How 6 Simple Questions Enabled Clarity And Real Results, Long Term Thinking & The 12 Stages Of Burnout
17 December 2023 Newsletter
“I now take a longer term view on people. When I see something not being done right my first reaction isn’t to go fix it. It’s to say we’re building a team here and we’re gonna do great stuff for the next decade, and so what do I need to do to help the person that’s screwing up to learn, versus how do I fix the problem” Steve Jobs
Hope you’re Thriving!
It’s been a productive week leading up to the festive season here in Australia.
As I outlined last week, our firm has continued to grow through the year, and we’re helping more teams to confidently build enduring great companies.
I hope your week (and year) has been fruitful.
The 12 Stages Of Burnout
It’s almost the festive season here in Australia, and many leaders are about to head off on a well deserved break.
Ideally, we come back rested, and we come back recharged, for these are two different things.
Rested means healthy and active after a period of resting.
Recharged means to become restored in energy or spirit.
You can be rested, but not recharged, and you can be recharged and not rested. They’re two separate measures.
Everyone needs to be well rested, but if you’re on the path to burnout, you must leave that path and get recharged.
I’ve spoken about the Mental Health Continuum before as a quick and easy tool to identify where team mates are and what could be done about it.
This week, I came across an interesting infographic from the present psychologist simply explaining the 12 stages of burnout. It’s not an assessment tool like the Mental Health Continuum, but it shows how attitudes and mindset can lead to burnout.
Long Term Thinking
It’s impatience that trips up entrepreneurs.
Impatience is an essential characteristic because it gets things done, and that builds momentum for an entrepreneur manager. So, in the early years of a business, when efficiency is more important than effectiveness, the impatience of an entrepreneur provides excellent returns on effort. Yet, at some point, that entrepreneur must switch from being a manager, focused on efficiency, to being a leader, focused on effectiveness.
In my book Made to Thrive, I detailed the five roles of a great CEO, urging the switch from managing for efficiency to leading for effectiveness. Indeed, the book’s first line is “How to be effective, that’s every leader’s problem.”
As Steve Jobs outlined in the opening quote above, he learned to be patient. Rather than fixing a problem for the short term, he focused on trying to get the person to learn to focus on the long term.
We talk about the BHAG all the time. It’s the Big Hairy Audacious Goal outlined by Jim Collins in the book Built to Last. When asked, many leaders would react by saying something like, “My three-year goal is to make 1,000 sales or to open in Singapore”. But three years or five years isn’t the timeframe for a BHAG. The timeframe for a BHAG is ten to thirty years. Even so, most leaders would intuitively consider ten years being the closer of the span.
So it was interesting to hear Chemist Warehouse CEO Mario Verrocchi use a 100-year timeframe to describe the trajectory of his business on a call with investors discussing the retail giant’s $8.8 billion reverse merger with Sigma Healthcare this week.
“We have this 100-year theory,” he said at one point on the call. “Our pharmacy story has another 50, 60 years to run.”
Verrocchi delivered a 10-minute rundown of the group’s 50-year history until now: what began as a single pharmacy in suburban Melbourne in 1972 and was three stores by the time Verrocchi joined in 1980, is now a retail behemoth with 600 stores generating $3.1 billion a year in sales and $460 million EBIT.
Yet despite that spectacular growth, he described the Chemist Warehouse journey as more of an evolution than a revolution. The first three decades were a relatively steady expansion, with the company building a rapport with suppliers and customers and expanding its network of stores through a handful of individual acquisitions each year.
The transition came in 2000 when the Chemist Warehouse chain was launched, bringing the ‘big box’ format used by Bunnings and Dan Murphy’s to Australian pharmacy retailing. Within that format, Chemist Warehouse generates about 70 per cent of its sales from front-of-shop items such as sunscreen, toothbrushes and make-up, with the balance coming from the drug dispensary located at the back of the store. The average community pharmacy generates only about 27 per cent of its sales from front-of-shop items.
Clearly, the strategy to switch to big box stores was incredibly successful for Chemist Warehouse, but the patience to think long-term has served them very well.
How 6 Simple Questions Enabled Clarity And Real Results
In my work with leadership teams, I often come across a common challenge: the absence of organisational clarity and alignment. Many leaders struggle with questions like, “What do we stand for?” or “Where are we headed?”.
These questions might seem simple, but their answers hold the key to achieving great results on multiple fronts.
During the last two years, I’ve been working with a company that has a very appealing offering for their customers in Australia. Yet, it was struggling with finances and with people retention. When I first spoke with the CEO, their main concern was that people were going in different directions, creating consistent tension between sales and operations.
Patrick Lencioni, New York Times best-selling author of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, suggests six questions to help us determine how aligned our people are. In other words, if we were to ask those six questions to every person in the company, how similar would their responses be?
- Why do we exist? – Core Purpose
- How do we behave? – Core Values and expected behaviours
- What do we do? – Core business activities
- How will we succeed? – Strategy
- What is most important right now? – Top priorities
- Who must do what? – Roles and responsibilities
Based on Pat Lencioni’s work and to understand the root cause of the tension between the different functions, we designed a simple survey to identify the level of alignment (or misalignment) among the team members in the company. Below are the results from the initial survey in January 2022.
You Can’t Hire Good People Nowadays
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