How to communicate using themes when it seems your team ‘doesn’t get it’
How it’s possible to transform your team’s weakest point into its strength
Why the most effective teams are not the ones that do the most
The reason it can be dangerous to be the ‘ideas person’ especially if you are the leader
How to ‘layer’ themes in the right order so their results compound
What common mistakes owners often make when they implement their first theme
Watch Episode 19 of the Contractor Evolution ShoW
Listen to Episode 19
Read a Summary of Episode 19
Are you stuck in the Twilight Zone of disconnect between you and your team? Are you constantly communicating with your team about what needs to be done, only for nothing to happen the way you want (or specified)? Frustrating, right?
What are you missing?
It’s a tough pill for many leaders to swallow, but the answer is that the way in which you are communicating may not be as effective as you think.
So how do you address that?
BTA’s business coach, Ashley Ennis (who previously ran a window cleaning franchise that spanned 7 states and provinces and the guest on this episode) uses a very simple and powerful leadership communication tool that she calls “themes.”
What’s a Theme?
As Ashley explains: “A theme is a method of centralizing and communicating a business’s priorities across a team.” In short, it’s a process that helps you filter the bajillion moving parts of your business and determine (and then communicate with your team) what you should focus your energy on.
How Do Themes Work?
When Ashley started working with BTA member Mason Marquis, owner of Spray Tex Painting in Texas, he was enjoying explosive growth, but was also being bombarded by negative customer feedback.
Under Ashley’s guidance, Mason shifted the core focus of his business from being a production company to one that delivered exceptional customer service. Mason’s theme (Customer Service) had been identified! Initiatives that would advance that focus were quickly developed, such as a focus on customer service as the first point of every meeting. Consequently, today Spraytex is known for it’s amazing customer service.
To cite another example, Chris Nelson, owner of ProClean, a window cleaning business owner in Washington state, had a stark realization after being injured on the job. Without him, the company couldn’t function. He had made the mistake, as so many leaders do, of trying to wear all the hats, “So Chris instituted a theme of the Year of the Employee,” Ashley says.
Chris rebranded his company from ProClean Windows and Gutters to The ProClean Team and began hiring people who wanted a career, rather than just a job. He implemented training, benefits and other initiatives that improved his staff retention triple-fold. Today, The ProClean Team is enjoying incredible growth.
You see, identifying your “theme” is important to ensure clear communication throughout your company and keep the wheels rolling in the same direction.
So when it comes to identifying your “theme,” where do you start?
Here are Ashley’s 4 Top Tips:
1. Keep Your Messaging Simple
Years ago, Ashley needed to implement a succession plan for her business. Instead of getting caught up in complexities she came up with a two word theme: Extreme Performance. “Every single thing we did was about extreme performance: the terms of profitability metrics, the level of training, and so forth,” she says. “Everyone could take a look at that theme and say, ‘Okay, I see how that impacts my job.’”
2. Have patience
Nothing happens overnight. In taking the appropriate steps to solve an issue, Ashley explains that it might be as long as six months down the road until you understand the problem better, but, she adds, “it’s important to keep your finger on that button for as long as possible, to chase the solution until you reach it.”
3. Accept Neglect
If you really lean into a theme and commit your business to it for a period of time, you will need to accept that other areas won’t get as much attention. “What’s important is that you keep your energy and enthusiasm on the theme until you see it through. It’s okay when other areas of the business aren’t necessarily thriving,” says Ashley.
4. Celebrate Your Results
It’s OK to celebrate the wins! “Recognize the performance when it happens,” Ashley says. “If you’re starting to see some things happen, it’s critical you celebrate that performance. It’ll create momentum.”
As a leader it’s your job to communicate simple and effective strategies to your employees, and themes can ensure that your values and goals align with your company’s actual performance.
Ashley has many more insights to share on this topic, so sit back and enjoy this episode of Contractor Evolution!