Recently, I read again a book that meant so much to me this spring, Love + Work by Marcus Buckingham. I remember when I first read the book, I was thrilled that its content confirmed and endorsed the principles behind how I ran our bookkeeping business, bookskeep.
We’re a bit different than most other firms in the industry. We are structured to help our team members succeed in both life and work. It's what I needed when I started my business, and I figured I wasn't the only one. It was nice to see what I believe touted as a best practice in this book.
Mining for Gold
This time I read as if I was mining for gold. What else can learn from him so that we can help our team members even more. How can we grow as an organization to be even better with these concepts. Here are a few key take aways from my latest read.
Love and Fear have a deep connection. If you are fearful of something, most likely it's because it touches something you love. I loved this passage that I have paraphrased from the book. "Fear is not what causes problems in your life. It's what fear degrades into when you shun it. Fear that is shunned. Fear that is shunned metastasizes into feelings that are deeply damaging. However, fear that is examined yields powerful discoveries about you at your best. When you get curious and let fear in, you realize that your fears are one more sign of what you love. Feel fear and follow it and it will lead you straight to something or someone you love. On our journey we're told to dismiss our fears, to confront our fears, to step outside of our comfort zone. Yet this is all so misleading. Your choice is not comfort or no comfort. It is love or no love. When you step into things you love, you will feel fear. That's not just OK, it's fundamental. Take the path of fear, because it is the path of love."
This is super powerful. Especially now when this concept of stepping outside of your comfort zone shows up at conferences and in memes regularly. What does that even mean? Well, I love the meaning that Marcus Buckingham has established. I also appreciate its connection to love because I am much more motivated by love than fear.
"Balance is a false god." How many times have I felt that. Buckingham says that the healthy goal is movement. "In nature, everything healthy is moving, and thus a healthy life is one that enables you to move, and to draw enough strength from that movement to allow you to keep movement." I've watched our horses eat and take a step. Horses have to move to keep their digestion working properly. I guess they had this figured out some time ago.
Weekly check-ins are vital for helping you stay connected with your team and helping them stay engaged with their role. Here are the four questions Buckingham recommends during these check-ins.
- What activities did you love last week?
- What activities did you loathe last week?
- What are your priorities this week?
- What help do you need from me?
In addition to just staying connected, the real opportunity in these check-ins is to help your team members discover their “red threads”. Red threads are the things we absolutely love to do. The things we would do even if we didn’t get paid, when time rushes by and you lose yourself.
Buckingham cites a study done by the Mayo Clinic that shows that if we can spend twenty percent of our time doing the things we love, we are far less likely to experience burnout. Research from the ADP Research Institute shows that if you do something you love each and every day – even if you aren’t good at it yet – you are 3.6 times more likely to be highly resilient.
For many years, I have met with my team members a couple of times per year and asked them what they love to do. Were they getting time to do these things in their job at bookskeep? What did they want to learn? While I’m pleased that I was keyed into this line of questions, I realize that I was not asking them frequently enough.
This is not a “checking up” session, it’s seeing the team member right now for who they are and paying attention to them. As Buckingham states, “If you want to reduce negative employee outcomes and increase the positive ones, then the weekly check-in is the simplest most powerful prescription.
My biggest takeaway from this deep dive into the book, is the weekly check-in meetings. We started them about a month ago with every team member. What I have learned so far is gold. We all want to feel like we are important enough to deserve some attention. Our team members have the best ideas because they are closest to the work and the clients.
They are genuinely looking for ways to make things better for the team. The funny thing is they just needed the chance to talk about their ideas. We had not been giving them that opportunity. We’re only about one month into this process, but I can’t wait to see the results in six months.
If you use this process or something similar in your business, or are interested in starting to, I’d love to hear from you! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your experiences and your questions so we can learn and grow together.