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Better Than the Pecking Order?

Better Than the Pecking Order?

Did you know that chickens can follow a pecking order 136 chickens long?

What that means is, through a series of skirmishes (some more violent than others), chickens establish their own governing body within their clan. The strongest chicken, typically a rooster, is in charge. He gets the food and water first and all the other perks that come from being “Top Dog” or the “Big Cheese.” But that position also comes with the responsibility of leading the flock to safety when a predator comes by and tucking everyone in before nightfall

The clients I work with typically embrace the responsibility of being at the top of the pecking order. They care about their employees, take steps to ensure their safety, and give them opportunities to grow and try new experiences. The biggest challenge they typically face is balancing competing priorities, including growing the business, managing the finances, developing employees, and caring for themselves and their families. What we know is that this can’t be done alone. Having a strong, focused leadership team is the key to a thriving business. The good news is that getting your team moving toward a common vision is much easier than it seems.

As most of you know, I love process.

I’ve put my chemical engineering degree to work by focusing on process engineering. I’ve spent my whole career helping businesses improve by streamlining their processes, from manufacturing to sales to engineering. I love process so much, I even made it part of my company name.

So, when I discovered the business operating system EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System), I realized this was the perfect tool for me to help my clients get what they wanted from their businesses. If you are ready to implement a system that will lead to higher profits, less friction, and more enjoyment, let’s find some time to talk. Together we can create something better than a pecking order.

Are Your Employees Free Range?

Are Your Employees Free Range?

For the past few weeks, l’ve been writing about employee engagement. Although employee engagement has been on the rise for the past few years, 35% engagement isn’t a number that we should consider success. My last article described a company that judged productivity in terms of availability. While that may make sense for some companies, I’d urge you to find a more compelling measurement for yours.

Not surprisingly, this conversation brought me back to my chickens. Yes, I still have chickens — but I’m not sure how many. As you may recall, after spending the month of April building a beautiful coop for them, we inherited five chickens from a friend. On day one, I learned that chickens can fly much better than I realized. They flew the coop.

They are now free to range wherever they want and will occasionally come back to the coop for food or to lay an egg. I have learned that the Easter egg hunt was born out of the need to find where the hens had chosen to lay their eggs, outside of the established nesting box or boxes.

So, what do chickens and eggs have to do with employee engagement? Read on, my fellow readers.

The purpose of my having chickens is for eggs. Of course, it would be easier for me if I made them stay in their enclosure all day. I’d be able to harvest all my eggs and ensure the hens were safe from predators. However, the eggs wouldn’t be as healthy as when the chickens are free-range.

So there’s a trade-off. If I want them to be free-range, I have to give up control over them. I worry about their safety, and I don’t get to collect all the eggs they are laying. But they forage for berries, bugs, and who knows what else, which produces healthier eggs for me to enjoy.

Giving up control over how our employees do their work can be uncomfortable. But it also gives them the freedom to explore and grow, and they may produce a higher-quality product.

I was listening to a podcast that referenced “The Impact Filter” (Dan Sullivan, The Strategic Coach). This filter provides managers with a tool that outlines an idea, project, or goal and provides the structure to be clear on the purpose, importance, and outcomes before delegating the work to another person. If both parties are clear on those items, the manager is able to delegate the project, and the employee can find the best way to get it done. But if the manager hasn’t done the work up front, he may feel the need to micromanage, or Monday-morning quarterback, neither of which will result in an empowered employee.

So, I challenge you to be clear on what you want your employees to accomplish and let them be free to create the desired outcome. This will lead to engaged and empowered employees.

If you find yourself unsure of how to empower your employees, I can teach you a proven process that will allow you to get the most out of your business.

Is Boring Beautiful?

Is Boring Beautiful?

If you have ever been to Hawaii, you know that everyone (at least those of us on vacation) makes time to watch the sunset. As the sun begins falling, people start making their way to the beach. During our honeymoon over 15 year ago, my husband and I witnessed people blowing into conch shells in honor of the sunset.  

A few years ago, I read that the most beautiful things in life are boring. I remember being very disturbed by that comment. But, upon further reflection, I have to concede it is true. Think about what you consider beautiful in life: a sunset, the mountains, friendships, or even a healthy marriage.

Our lives have been completely transformed since Covid-19. I have spent less time traveling, less time with friends, and a whole lot more time at home. I asked my husband when the shelter-in-place started if we would still like each other when this was over. After mulling it over for a few hours, he said yes. (I’m still curious why it took him so long to answer?!)

For most of us, life (pre-Covid) was full of activities and busyness: work, sports, friends, meetings. But I wonder to what end? Were we running from something? Are we afraid of what we might find when we slow down? Think about it: how many of those activities seem to have lost their importance now that we can’t participate in them?

Whatever the answer, we have been forced to slow down and face a slower daily pace.

I believe this has allowed us to find a new rhythm to life. And without all the distractions, we can now find the beauty in it. Yes, most of us have had to face some challenges, including adjusting to work from home, home/remote learning, or even the loss of our jobs or shuttered businesses. But those things don’t stop the rhythm of life. They simply alter it.

The same can be said for our businesses. A successful business settles into a rhythm that produces a consistent outcome on a daily basis. There is nothing exciting about cars rolling off an assembly line, properties being bought or sold, or metal being poured (although I have to say that for me, watching metal being poured never gets boring). The point is that successful companies have figured out how to produce their product in a consistent way. This approach may be contrary to our society’s habits, as we tend to value the output, and not the discipline behind the output.

The same principle applies to successful people. They have figured out what needs to happen on a consistent basis in order to reach their goals. In his book The War of Art, author Steven Pressfield writes that “we have a right only to our labor, not the fruits of our labor.” We just need to show up and do the work. Since the work is different for everyone and every business, you need to identify what your work is, and then do it consistently, every day.      

If you find that your business or personnel aren’t creating the output you desire, I’d love to help you. Together we can instill a rhythm into your daily practices and put you on the path to creating something beautiful.

United Together with a Flock Block

United Together with a Flock Block

As you probably know, I inherited five chickens last month, two hens and three chicks. It wasn’t long before they all successfully flew the coop. Since then they have been hanging out together, free-range. But about a week ago, I noticed that they weren’t all together all the time. I’d see four together, sometimes three, and occasionally the Chicken Cam would find one all alone in the run. I wondered why. 

Now, as someone with three sisters, I totally understand that there will be disagreements among women. If you add to that the stress of suddenly being free-range in a new area, perhaps a little tension has developed among “the girls?” I don’t really know if chickens have factions or cliques, but I was advised that I needed a flock block – a cube of grain and supplements that gives the chickens something else to pick at besides each other. 

It is entirely possible that there is some drama brewing in the clan. But the reality is that there is strength in numbers, and it would be in the chickens’ best interest to find a way to coexist.

And in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this: the chickens aren’t the only ones who’d benefit. 

When our “shelter in place” started in March, I found most people scared for their heath, worried about the economy, and concerned for our future. In April, I set a goal to help as many people as possible. This focus allowed me to connect with others on a deeper level, which I will say was one of the “silver linings” of this COVID experience. 

Since then, though, the death of George Floyd and the surrounding protests have highlighted a division in our country. The great news is that the ills of our society are coming to light, but truthfully, we can’t get to the other side without dialogue. In order for us to emerge as a stronger country, we need to listen and hear what everyone is saying, and together we need to work toward a solution. 

I am challenging myself to hear, to be open to better understanding what is wrong with our society, and to be part of the solution. I believe that is what humanity is all about.

At the risk of being corny, I think we can learn from the chickens who need a common “flock block” that they can pick at together.  However, we can do much better than chickens.  We can choose to come together to work towards a better society and a better world.  Collectively, we can create a better future together.  

The Big Chicken Sale

The Big Chicken Sale

As you know, I am now a chicken mama. In the past three weeks, I have learned that my chickens are much more free-range than I expected or planned on. Yes, this is saving me money on food and effort in cleaning the coop, but I do have concerns for their safety, especially at night.

Two weeks ago, I began the campaign to bring them into the coop each night. Thanks to my neighbor, I have learned that running after them and trying to chase them into the coop isn’t effective.

What I really want to do is entice them to come into the coop willingly. And this requires understanding their wants and needs and providing a solution that meets those needs.

Chickens need food, water, and, to a certain extent, shelter. Within the run, I keep chicken crumbles, a flock block, and water available for them. And it appears that they have been partaking of the food. My chickens have been roosting in trees since the second night following their arrival. And with all the trees and cover around our property and the adjacent property, they seem to have the shelter angle covered (pun intended). However, when winter arrives, the cover will not be as thick, and the nights will be cold, wet, and long. 

What do chickens like? Well, fortunately, they like bugs, which is a win for me. But they also like snacks like watermelon rinds, pineapple, and mealworms. So, every morning, I put out some treats for them in their run. They seem to like these, but so do the squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits.

Chickens fear the dark and predators. And apparently me (and my dogs). The good news is that we haven’t found any predators lurking around yet, but I fear it is only a matter of time. Thanks to one of my readers, I now have a solar light over the coop. I’m hoping this will encourage the chickens to “come to the light” as they settle in for the night. 

My mission is to meet their needs and help them overcome their fears. And so far, I think it is starting to work. The Chicken-Cam has caught them lurking around the coop first thing in the morning. They clearly like the treats and food I leave for them. They haven’t committed to sleeping in the coop, but they definitely know where their meals come from.

Are you wondering how I’m planning on relating this to real life? Well, every one of us is a salesperson in one capacity or another. You may be a professional salesperson, but you could also be an owner, a manager, or a parent. Regardless of what you are trying to sell, you need a process. And that process can’t be simply scaring the target into buying what you are selling. You must frame your goods to be in the best interest of your target audience. What are their needs? What do they like? What are their fears?

Using fear alone to sell your solution may result in short-term gains, but it won’t result in a long-term relationship. If you take the time to understand the customer’s needs and deliver a solution that shows you understand, you will have much better luck.

During your next sale, decide if you want to chase your target around the field or throw out some tasty pineapple skin to lure them in. I’m confident that one of these options will result in the achievement of both parties’ goals. If you find that your sales process hasn’t adapted to the new Covid marketplace, please email me. I can help you and your sales team thrive in this new reality.