20. Keeping Your Fingers on the Pulse

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/20. Keeping Your Fingers on the Pulse

20. Keeping Your Fingers on the Pulse


Running a business, it’s critical that you have a sense of what’s going on in the company both with your team members and your customers.

This will enable decision making and critical thinking at the right time so you can respond to a crisis in short order or be able to proactively shift strategies to get in front of what’s happening on the ground.

Up to about a million in revenue, this is pretty easy because you’ll likely be highly involved in what’s occurring inside the business. You’re still operating in a lot of tactical tasks.

But what happens when you become removed from these tasks and are operating more at the strategic level?
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Hello, and welcome to this episode of smooth operator. I'm Adam Liette. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today, as we get into something that is near and dear to my heart, something that I'm experiencing right now as the company grows. And it's all about keeping your fingers on the pulse because man when you're running a business. So one thing I've noticed, like, it's really critical that I have a sense of what's going on in the company, not only with my team members, but my customers, I know what's happening in our member support side in our customer service side with what my team members are experiencing, like I need to have a feel for what's going on, I need to be able to, to just take in these atmospherics. So this is for multiple reasons, but mostly because it enables decision making and critical thinking at the right time.

So that I can respond to a crisis in short order, or even more importantly, be able to proactively shift strategies to get in front of whatever's happening on the ground, whether it be a personnel issue, something that we're noticing with our customers, I mean, there's multiple different things that we can get into that, when you when you start to get a sense of it, like you need to be an action mode. And like, we're kind of geared to that, especially if you've been in the tactical level for a while. Because when you're growing the company, like when you first start, you're doing everything, then you bring in someone else, and you're not doing everything, but you're still really involved in everything. And as you grow out your team, like you're become less involved in what's happening on the ground. And this really, in my experience, like once you get up to the million dollars in revenue, and you flip the script over, it ended up being a seven figure company, like, it's really hard to be highly involved into what's always occurring inside the business. Up until that point, you're very much in very a lot of tactical tasks, you may be talking directly to customers, you may be really just actually doing some of the implementation on some of the things that need to happen in our companies. But then this magical thing happens where you get a team around you, you get that structure around you and you start to build up so that you can be removed from all the tasks that took up your whole day. And now you're operating more at the strategic level. And that's where I'm at right now where a lot of the things that I kind of took for granted, I don't get to touch anymore, I don't get the feels the little atmospheric those, those little spider senses that we get when we know that something isn't quite going right within the company or within our team. And ultimately, this is where communication structures that you build different reporting mechanisms and forward thinking will maybe enable you to get the information that you need. And so you can think quickly process it come up with solutions and be able to keep your team and forward momentum and your your customers happy and you know, sales coming in.

And for me, this was like really uncomfortable, because when I was offloading most of my daily tasks, I've offloaded about 70% of my job in the last two months to two new hires. So I'm operating at a completely different level right now. But I had worked at that tactical level for so long, I just had a sense of when things were going wrong sense of when there was an opportunity, a sense of when we had to adjust strategies, or I had to fix something in the back end it with our fulfillment or how we were really handling the customer flow into our courses. I'm now removed from this. And that made me super uncomfortable because how was I going to know what was going on? How was I going to keep my fingers on the pulse of the business. And reflecting back to my military experience in the military. We have something called the commander's critical information list. And this is a list of specific things that if happened within the within the command within the battlespace, you know, kind of depends on where you at. But when those things happen, it sets off an immediate alarm. And we were required to immediately notify the commander that was the first phone call we make. Everything else can wait but the commander needed to be notified immediately. So these things included like death of a family member, someone getting involved a trooper getting involved in a training accident or car accident, like those kinds of emergency things around the commander's critical information list. And so I knew Wow, that was a list of very specific things like the commander need to know about everything else could wait till the CIT wrap. It could wait till the to the you know, the weekly meeting where we all met together in the staff. It was the commander's critical information list as where he needed to be immediately notified. And so what I've done is created similar stuff pictures around my own job and gave my team very specific things that is now on my critical information list.

So a couple of things to think about is like, what do you really need to be involved with? Like, where is your expertise and your skill level actually involved? Or were you just kind of poking your nose into things that you should be removed from and trust your team to make decisions, and instead of coming to you with a problem come to you with a solution. For me, it took a reasonable questioning of my own desire to contribute, versus what was the best use of my expertise. And when we start to get to this level, if it's something that your team can handle, and you need to empower them to handle it, your actual area of contribution isn't solving the problem for them. But being a sounding poll, or someone to bounce ideas off of, Hey, I see this problem, Adam, I want to go ahead and do this great, sounds awesome. Go do it. Like you are an enabler, you're facilitating their ability to problem solve, and then implement their problem solutions, and basically be a sounding board and a place of affirmation for them. So instead, I just listed the very specific areas that I needed to be informed about, I lead it leaving the door open for what I call the unknown WTF reason that we get from some of our customers and team members. Because those happen. So these very specific areas where I kind of want to know what is going on? Are

we seeing an uptick in refunds? Do we seek specific complaints about a certain part of our funnel? Like, what

exactly are we seeing I need? Those are the kinds of things I need to know about. I then communicate this to my team. Through both written and verbal instruction, I talked to them specifically about what I wanted allowed their use of feedback. So we were operating from the same perspective, from day one, they knew how to how to raise the flag to get my attention, what format I would prefer it to be, and like where I would want those communications to happen, like, what platform are we looking for.

And then once you do that, like reinforce that throughout, you know, if someone brings something to you, thank them, I'll take a look at it, and then circle back and then give them the follow up. If you fix something, tell them that you fixed it. That way they know, okay, I raised this red flag, they took a look at it, it's now fixed. And here we go. So it's this wonderful way that we can really just facilitate each other and provide that positive feedback to our team members when they do those things. When questions come your way that aren't in your lane any longer, like that's going to happen, instead of saying not my lane and said redirect your team, and empower other team members to take complete ownership of them. I've also just created reporting mechanisms through not only people but automation does show me the trends that I want it to stay in front of, I want to see what's happening with our sales reports, I want to see what's happening with our membership numbers, like all those reporting mechanisms that will enable me to kind of feel the pulse of things, like creating those reporting mechanisms. And keeping those trends. That way, I have that feel, you know, that feel at the start of every day. And it's part of my startup day workflow. Now, you know, it's part of my startup routine is I pull up my saved reports, and I see it on my dashboard. And I know what's going on in the company, before I even start my day. And overall, like, it's really important to get permission from the team, to tell them what you're doing, to tell them why you want to do this, why you need this type of information, encourage feedback, allow them to have a voice in it.

And so they have buy in from moment one, they know why they're looking for this specific information, they know that it will be met positively through you, and then you'll act upon it helped make their jobs easier, and overall helped the company grow. And now for my See, I mean, some of these things come by debt to my desk, they get reported up to our CEO, even if it's just for situational awareness, and several of the things that my team members are solving at their level, they do the same thing for me, Adam saw this problem, fix it, good to know, thank you for that. So just full communication. So even if it's just for situational awareness, just giving someone the knowledge that you saw a problem, you fixed it. I mean, it's it's, it's good in multiple ways. Not only are you building that trust factor, with your higher up or your your are they're building trust with you. And but you know, it's just it's, it keeps everyone on an even playing field and it keeps those lines of communication open as you continue to grow. Alright, so like I said, This brought up some serious vulnerabilities in me because it's kind of this It's this idea know that we all all kind of have that certain parts of the company can't operate without us. You know, it's a very vain thing that we all it's human nature to start to think this way. Many things in your company can and should operate without you.

That's how you're going to grow. That's how you're going to become a larger organization. That's how your role is going to continue to develop by allowing other people to have ownership of their areas, and just creating that feedback loop. So the critical information that you need is communicated. And then you provide that conduit to receive that critical information. That's how you keep your fingers on the pulse. That's how you have the feel for what's going on in your company, and ultimately, are able to make the strategic decisions to keep things moving forward, which is really where you all want to be. We all want to keep growing, our companies keep moving ahead, impact more lives. And ultimately, yeah, make more money. So it's all good things in the right direction. Great. So I hope this helped. Please do shout out to Adam liette.com. I look forward to hearing from you. If you have any episode ideas, go ahead and send me an email. I'd love to hear the things that you're experiencing in your own business and things that you could use help with. Until next time, this is Adam from smooth operator. I'll see you then.

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