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Welcome To The TeamWork Book Club!
Chapter 1: The Employee Engagement Cycle

Building Teams

The world needs TeamWork now more than ever

I’m proud to say that it’s been a year since I published TeamWork. Sometimes, I still can’t believe I made it happen, but it just goes to show that with intentionality and focus, you really can achieve your goals. 

So much has changed since TeamWork was first released. Then, we were still emerging from a post-quarantine world. In many ways, we’re still recovering from the effects of COVID-19. And now we’re in a world where we’re battling inflation, rising interest rates, the Great Resignation — who knows what might happen next. 

But what I’m seeing when I look at the world and where we might be going, is that the concepts laid out in TeamWork are more relevant and important than ever. 

While this series is going to be a bookclub sort of approach to the TeamWork book, we’ll also be delving a little deeper into certain topics, so I would encourage you to share this content with your colleagues so you can the most out of the central concepts and the additional insights we’ve all gained over the last since it first came out. 

The Employee Engagement Cycle

I know I said it before, but I’m gonna say it again. This content is more relevant than ever. Great Resignation? Quiet Quitting? You know what I’m saying? Engaging your team so that they feel connected to the success of the business is crucial to the success of the business. It is!

But it’s not just about the team. Getting business owners to overcome their own mindset about their employees is one of their number one challenges. You can’t change the culture inside your business if you’re not willing to reflect on and change your own perspective. 

Haven’t you ever felt stuck, or wondered why your team seems stuck? Ever wondered why you can’t seem to find great people and remarkable talent? It’s easy to make excuses and think that the Great Resignation or whatever took all of your best people away. But it didn’t. I promise you it didn’t. 

You don’t have great people because you haven’t set clear expectations, aligned their goals with the business, helped them develop into leaders, and held them accountable to their performance. 

When you get it, then it creates the opportunity for them to get it, and when you’re all in alignment, then you can actually change the culture for the better. 

Being a leader and a manager is a huge responsibility, and for some of us, through our intelligence and perseverance and probably a little bit of luck, we’ve created some success in our lives. Because of this, we just assume that others will naturally follow the same path using the same instincts that we did. 

But if you’re trying to create a systems-based business, one where you’re creating predictable, sustainable growth — the kind that creates a 10X business — you just can’t rely on instinct. You need a process!

Does your team know what success looks like? Do they have clear, achievable KPIs? Do they have stretch goals? Do you have regular one on one meetings with them?

If you don’t do these things, then you’re essentially giving them a thousand piece puzzle without the box and saying, “Put this together.” They know they have a job to do, but they don’t have a clear picture of success. And it’s your job to provide that framework. 

When I say, framework, I really am referring to a process. You shouldn’t cherry pick your favorite pieces and discard the rest. Don’t skip one on one meetings and just focus on team meetings. Those events have different purposes. 

This isn’t a pick and choose thing. I’m sharing this with you because it’s a system that works. We do this every single day. Stick to the system, and it will work for you, too!

We do have clients that choose to cherry pick bits and pieces from the process and they struggle because of it. I want you and everyone we work with to flourish, and it takes top to bottom commitment to do that. And it takes a little bit of hard truth, too. It’s my job to ask those hard questions. 

Ready to dig in deeper? Let’s do it.

Employee Engagement Cycle: Alignment

The first step in the Employee Engagement Cycle is to align your employee.

This should happen as they’re being introduced to the business, during the onboarding process, a critical first in cultivating a winning employment experience at your company. 

What your business does, how you do it, who you do it with and for, who your most important players are, and why you do what you do will illustrate the level of intentionality you’ve built into your organization.

This is a crucial phase in developing a top-performing team member, and without an equally intentional approach to their onboarding, they can get stuck in what I call development purgatory. 

Development purgatory is where the same person is stalled in the same role doing the same thing day after day, month after month, year after year. They don’t know what their career opportunities are in the organization, they don’t have a clear sense of their impact on the business, and it’s really no wonder that they’re eventually just not all that motivated to be there and give it their all. 

Because some roles are more complex than others, I’d say that, depending on the role, it should take about one to six months for your new team member to be fully onboarded and fully aligned with the company. 

Remember that we’re talking about this experience as a cycle. It’s not a series of steps. It’s not Step 1: Onboarding, Step 2: Employee, Step 3: Retirement. It’s more involved, and it really is a cyclical process. 

Your team deserves to see the big picture

So let’s zoom out a bit. Are you really developing your staff? Are you putting things in place, like training, regular one-on-one meetings to discuss their performance, or even letting them attend live or virtual events, so that they can get better at their role in order to grow into new responsibilities?

You, of course, want your employees to be excited about the work that they’re doing, to solve bigger problems, and to see the career growth that lies ahead for them if they’re able to meet or even exceed your expectations for the role. 

People, in general, want to get promoted. They want to make more money. Being challenged, learning new things, and being a part of something that is changing and growing is exciting for most people. 

But if your employees don’t see the big picture, and if they’re not able to see their growth and their contributions and where they could go with their career as a part of your company, why on earth would they work their asses off for you? What’s the incentive?

As the business owner or the person in a position of leadership in your organization, you have to be thinking about things from all angles if you want to create a successful business, and by successful, I really do mean great products and services, a great team, great systems, and great communication in service of your great customers. 

What I mean by thinking about things from all angles is, as a leader, you’re naturally thinking of all of the ways in which your team could be working smarter to serve your customers, but how often do you think of things from your team’s perspective? 

How often do you ask yourself how you can inspire them to more deeply align with your company? Are you coaching them to be their best selves? Are you providing them with the resources they need to get better? Do they know their individual and team KPIs so they can track their progress?

If you have an inspiring mission behind the purpose of your company, and pair that with a clear, inspiring vision, and help each team member in your organization understand how their work supports the achievement of that vision, all while giving them the resources they need — including constructive feedback — then most of your people are going to rise to the occasion. 

It’s not on your people to read your mind. It’s up to you to keep them engaged. 

The more you do it, the better you’ll be at engaging your team

This isn’t a laziness thing. This isn’t a generational thing. There are incredible people from every generation. Generalizing people based on their being a Boomer or Gen X or a Millennial or Gen Z is only going to cause you problems. 

This is about engagement. And it’s about painting a picture that’s so clear that it will also be that much easier to identify the 10 to 15% of people who just weren’t gonna give it their all no matter what you did for them. Anecdotally speaking, that’s what we see at Cardone Ventures. 

These are folks who heard us say that we were a 10X company, but didn’t really believe how serious we are in exemplifying those values. That’s why we’re as clear as possible in the onboarding process when it comes to our mission and our vision and our values. 

Now that we’ve experienced this a few times, we’ve been able to place these employee challenges into our process, and you can certainly do the same. New challenges will always arise, and through a process of managing by exception, so to speak, you’ll be able to clarify your expectations of your team members even more thoroughly during onboarding. 

For instance, remember not so long ago when we had to let some people go because they thought it was appropriate to take clients to a strip club while wearing company-branded apparel? 

Now, I never thought I’d have to speak to something like this in our employee handbook, but it turned out that I did, so I did, and it will never happen again. 

You have a brand you’re trying to elevate. You have a culture that you’re trying to abide by. You could just look at it as a one-time thing, but to us that felt like looking the other way, so we addressed it in the most appropriate way we knew how. 

And you know what that did? It set the tone even more clearly about how serious we are about what we’re building. We’re not screwing around. We want to do great work. We want to be respected. We want to be taken seriously. You don’t get there by doing what those guys chose to do. 

Aligning, Developing, or Transitioning — where is your team at?

The last thing I’m going to talk about regarding chapter one of TeamWork is about assessing where each of your team members are at. It falls into three basic categories: Alignment, Development, or Transitioning.

Most of your Aligners are going to be those employees who have just joined the company within the last six months. Totally normal. These are your people who you’re working with to soak up every bit of institutional knowledge possible about your organization. 

Secondly, you’re going to have your Developers. Honestly, most of your people are going to be falling into this category. That’s perfectly fine. These are the people who are developing within their roles, or are developing into new roles they’ve recently acquired. 

Giving these people the resources they need to grow, track their progress, and to see what’s next for them is vital to their long term success.

Lastly, you’ve got your Transitioners. These folks might be transitioning out of the organization. Maybe they’re transitioning into a new role because they just got a promotion. This is a smaller group of people, but the way you handle their experience is critical to the organization.

If they are people who are leaving the organization, then they need to be handled swiftly and gracefully (and compliantly). If they’ve been promoted, then they need support but they also need to be held to a very high standard. Make their path and their KPIs clear. Set timelines. Meet with them frequently. Hold them accountable.

Are you going to have people who aren’t all that interested in growing and are happy in the role they’re in? Of course! But this is why it’s important to assess where everyone is. You certainly don’t want a majority of your staff to be complacent. 

Your business needs internal growth to create outward growth. Your people make that possible. Your leadership is the key to making those possibilities a reality.

I can’t wait for you to join me for our next installment of the TeamWork book club! If you want to follow along with the book and don’t yet have a copy of your own, then let me tell you how you can get your FREE copy. That’s right — FREE! 

All you have to do is cover shipping and handling, and this incredible book is all yours. Just go to the TeamWork link and follow the instructions to get your copy. Enjoy! And I’ll see you next time.