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  • Mitchell York

When Productivity Goes Up in (Vape) Smoke

A CEO client of mine, head of an architectural engineering firm with 16 employees, has a problem. One of his staff who's in charge of answering phones and expediting plans (among other duties) has a powerful vaping addiction and takes multiple breaks at random times during the workday to get his fix, leaving the phones unmanned. What's the solution?

a. Give the employee a warning to follow policy on taking breaks (oh, wait a minute, there is no policy)

b. Tell the employee he needs to get someone to cover phones before he takes a smoke break

c. Get him help for his addiction

d. Put it on the Issues List and address it in the weekly Level 10 Meeting

The answer is D. But you don't know what I'm talking about. Yet.

EOS -- the Entrepreneurial Operating System -- is a simple set of principles and tools that helps growth-oriented companies get in synch on their vision, gain traction where everyone is executing well, and achieve a healthy leadership team. If you're not running your business on EOS, or familiar with the book Traction, you may well be taking pot-shots at solving the vape issue (or dozens of others). Maybe it works, maybe not. But here's a simple way to address it to a positive conclusion.

Your leadership team has a weekly 90-minute meeting (we call it a Level 10 meeting) in which 60 minutes are spent resolving issues from your Issues List. When something happens -- a problem, an anomaly, something out of the norm that you know isn't right, you write it down on the Issues List. This can be a document accessible to everyone via your CRM, or as a shared Google Doc or written on a whiteboard in the conference room. Then, in your weekly meeting, you take out your Issues List and prioritize the top three issues to address in a process we call IDS.

You take issue #1 and Identify the root cause. You then allow each team member to Discuss briefly their point of view, making sure that everyone expresses their POV once and only once. Then you work on Solve: How are we going to address this problem and make it go away forever?

In the vaping case, there could be a variety of viewpoints expressed, such as:

  • The root cause of the problem isn't the vaper, it's our lack of a policy on breaks.

  • The vaper's frequent breaks interfere with my work getting done because I have to cover the phones for him.

  • Why does he get to take two hours of breaks every day just because he vapes and the rest of us take 45 minutes for lunch?

  • Do we make an accommodation because he's addicted or do we get him un-addicted?

And yes, this is taking place with the subject of the discussion in the room. Awkward! But the key to a great Level 10 Meeting is that the team is open and honest with each other, even vulnerable. No one is attacking. No one is judging. They're just stating the facts, discussing their viewpoints and collaborating on solutions. Once everything is on the table, a solution is usually within easy reach. And once agreed upon, a solution yields one or more "to do's" -- follow-up items that will be executed within a week. (Each week, 90% of your to-do's should "to-done.")

The team's solution might include:

  • The vaper will have to abide by fixed vape breaks at designated times and duration

  • Phones will be covered according to a pre-determined hand-off

  • To relieve the burden on other team members who take fewer breaks the vaper agrees to enroll in a smoking cessation program with the goal of give up vaping (at least during work hours) within 90 days.

This is just one example of how EOS can help your small business if your leadership team is willing to be candid and motivated by the greater good rather than each member's own self-interest. #eos #traction #Level10

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