and the executive team and then help to cascade Rhythm through virtual or onsite training, help and tutorials, and certification. Our goal is to make cascading Rhythm down into the organization scalable yet seamless.
I’m not a fan of “no pain, no gain,” especially as it relates to introducing a new program. We should make the change pain-free with ample support systems. Hey, maybe it could even be fun! Whether it’s safe or fun, getting started with Rhythm can revisit and inspire the culture you want to create. It’s a good thing my like-minded clients feel the same way and have wowed us with some creative ways to get their teams started with Rhythm. Here’s How:
In my last blog, I shared Steve Hoffa from Alpha Guardian’s tips in 5 COO Insights to Keep Your Acquisitions Alive, which described a transition from two companies - Cannon and Stack-On - as they evolved into one company with multiple brands: Alpha Guardian. During the interview process, a common theme emerged that deserves its own spotlight as it is the least predictive yet greatest weapon to bringing M&A to its glory or to its knees: the human factor.
When Cannon Safe started on this journey, they would attend M&A conferences with their proud plan in their fists. “What we learned from others who went before us was that they were really harping on the HR side of things - the people,” Steve explains. The executive team didn’t think it would be their story, however, Steve concurred that during the M&A:
“We learned the human aspect was the biggest concern and yielded the greatest focus. We had our comp plans in place but, that didn’t factor in the drama and emotions. The people component is everything! Especially when you’re keeping them.”
If I were a betting woman (only when Powerball is $500 million - I have standards), I would have wagered the people side of the M&A would have been then Cannon Safe’s greatest triumph. I learned that even companies with the strongest culture feel the impact as Steve explains:
“The M&A bent our tree.”
It’s no wonder that 70-90% of mergers and acquisitions fail when you consider the complexities of the deal coupled with the sheer change management needed to quell the human factor. In a recent HBR article, How to Keep Your Team Focused and Productive During Uncertain Times, Amy Gallo shares “...employees who are concerned about their future are likely to be distracted and unproductive.”
There’s no room for distracted and unproductive employees if you’re trying to come out of the other end of an acquisition and hit a 30% growth goal. As you may have been able to gather from my previous blogs on Cannon Safe, I’ve never known them to back down from any challenge.