During every quarter in their EOS Journey, companies are asked to grade their prior quarter (or year) and make predictions (Rocks and Goals) about what they can accomplish in the future. In a recent client session, the leaders of a successful, growing business were struggling with big variations in their monthly and quarterly revenue forecasts. At the beginning of each month and quarter, the forecast would be rosy and expectations high. Inevitably, month after month, the ambitious revenue targets were missed, and the team was left with disappointment, excuses, rationalization, and a feeling of poor accountability. The tragedy was that the team had experienced impressive growth, but they weren’t able to enjoy their success.
During our IDS Issues-solving exercise, one leader of an important business unit became emotional and tearfully told the company founder and Visionary “I feel that when I give you forecasts, that it’s never enough. I try to tell you the truth, but you always challenge me to raise them. Over time, it became easier to just tell you what you want to hear”.
Train and subway stations often have a sign that says “Mind the Gap” to prevent accidents. As business leaders, we should “Mind the Gap” because frustration is the gap between our expectations and reality. Differences in expectations can frustrate leaders and damage the team’s health.
Are you a Visionary founder with high expectations for your team? Of course, you are! Every Visionary is wired to see potential and opportunity. The problems start when the rest of the team, wrestling with day-to-day Issues, try to explain them to the Visionary with the detail and honest assessment of the challenges they see. When members of a team cannot (or will not) acknowledge the challenges facing the business, Issues get buried. This breeds other Issues because the roots of the “Issues Tree” always grow branches. Team trust is often at the root whenever leaders don’t feel they can speak honestly about Issues.
How can teams bridge this “trust gap”? One of our favorite business authors, Patrick Lencioni, in his book the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, teaches us that vulnerability-based trust is essential for constructive conflict and healthy debate to occur among members of a team. In our Annual Planning sessions, companies running on EOS learn how to use the Trust Builders, a set of tools and exercises to help teams become more open, honest, and trusting so that can tackle tough Issues. Doing one of the Trust Builders each quarter breaks down interpersonal barriers. We learn how listen to each other, so we experience stronger bonds of trust.
Another way we “Mind the Gap” is with the discipline of the Meeting Pulse and the V/TO. During Annual Planning, Quarterly Planning, and weekly Level 10 Meetings, we acquire the skills to lay our expectations out in the open. Healthy, trusting teams find that any differences in expectations surface quickly and any Issues can be Identified, Discussed and Solved (IDS) so that everyone can be on the same page.
If your team is in danger of “the gap” in your expectations for the business, the EOS Toolbox can help. For more, visit www.EOSWorldwide.com