3 Timeless Pricing Secrets


How much do you charge for your services?

It is a question every business owner struggles to answer and a quota corporate managers wrestle to maintain in a world of very tight margins. Do you compete based on economies of scale, or do you specialize in a more customized boutique business where quality is valued over cost? Making this decision is a bigger challenge than ever.

Brian Montgomery, founder of healthcare technology service company, Crest Services, has an interesting perspective on pricing. In his youth, he mowed lawns, and he never once set a price. Instead he asked customers to pay what they thought his service was worth. You would think this would negate his income, but instead, he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts. What he learned from that experience forms the foundational values he maintains to this day in his business.

Here are Brian’s Pricing Secrets

  • Focus on the work, not the payout. “Pay me what it’s worth,” was his creed, and it worked.
  • Do business on a handshake. These days, formal agreements are a requirement, but Brian still places value on a handshake. He firmly believes your word is your bond, and though you may have the agreement in hand, the handshake is still the commitment that matters.
  • Treat customers well. Talk to them. Brian spent just as much – or more – time talking with his customers than it took to mow their lawns. He listened to the widow ladies – he showed compassion. In a recent survey conducted by a world-renowned company, the biggest value by far in customer service – even in this era of technology – was still the personal connection.

The fact is, if you focus on doing the best work possible, stay true to your commitments, and make your customers feel they are truly valued, the income will come. —- Rise Performance Group honors leaders and shares their wisdom.  As John Maxwell says, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”  Brian Montgomery has done just that. Nominate a leader so we can recognize them. Remember leadership can come from anywhere in an organization, including the very bottom of the org chart. Contact Bob Kaplitz with your nomination at bobk@risepg.com. We’d love to tell their leadership story. Are you growing your business by developing the leadership qualities of your team or yourself? Contact Mark Fenner at markf@risepg.com or 469-293-6198 to learn how leadership training can improve your bottom and top lines.

Leadership: How to Avoid the Biggest Coaching Mistake

The biggest coaching mistake in leadership is trying to solve a person’s leadership problem when they don’t think they have a problem. And they don’t ask for help.

“It’s Not About the Nail” provokes a major question: How do you convince a person you have the solution when they don’t ask for help. Even more, when they don’t seem to want a solution. And, on top of that, when they don’t see the proverbial elephant in the room. Or, in this case, the nail lodged in their head. After all, as you heard, “It’s not about the nail.”

The temptation is to repeat the mistake of immediately trying to solve the problem. It obviously doesn’t work in this and in many cases. A better approach is a strategy that taps into leadership qualities.

Listen to this person, resisting the temptation to solve the problem in this conversation.
Show your support and empathy. Tell the person you have faith in them and appreciate their taking the time to share their concerns.

Ask questions to better understand the person’s problem if only to let them vent more and be heard.

Acknowledge what they say is real to them even if they fail to see what’s obvious to you. That’s nurturing.

See this as an opportunity to connect with the person, building trust.

Schedule a separate follow-up meeting to review goals for the employee.

At that meeting, develop an Action Plan including measurable goals, deadlines, and the additional training the employee needs.

See this initial meeting as an opportunity to begin to enlarge the person’s skills and outlook because they had the courage to come forward.

When demonstrating your leadership qualities and bringing out the leader in others, it’s important you see it as a process rather than a one shot deal. The rewarding aspect is that approaches like these tailored to your personality get results, helping the bottom line.

For leadership training for your company, contact leadership expert Bob Kaplitz of the Rise Performance Group at 214.766.4236.

Why Do Good People Underperform?

By Mark Fenner

Why Do Good People Underperform?

For a new hire, you may now be wondering what you saw in that person in the first place. For existing staffers, there may be a change for the worse in their performance, and you’re puzzling over why.

There are a few general reasons why someone is underperforming. Especially in the case of a new hire, maybe you just misread them and they really don’t have the capabilities you expected. Or perhaps the job – or a promotion or lateral move – just turned out to be a bad fit. There are other reasons, too; maybe the goals, objectives, and deliverables weren’t as clear as you thought. Or bad relationships developed between the employee in question and his or her manager or co-workers. Or maybe it’s the work atmosphere.

Let’s look briefly at each of these and how to prevent or deal with it:

  • Capabilities: A new hire might have overstated his or her capabilities from the start, and the mismatch didn’t become apparent until it was too late. The answer there is thorough assessments for all new hires and for anyone considered for a promotion, transfer, or change of roles.
  • Poor job fit: Assessments can also prevent this from happening. Even if a person has the right skills and capabilities, there may be a temperament mismatch or a bad cultural fit to the team. Behavioral assessments can spot that, especially when the existing team members take the same assessment, so you can determine the prevailing behaviors and characteristics of a successful team.
  • Unclear goals and objectives: The thing to remember is that goals should be realistic; they should be very specific, not vague; and what you expect from someone should be measurable, and framed within a clear timeframe, in order to determine success.
  • Bad relationships: Between a supervisor and employee, this could be a communication problem or a style problem, and should be addressed from both directions. Between team members, it may have been triggered by some kind of change, whether that is a new team member, or a new supervisor, or some change in a team member’s role or even events outside the office, in their personal life. It may require a little detective work, but the source of the problem can usually be found.
  • Work atmosphere: Maybe your company thrives on energy, drama, and near-chaos, but a new employee prefers quiet and orderliness. Or maybe you’ve changed the workplace physical layout, and it just doesn’t work for one or more employees. These kinds of issues can be prevented through behavioral assessments, as you find out what environment works best both for existing and potential employees.

There are, of course, many other (and more complicated) reasons why someone might be or has become an underperformer. But most fall into one of the reasons listed above. Which is why it is so important to do behavioral assessments and do them regularly, both for job candidates and existing staff. Assessments reveal a lot that you may not have realized about your company’s and your teams’ cultures, and can go a long way in preventing underperformance problems.

It’s Time for a People Inventory

By Mark Fenner

It’s Time for a People Inventory


Taking inventory is something a lot of businesses do monthly, or at least annually. They log

what’s on the shelves, what’s in the warehouse, which items are hot sellers, and which ones are not. But what most businesses need to do – and they don’t – is to do inventory on their people.

Sure, everyone knows how many employees they have. But an inventory of people is much more than just counting heads. Done correctly, an inventory can identify the strong performers, the underperformers, and the people with great potential. It can also identify gaps in skills that indicate it’s time to hire some new people to fill those cracks.

An essential part of an inventory process like this is objective data. Before you start categorizing people as underperformers, for instance, you want to be sure you understand why they aren’t living up to what you see as their potential. Part of an effective employee inventory involves moving poor performers out to make room for top performers.  But you want to be sure that termination action is well justified, and documented, before you take it.

Conducting personality, abilities, and interests testing will shed a lot of light not only on the suspected underperformers, but everyone else as well. You may find that an employee is simply not a good fit in one position, but may have strong potential in another available spot. Maybe this person’s strength is in front-line customer service,  but they ended up in a lonely back office somewhere, which would account for their poor performance.

Or you may find that for whatever reason, that person was a bad hire or a cultural mismatch who just won’t fit anywhere in your company, and has to be let go. The testing data will provide some objective insight to aid in your decision.

On the positive side, this process can also uncover hidden gems. You may find people in the middle levels of the organization who have the traits to rise to the top but just haven’t had the chance. You can better assess someone’s long-term value to the company and if you see a lot of potential, act on it. Give that person the chance to develop the skills and experience he or she needs to shine.

What any inventory should also tell you is that you can never really stop your hunt for high-quality outside hires. I guarantee that there will be gaps uncovered through your inventory, and while some of these gaps can be filled with existing staff, some can’t. That highlights the importance of always being on the lookout for good people.

Get Proactive About Communication Failures

CommunicationBy Jason Ingram

“What we’ve got here is [a] failure to communicate.”

This famous line from the 1967 movie, “Cool Hand Luke,” is so simple, yet it conveys a powerful message that almost everyone can relate to, particularly in business settings. Effective communication, as a necessary and desired trait, rears its head in nearly every study, blog, and bulleted list that exists about leadership and management, yet research proves that one of the top five management derailers is poor communication skills.

Poor communication skills seem like they would be easy enough to detect, but some managers overcompensate for (and disguise) their lack of communication skills in oblivious, destructive ways. A manager may be failing the communication test if he:

  • Always seems to be feuding with someone or some group in the organization
  • Has a reputation for being authoritarian, cold, aloof, arrogant, or insensitive
  • Acts as a polarizing force within an organization (employees either love or hate him)
  • Avoids direct communication or contact with some or all co-workers
  • Delivers bad news through email rather than through direct conversations
  • Exhibits a hostile attitude toward co-workers who share interdependent goals
  • Becomes the target of subtle or blatant sabotage efforts

What can you do to ensure that your managers are practicing effective communication and actively avoiding communications failures that hinder morale, productivity, and performance?

Fortunately, there are obvious – if difficult to implement, because of the often sticky nature of interpersonal relationships – solutions to the issue of poor or non-existent managerial communication. Below are four tactics that will help even the most non-communicative manager begin to turn the corner towards more effective communication, and thus more effective leadership.

1. Emphasize the importance of effective communication
This is a company-wide discussion, and one that should take place several times per year, if not several times per quarter. Simply put, what you focus on as the leader of your organization will become a primary focus for your managers, employees, and even your partners and clients. For better or for worse, your managers are viewed as an extension of you and your organization; if you want them to communicate effectively, you need to model it and talk about it often, and your managers should feel the positive pressure to meet that expectation daily.

2. Help the manager identify his motivation and desires
Some employees are exceptional individual contributors, but just aren’t cut out to be managers. Conversely, some people have what it takes to lead, but aren’t as skilled or experienced as their peers. And frankly, some people just don’t want to be managers! If your manager’s issue is skills and experience, it may be easier to help him develop his skills than it is to train someone who completely lacks the behaviors and interests that contribute to leadership success. If the issues aren’t skill and experience, but leadership potential, you may have to let down gently the determined individual contributor who wants “the big chair,” but doesn’t have the traits you need in a manager. This could actually come as a relief to some managers, especially if means a return to the sales or service responsibilities for which they are better suited.

3. Help the manager identify his communication style
Many managers simply don’t know what they don’t know. For example, if he comes across as insensitive or aloof, point out the behavior and help him improve. It is important for the manager to understand his natural communication style and how it impacts others, both positively and negatively. The manager can’t be expected to improve if he never receives concrete feedback.

4. Model an appropriate communication style, and hold your managers accountable
We touched on this in the first tactic, but it’s so important – and so rarely done – that it bears repeating. Many managers underestimate the value and importance of communicating with and relating to their staff. They don’t view it as real work, but rather as touchy-feely nonsense. Even if your managers know what they’re supposed to do, it’s not enough to lead by the numbers from your office behind a closed door. Get out and make it a point to interact with each of your managers regularly — talk to them about the effectiveness of their communication, and either praise them when they’re communicating well or offer constructive feedback to improve their effectiveness. Either way, maintain an open dialogue. Your managers will see your investment in them, and will positively mimic your communicative approach.

Just because managers are in leadership positions does not always mean they are good leaders. Enable your managers by identifying their development needs and keep them from derailing themselves and their employees.

Finding the Courage to Confront

Workplace confrontationBy Jason Ingram

If you are a business blog aficionado, then you have likely read more than one posting dealing with the concept of confrontation in the workplace. It’s a good topic; statistics on employee disengagement clearly show that many workers are only moderately engaged while on the job. Disengagement leads to dissatisfaction, which leads to the attitudes and behaviors that call for confrontation.

The problem with most blogs on confrontation in the workplace is the point in the process at which they begin. How many of you have read a posting on confrontation that begins with, “Step 1: Talk to the Employee?” That’s like beginning a discussion on defusing bombs with, “Step 1: Defuse bomb.” If I knew how to defuse the bomb, I wouldn’t need to read the blog. Simply saying, “talk to the employee” fails to address the root cause of what makes confrontation difficult in the first place: fear.

Fear exists when critical things hang in the balance. Think about your day today. Was there fear in your heart this morning as you chose what shoes to wear, or which cereal to eat? Probably not. Why? Because when you consider your day as a whole, you find that there are surprisingly few things each day important enough to invoke real fear. When you do begin to experience fear – heart racing, palms sweating, head spinning – it’s because something that is critical to you has been threatened.

This threatened thing almost always falls into one of Maslow’s five motivational needs:

  • physiological (basic human needs like food, water, shelter)
  • safety
  • acceptance
  • self-esteem
  • self-actualization (creative fulfillment or achieving goals)

So, what is threatened by confrontation in the workplace? What critical thing is hanging in the balance? How about self-actualization? Confronting a co-worker could anger one or both of you, leading to greater disengagement or turnover, which could in turn grind the already-slowed gears of progress to a halt and pinch your bottom line. How about acceptance? Confronting an employee – or even more risky, a superior – could have a long-term adverse effect on the working relationship. You could find yourself out of the loop in certain work-related social circles; your career could be stunted, or even ended. That’s right: confronting a superior could get you fired, which would be a direct threat to all five of Maslow’s areas of need. Heart racing yet?

Gary DeLashmutt, a minister in Columbus, Ohio, breaks fear down into three categories based on our responses to them:

  • Rational or healthy fear – a logical fear of things that can cause us real harm, like fire. This is a “good” type of fear that we promote and even teach to our children. According to DeLashmutt, you should respond to these fears by listening to them, because to ignore them can lead to pain, suffering, and even death.
  • Irrational or unhealthy fear – an illogical fear, sometimes stemming from an actual incident. For example, if you ignored the healthy fear of fire mentioned above and burned yourself, an irrational fear response might be to freak out any time you’re near fire, because you somehow think fire itself is “out to get you.” You should respond to these fears by not listening to them, because they represent a separation from reality.
  • The third type of fear DeLashmutt describes doesn’t have an easy-to-remember name like “rational” or “irrational” fear, but in a way, it’s the synthesis of both. This third fear is best described like this: Let’s say your house is on fire, and your family is inside. The fear of fire is real, but at that moment, there is something at stake that is more important than that fear, something that you are willing to risk shame, pain, or loss to protect. You make a decision to set your crippling fear of fire aside and do what you must to save the ones you love. You should respond to these types of fears by not listening to them, because to do so means that you are sacrificing something critical.

According to DeLashmutt, the answer to confronting fear when something that is critical to you is being threatened is simple: get perspective. Make fear work for you. Find something in the equation you’re even more afraid of losing, and morph that nervous, pit-of-your-stomach adrenaline into Braveheart, “they’ll-never-take-our-freedom” adrenaline. In your business context, this calls for a few things:

  1. You have to know yourself. What are your rational and irrational fears? Just because you are a titan of industry doesn’t mean you are completely fearless. Sure, you’re golden in front of a room full of clients, but you shudder to sit and talk intimately – especially confrontationally – to just one person. Assessments can help you become familiar with your unspoken values and tendencies, which can help you isolate your “triggers” for fear responses. For example, if you are dramatically averse to change, then forced change will likely elicit a fear response. If you are exceedingly sociable, then the possibility of losing esteem with a fellow employee or superior through confrontation will likely scare you to death and cause you to shy away from confrontation altogether.
  2. You have to know your co-worker. You need this information for the same reasons listed above, especially if you are in a leadership position. No one is a natural fan of confrontation – so everyone will react to it with a certain amount of trepidation – but what exact triggers will elicit fear responses in your co-workers?  You need to know this so that you can cater your conversation accordingly. It takes two to tango; even if you begin a confrontation with a well-thought out plan, something your co-worker says might set you off (or vice versa) and derail the entire conversation. But, you can defuse your own fear response by considering not only what you’ll say, but how and even when you’ll say it…and how they will (likely) respond.
  3. You have to consider the alternative.This is the main take away from this blog. When faced with the fear of confrontation, you need to make that fear work for you by looking down the road and counting the undesirable costs of listening to that fear.
    1. Suppose you give in to that pit-of-your-stomach feeling and say nothing. Neither does the co-worker with whom you have an issue. Do you think that feeling of angst just floats away? How many days in a row are you prepared to have that fear eating away at you? Isn’t one “rip-off-the-Band-Aid” moment better than a week or more of debilitating, irrational fear responses?
    2. Suppose you say nothing, and your co-worker does – to someone else in the office. If you are a leader, this is a situation you simply cannot afford. Your leadership has been undermined, and worse, you appear feeble to your superiors for not handling the issue confidently and in a timely manner. What’s more frightening: dealing with a sticky situation with a co-worker, or having to face the Big Boss knowing that he or she is going to bring up your recent leadership failure?
    3. Or, suppose the absolute worst happens: your superiors find out about the whole thing and fire you. As we stated earlier, being jobless brings a whole laundry list of Maslow’s motivational needs into play: hunger, shelter, safety, you name it. The constant pressure of having one or more of these fundamental needs go unmet isn’t nearly as bad as a few minutes of uncomfortable conversation, is it?

Confrontation is just one of a thousand every day work situations that can strike fear into your heart; often, the men and women who rise to the top in the business world seem to have a natural immunity to fear altogether. Big meetings. Big presentations. Big mergers or other big acquisitions, and they never bat an eye. Are they really all that different from the rest of us, or have they simply learned – through time, training, experience, even failure – to temper their fears and the fears of others by counting the cost and making fear work for them instead of against them?

The Secret of Successful Team Building

team building By Diamond Richardson

Building an effective team is hard work. First, you have to select the right people to be on the team. This involves finding high-performing, engaged employees with the right skills to do the job. Once you have completed this difficult task, you have to handle the even more difficult task of establishing how work in the team will be done and how communication will flow. It’s still not over after that! Now, you have the headache of dealing with the conflicts that are almost certain to arise. Talk about hard work!

We hate to add even more to this already full plate, but before any of the actual work gets started, you have to earn the buy-in of your team members. Buy-in is earning the support and dedication of your team members. It is a fancy way of saying everyone is on board! You need buy in from everyone and you need to earn it early. Otherwise, you run the risk that your team members will approach their work with half-hearted enthusiasm and, in turn, produce subpar work. Team members with buy in understand why the team’s work is important and they are more likely to do the work enthusiastically and at a high-quality level.

This buy in does not just appear magically when you form your team. It has to be earned. Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to make it happen:

1) Make sure the resources the team needs to succeed are in place. There are few things worse than being told to accomplish a task without the money, time, or other necessary support to do it. Your team may be full of high performers, but they are not supermen or superwomen. Make sure that the money and administrative support your team needs to work is ready to go. It is also important to make sure that the team has a realistic time frame to complete their work. Be realistic about setting project deliverable dates so that your team does not feel the need to rush through important tasks.

2) Tie team goals to company goals. If your team members are passionate about the work that your company does, that does not automatically mean that passion will transfer over to each team project. Sometimes, the day-to-day grind can leave employees jaded. Remind your team members on a regular basis of how this project helps the company achieve its larger goals.

3) Make it clear to employees how they will benefit from achieving the teams goals. Even if your team members are passionate about the company’s goals, they will still have goals for their own professional development. Share with individual team members how this project can help them advance professionally. These reasons can include the chance to meet influential people, learn new skills or travel to somewhere new. Employees are more likely to be highly engaged in team projects when there is a way for them to develop professionally.

 There are many hurdles to cross in team building, but gaining buy in from each member of your team is crossing one of the biggest hurdles. A team that is committed to the work they are doing will be engaged, dedicated and produce high-quality work. What more could you ask for?

How do you earn buy in during team building?

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