Written for EO by Todd Smart, an experienced entrepreneur, the co-founder at Traction® Tools and an EO member since 1992.
Are you a small business entrepreneur whose leadership team lacks cohesion or focus? Or maybe you’re running a start-up that can’t reach your next revenue goal? Is your company’s leadership team constantly seeing the same issues popping up?
You’re not alone! But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are best practices you can put into place to solve your toughest business problems—and solve them for good.
Ready to quit solving and re-solving the problems in your company? Follow these five steps and you’ll see a lasting change that can help take your company to the next level of growth.
1. Get to the Root Cause
Problems create pain, but the pain is just a symptom. Most leadership teams react to the pain and solve the symptom. They don’t take time to dig down and explore the real issues at root that are causing the pain.
Root cause analysis can be painful in itself, because you might discover dysfunctions or systemic issues that are messy and complicated. But solving those issues—really addressing the root causes—will end your pain and solve your problems for good.
2. Get Everyone’s Input
It’s not always easy to get to the root cause of an issue—especially if you have members of leadership that are hesitant to speak up. They may have an insight into the problem or the solution that no one else is considering.
People don’t speak up for a number of reasons: they aren’t confident, they don’t want to rock the boat or they don’t realize they have valuable insight.
Go around the room. Get everyone’s opinion before making a final decision.
3. Make It Safe to Speak
Before everyone speaks up, they need to feel like it’s safe to be open and honest. The team needs to trust one another enough to be vulnerable with dissenting opinions or criticisms. This means purposefully fostering a culture that makes it safe to speak—and walking the talk at every meeting.
Respect every opinion, thank people for their contributions, and always treat each opinion with thoughtful consideration.
4. Agree to the Agreement
Establish an agreement on your team, and hold each other accountable to it: agree to an agreement. In other words, you won’t always get 100 percent agreement on a solution, but you can all agree to support the decision that’s made. Make an upfront commitment that all of your leadership team members will stick together and be united in the agreements that are made to solve your company’s problems.
If you have a silent dissenter who doesn’t buy into a solution, you’re just asking for trouble later on—especially if the solution has a consequence. Your company can’t succeed if your leadership team is made up of individual kingdoms and agendas.
5. Use a Proven System
At our organization, we use a simple, holistic system—an operating system for our business—that helps us identify, discuss and solve issues for good. Our system is called the Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS), but there are other business systems as well—such as Gazelles, Strategic Coach and Tony Robbins Business Results Training.
What’s most important is to find a proven system that fits your company—and stick to it! You don’t have to keep dealing with the same problems time and time again.
Start implementing these steps at your next leadership team meeting. Establish the ground rules, list your issues and dig in until you’ve solved the root cause. And start enjoying fewer business problems!
Todd Smart has been a founder, co-founder or partner in eight businesses since 1991. He is currently an EOS Implementer as well as a co-founder for Traction Tools software for EOS and a partner in OSM SolutionsFirst. Todd joined EO in 1992 as part of the founding group in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He later transferred to the Chicago chapter.