Igniting Your Team to New Levels of Performance

By Magi Graziano

Magi GrazianoWhen it comes to constructing a team of people who work well together to create winning outcomes, knowing ‘how to’ and understanding ‘how to’ are two very different phenomena.

The strong and astute organizational leader is one who is committed to optimizing their resources and maximizing their return on their investment. Given the people expense is often the largest investment in any enterprise; creating this kind of culture is simply smart business. As a leader, empowering your workforce to unleash their strengths and encouraging people to collaborate, and innovate leverages people’s ability to act as a team and produce results.

In work cultures where people focus on only their piece of the puzzle it leads to silo mentality and ultimately breeds ineffectiveness and inefficiency. A high performance team cannot exist in an environment where competition and one-up-manship prevail.  When people on the team focus on each other’s limitations and detriments—and why things cannot be done—they all too often miss opportunities to make the organization better. Additionally, teamwork is adversely impacted when the people on the team feel the need to focus on fighting and jockeying for authority or power. This need to be ‘better than’ decreases collaboration and limits innovation. It is a recipe for stagnation and conflict—neither which drive long term results.

As leaders, it requires rewiring our minds and our teams to repair an absence of trust; however before you can rewire, you first need to be aware and responsible for the absence of trust in the first place. Teams respond best to a system that allows them to fall, learn from mistakes, and move forward again. Click To Tweet

Whether you are seeking to create a high performance work team or a high performance culture; there are seven steps for creating an environment where high performance and teamwork can thrive.

1. Identify and Clarify the Purpose for the Team: People must understand the why behind what they are doing. Once the purpose for the team is crystalized and talking points are clearly outlined, it is the initiator of the team’s role to connect the dots for people to see how they connect to it. Communicating an inspiring vision for the people on the team and mapping what success looks like when it is achieved is a foundational element for congealing a group of people together and getting them geared up to work together in unison.

2. Select a Leader: The team’s leader does not have to be the person who invents the possibility and purpose for the team; it does need to be a person who accepts the responsibility for shepherding and guiding the team to success. The leader’s job is to be present—to be there for the team. The best leaders select the right people, inspire them towards a vision and back out of the way during the planning stage—unless they are specifically asked for guidance.

3. Establish Rules: People need to know what is expected from them, and from the team. People need to know and understand where the boundaries are regarding decision-making, autonomy and performance. Giving people the rules of the game before they agree to play it allows for people to opt in or opt out of the team and the game. Advanced clarity of expectations also reduces unnecessary problems, reduces ambiguity and confusion and serves to mitigate poor performance and unwanted turnover on the team.

4. Select the Players: Whether you are building an enterprise or a team of people to accomplish a project, it is crucial that you select the right people for the right roles, for the right reasons. When this happens people join the team for the right reasons; which is the baseline team engagement. When people are engaged, they have a strong desire to bring value—to be a contributor. They enjoy the type of work they are doing and are able to connect their work to the bigger picture.

The best team dynamics happen when there is a variety of people who bring their uniqueness to the team. Beyond competencies and skills, it’s important to consider unique traits that each team member brings to the table and how those unique traits can be leveraged for optimal creativity and innovation.

5. Set the Level: Level-setting allows each member of the team a new opportunity to begin again. During a level set, team members explore their limiting beliefs and barriers to working with others in a productive and effective manner, and do the necessary work to unpack those factors that get in the way. The team as a whole is challenged to work together in experiential learning in ways they never considered.

Even the most effective, astute and self-aware people discover limits that were previously hidden from their conscious view. The team lays out the pathway for the best way to work together, how they will resolve personality conflicts and internal challenges with dynamics on the team.  At the completion of the level set, the team creates a collective possibility for the team that is inspiring to each and every member of the team.

6. Planning: The best approach for a leader during planning is to be a source for inspiration, questions, and guidance. Leaders who step too far in to planning create teams that are dependent on the leader and lack creativity. If the leader notices a problem with the plan, rather than pointing it out, it is much more empowering to ask questions that provoke the team members to activate their critical thinking skills to answer and think potential challenges through.

7. Check in, Track Progress, Celebrate Success: When people are aware of the milestone meetings and rely on regular feedback it reduces uncertainly and unnecessary stress.  Laying out the stages of organizational effectiveness, beginning with what it means to be operating in formulation and concentration and then defining criteria for low, moderate and high momentum gives the team an opportunity to self regulate, correct and celebrate as they see fit.

Utilizing a customized version of the agile methodology is an excellent means to keep progress on track and support the team in attaining momentum with their project, program or goal.  Daily stand ups, bi-weekly declarations and intention setting as well as bi monthly retrospectives give teams a structure they can count on and gives the team healthy guardrails to work independently and remain responsibility to each other and the organization as a whole.

While knowing and understanding are two very different distinctions, doing is the link that shifts knowing to understanding. For the impatient leader, doing may be a challenge because progress is most often only experienced incrementally. Building a high performance team is not about exponential breakthroughs, if they happen great; however if sustainability is your goal, impatience is your enemy. Teams respond best to a system that allows them to learn, move forward, fall, learn from mistakes, move forward again and sustain progress over time. When high concentration and effort is celebrated, and low momentum is acknowledged and genuinely appreciated teams build confidence and fortitude to stay the course.

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of KeenAlignment, a speaker, employee recruitment and engagement expert and author of The Wealth of Talent. Through her expansive knowledge and captivating presentations, Magi provide her customers with actionable, practical ideas to maximize their effectiveness and ability to create high-performing teams. With more than twenty years’ experience as a top producer in the Recruitment and Search industry, she empowers and enables leaders to bring transformational thinking to the day-to-day operation. For more information on Magi please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.

Realizing Positive Outcomes

By Peter DeHaan

Author Peter DeHaanAs a publisher of trade magazines, I travel to conventions and industry shows. Before that, as a consultant, I traveled to my clients’ offices. Therefore, it may surprise you that I don’t like to travel, especially to fly—unpredictable, impersonal, and a loss of control.

I am a homebody, perfectly content to stay within the comfort of my home—my castle—which is also my office. It’s not that I am people adverse, because with the telephone, email, and text, I am always available. It’s simply that I enjoy being home and anything else, including travel, pales with the comfort of home sweet home.

Like any traveler, I have many stories.

A Private Flight: One time, awaiting a connecting flight in Detroit and anxious to return home, I sat at the sparsely occupied gate, immersed in my crossword puzzle. Suddenly, an announcement interrupted my focus, “Now boarding all rows, all passengers for flight 3512 for Kalamazoo; this is the final boarding.” Strange, I mused; I had apparently tuned out all the previous announcements.

Grateful that I heard this one, I walked alone to the gate and handed the agent my ticket. “We wondered if you were here,” she smiled. Perplexed at such a strange comment, I smiled back and inanely replied, “Yes, I am here,” and proceeded through the doorway. The door shut behind me.

Walking down the empty jet way, I stepped onto the plane; the flight attendant informed me that I was the only passenger. She asked if I would be needing beverage service. I thanked her and joked that she could take the night off.

Later, as I deplaned in Kalamazoo, I inquired if this thing happened very often. “Occasionally,” she replied. “Once the plane was empty. But we have to fly anyway, because it needs to be in Kalamazoo for an early flight the next day.” So, for the price of a commercial ticket, I had a private flight with a personal flight attendant. To realize a positive outcome: have a plan, be realistic, and make the most of it. Click To Tweet

The Captian’s Final Flight: Another time, while anxiously waiting for my flight to Chicago—where I had a tight 40 minutes connection—there was an announcement of a delay: 30 minutes, then an hour, then more. Finally, two hours past the scheduled departure, we had boarded and were ready to taxi.

Then an unusual announcement has made. This was to be the captain’s final flight for the airline, as he was retiring after 22 years of service. To celebrate, several members of his family were on the plane with him. As was tradition in these cases, we would taxi past two fire trucks, which would spray a canopy of water over and on the plane. As we proceeded, parallel to the terminal, I noticed the windows lined with airline personnel, waving their goodbyes. Soon, passengers irrepressibly began waving back.

Then came another surprise announcement, “Because this is the captain’s final flight, ground control has given us priority clearance for departure; we are next in-line for take-off.” Never before had I witnessed such a speedy departure. The runway even pointed us towards Chicago.

In seemingly no time, there was another announcement, “We have enjoyed a strong tail wind and we are getting ready to land in Chicago. Because this is the captain’s final flight, air traffic control has given us priority clearance to land.” Again it was a straight shot to the runway and we quickly landed.

Then a third unexpected announcement was made. “Because this is our captain’s final flight, ground control has given us priority to taxi to our gate.” Could it be, I wondered as I glanced at my watch. My connecting flight left on time—and I was on it!

Taking a Taxi Instead: For my final story, I was traveling with two co-workers. We were headed home, again connecting in Chicago. It was winter and we landed only to learn that our flight home, the last one of the day, was cancelled due to weather.

As the more savvy travelers snapped up all the rental cars, we sought other options; alas, the only one was to spend the night in Chicago and fly home the next day. That was the last thing I wanted to do. I anticipated sleeping in my own bed that night and anything else would be second-rate.

Plus one of my associates was ill and the other was beginning her vacation the next morning with an early fight out for a cruise. If we delayed until the next day, she would miss her departing flight and part of the cruise. There were no more flights, no buses, and no rental cars.

We were 150 miles from home. It was a desperate time. Outside, a city employee was orchestrating cab rides. “What would be the possibility of getting a cabbie to take us to Kalamazoo, Michigan?” I inquired. “We really need to get home tonight,” I desperately added.

Glancing at our discouraged and tired faces, she responded positively, “Let me find you a good ride.” After putting local fares in the next five cabs, a nice new cab, with a competent looking driver, pulled up. “This is your cab,” she smiled, with a grand wave towards our coach. She had a preliminary discussion with the now bewildered cabbie. Once I assured him that I could provide directions, we were off. Four hours later he dropped us off at the Kalamazoo airport. I paid the 380 dollars fare and we each headed home. Later the airline refunded our unused tickets, so the net cost of our 150 mile cab ride was only 30 dollars.

What I’ve Learned about Travel

Although there were other stories I could have shared—remember I don’t like to fly—I picked these for a reason. Each one is positive: a private flight, a priority trip, and an accommodating cabbie. These represent the perspective I attempt to adopt when I fly. I call it travel mode. To successfully travel, I need to be in travel mode. There are three aspects to it:

Have a plan: If you don’t have a plan to occupy the idle time when you fly, you will be bored and irritable. My plan starts with magazines to read. I don’t take ones I want to keep, as each one gets thrown away when it is finished, making my load a little lighter. Magazines are for sitting in gates, standing in line, and before take off. Naturally, there are crossword puzzles in the in-flight magazines to occupy the actual flight. Movies, another favorite pastime, are a welcome offering on longer flights. Plus there is the added benefit of the more objectionable material being edited out of the film. Finally, there are the rewards I give myself at each hub airport: food; frozen yogurt or popcorn are much anticipated treats. My plan beneficially fills my travel time.

Be realistic: I used to have the expectation that an airline schedule was an accurate representation of what would happen. The fact that airlines begin padding their schedules to boast a higher on-time arrival, did little to erase my frequent disappointment. Then I realized that a more reasonable attitude was to assume the plane would be late and to rejoice with an on-time or early arrival. Here’s why. Let’s say a trip has two flights there and two flights back. If one flight is late, do your remember the three that were on time? No, you dwell on the one that was late. Now look at it mathematically. Assume that each flight has an on-time arrival of 70 percent. That means that for the two flights to get to your destination, you only have a 49 percent chance that both flights will be on time. To include your return flights, you only have a 24 percent chance of all four planes being on time. And if you have three flights (two hubs) in each direction, your odds of all six being on time drop to 11 percent. With proper and realistic expectations, your chances of being disappointed are greatly reduced. This isn’t optimism versus pessimism; it’s realism.

Make the most of it: Is business travel something to be endured or an experience to be relished? If your perspective is one of tolerance, then you will gravitate towards the negative. If your perspective is one of adventure (I’m not quite there yet), then you will remember the positive—like I have done with my three stories. And there are many more. You meet people by chance whom you will never see again, yet a lasting impression is made. A simple kindness to another traveler uplifts one’s spirit. Even spending time to check out the airport architecture or infrastructure is not without its rewards.

I have just shared my prescription for travel, the perspective I need for a successful trip. However, this can be applied to any task or endeavor to realize a positive outcome: have a plan, be realistic, and make the most of it.

Peter DeHaan is a commercial freelance writer who provides content marketing services and does ghostwriting.

Strategic Thinking: Making Yourself More Valuable to Management

By Jill J. Johnson

The management of your company is facing a wide range of pressures due to the uncertainty and complexity of today’s volatile business climate. Given this complexity, you have many opportunities to make yourself more value to them by the work you do, the ideas you generate, and the insight you can provide them. If you begin to start approaching your work with a strategic mindset, you will not only elevate your own strategic thinking in these areas, but you will also become significantly more valuable to them.

Identify the Strategic Information Management Needs from You: Management is typically evaluated on business growth and profitability. Identify what they base their decisions on in their role. Think about the strategic information they need to confidently make those decisions. Consider the decisions those they report to need to make as well. Then determine what you can do to more effectively link your daily work with their decision-making processes, needs, and concerns.

Do some homework to make sure you understand the important management issues in their leadership roles and their key responsibilities. This will help you to identify where your role intersects or connects with their issues, concerns, and responsibilities. By understanding what these are, you will be better able to maximize what you do and provide information to meet their needs. Your efforts will enable them to become more valuable to the people they report to as well. Make yourself more valuable by the work you do, the ideas you generate, and the insight you can provide. Click To Tweet

Align your thinking with their goals. How can you help them address their concerns? What do they need from you? How can you add value? Can you offer suggestions for improving productivity or profitability? Can you identify new opportunities to expand sales opportunities?

There are many ways for you to make sure you understand the key strategies of your organization. Read articles quoting the top executives from your company. Look at your company’s annual report or review your entire company website to gain more perspective. Read articles in your industry-focused publications. As you better understand the business issues, you will gain clearer insight on how to link those strategic issues directly to your role and responsibilities.

Incorporate this strategic thinking into how you engage in your job responsibilities each day. Be alert to identifying emerging opportunities to improve problem solving, expanding networks, increasing earnings, enhancing job satisfaction or increasing productivity. Look for revenue implications, customer retention or areas of community impact. The opportunities for you to strategically impact are all around you.

Use Your Knowledge to Provide Strategic Insight: In your role, you likely have access to valuable information that you either currently provide to management or that you could share with them. You might be directly interacting with your customers or are you work in a key area of delivering your company’s services or manufacturing their products. Often those closest to these areas have the best ideas to improve productivity or increase profitability. Taking a more proactive approach to incorporating strategic thinking into your job will help you transform your role into a valuable business resource to them.

Provide management with insight not just information. Information is not enough anymore. You need to incorporate your value-add of interpretation and recommendations to what you provide them. Insight can be a game changer to build your relationship with management. You can provide management with significant value if you focus on how you can help them achieve corporate goals or address challenging business issues. This will position you as a “value” center, not just a “cost” center for your wage or salary.

Identify opportunities for your company to optimize the available assets they have already invested in. These investments could include people, buildings or equipment. Consider how you can optimize the work you do and the assets you are directly responsible for managing or using. Pay close attention to the touch points your role impacts on the key metrics for your company. Where do you impact sales, profit margin, return on investment, return on assets, etc.? If you don’t understand these terms, learn more about them.

To make yourself more valuable to management, you need to know what makes money for your company and how your role fits into making money for the enterprise. This insight will help you tie yourself to the company’s business priorities. Focus on how your role aligns with achieving overall corporate objectives and creates a positive impact on revenue growth or overall bottom-line profit. The better you understand these concepts, the easier it will be for you to position yourself as a strategic resource.

Communicate Your Strategic Value in Their Language: Always position your ideas and recommendations to them in the language they use. If they frequently use the words “return on investment (ROI)” or “profitability” be sure your ideas always include a reference to how it will impact ROI or company profits. If they talk about “target markets” or “employee engagement” then you should do the same.

Communication with your managers should be short, simple and to the point. They will ask you for more details if they are interested or confused. It is critical to have done exceptional preparation on the insight you prepare for them.

Make sure your data and information is accurate. This allows you to be perceived as credible and trustworthy. This is essential if you provide them with ideas requiring the investment of time, money or other resources to complete the implementation. They must be confident they can trust what you provide them withonce burned, you will not have another chance to re-establish their trust.

Final Thoughts:Thinking strategically is a skillset that you need to actively work at trying to improve. Find resources to help you learn and practice your critical thinking skills. By spending time on thinking strategically, it will become naturally ingrained into how you conduct your work. This will make you exceptionally more valuable to management. Then you will be on the path to becoming a manager or executive yourself!

Jill Johnson is the President and Founder of Johnson Consulting Services, a highly accomplished speaker, an award-winning management consultant, and author of the forthcoming Bold Questions series. Jill helps her clients make critical business decisions and develop market-based strategic plans for turnarounds or growth. Her consulting work has impacted nearly 4 billion dollars worth of decisions. She has a proven track record of dealing with complex business issues and getting results. For more information on Jill Johnson, please visit www.jcs-usa.com.

Where Are You in Your Entrepreneurial Life Cycle?

By Ami Kassar

Just as we experience spring, summer, fall and winter each year, there are a similar number of cycles for entrepreneurs. It’s extremely important to understand into which cycle you presently fit, because it determines how you approach growth, helps pinpoint your most comfortable financial options and makes evident your tolerance for risk.

So, what are those four cycles?

Here are some easy-to-remember names: Growers, Gliders, Speed-bumpers and Exiters.

Consider the case of John, a man in his early sixties whose software company has coasted along for years. The business is growing steadily, although at a much slower pace than twenty years ago.

John’s financially set for life and wants to enjoy retirement by traveling with his wife and spending time with his grandchildren. Although there’s no immediate hurry, he’s looking to cash out from his company, which is now largely in the hands of his capable daughter.

As you might guess, John is an Exiter.

At a social function, John strikes up a conversation with a husband-and-wife team named Jason and Tara who run a fledgling software company of their own, although they aren’t direct competitors. Jason and Tara have just won a significant contract and their products are receiving good reviews, but they need capital to meet their demands.

These classic Growers ask John for advice, figuring (correctly) that he’s seen it all. So what does John tell them?

An aggressive businessman all his life, John essentially tells Jason and Tara to be bold—which is the only way to successfully get through each individual entrepreneurial cycle. It’s important to understand which cycle you presently fit, because it determines how you approach growth. Click To Tweet

Growers: A Grower is the type of entrepreneur typically depicted in film, on television, in books and all other forms of media. These are the businesspeople looking to expand their operations, often rapidly. They generally have a healthy appetite for assuming risk and are loaded with self-confidence.

John tests Jason and Tara by asking them what they’d do if they received a one million dollars gift. Would they invest all (or most) of that money directly into their business or would they hold on to it, essentially saving it for a rainy day?

John’s happy to hear that his newfound friends didn’t hesitate before saying they were confident in their business and figured that investing the money would go a long way toward solving their growth issues.

John tells them that since their business prospects are solid, there would be numerous financing options available for them ranging from the tried-and-true Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to the ancient practice of factoring to everything in between.

While John is speaking, his audience grows, enthralled by the wisdom he’s imparting. One of the listeners is a long-time friend named Mary whose small custom-framing chain of stores is stable and profitable. She is a Glider.

Gliders: Mary tells the group that she’s reached a happy point where she’s making a solid amount of money, expects her business to remain sound and is loath to wreck a good thing.

John’s been somewhat of a mentor to Mary over the years, so he poses the same hypothetical one million dollars gift question he just asked Jason and Tara.

That led Mary to waffle a bit. She first said she would place a significant chunk of that gift into mutual funds, happy with a smaller return, but still available to be used if need be. After more thought, she decided to place about 75 percent in her business because she realized she was already generating a higher return than what a mutual fund offered.

John approved, noting that keeping a business on an even keel is never a bad thing, especially for someone like Mary, who is beginning to consider retirement options. He also pointed out that since her business was doing well; there’d be no shortage of palatable financial options available if the need arose.

The conversation lurches in a different direction, however, when a frazzled-looking entrepreneur joins the discussion. That would be Derek, the founder of an online sporting goods store. Derek’s business was growing at a double-digit rate, but he overestimated his market and is now stuck with a warehouse full of unsold goods—not to mention his bank wants to pull its line of credit and is demanding repayment.

Derek, a textbook Speed-bumper, asks John what he should do.

Speed-Bumpers: John points out that a little rain falls on most people’s lives at some point and entrepreneurs aren’t immune.

Again, he brings up the hypothetical one million dollars gift.

It doesn’t take long for Derek to gain clarity when he says that he would plunk most or the entire hypothetical one million dollars gift into his business. While some non-entrepreneurs might consider that foolish, Derek realizes that for any business to succeed, it requires the stomach for at least some risk along with overriding confidence. By stepping back, he realizes that—missteps aside—his company and business model are viable and will need some fine tuning.

John cautions that challenges might lie ahead because some financial options will be closed to him. And the options that will be open may carry a greater risk (or interest rate) or even the possibility of surrendering some equity.

Having provided his sage advice to the others, the group of entrepreneurs questions John about his plans.

Exiters: John replies that even the most-fervent entrepreneur will walk away at some point. The reason why doesn’t really matter.

The group then turns the table on John and asks him what he’d do with the hypothetical one million dollars gift.

Not surprisingly, he says, he decides he’d invest half of it in mutual funds, but put the rest back into the business, noting that it would help his successor daughter.

John points out that succession planning is important, but too many businesses either overlook it or give it short shrift. After all, who wants to be thinking about the distant future when the thrill of running a business still looms?

He notes that eventually that day comes, however, and transitioning power is a delicate process, especially when you consider your legacy, not to mention tax concerns, heirs (whether or not they’re taking over the business) and dozens of other things that often aren’t considered.

John does say that the exiting process, which should be a joyful time, can become burdensome and require professional financial assistance.

With that, the group begins to break up, each having gained a bit of clarity in regards to their particular situation.

Conclusion: What have you learned from this hypothetical situation?

No matter what cycle they’re in, entrepreneurs are a fascinating breed; they represent much of what makes the American business world so great.

That said, entrepreneurs don’t know everything and tend to look at the big picture and forgo some of the fine details. That’s why they sometimes need outside help.

The key to providing that help is recognizing that no two businesses—and their financial situations—are alike and can’t be addressed with a rote game plan.

Ami Kassar is the founder and chief executive officer of Multifunding LLC, speaker, and author of the forthcoming book The Growth Dilemma. Heavily involved in business finance for two decades, Ami has advised the White House, The Treasury Department and The Federal Reserve Bank on the state of the financing markets. A nationally-recognized expert on business capital, Ami Kassar has helped over 700 entrepreneurs generate over 300 million dollars for their businesses. For more information on Ami Kassar, please visit www.Multifunding.com

Maintaining Business Stability Amid Political Turbulence

By Jeff Bush

Have there been times during your career where you felt like you lost focus in your business? Outside influences may have affected the course you had set, tossing your business plan into a turbulent storm of chaos. Perhaps these powers emanating from Washington D.C. left you scratching your head as to directional control of your business. You may have been elated during a recent election, or perhaps dismayed.

Tax reform, healthcare, immigration, and trade are all major issues as the new administration tries to find its governing legs. These pending shifts in policy can cause headaches for business owners.

Many employees, customers, and suppliers look to their manager as that grey-haired, seasoned hand at the controls, steady as she goes leader to guide them safely through the unsettled air. What happens when all you see around you are ominous clouds of change with no clear path to predictability? Uncertainty is where many leaders have been flying at one point or another. Optimistic they are heading towards a destination, but not seeing the safest route to follow.

Envision yourself as a pilot, navigating your plane through some particularly rough weather. You’re at 10,000 feet, making moment-to-moment decisions. You’re maintaining all of the proper protocols, minding all of the necessary instrumentation—when suddenly your panel lights up like a Christmas tree and gauges start fluttering wildly. Alerts begin to chirp throughout the cabin. There’s a problem—and it’s up to you to rectify it, or mitigate the issue as best you can to ensure a safe landing. It is your preparation, experience, and trust in your training that will see you through. Click To Tweet

After some clear-headed evaluation under pressure—and following what you’ve been taught—you identify the source of the problem and make the educated decision to continue your flight until its final destination. You land safely, a bit shaken but relieved that proper training allowed you to make the right decisions to ensure the safety of those aboard.

Leading a business through a turbulent political climate can feel a bit like a pilot making snap decisions when the norms go awry. It’s important to know that there will be confusion and challenges, and it is your preparation, experience, and trust in your training that will see you through. These four action steps can keep your company flying high and stable when the political winds begin to shift.

1. In your businesses, you have to do the most important things first and keep doing them while dealing with problems that will inevitably arise. So what are your business’s core elements for success? Can your employees list them? Many business owners or leaders would report that “customer service” is one of their core elements. But what are the three most impactful drivers of excellent customer service unique to your business? Ask yourself, and your team, to excel at those three things. If you don’t know what your essential elements of success are, you better figure them out quickly. The turbulent times start when clients go looking.

2. Not unlike identifying where you are going to execute an off-airport landing, you need to have an honest discussion with yourself about the situation and your capabilities. In the context of business, you need to be honest with yourself about what you’re struggling with and find a better way of getting the job done. Perhaps in your business, it means outsourcing HR to an employment agency, switching suppliers or firing a problem client. But be honest with yourself about the weaknesses in your operation and commit to addressing them.

3. Are you communicating with everyone vital in your business success, from customers to suppliers, vendors, and financial advisors? Do you have a communication plan for each of these critical constituents and who owns that plan? To whom is the plan owner accountable?

Sit down with a blank piece of paper. Draw a circle in the middle and, inside the circle, write the name of your business. Take ten minutes of uninterrupted time to write down all the key connections/relationships you need to maintain your business’s success. Next, write down who in your organization should own that relationship. Meet with those persons and be clear as to the importance of that responsibility.

4. Finally: work the problems. How many times have you seen people work hard without ever really taking on the core issue? You are the pilot of your business. It is up to you to take control and keep your team focused. Many companies have vast institutional knowledge within the organization. Trust that experience to solve the problems. If they know what’s core to your business success, they will likely solve the problem with little input needed from you.

Good times are just that, easy. It’s the challenging times where you need to expand your confidence and wisdom. Confidence and wisdom that you will need as we receive additional details on the political issues that impact every business, such as tax reform, healthcare options, or any changes in US trade policy. The business climate may be turbulent, but if you follow your training, trust your experience and decision-making ability, your steady hand at the helm can guide your team through the most adverse landscapes.

 Jeff Bush, Wall’s Street Washington Insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics, and the author of American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues. A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Jeff works with executive teams, business owners, and high income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-market place. For more information on Jeff Bush, please visit www.JeffBush.net.