Reminiscing & Advice by Drew McLellan at AMI
When I was in high school, I took one of those aptitude tests to see what I should be when I grew up. It was really just an exercise of curiosity because I already knew I was going to be a psychologist (I’ll tell you how that went sideways over a drink sometime). When I got the test results back I was stunned to see that military officer was one of the top suggestions. If you know me at all, you know that would have been an unmitigated disaster. All I could envision was me apologizing to my troops for making them get up early!
As I think about the mini-plan I want you to focus on this week — your team plan — it reminds me of a bootcamp scenario. Our people are out of their natural work element, we’re asking them to work at odd hours with lots of obstacles, and they’re under a ton of pressure. They’re worried about how their performance will influence the ultimate outcome and what impact that will have on their lives. But, unlike a military bootcamp, our role needs to be a little different than a drill sergeant. We aren’t going to mold our team into soldiers and then send them on their way. This is OUR team — so we can absolutely hold them accountable but do so by creating a healthy, candid environment.
If you remember, the five mini-plans I want you to develop are:
- Operational/financial plan (How will you get the work done on time and on budget? Then, determine the minimum acceptable profit margin for your agency and use agency math to manage your way to never dipping below it.)
- Team plan (How will you keep them motivated, efficient, profitable, and striving to serve each other and your clients?)
- Client plan (You need to proactively guide each client into a position of readiness so that when they can step back in — they’re ready and more prepared than their competitors.)
- Prospect plan (What can you talk about that will be valuable? Base this on what your prospects are ready to hear at any given moment in time.)
- Vision of the future plan (What parts of normal are worth rushing back to and what could/should be different?)
I believe that in a crisis people reveal their true selves to you. By now, you’ve been surprised and impressed by some of your team members and maybe a little disappointed by others. I know you’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt. But, even beyond that, you’ve been given some important insights into your team. As we slowly work our way out of crisis mode, do not lose track of those insights.
Now is not the time to ease up on holding everyone accountable. When every penny counts, we have to make sure we’re as efficient and effective as possible. A couple weeks ago my podcast guest, Adam Carroll, had some easy to follow tips for holding your team accountable with his HEAT framework.
Here are some of the ways the agencies that are really performing well are managing their team:
- Daily Zoom huddles (Traffic meetings.)
- Honoring their one-on-one meeting schedule.
- Leave-no-man behind Zoom calls. (Personal check-ins to make sure each of your team members is doing okay personally.)
- Weekly agency update with lots of transparency around money, job security, client activity, biz dev, etc.
- Playtime (Virtual happy hours, word games, getting to know you questions, photo contests, Zoom background competitions, etc.)
- Group and individual goal setting and sharing (We all do better with something to work toward.)
- Investing in new learning and skills development (If your team is not fully deployed — this is a smart way to prep for our re-entry.)
- Peer and supervisor recognition. This is such good medicine as we socially distance. If you don’t already have a peer recognition program in place, this might be the time to start one.
- Review of company values. Re-teach everyone how they look in action.
- Serve others together. Whether that’s a community project, everyone coming together to help a client through a sticky situation, or supporting a team member who is having a tough time, about to have a baby, etc.
COVID-19 is calling on us to be the best version of a leader we can be. You absolutely need to be kind and understanding but at an equal level, you also need to hold each employee to a very high standard. Think of yourself as a benevolent drill sergeant and do all you can to not only get good work from your team today but even more importantly — prepare and assess them for the future version of your agency.
Are they the people you want to go into battle with? If so, do everything you can to guarantee their success.