How do you boost service business performance? Dr. Stephen Long says that it all starts with your management.
I’m going to ask you a difficult question right now.
Do you feel like you’re managing your service business?
Most service business owners start out as technicians. You started by doing the jobs that your people do right now.
The problem is that you take the mentality into your leadership role. You’re looking at the technical work when you need to focus on the bigger picture.
That’s not how you build a strong service business.
If you’re not a good leader to your people, service business productivity falls.
That’s why I wanted to speak to a productivity expert who could provide the answers.
Dr. Stephen Long is that expert. He’s the head of Motere Consulting and he’s worked with everyone from championship athletes to corporate executives.
On average, he achieves a 115% financial improvement rate for his clients. And that’s with zero failures.
He’s one of the top experts in performance leadership in the 21st century. And these are his productivity tips for service businesses.
Service Business Productivity Tip #1 – Strategy Isn’t Usually the Problem
When productivity dips, most service business owners jump straight to strategy.
They assume the systems and processes they’ve put in place aren’t doing the job. So they tinker with the strategy.
And nothing changes.
Here’s the raw truth of it according to Dr. Long.
The strategy isn’t usually the problem. When your service business isn’t producing results, you’ve got to look at yourself and your management team.
This is where things get tough because you’re going to find out that you don’t have the management skills that you thought you had. And it’s affecting service business performance on every level.
It’s usually about capability.
Yes, there are occasions when the strategy isn’t sound. And in those cases, you do have to go back to the drawing board. But Dr. Long’s analyses show that it’s usually the person, rather than the strategy, that’s the real problem.
Service Business Productivity Tip #2 – Measure Your Execution IQ
So if the strategy isn’t the problem, how do you figure out the real issue?
You know that you’ve got to improve yourself and your managers in some capacity.
This is where the concept of Execution IQ comes in. It’s a term that Dr. Long uses to describe a manager’s ability to execute the strategy.
Testing yours will help you to figure out what you need to improve to create a more productive service business.
And these tests prove especially useful in service business recruiting.
Dr. Long says that he completes a battery of psychological inventories for any new manager on his team. From those inventories, he creates a host of reports that measure their capabilities. These reports point out the strengths and weaknesses that the manager brings to the table.
He finds that this saves a ton of time on the recruiting process.
Think about it like this. If you hire a manager, it’s going to take you three or four months to figure out what they have to offer.
Only then can you start working on improving them. Or, in a worst-case scenario, you’re going to find that they can’t execute the strategy and have to go.
With these tests, you get a solid idea of what the person is all about. And you can compare that data to what you need for the role you’re recruiting for.
It takes a couple of weeks to complete these tests.
That’s a huge time saving that boosts productivity in a service business.
You have to look at your ability to execute the strategy that you already have in place.
Service Business Productivity Tip #3 – No Two People Are the Same
Dr. Long says that he always starts from the top-down when identifying managerial issues.
From there, he fills in the gaps.
But when I asked him if he’d identified any general issues, he said:
“No, I really haven't found any indicators. And this is why I do things personally. If I could generalize this, I would just come up with an electronic program and get it out to the market.”
The simple message here is that no two organizations are alike. The same goes for the people within those organizations.
If you’re looking to build a stronger service business, you have to start with your people’s individual issues. Each one brings something different for you to confront. From there, you start looking into the unique things in your management team’s operations.
There isn’t a set formula for improving service business performance.
You can’t just copy what somebody else did and assume it’s going to work for you or your people.
Service Business Productivity Tip #4 – Learn How to Manage Yourself
If you can’t manage yourself, you’re going to have a hard time managing others.
Dr. Long says that every leader needs to learn key self-management skills. Without them, you can’t expect your people to be as productive as possible.
Why would they be when you aren’t?
Dr. Long points to several key skills that a manager needs to learn and apply to themselves.
The first is the ability, and willingness, to do the hard things that are part of a manager’s job.
Managers also need to approach what they do with confidence. Again, this is key to leading a team of people. If your employees don’t see confidence in you, they’re not going to respect you. They know that you’re not going to confront them for shoddy or slow work.
Confidence isn’t a mindset either. It’s an understanding of what you can and can’t do. That self-awareness is extremely important as it helps you to avoid the overconfidence that can make you seem delusional.
Mental toughness is the third thing that Dr. Long points to. Things aren’t always going to go well with your service business. That can lead to your people losing their cool, which causes issues with service business performance.
A leader who can manage themselves can keep their cool when everybody else loses theirs. They have the patience to look for resolutions when others start getting frustrated.
Those are all aspects of self-management. But the good thing is that they’re also skills that you can develop. Nobody walks into service business ownership as a fully-formed leader. But if you dedicate yourself to continued learning, you’ll see consistent improvements in performance.
Service Business Productivity Tip #5 – Your Belief System Determines How You Act
Your belief system is a powerful thing.
Dr. Long says that it determines how you act within your service business. And you can develop a performance belief system that maximizes your efficiencies.
The key is to control your belief system so that you can be as productive as possible.
Again, this is something that you can train.
Dr. Long told me a story about a senior manager in a firm who received the task of identifying candidates for the role of CEO.
One of the internal candidates had a lot of the tools. But they also had a tendency to fly off the handle a little due to wearing their heart on their sleeve.
In this case, Dr. Long gave the candidate some tools to help with patience. This improved the candidate’s executive presence without compromising their belief system.
This improved patience made the candidate more effective for the role. And it also helped them to get their beliefs across without causing issues with the team.
Service Business Productivity Tip #6 – You’ve Got to Earn Trust
I touched on this earlier when I spoke about confidence.
If your people don’t believe that you’re fit for the job, they aren’t going to perform to their maximum capabilities.
A great leader must become a master of relationship management. They have to understand what their people need from a leader and act accordingly.
That’s how you get the most out of people.
Dr. Long says that this all comes down to trust. Without trust, your people won’t buy into what you’re trying to achieve with your service business.
That compromises every aspect of the business’ performance.
To develop trust, you have to figure out what makes your people tick. And again, this is an individual thing. What motivates one person may not motivate another. How you communicate also changes based on the person. Some people need a little nurturing whereas others respond better to a kick to the butt.
Empathy is a big thing here. You have to show your people that you understand their needs without any judgment attached.
Improve Yourself to Boost Performance
You might read this and think you’ve got to change everything about yourself to become a better leader.
That’s not the case.
The idea is to become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. You double down on your strengths and improve your weakness.
Having the self-awareness to realize that you can improve is what makes a great leader.
And great leaders operate high-performing service businesses.
CEO Warrior can help you become the leader you’ve always wanted to be.
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