I recently experienced working with a large influencer in the health space. It felt like a dream come true…to work with someone with a bigger platform than myself and be able to have an insider view on how their business runs and how they serve clients. After only a few short weeks into the process, I quickly realized that there were some big problems. I was putting out fires left and right, which left little time to be productive in moving the business forward. Cancellations and unhappy clients seemed to be happening often and team members were bringing me concerns that were unsettling. I had to sit back and wonder “how and why is this happening”?
After a number of months within the business nothing changed despite the transparent conversations with leadership. After a lot of reflection and conversations with my own mentors, I decided it was best to make my time with this company brief. And as I always try to do, I took my experience and marinated on it. I wanted to ensure that the time I had spent away from my own businesses was not in vain. I wanted to walk away with a deeper understanding of the discord and disarray I witnessed in order to prevent it from happening with my own companies or other businesses I work with. I want to review with you a few of my biggest takeaways…
Red Flag #1- Lack of integrity.
Integrity trumps everything. Don’t EVER bend or cave in the matters of integrity and sacrifice your character. Lead with it and only hire those that demonstrate it. Don’t make and break agreements that are backed by your word.
There will never be an excuse good enough to cover a lie.
Breaking trust as a leader will only set the tone for how people will behave within an organization. Remember…a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. When at the root of a company is an untrustworthy leader, only toxic byproduct will follow. Therefore, let everything you say and do be an example of the fruit you want to see grow within your organization.
I don’t feel a need to expand too much on this simply because I believe those that have integrity as a part of their character understand the importance already. They relentlessly incorporate it into their lives and it’s simply a part of who they are. Those that don’t have integrity intertwined within the fabric of their being will keep making the same bad decisions and wonder why they aren’t getting different results. While we all require pruning of our character, someone who lives unaligned with integrity as a core value requires much more pruning to avoid fruitless harvests.
Red Flag #2- Lack of transparency.
Complete transparency is the only way. Those that lack integrity usually lack the ability to have transparent conversations. And those that embody integrity are usually better about being transparent. Lack of transparency within an organization leads to lack of trust, secret conversations, and only makes the hard conversations even harder.
Because it’s a core value within my businesses, I always encourage transparency across the board. If someone has a problem with another individual on the team, it’s encouraged to go directly to that person and have a transparent conversation before having discussions with other team members. What often happens is one person holds bitterness, resentment or frustration towards another team member and they talk to other people on the team to “blow off steam” instead of having a transparent conversation with the source first. What starts as frustration that needed to be discussed and resolved quickly turns into gossip and can eventually divide a team.
When someone comes to me from within the company talking about another team member, my first question is, “have you talked with this person”? If the answer is no, they are asked to go have a transparent conversation first and work towards a resolution.
A team should be working together toward the same mission. When they are all on board with this and have transparent conversations, there is trust throughout the organization. If you always feel there is a “mole” within a company or always being talked about behind your back, you will never be able to put your best foot forward. You will lose focus, creativity, and your desire to show up everyday and give 110%.
Red Flag #3- Lack of ownership and accountability.
Companies need to foster excellence through extreme ownership. Because we live in a society that has put us into a “one size fits all” box since grade school, I see more and more young adults coming out of college with no spark for life, zero regard for personal responsibility, and want to make the most they can while putting in the least amount of effort. Most people hate their jobs, are always waiting for Friday to roll around, and dread Monday. When a new hire has the typical “clock in/clock out” mentality they are most likely not the type of person to take initiative and proudly deliver on a commitment.
It’s important to have team members that are excited to help move the business forward and take extreme ownership of their specific role because they align with the mission. If everyone on the team has the shared passion of the mission and has a firm understanding of the company’s client journey (will discuss this next), you will experience an unstoppable company.
I also believe that personal growth through the advancement of skills is a phenomenal way to foster extreme ownership. The more someone feels they have the skills to serve clients, they tend to show up more confidently. Continuously improving and gaining skills is another core value within my companies for this reason.
Red Flag #4- Lack of Clarity Surrounding the Client Journey.
Understanding the companies client journey should be one of the very first things a new team member learns within their training because it ties directly to the mission and is the roadmap of who you serve.
Yes, a company’s vision, mission, and values are important…but they don’t tell you the rest of the story. What I’m seeing more and more are companies that know what they want to do but they are clueless on the details of how by mapping it out from the customer/client’s view. For example, it’s not enough as a restaurant owner to say your mission is to change the restaurant industry by providing local, sustainably raised, organic foods to your clients. That restaurant owner and their team must have a solid understanding of how a customer is serviced from the moment they find out about your business (marketing), through the process of dining at the restaurant (becoming a customer, fulfillment, and ascension), all the way through to ensure they are a repeat customer (retention and lifelong loyalty).
A lot of business owners focus on the skills or product they offer, but not on HOW they are providing it. If you have never mapped out your company’s client journey I would advise you to do so. How does this work? Well, imagine being your customer avatar and the exact process you would go through. What avenues would you find out about your business? How exactly does that work and who is in charge of it? Once they find out about you, how do you get them into your business? What does your lead nurture process look like and who is in charge of that? Once they are in the doors, how are they sold? What is that process? Once they are a paying customer, how do you continue to overdeliver and keep them longterm? When these things are laid out in detail, it not only ensures that everyone on the team is on the same page, but also keeps your business consistent in their services.
One might look at this and think that all it really is are detailed SOP’s or KPI’s. Wrong. Your client journey and SOP’s/KPI’s are different.Think of the client journey as the trunk of the tree and the SOP’s and KPI’s as the branches coming off of the trunk. Having the client journey mapped out BEFORE expanding on SOP’s and KPI’s makes it so much easier because you are simply building “branches” of an already mapped out system that is focused around the customer or client. Having a customer journey as the core of your business will keep things clear, organized, consistent, and service-centric.
I hope that these red flags give you some insight on your own business. Is your company not scaling fast enough or do you feel “stuck” where you are currently at? Maybe you are seeing a decline in business and want to quickly implement changes to turn it around. Wherever you are currently at…I encourage you to think through some of these and begin implementing change within your company, to reflect a culture that will help propel you forward.