5 steps to get off stuck when operating a team

“we are here now but how do we get there?”

Providing a physical service to another person I believe is a gift. Friendships, partnerships, and long-life colleagues are formed of the basis of human connections. Unfortunately, an alarming connection can be made between large, service based businesses with a high head count (cleaning, construction etc.) and a disconnection between management and their staff, between clients and businesses resulting in trust being completely lost between all.

Image Credit: Tim Marshall @timmarshall

This disconnection has inevitably made companies lose their contracts and clients, whilst witnessing a high turnover of staff, resulting in the industry becoming cutthroat and based on the dollar.

Meditating on the success of business moguls from the 19th and 20th Century, Andrew Carnegie, Founder of US Steel and Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Corporation. It will make you always think, what was the underlying operating system that they were running with machines, humans and other integral aspects of the business working harmoniously?

It all comes down to a simple answer. To ensure people are working harmoniously together. Charles Schwab was paid handsomely, in fact the most paid in America at the time of 1921, with a salary of $1,000,000 a year. He earnt this salary because he was able to deal and manage people, not because of his knowledge in steel.

Now, what could be the ingredients to being able to manage people so well that you will be paid so handsomely, and have a smooth sailing operation and happy clients?

The 5 ingredients are:

  1. You have to have a clear vision as to what you want to achieve. No matter the size.

  2. Understand what your driving desire is

  3. Know your resources

  4. Focus on the tasks/objects that move you closer to your goal

  5. Know, know and know your resources (yes this a repeat of step 3)

I will proceed with breaking up these ingredients into practical and bite sized examples so you will be able to visualise and clearly grasp its structure, formula and usability.

Image Credit: Photo byUtsman Media onUnsplash

Step 1 – You have to have a clear vision as to what you want to achieve. No matter the size.

An archer cannot aim at no target, let alone hit the target. Basically meaning, if you have no aim or target, you will basically never hit anything.

We start this 5-step process with a target in mind. Having a target will allow you to:

- Establish a north star and/or your anchor point

- Provide a few pathways or a framework to keep you on the straight and narrow

We will break down this step using the description of one of the most basic human desires and needs. The need to eat.

I want you to think about a time when you were hungry, and you can no longer wait until dinner is ready. You do not think of anything else in the world but to eat.

So, here we have established a goal or target = Get food.

I want to highlight here a crucial part of goal setting. Did you notice that a goal is a moving target you are trying to achieve?

With this in mind, I invite you to entertain the next level of self-questioning.

When you are in your state of hunger:

  1. Are you thinking in words or images?

  2. Are you thinking of making, have already eaten, or have finished dinner?

  3. Can you notice your body’s emotional response and reactions while you are thinking of the dinner you are going to devour within the next hour?

By Answering this line of questioning, it will place you in action mode because you think in images and your body responds accordingly. You have just created an emotionally driven objective that is going to drive your course of action. This is what we call desire, which I will explain in the following step.

In this step, you need to think about what target you are going to aim for, while paying close attention to how you think and feel, while simultaneously seeing how your body is responding. The goal can be short term or long term. A general rule of thumb when it comes to goal setting is go as far as you can believe.

Step 2 – What is your driving desire?

When establishing your goal, there must be a reason why you want to achieve that specific goal. Your driving desire is the catalyst behind getting you moving. The desire is what creates energy inside of you to get things going. In simple terms, the archer won’t pull the string to shoot the arrow to the target for no reason.

Let’s continue with our example of being hungry and explain how desire comes into play.

When your goal is to eat, it is due to the desire of hunger in most cases. When the desire is strong enough to eat, you begin the following tasks:

  1. Think about What you want to eat

  2. Calculate how long it will take until you get your food

  3. Where you will get food from

You will go through these calculated steps because of your desire to eat. Let’s amplify this scenario and think about a time you were STARVING. What additional driving forces did you have within to make sure you ate, no matter what.

Generally, in most cases when your desire is to eat, because you are starving very little outside of that actually matters to you. Have you ever noticed that? You can see here the higher levels of focus you have when you really, really want something.

This is precisely the goal of desire. To stir you to action. Now, the stronger the desire, the stronger the pull and means of obtaining your goal.

Step 3 – Know your resources.

Step 3 is time to ‘get off go’. This is the step where you take note of your current resources at hand and you have around you to actually get started, no matter how big or small.

This is a 2-fold step, designed to help you uncover who and what you actually have around you to get you going. In this step all you will need to do is take accurate inventory of what you actually have. i.e. stock, labour force, equipment etc. You may want to go into as much detail as you require depending on your field, position etc. For example, if you are a manager reading this and you wish to take inventory on your labour force, you can account for; size, skill, potential categories, availability etc.

Let’s continue with our food exercise; we know you want to eat, and we know you are hungry and you have made your decision to eat. You decide to make your own food at home. What is the first thing that comes to mind?

What food do I actually have? What’s the immediate step you do? You open the fridge, cupboard and lunch box to see what you have at your disposal to help you get closer to your goal. That’s the simple step of checking your resources, to know what you have to then be able to plan what to do next.

The most important part of this step is to accurately account and analyse your resources.

No matter how small you think they are. If you need help to get a third person’s view, do seek it. At this point, this is where business owners generally get ‘advisors’ on board to help them uncover the ‘gold’.

Step 4 – Only focus on the tasks that move you closer to your goal

This step may seem self-explanatory, but are you still caught doing the mundane tasks and never seem to be progressing? Let us take a quick dive into this step to help you get off stuck and get going. Focusing only on the tasks required will help you categorise what you need to do to move you closer to your goal.

Trust me, do not get too worried if you do not know all the answers… none of us do.

There are 3 categories within this step to consider.

  1. What are the Vital functions? These are the steps that get you closer to your goals.

  2. What are your Non vital functions – items and things that if you do not do then and there, your world will not end

  3. One eye on the goal and the other eye scanning the horizon – don’t hit the wall.

Let’s break down driving a car and the being hungry analogy for ease of explanation.

To get to your destination (goal) in the car, what are the vital functions of your car?

  • Accelerator

  • Break

  • Indicators

  • Petrol

  • Engine running smoothly

Non vital functions?

  • Floor mats

  • Temperature adjustment

One eye on the goal and other scanning the horizon?

  • Make sure you are driving on the right side of the road

  • Driving with caution of other drivers

As you can imagine, the vital functions are items that you require to be aware of at all times. Non vital functions are functions you can live with and don’t necessarily hinder your progress to your goal. Keeping an eye on the goal and the other eye scanning the horizon is to make sure you are aware and awake constantly to be able to deal with things only when they come up. I'll repeat only when they come up.

Now let’s continue our food analogy.

Vital functions:

  • Ingredients

  • Plate

  • Whatever necessary to create your dish

Non vital functions:

  • Particular drink

  • Answering your phone or looking at emails that come through

  • Choice of napkin

Eye on the goal and the other scanning the horizon

  • Ensuring you are doing the correct steps making your food

  • Ensuring you don’t cut or burn yourself during preparation.

Can you begin to see how only a fraction of what you actually think and is required to do will get you closer to your goals? Most importantly, not to think too much or add too much to your plate as you do not know what you will encounter while conducting your tasks. With this step, you can practically categorize all areas in your work/life and focus on only what moves you forward first.

Step 5 - Know, know and know your resources

Now to the second part of step 3. The reason this step is here is because you have taken stock of what you have and can begin to correctly utilise your resources in order to get going.

In my experience with working with a host of companies, this is where businesses either make it or break it. I work with companies that have more than enough resources at their disposal, but it’s always in the misapplication of their resources that breaks them and internally they combust, and staff burn out in the process.

A wise man once said to me...

“a pen can be nothing more than a pen, sure they may be different ways of using it, but it will always be limited to being a ‘pen”

Think on this for a while. Everything and everyone around you has its limitations. Once you accurately identify what resources you have, you are now able to place them where they are most strong and fit for their purpose. This is when you have planned your functions to get you to your goal and begin to place your resources at the correct step along the way.

Taking our food analogy, you are so close to whipping up the greatest meal on earth. Will you now use a knife to eat soup? I don’t think so. Because we know that a knife has a job to do. Even without a spoon or bread to eat soup, you may be better off drinking your soup from the bowl.

Can you see the full picture here?

Reflecting on the main steps listed:

  1. Your goal

  2. Your desire to achieve that goal

  3. Your resources

  4. Focusing on items that move you closer to your goal

  5. Know, know and know your resources.

With these basic 5 steps you are now equipped to pull the trigger and hit go on any project that you have or items that you have been on stuck for a while. Be it a short term or long-term goal, 1 category in your life or multiple. The same system applies. Remember, shooting from the hip can only get you so far so many times, it is time to get a system in place. No matter if all the gaps are not filled or even if it may be vague. You will fill in the gaps along the way.

I hope you have enjoyed this read and hope it may benefit you in any way. This is a snapshot of how we conduct our business no matter how large or small the project or task at hand.

Additional resources:

- Keving Trudau – Patton on leadership. A 2-hour clip on leadership and the importance of communication with your team and people around you.

- Patrick Bet David – Evolution of your why. Clarity and evolution of your why.

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