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This business coaching lesson provides tips for connecting with your staff.

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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 1
  • Mystic Statistic: "Worldwide, 13% of Employees Are Engaged at Work" - Gallup, 2013
  • Ask Yourself: Am I taking the time to figure out the "why" of each of my staff members?
  • Definition Magician: Freak - One that is markedly unusual or abnormal.
  • Lesson Nugget: It is your job to protect and enhance the office culture; be intentional about each hiring decision. Most employees value a work environment they enjoy more than an increase in income.
  • Lesson Nugget: Learning to connect with your staff will be the difference between a poorly run business with high turnover and a business that will excel and last.

[MUSIC PLAYING] lynda.com of human resources, management training

-What's up, guys? Daniel McKenna here. Today, Clay Clark will be sitting down with Brian Smith, talking about the seven super moves for connecting with your staff in this management training. If you don't know who Brian Smith is, he is the owner of one of the nation's fastest growing and top selling insurance agencies. In fact, his agency won Best Of The Best from 2010 to 2014 from "Oklahoma Magazine."

Brian is going to teach you about how you can connect with your staff and get your employees more engaged in work. An engaged staff is a productive staff, and a productive staff creates profits, so this lesson can be a huge benefit to your business.

Now if we can only get them to be engaged in the company softball games, am I right? But seriously, I want one, too.


-Brian Smith, how are you, my friend?

Hey, I am today here with this pen. It's the pen by Sharpie, and it's like the precision pen. I've got two highlighters. I got a red pen. I've got a lot of stuff going on here, and I am excited to be connecting with you about how to connect with your staff.


-Are you as pumped as I am?

-This is my favorite part of my business.

-OK, all right. Now Brian, I want to ask you this, because there's a lot of entrepreneurs watching this who are not connecting with their staff. So I drew a little picture. You see that the guy on the left, he's the boss. Over there to the right's the staff. The staff's like, they have the staff shirt on, going hey! I'm happy, you know? Boss is connecting with me.

But this picture almost never happens, though. So I'm going to read you the statistic here from Gallup, OK? Here we go.

13%, according to Gallup-- again, the Gallup poll-- 13% of employees are engaged at work, which means that 87% percent of employees don't care or are not engaged in their workplace. So in your mind, why aren't most business owners able to connect with their people?

-Well, this is a subject I think that I'm always having to work on too, Clay. You get busy, and you make excuses for why you're not going back to the priorities. But I would say most business owners are just worried about what their "why" is. Everyone talks about why they're in business, why they want to be successful, so they know what their why is. They never take the time, though, to figure out what is the why of each one of their individuals that work on their team.

-Why is it so important to connect with your staff? What does it absolutely have to happen?

-Well, I guess you don't have to do it. If you want to have a business where you have turnover all the time, or you don't have people that believe in your product or in you and in your business, you don't have to have it. But if you want to excel, if you want to have a business that lasts, I believe it's important to have a place where people come to work and know that they matter.

-Beautiful, beautiful. Now I want to read this definition to you here on the word "freak" from Webster's Dictionary. It says, "As one that is markedly unusual or abnormal."

Now what I've found is a lot of business owners, in my mind, are freaks. I mean, seriously. They're people that are absolutely obsessed with growing their business and delivering their product or service to customers in exchange for the ability to pursue their own possibilities, options, and dreams.

Therefore, I've noticed a lot of entrepreneurs-- maybe not you, probably just me, not you, not so much a you, but more so much a me-- we tend to get frustrated with people who say stuff like, "I want to go on a break" or "It's my birthday" or "I would like to take the day off." Because we're just obsessed with business growth, So any type of humanity, we're like, are you kidding me? Did you tell me that you had to go to the bathroom? This is a business. You know, that kind of stuff.

I'm just curious. I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs are frustrated. Don't you feel like that? Am I out of my mind? Do you feel like a lot of entrepreneurs are just frustrated with the fact that employees do things that employees do.

-I think that a lot of business owners do that, and I think they do that because they miss the whole point of what they're doing in having a team. I've had people that work within my organization tell me multiple times that they consider the environment and the culture that I provide there part of their compensation, and that really set me back when I heard that.

What one of my team members shared with me one time is don't hire people that could ruin this. Watch out for people that could poison this. And I'm like, what do you mean by that? What are you talking about? And she was like, we consider the culture that we have in our office a place to where I would rather stay here and make a little bit less money than if I got offered to make more money at a place to where I had to clock in and clock out, and I was a number.

-I got to be real. The other day-- I tell businesses I consult with all time, I tell the same story, I say, hey, your business is like a garden, and you have weeds. That's maybe about hire. That's your fault for putting a weed in there, but you got to pull that out quickly.

And it was funny. I guess this was about a month or two ago, but we had an employee that was shadowing for the day. Doesn't work for us now, but someone who was going to work with us, or who wanted to the work with us, and they shadowed for the day just so I could see if they're the right fit. And I do that often, so I can see.

Well, one of the customers just pulls me aside and says, they understand our culture. That person's a week, Like, they can't work here. They're going to like ruin the vibe. And I thought it was interesting how I hadn't picked up on it yet because they just showed up at work, but they were weed. And what you're saying is so critical. The employees will actually say, don't let him ruin this, right?

-Protect the environment was exactly the word she used, and so funny enough, you think you'd know that as a business owner already. I had no clue of that. When she said it, I said, you know what? I never actually thought of this culture being part of the way you felt like you were getting


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Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 2
  • Lesson Nugget: To connect with your staff and build solid relationships, it is important to know each individual's needs and their "why" for working with you.
  • 7 Super Moves For Connecting With Your Staff: 2. Connect with Your Staff When You Arrive or Return from Appointments
  • Action Step: Take time to recognize your staff and have sincere conversations with them to further build relationships.
  • Ask Yourself: How much would my business improve if I took the time to connect with my staff?
  • 7 Super Moves For Connecting With Your Staff: 1. Have a Place Where Everyone Matters

-What would you say to the entrepreneur who's watching this who says, all right, I don't need, I don't want to connect with my staff. You know, I just, I'm tired of it.

-You know, that person's probably not going to make it in their business very long. And I can't imagine that type of life, anyway. I can't imagine how unhappy that person might be at work and how unhappy the staff might be. So I wouldn't want to work in that environment.

-All right. Well let's jump right into the seven super moves for connecting with your staff. Super move number one. Have a place where everyone matters.

Bryan, this move's-- this move comes from Lee Cockerell, the man who once managed 43,000 cast members as the former executive vice president of operations for Walt Disney World Resort. He's a Thrive mentor. And he says, have a place where everyone matters. What does this mean to you?

-You know, when Lee says that, even when he's speaking, it always hits home to me, because that exact quote is the reason why I had success now and in my past. I got treated that way. I was treated like someone that mattered.

So the person that came before me understood this already, and said, you know what? I see the potential, and here's what we can do with it. And so I'm a product of it and I try to, you know, pass that on.

-How do you actually try to apply this super move? Let me just give you an example, OK? In my office, we brought on a young designer about two weeks ago, and she's great. OK? She's great.

Then we've got another person over here. He's a-- he's a designer. He's great, right? Then you got another person, you know, we brought-- I'm hiring all new people, right? And what happens is as somebody, you know, everyone wants a little bit of your time.

And now you've got all these responsibilities. Your wife's texting you. You know, you gotta pick up the dry cleaning. You know, you-- for some reason you have a weird itch. And you can't figure out why your leg itches. You know, how do you balance all those needs in taking care of those new hires with the rest of life? I mean, how do you, as a business owner, prioritize that?

-Well, I think you have to remember what's extremely important, and that's what's the need and what's the why of that person you're trying to train and mentor.


-And if you can focus on those things, you're going to begin to build that relationship with each person individually.


-All right. Well, we're going to move on to super move number two. Connect with your staff when you arrive or return from appointments. Bryan, what does this super move mean to you?

-This is all about making my staff and my team feel like they're a part of my life, too.


-I know lots of business owners that come and go within their business. Off to appointments, off to this, off to that, and never carry on any conversation at all with their team. That person's just their boss.

I try to be a part of the team. And so when-- when I come in, I'm going to take time to recognize you. I'm going to take time to ask what's going on. I'm going to do my very best to do it as sincere as I possibly can, because I think you're going to be able to notice.

-I want to give a little therapy for the Thrivers watching this, because I feel like one of the things I offer is as America's most pale man--


-You know, is one of them. I'm like a modern day Viking, really. I make a lot of mistakes, too. I mean, I've learned to get better and I'm always getting better. But some things that I tend to do if I'm not very careful, is I am results focused. I love getting things done. And I really don't care about how anybody feels about me, you know.

So as an example, when I go to the bank, I go, yeah! That's my time of the week that I'm-- that's the only praise I get. Usually my wife never calls and says, you're the boss. Or very few staff members say you're awesome. I just feel awesome. And when I go to bank, I know I'm awesome. That's how it works.

So, but a lot of entrepreneurs I see, they're the same way. Where they don't really need praise. So then we start to think that no one needs praise, right?


-So then we're just going to the bank, going to work, and then people are like, I don't feel appreciated. And yet-- so we have to do, though. We have to connect, don't we? We have to take the time to do that?

-You know, I would say, Clay, even thinking about your own-- in your own business, what you're saying is just think about, if you're already doing as well as you can forgetting to do it, think of how good it can be if you remember to do it.


-And so when I think about it, I look at my office. And I'm not perfect at it. And I remember, you know what. What was it like? We were doing pretty good when I was ignoring this particular strategy. What would it be like if I went from 1 in my office to 11?



-And this is-- I mean, I'm just saying this because every entrepreneur has a weak link. We all have something that we struggle with. And I know, for me, you know, I'm an alpha driver. And for me, making sure I connect with people is one of my biggest weaknesses, you know.

And I-- not that I just say I'm not going to do anything with it. I try to get better all the time, and every year I do get better. But I would just-- if you're watching this, and you're a hard-driving entrepreneur, make sure you take out time to go from me to we.

Featured Coaching Excerpt - Notes & Transcript, Part 3
  • Notable Quotable: "Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back, and that makes your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that." - Herb Kelleher
  • Lesson Nugget: By including your employees and showing them they matter, they will care more about their job, which will benefit your business.
  • 7 Super Moves For Connecting With Your Staff: 3. Be Different from the Normal Place
  • Lesson Nugget: Focus on your team's effort and your relationship with them more than the structure of a time schedule.
  • Notable Quotable: "You have to fire way quicker than you hire."
  • Lesson Nugget: Your staff, the one's doing the day-to-day work and making your business run, should be your priority. Make them feel like they are partners in the business and they will treat your customers well.
  • Notable Quotable: "If the employees come first, then they're happy... A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It's not one of the enduring great mysteries of all time, it is just the way it works." - Herb Kelleher (Founder of Southwest Airlines)


MAN: When I heard Kelleher-- that's the guy who's the founder of Southwest Airlines, southwest is known as being the airline that's the friendly guys. The one that's done great. They've been very financially successful.

He says, "Your employees come first. And if you treat your employees right, guess what? Your customers come back and make your shareholders happy. Start with employees and the rest follows from that." Brian, why is it so important to treat your employees right?

BRIAN: You know, I'd say the simple answer is so they come back tomorrow. But the standard answer is that employees really want to feel like they're included and know they matter. If you can get your team to do just 50% or feel just 50% of what they feel about their own personal hobbies, just imagine what that'll do for your business.

MAN: So let me ask you this here. Give me a story of a time where you found one your staff members doing something awesome for you that went totally above and beyond what you expected because of the way you treated them.

BRIAN: You know, we've talked about this a lot of times. We have a lot of stories on this, because we try to create a culture that's not like no other. And I had a person come to me one time and tell me that they had been offered more money to do a different job. And I said, well, obviously, you took it, right? It's more money, or you're going to help me find someone to replace you.

And she said, no, I didn't take it. She goes, I'm not going to take $5,000 more to have to be at work at 8 o'clock straight till 8 o'clock at night and be a number that I just clock in and clock out. And I have to clock in and out of breaks. And I just don't want that lifestyle. I just wanted you to know that is important for your know that I chose to stay here instead of doing that.

MAN: And that's because of the way you and your team have tried to treat the team members.

BRIAN: It wasn't a money thing. It wasn't anything but a culture where she felt like she was a part of the business. She was a partner.

MAN: All right. Super move number three. Super move number three. Be different from the normal place. Brian, what does this mean?

BRIAN: Normal places just manage people, lunch breaks, and time. Sure you've got to have some structure in your business, but you can't miss focusing on their efforts. You can't miss focusing on the relationship.

In my office, I do something crazy. I don't give you a strict vacation schedule. When you go to work at my business, we don't talk about how many days of vacation you get. I don't really care how many days you need it. If you need some days, let me know. Just don't take advantage of it. Funny enough, over the years, I've never had anyone take advantage of that.

MAN: Because you built that culture from the beginning.

BRIAN: Sure.

MAN: I think if you're watching this, and you're building a start up, one thing you have to be careful of, don't feel like you're an idiot if you hire somebody, and they're not the right fit culturally. Because you have to hire people. When you're in a brand new business and you're hiring people, I would say-- I want make sure we're giving a balanced approach here-- I mean, you would agree that sometimes you're going to make a mis-hire, and you got to quickly move on, right?

BRIAN: You've got to fire way quicker than you hire for sure.

MAN: OK. Now so again, if you're a small business, and you're going, well, yeah, it's easy for you to say, but I'm starting a business right now. And I need employees right now. Again, it's kind of a tree pruning process. It's not like the tree just grows perfectly day one. You have to cut off some branches and do some things to make sure that it grows the right way.

BRIAN: And sometimes you've got to do a little bit more than what you planned on doing. That's just part of opening a new business.

MAN: Now Brian, I'm going to read this quote to you again from Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines. He says, "If employees come first, then they're happy. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders. It's not one of the"-- now, here's the part he adds on here. I want to read this to you-- "It's not one of the enduring great mysteries of all time. It's just the way it works." Again, "It's not one of the enduring great mysteries of all time. It's just the way it works."

It seems so simple the way you put it, that you just take care your staff, and they take care of the customer, but yet it's so rarely seen. So if it's so simple for you and Herb Kelleher, why is it that very few people watching-- not you guys watching this, but other people-- why is it so rare that companies are doing this?

BRIAN: Well, it's I believe a humility thing. We talked about earlier when Jim Collins talked about having humility in your business. You've got to understand that when you're working with other people, you can either push them away and treat them like staff-- people that work for you-- or you can bring them in. You can make them partners in your business.

The part is that that's very hard to do. We're busy. We've got things going on. And a lot of times, we forget the priority. The priority is the people that are answering the phones, the people that are opening the doors, and the people that are closing up the shop.

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