This week on the podcast we are talking to Rachel Johnson. I really enjoyed talking to her specifically about driving vision in organizations. We all have heard the story about the big company planning day that results in a 100 page document of company goals, visions, and plans for the future, but oftentimes this book is not implemented. Rachel gives some advice on how to not only slim that never ending document down, but how to also make it genuinely achievable for you, your company and your employees.
Where to find Rachel:
Full transcription below (May contain typos):
[00:00:00] Rachel: [00:00:00] The last probably two or three weeks. I've noticed a lot of individuals reaching out to say, okay, This pandemic kicked me on my butt and I realized I didn't have as much of a handle on my business as I thought I did. So now they're looking for ways to make sure that what, whatever external factors, would help.
Keerstyn: [00:00:27] Welcome to the podcast day, Rachel.
I'm really excited that you're here with us. Do you want to just give me a brief background of how you got involved in your work and then what you do now?
Rachel: [00:00:36] Sure. So I have a non-traditional pathway to business coaching. I was an executive of a nonprofit for a good chunk of my career. And I was also a clinical therapist and we needed to turn that organization around and I hired an EOS implementer.
[00:01:00] So once we started working with the EOS implementer, what I noticed was I had a lot of skillset that really helped us in that leadership team. So it was just one of those things that it untapped. Some potential in me and I started to see myself outside of the box. I had put myself in and so long story short, a few years later, I decided to pursue EOS after I had implemented it.
And then was the integrator in my organization for a little over five years.
Keerstyn: [00:01:36] Cool. That's really interesting. So what were some of those like pain points initially that you were feeling when you did implement it into your nonprofit organization?
Rachel: [00:01:46] So the pain points was really getting the buy-in from my entire leadership team.
So having, you're implementing anything new, especially with the organization, that's been through a significant amount of change already. We had a lot of [00:02:00] turnover in leadership bringing on anything out, there was a lot of skeptic skepticism, and I had to work extra hard to get the buy-in from my leadership team.
And then you also had us talking a lot about raising the bar and that was a scary thought for individuals that, we weren't, we didn't really know what that meant. So all of a sudden there was like a job security along with that. So we had to really define what that meant. And in most cases, Raising the bar increasing our accountability.
And in most of the time, that's what everyone was looking for. The frustration and the lack of morale around the team came from. Inconsistent accountability. So it just took a lot of time. It took a lot of consistency on my part to make sure that I was sticking with it. [00:03:00] And that was tough because like I said, I had a lot of leaders around me that I respect and and they were not on board to begin with.
So I had to be really strong in my conviction with that. Yeah, absolutely.
Keerstyn: [00:03:13] So how does that translate now with the teams that you're working with within organizations? What are some of those things that you can take away and then apply them to the organizations that you work with after?
Rachel: [00:03:24] I think my biggest strength in working with them is I can almost feel exactly that apprehension.
So from that very beginning step when I'm just initially. Meeting with clients and the leadership team. I can feel the skepticism. I can feel the apprehension, the anxiety. And I really come from just that relatable source. Like I've been there, I've been in your seats. And so sometimes when you're really calling that out and acknowledging that, your changing the way that you're going to run your business, that is.
[00:04:00] That's not something you take lightly. I understand there's a lot of anxiety in the room and there's probably a lot of people that think I'm full of crap right now. So yeah, some of it out because I had those Frank conversations before, and I think that helps some of my clients, because.
When I'm giving examples, I'm not just giving examples about this perfect entrepreneur that I worked with. I'm giving examples from myself in the mistakes that I made when I was implementing EOS or I'm. Making sure that they understand. I was a leader of an organization that was not doing well.
We're not perfect. We all need a little bit of help. So I think that makes it a little bit more relatable.
Keerstyn: [00:04:50] Yeah, absolutely. I could totally see that being more relatable and then people build your, their trust in you and realize that you've been there before and have walked through the mud, [00:05:00] so to speak.
Absolutely. So what are some of those things that obviously we've talked about the pains, what are some of those things that really get people like? This is actually working. We're excited about this now, and we really want to continue to pursue
Rachel: [00:05:12] EOS. I think right off the bat, the way that people structure their meetings, for example.
So we use something called level 10 meetings, and it's a very specific agenda. It helps drive the accountability. It helps keep that vision at the forefront. And the reason why I think that's the best thing. Cause it really helps you get traction right off the ground. And a lot of organizations and companies, they go through a really long strategic planning process.
And then you have a four or five, six page strategic plan that's sitting on somebody's desk, but how do you actually implement that? What is your day to day look like? So that everyone is driving that vision and there's accountable. So [00:06:00] that level 10 Meeting agenda. And another frustration for teams that I hear in one of my lines is, do you ever feel like you're meeting for the sake of meeting and then you're having another meeting for the sake of meeting and then and that happened.
Or just any, you, and then you ended up talking about the same issue. There's lack of resolution. Nobody's taking that plan of attack. And there's such a frustration with employees because they feel like they spend most of their working time jumping from meeting to meeting and rarely are they solving.
And getting any traction, moving through the weeks. So that level 10 meeting and really showing how all of these moving pieces come together and how you can productively and efficiently spend the time with your team so that you're not constantly putting out fires throughout the week. And it saves a lot, through the week.
Keerstyn: [00:06:59] absolutely. I've [00:07:00] heard one thing of people entrepreneurs said I'd rather not necessarily work on my business, like work in my business, but work on my business. And I think that you're stating that pretty well of working on the business and having it grow versus fighting every fire out every day.
I'm trying to just stay afloat for
Rachel: [00:07:20] sure. And it's hard to pull people out because once you're in the weeds, And you're in that thick, tall grass for so long. It's really hard to pull people out and get them to. The first session that when I work with the leadership teams is what we call focus day.
And that's one of the first things that I have to really get their head around is I want you to almost look at this organization and if you're the board of directors, so you have to pull yourself out, you have to get yourself above the organization. Forget about the emails, forget about the voicemails, forget about all those things that started with this morning.
And that's a, [00:08:00] that's a discipline in and of itself because. Now for a decade or more, sometimes these entrepreneurs are playing the role of admin assistant CEO of, operations manager of sales and marketing. They're really playing every single role and some of them have a hard time letting go.
And so it's just really trying to frame that a bit to get them. Out of that thick, tall grass. Yeah,
Keerstyn: [00:08:31] absolutely. That's so important. Especially when you start up EOS and get the ball moving. What are some of those things that people struggle with off the bat when they're doing EOS? Whether it's those first initial meetings or not necessarily grabbing hold the reins, but just getting started.
What are some of those things that people might feel initially?
Rachel: [00:08:52] I would say majority of the issues are going to be people issues. So from the very beginning, [00:09:00] it's going to be hard for them to sometimes think who needs to be in the meeting. So if there's some organizations that have this formal structure, they may be have one or two people that they count as, but they don't necessarily count them as leadership team.
So it's working with them to tell them like they don't have to have all of those answers nailed down before they start EOS. There's a reason why the process is what it is. And we work on day one getting that accountability chart laid out. So they have the right structure of their organization before.
Four, they get into the vision building. And that's very purposeful. So I think a lot of it is that people issue. So from the structure of who needs to be in these seats, who do I need to cause my leadership team and they think they need to really hurry and make those decisions to this person isn't going to ever adhere to our core values or this person, there's no way they're going to do a, B and C.
Okay. That's a [00:10:00] significant issue, right? So it's, and sometimes it's just having to, sometimes we say enter the danger zone with them and really push them to say if you're allowing that person to dictate what they will and won't do in your organization, then that's your bar.
And if you're okay with that being your standard, then. EOS isn't going to work for
Keerstyn: [00:10:25] you. Absolutely.
Rachel: [00:10:27] Yeah. You have to be okay with raising that bar and sometimes tough decisions come with raising that bar and raising that standard.
Keerstyn: [00:10:35] Yeah, absolutely. And that's gotta be one of the hardest things to just that hurdle initially of this is more than just an issue within one person.
Absolutely. That's yeah, it's definitely hard for sure. For sure. What are you seeing? Oh, keep on
Rachel: [00:10:50] going. I would just say people issues are always difficult, right? They're not, they're always in the gray area and in most cases, people don't want to deal with that. And that's the ones that we put [00:11:00] band-aids over.
And then all of a sudden our organization is built on duct tape and twine banding. And we need to really secure the foundation of that. Yeah,
Keerstyn: [00:11:11] absolutely. What are you seeing right now, especially with this like people going back to work and COVID-19 dictating what's happening in the workplace.
What are you seeing right now? What are some of those trends?
Rachel: [00:11:23] Actually the last few weeks, so as you can imagine there for a while, when quarantine was before things were starting to get. Lifted a bit here in Michigan, it was quite quiet. People were just trying to figure out how they're going to reopen what it was going to look if they were able to reopen and really internally getting some of those constraints in place and the guidelines and all of that.
The last probably two or three weeks. I've noticed a lot of individuals reaching out to say, okay, [00:12:00] This pandemic kicked me on my butt and I realized I didn't have as much of a handle on my business as I thought I did. So now they're looking for ways to make sure that what, whatever external factors, would help.
To God, we never in another pandemic again, there's always an external factors, whether it's, why I have a client that most of it's customers GM, if they go on strike or a recession hits or anything. So there's a ton of external factors and I'm hearing from. Quite a few newer people reaching out that they want to feel like they have a better handle on these situations that they normally don't have control over.
Keerstyn: [00:12:49] Yeah, absolutely. Are you finding that those people issues are popping back up again, like what you talked about when they first started dos.
Rachel: [00:12:58] Yes. Yeah, [00:13:00] but I never in a new way. So if accountability was the problem before we have to look at how to still drive accountability with this flexible work schedule.
It goes back to, trust. In your employees and making sure that you have the tools in place so that you don't have to micromanage the accountability is built into the culture of your organization. And it alleviates so much pressure from your leaders that they don't have to spend so much time micromanaging because they're.
Are structures and tools in place that are automatically driving that. And so that's what I try to help them see is that there's not these isolated instances. You have to look at the people issues from a broad perspective, because in a lot of cases, if you're thinking accountability, I'm sure.
It's just not one person that's having an issue with accountability. [00:14:00] Again, pulling out of the weeds, seeing things from a broader perspective. Yeah,
Keerstyn: [00:14:04] absolutely. What are some of those tools that you would recommend your clients to use to create that accountability in the workplace?
Rachel: [00:14:12] One of the well there's two that are most important in my opinion.
And one of them is what we call rocks, which is really setting your 90 day priorities for the organization. And not only does the company get 90 day rocks. So we say three to seven. So we, less is more. And then every individual gets three to seven priorities for that quarter. And the thing about that level 10 meeting that I had discussed before is that you're checking in on a weekly basis just to simply say if that rock is on track or off track.
So again it's driving in that accountability on a weekly basis. You're not waiting till the end of the quarter to say if something was done or not done, or if it's been worked on if it's not on track, then what's [00:15:00] the issue. Do you need help with something? Is there something a barrier we're going to come up with something as a team?
So I would say really getting that. Whatever your priorities are for that quarter and making sure you're checking in on that on a weekly basis. Again, that alleviate some of that pressure from the supervisor, because you're, as a team you're meeting, you're all checking in on that. And a lot of people, it's hard for them to continue to come to meetings with their peers and be the one that can consistently is saying off-track right.
The other tool is what we call a scorecard. So one of the things we say is, you know what, won't be measured, won't be done. So if you can't measure something, then most likely, you're not saying that it's a priority. So getting the scorecard is simply saying what's a measurable, what's something in our organization that has to be measured.
Who's responsible for [00:16:00] that. So who, again at that meeting is responsible for bringing those numbers. Now there may be a team of people that are responsible for driving that number, but there's one person that's accountable for making sure that's happening. And then there's a goal in mind. So again, every week you're checking in on that and you're making sure you're on track with that and that the goal is being met.
And if it's not being met. You're able to take a proactive stance on that instead of six or 10 months down the road, you realize that you're running at a deficit and now it's, a year later and you had no idea. So those are ways that you're coming to that meeting. You're quickly checking in on numbers and I'm facts and figures.
And everyone has ownership in that, so that there's, that, that weekly accountability.
Keerstyn: [00:16:48] Yeah, absolutely. What are some of those measurables that you are putting on that scorecard?
Rachel: [00:16:54] A lot of times it's going to be related to some sort of revenue some sort of cash flow. [00:17:00] I've had clients that maybe they have a lot of machinery, so they're going to track repair costs cause they want to make sure that's, staying down.
Some people are looking at overtime hours, so it really depends on the individual. Sometimes it's new customers. How many new customers for their specific department? Usually a lot of sales related goals as well. And that's also a way that when the leader starts to delegate and really starts to work on the business, instead of in, they can still feel like they have a pulse of the business because they're looking at, the most important things.
Keerstyn: [00:17:39] Absolutely. And it's all going towards the bottom line too. It's not flimsy metric, so to speak.
Rachel: [00:17:47] And you're coming up with the scorecard as a leadership team. So then you're figuring out as a leadership team, what are the most important? One of the analogies we use is if you were stranded on a desert Island and [00:18:00] you only were able to, make one phone call to get an idea of how your business was running, what are the five to 15 measureables that you would need to know to make sure that everything's running.
Pretty much on track. So that's kinda like within the framework that we try to offer that to the leader so they can start thinking of really what's important to measure in this company.
Keerstyn: [00:18:23] Absolutely. That's really cool. I like that concept of the one phone call thing. That's smart. Yeah. I know that you said that rocks are normally kept a three to seven.
How many measurable should you be having on that scorecard?
Rachel: [00:18:38] Anywhere between five and 15 is what we try to keep it. We say a lot less is more because everything's important. Nothing is being really focused on what you're measuring.
Keerstyn: [00:18:52] Yeah. What are some of those initial hurdles that people have to get over when they're building out
Rachel: [00:18:56] that scorecard?
Yeah, the scorecard is a tough one. They [00:19:00] have to, it's just, especially if they're not used to. Tracking numbers. And that way, so just the, just getting comfortable with that. And then there's always tweaks with thinking that maybe this was the most important thing. And then once you start using it and once you start measuring things then you realize, okay, maybe that wasn't.
What was important. So it takes about one to three months to really nail it down because you just have to start working with it. You have to start putting the numbers in discussing as a leadership team. Is this really what I was hoping for? So it just, it does take some time. Yeah.
Keerstyn: [00:19:41] Do you find that most of your clients actually change their metrics after that?
One to three months of Oh, this is actually not a great measurable, we should be doing something else.
Rachel: [00:19:52] Not so much after that one to three months, if anything, they may add one or two, if their departments are [00:20:00] expanding sometimes product lines or, things like that. If they're. Trying a new marketing thing.
And they want to look at the analytics of that. Some kind of more specific project related things, but usually after that three month Mark, they have things pretty solidified. And then at that time they have, 12 weeks at a glance. So they're able to look at things proactively and see the trends and patterns so they can start making decisions better, once, once they're able to see those trends and patterns.
Keerstyn: [00:20:31] I was just going to ask that, when do they start seeing those results right away? Or does it take a little bit longer than initially expected or?
Rachel: [00:20:41] The results from the scorecard. I think that the leaders start to see a lot and I can speak for myself. I. When I started introducing the scorecard into my organization, I realized a lot of things that I should have realized years before.
Think there's a lot of [00:21:00] that happen once you start tracking certain things good or bad. And then all of a sudden your issues list becomes so much larger. It's just that. Tends to happen too, yeah,
Keerstyn: [00:21:13] absolutely. When you were a leader during your EOS time, what were some of those initial reactions that you had when you did implement that scorecard?
Rachel: [00:21:25] It was just more of like why are we trying to all of a sudden the why? And luckily. I always, I think one of the strengths that I had with my leadership team at the time was that anything that I implemented, whether it was EOS or not it wasn't for no reason. And so it was, there was always, I could explain and I could connect it back to.
No, we're not going to get an increase of funding in this way. Here's an opportunity here, but if [00:22:00] I can't show our need, then we're not going to be able to get here. So I was able to articulate the pathway that to diversifying revenue streams, to increasing, each department because we're able to look at.
Ours was a little bit different. It's a Y WCA. So it's a large nonprofit. But looking at different grant opportunities, I had to be able to say if I wanted to apply for this in two years. So it was always looking term, then what do I need to be tracking now? And that's not always something that my leaders had to worry about.
So I had to juggle with giving them enough information that. They understood what I was asking them. There was a reason and it made sense to them and that they could, we could get some buy-in and they understood there's a bigger picture to this, but not bombarding them with so much grant and [00:23:00] finance information that we thought they needed to retain that.
And it distracted them from what their duties, what you know, worse.
Keerstyn: [00:23:07] Absolutely it's a fine line between looking forward, but then also being in the present.
Rachel: [00:23:12] Yeah, absolutely.
Keerstyn: [00:23:13] Yeah. Cool. Awesome. Rachel, if people want to work with you and find out a little bit more about you, where can they go for that?
Rachel: [00:23:22] Yeah. So my website is R M J strategies.com. And so you'll find out a little bit more about me in there. And how to contact me and that's the best way to reach me.
Keerstyn: [00:23:35] Awesome. Sweet sounds good. Do you have any final parting words before we head out for the day?
Rachel: [00:23:43] I think if anything, I would just encourage him and to peop for people to understand, and we put ourselves in boxes a lot.
I'm a really good example of that. I have a business partner. That's a really good example of that. She was a lawyer then [00:24:00] small business owner and I'm now working for a wealth management company. One of the messages. I love to, to tell individuals getting into entrepreneurship or when they're trying to navigate their career is just knowing that you can be that and that.
So you don't whether your degree was in this or you didn't get a degree. You don't have to put yourself into a box and you don't need a specific title. To be considered a leader. And I think that prevents individuals from showcasing some of their leadership skills because they think they haven't attained a certain.
Thing. So that's something I'm really passionate about. I've seen a lot of individuals that have amazing leadership skills and I've seen them put themselves down just because they haven't achieved this title or that title. Just acknowledgement that, and even [00:25:00] for the leader sake is really looking at your people and knowing that.
They may have come in as an entry-level employee at the time, but look for the potential. Cause there's a lot of leadership skills and we box people in as well. Yeah, that would be. My parting words.
Keerstyn: [00:25:19] Thank you so much, Rachel, for joining us today. This was fun.
Rachel: [00:25:23] Yeah, it was
Keerstyn: [00:25:24] fun. Awesome.
Teams also need to get away and have time to think together and reflect together. Be able to spend just an hour to be curious about each other. -Denise Van Eck, Owner of Thought Design