Updated: Jan 2
The people in your company really ARE the most valuable resource. Unfortunately, business owners unintentionally create low energy work environments that create unnecessary strife. Today, I’ll show you how you can intentionally create a high-energy work environment that’s needed to grow your business.
There are eight critical mechanical components of business. There are seven levels of core energy. I’m creating a series of posts called Business Mechanics & Mindset. You can read about these topics in more detail in my book entitled, “Business Mechanics & Mindset: How Your Thoughts Create or Sabotage Your Business Success”. Today’s post is the fourth of this series entitled Core Energy™ People.
Before I go too far, I’ve created another post that you may want to read before you read this one. It is entitled “What is Core Energy?”. It explains the seven levels of Core Energy™ in detail that will be mentioned in this entire series.
If you want to watch a video of this exact same topic, go here: https://youtu.be/bi-n9gY46PY
(Core Energy™ is a registered trademark of iPEC and all Core Energy™ concepts described in this blog post are derived from iPEC’s Core Energy Coaching™ program.)
I left a management position in a Fortune 100 company, to start my own business. I had a two prior management positions: 1) leading technicians; and 2) leading salespeople. I decided that leading people was not for me, so my business was as a lone wolf consultant. I did partner with several others, but always as a 1099 contractor. In year three of my business, I realized that I couldn’t do it alone, so I hired my first employee. To make a long story short, I ended up hiring several more employees after that to grow a 30-employee engineering and construction firm. The punchline is that people are not the problem, but rather the solution. After I sold my firm and now coach several small business owners, most of the coaching topics revolve around people-issues.
In my business coaching practice, I’ve discovered that there are four critical areas in leading people in any small business that you must get right:
Organization Structure: What official leadership structure will work most efficiently at accomplishing company goals.
Hiring: How to add the best employees and have them producing as quickly as possible.
Workplace Energy: The culture that you foster as the company leader.
Leadership: How you delegate and train culture affirming leaders.
In previous posts in this series, I’ve tried to illustrate how Core Energy™ interacts with each of these areas. The topic of PEOPLE is too deep to do that in this short blog post. Instead, I want to talk about how you improve your people regardless of which level they may be at in your organization.
The Victim – Level 1 – I Lose
A victim is an individual who constantly looks outside of themselves for the cause of the problems they face. Outsiders often see these folks as negative, doom, and gloom people.
The Fighter – Level 2 – I Win, You Lose
The fighter finds fault with anything you say. They come off as defensive instead of collaborative. This can be helpful when you need to challenge the status quo but annoying any other time.
The Survivor – Level 3 – I Win
The survivor will be one of the most affable people in your company. They will do what you tell them to do. They get along with people, avoid conflict, and are relatively successful. They shy away from leadership roles and will struggle when forced to change because things are fine the way they are.
The Lover – Level 4 – You Win
The lover is a people-person who puts other before themselves. They enjoy serving others. While their focus on building others up is certainly helpful, they may also take many emotional detours that can be destructive.
The Opportunist – Level 5 – Win/Win
The opportunist is rare and highly valuable to any entrepreneur. The opportunist is constantly looking for ways to improve processes, products, services, and anything associated with their job. If you want a self-starter who is self-motivated, an opportunist is the way to go. In most companies, opportunists are known as rainmakers. They create much more value than they cost. Their primary challenge is that they can struggle to focus on any one task because their mind is thinking about so many different alternatives.
How do you shift Core Energy Levels of Your Employees?
I’ve just described five Core Energy™ levels. In these descriptions, I labeled each individual as a certain type of person. That’s not quite accurate. The truth is that we all show up at various energy levels depending on the situation, our personality, and our reactions. The key to effectively leading your people is to shift as many as you can to as high of an energy level as possible.
Here's how you do it…
Level 1: If your employee is experiencing a “victim” mindset, it’s helpful to acknowledge the legitimacy of the cause of their victim thinking. This is NOT an endorsement of an untruth. It is finding the legitimate cause of their victimhood and confirming it. Then you ask your employee to paint a picture of a more positive outcome. Then define a path to achieve that outcome.
Example: Vicky is a server at a small restaurant. She’s convinced that she’s getting the customers who tip the least. The hostess, Sara, must not like her.
Vicky comes to the restaurant manager, Stan and complains, “I never get high-tipping customers like the rest of the servers. I’m tired of the way Sara is always giving me low-tipping customers and others are making more money.”
Stan responds, “Vicki, it’s important that you have the opportunity to make as much as other servers. The fact that your tips are less than the others is disappointing. Your disappointment is perfectly understandable. What can be done to ensure you have the same opportunity as other servers to earn tips?”
Vicky replies, “You can get rid of Sara.” (Level 2)
Level 2: If your employee is experiencing a “conflict” mindset, it’s helpful to get on their side of the conflict, if only temporarily. Again, you’re acknowledging and validating their position. Once they have felt that you’re on their side, ask how they can imagine any positive intention of their opponent. Then ask them to reconcile the difference between the two options to obtain mutual positive benefit.
Example: Stan decides to have a meeting with Sara and Vicky to get to the bottom of Sara’s favoritism.
Stan starts, “Vicky, can you describe the challenge you have with table assignments?”
Vicky announces, “Sara, you always assign the good tables to your friends, and I get the shaft.”
Sara had been coached before hand to explain her system to assign tables. Otherwise, she could have reacted unfavorably.
Sara responds, “Vicky, it would be unfair if I tried to judge incoming customers and only give them to my friends. I understand how that would be upsetting to you. I wouldn’t like it myself.”
Vicky barked, “Okay. What are you going to do about it?”
Sara calmly replied, “From here on out, I plan to use a system to assign tables based on zones in our restaurant. There are three zones and you are Zone #2. The first customer will go to Zone #1. The second customer will go to Zone #2. The third customer will go to Zone #3. That way I’ll ensure that I am not playing favorites.”
Vicky had calmed down, “Okay. I guess that will work.” (Level 3)
Level 3: Acceptance mindset folks are some of the toughest to level up. The reason is that they are often comfortable where they are. To level up, your employee needs to understand the negative impacts of remaining complacent. And those negative consequences need to be personal. In other words, they must feel the pain of standing still. Once they feel this pain, they will naturally want to find a more comfortable place.
Example: Vicky had been working with the new system and hadn’t been complaining. However, her tips were still substantially lower than the others.
Stan approached Vicky and asked, “How is the new table assignment system working out?”
Vicky shrugged, “Fine I guess.”
“Are you earning as much in tips as the other servers?”
“Not really. I guess I’m just not as pretty the others. Nothing I can do about that. Right?”
“C’mon. I’m sure that you can do better. What will it mean to you if you could earn as much as the other servers?”
“I suppose I’d earn an extra $200 per week.”
“What would you spend your extra earnings on?”
“I suppose I could afford a better daycare for my daughter.”
“I tell you what. I’ll pay you to watch the other servers to see what they do. I’ll bet you can get some ideas to improve your tips.”
Vicky watched the other servers for a week and realized that they were super friendly to their customers. She felt uncomfortable at first but started going over the top with friendliness with her customers. She was amazed that it actually paid off. Her tips started rising to the level of the other servers. (Level 4)
Level 4: If your employee is thinking of others, they are very close to Level 5. Their only challenge is that they may allow emotion to cloud their judgment or be so focused on the wellbeing of people they forget the wellbeing of your business. In this case, it’s important to illustrate the elements that may be missing in their assessment of the “big picture”. Be sure to communicate how any missing element will affect other people in your business on a personal level. Once a Level 4 person understands how decisions impact all parties, they will quickly shift up to Level 5… Win/Win.
Example: It was a year later, and all the servers in Stan’s restaurant were doing well serving their customers and getting great reviews. The only problem was that the kitchen staff was getting anxious because they hadn’t got a raise in quite a while and Stan’s profits were thin as it was. Stan decided that he’d need to raise menu prices.
Stan gathered his staff together and explained the situation.
The first response came from Vicky, “If we raise prices, won’t that hurt our customers?”
Stan responded, “What else can we do?”
Sara spoke up, “What if we start upselling deserts and drinks.”
Stan knew that his profit margin on deserts and drinks was higher than his meals.
Stan smiled, “That’s a good idea.”
Vicky chimed in, “Won’t our customer feel like we’re selling to them?”
Stan responded, “You’re asking them a question about what they want. The customer will feel like you are attentive to their needs. If the check amount for your table goes up, you will likely get a bigger tip. And, this will help the restaurant give raises to the kitchen staff. It’s a Win-Win-Win. Right?” (Level 5)
Level 5: Opportunistic people are a pleasure to be around. It will feel like they are pulling the sled instead of requiring you to push the sled. The one challenge with this is that they can be pulling the sled in multiple directions. Your best approach with a Level 5 is to guide their high level of energy in the direction that will best serve your company and its customers.
Example: Stan had such great success with the previous meeting to figure out how to give his kitchen staff raises, that he wanted to try the same approach with an idea to expand his restaurant. Stan announced that there’d be a brainstorming session to come up with ideas on expanding the restaurant.
He started the meeting, “I want to expand the restaurant. I’d love to hear your ideas.”
Vicky announced, “Why not buy another restaurant?”
Sara said, “We could renovate and expand our current building”
The cook, Julio chimed in, “We can start taking To Go orders.”
Jim the dishwasher announced, “What if we start a catering business?”
Stan was overwhelmed with all the ideas. Was he supposed to analyze all these ideas? He decided to hire a business coach to help him come up with the best idea. Stan’s business coach told him that he could have the same brainstorming session, but then ask his staff to weigh each idea with a set of criteria that he selects. The idea with the greatest score would be the singular direction they’d take. Stan followed his coach’s advice. It turned out that the To Go order idea was the easiest to implement and would make the biggest near-term impact on the success of Stan’s restaurant.
Some parting thoughts...
We skipped the critical mechanical elements of your employees like organization structure, hiring, workplace energy, and leadership. However, I wanted to show you how to apply Core Energy™ to live situations with your people.
If you’d like to learn more about how I coach my business owner clients with Core Energy Coaching™, please visit my website at www.mmbizcoach.com.