Tim Sweet is again joined by Paul Farmer, Business Mentor and Founder of Mentoris Group, to discuss how leaders are addressing the new needs of both employees and clients in how their businesses bring value to the world. Are leaders still clinging to old thoughts about growth, and how can they change?
About Paul Farmer
Paul Farmer, Business Mentor and Founder of Mentoris Group, completed his Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Southern Queensland before he moved to Brisbane to pursue an accounting career. He worked for both Bentleys MRI and Snelleman Tom, being admitted as a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) in 2002. Playing Premier Rugby Union for Norths (1996), GPS (1997 – 2002, Club captain 2001), Australian Combined States U21 and Australian Barbarians in 1996 enabled Paul to develop a strong network of professional contacts.
In 2002 Paul took a sabbatical to the UK, gaining invaluable exposure to different cultures, work practices, travel opportunities and sporting pursuits. After 20 years working for large organizations both in Australia and the UK, it was time to give something back. Leaving a strategic leadership role, Paul saw coaching as a way of guiding others through the ever increasing uncertainty and pressures life presents, similar to those he encountered. Paul is a registered CPA, Associate Member of the International Coach Guild, Member of the Coaching Institute, working towards being an International Accredited Professional Master Coach and currently holds a Blue card for working with children and youths.
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Paul Farmer: [00:00:00] What is growth over the next 12 months? Because at the moment what I'm starting to find is that's shifting because if we look at the capacity of our team, for example, it's changing. But if our expectations of growth do not change, then we're going to be in a space where we're going, Well, hang on.
Tim Sweet: [00:00:19] Welcome to the Sweet On Leadership podcast, where we explore leadership success through conversations with remarkable experts. Curated by Tim Sweet, these guests share profound knowledge fueling your growth. Get ready to unlock true impact with your host, Tim Sweet.
Tim Sweet: [00:00:38] I'd like to ask you some questions. Do you consider yourself the kind of person that gets things done? Are you able to take a vision and transform that into action? Are you able to align others towards that vision and get them moving to create something truly remarkable? If any of these describe you, then you, my friend, are a leader. And this show is all about and all for you. This is the Sweet On Leadership podcast Episode 11.
Tim Sweet: [00:01:09] Well, hey, I'm here with Paul Farmer joining me from sunny Brisbane, Australia. Paul, thanks again for taking the time to join us. We're going to spend a little bit of time picking Paul's brain over an issue that I know is common with my clients, and I think it's out there and it's something that we need to talk about, and that is how are leaders coming to the table and bridging this gap between what their people need out of the work experience and what the business needs to service its clients and to bring value into the world. Paul, I know you've got lots of thoughts on this, so I wanted us to dive right in. But first I just want to say thanks again for coming and spending some time with me.
Paul Farmer: [00:01:50] My pleasure. And I hope things are well up in the Northern Hemisphere. I actually caught up with one of our colleagues who was down south of the equator last week, with Paul Ferneyhough. So he sends his regards and from a leadership perspective, he ties into the way we want to look at things because he looks at things in a very practical way. So in terms of looking at the way that things are changing, and one of the conversations we had was things are changing now, those that don't feel like they want to change the way they do things, it'll become even more challenging as leaders because the way that people, I'll call them younger generation are coming into the workforce, they think differently, they operate differently, they have different expectations. And they're not tarred by the brush of this is the way we've always done things and the mindset of if we want more, we just work harder, we work longer, we sacrifice more to be able to have more. Now, that model historically has worked because people have been prepared to do more, do longer hours, sacrifice more weekend work, things like that. And when I was working in corporate, that was what we just did. You just do it because that's the expectation of we've got so much work to do, this is what you will do. And you do it unquestioned. Now what we're tending to find is people are becoming a little more aware of what truly matters to them. And I'll say the pandemic has really shifted people's perspective around what truly matters to them.
Paul Farmer: [00:03:30] And I'm starting to find that it's not about working more, about working longer. It's more about what is it that I want to fill my space with. I'll generalize, but gone are the days where people will go, Well, I'm just flatly going to do 50, 60 hours a week. Now, if the business needs that, then operationally we look at our capacity and go, well, let's be honest with ourselves, this is the capacity that we have. How do we get more out of our capacity rather than being in a space where we're challenged by adding extra capacity to our space? The way we used to think was, We'll just get our team to step up consistently and they'll do it because they want to work for us. Whereas now the ability for people to move between organizations, the stigma about moving between organizations has been removed. So they now have the ability to be able to go, Well, you're asking me to do 60 hour weeks for not much more. Then I can go over here, I can do 35, and I can get exactly the same as what I'm on, but not be expected to do 60 hours a week. Yeah, I'm going to be in a space because what matters to me is time. And I'm going to be in a space where I'm resetting what truly matters to me and what's going to make me happiest, which is going to be focusing on what makes me happy, not what makes everyone else happy.
Tim Sweet: [00:05:00] Covid. It has left us with a population that has decided they're going to change or they're more careful about how they spend their time. They're more careful about how they spend their money, and they are very conscious about how they want to work or what they don't want to be doing. As you say, you know, people used to tough it out and the promise of work for a number of years was you would work and you would receive a revenue from it. So, I mean, you've got cash in. Well, now people are thinking truly about what's the cost of having that job. And so the equation is shifted and it's, you know, if I'm going to be going into that, well, what am I giving up? Am I giving up time with a family? Am I giving up some portion of myself? Am I liquidating my personal values and beliefs in order to work at this place? And they're just not necessarily willing to do that anymore? I wouldn't say not necessarily.
Paul Farmer: [00:05:57] It's less about money and it's more about how they feel about where they're spending their time. Covid has provided an opportunity for people to sit back and go, well, you know, what? Am I truly spending my time where I want to spend it, or am I choosing to spend it where I'm getting paid but am I really happy because now the job market has opened up. Whereas if you're a skilled, highly skilled, individual or leader, the opportunities are everywhere. Less about being in a space where it is constantly, you have limited options. Now it's like a smorgasbord of everything from a worker's perspective it's opened up. From a leader perspective it's become more challenging because now we're in a space where that option of asking people to work 50 to 60 hours a week unquestioned has become more challenging. And so as leaders, as you mentioned before, our job is to try and work out how we get our vision and strategy delivered with the capacity that we have in our organization. And it's what's our capacity, which may have changed.
Tim Sweet: [00:07:09] Yeah. And the notion of capacity has changed as well. I mean, originally it was, do we have enough headcount to do the work that's required? And then we get a little more sophisticated and we said, do we have enough skilled headcount to be doing what we need to be doing? And we could add that in. If it's taught me anything over the last three years, it's that we have to start looking at capacity differently and saying it's not just about capacity and skill and maybe discretionary performance within that person. It's also willing capacity. Is that person approaching the work with a real generosity and willingness because it fits with what they want, right? They're being fulfilled by the work. And so when we look at the resources that we have within an organization, are they the people that really want to be doing that thing because they're going to be that much more productive or happy doing it and feel better doing it?
Paul Farmer: [00:08:05] What you've just highlighted, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It's, you know, seek first to understand before being understood. When we get an understanding of what drives those that are in our organization, we get an understanding of how we're able to tap into that to help them see how they can help us achieve what it is that we're looking to achieve. So if we stand there and tell them what to do, that may not align and they're going to go, Well, hang on, you're telling me what to do? You're telling me I'll have to work 60 hours a week? For what purpose? They're going to challenge it because we are asking them to give up their thing that, or something in their space that truly matters to them. And so now people are pushing back saying, well, no, my contract says that I do 40 hours a week being in a space where we're understanding what drives them helps us be able to understand how we can be in a space where we can, as leaders, we can work in a way that aligns with them but also aligns with how do we get the best out of them so they get what they want, we get what we want, and it's a win-win, which is another, I think, win-win. So in that space it's creating an opportunity to say, Well, okay, as a business - and the three things that pop up as a business owner, business leader - is looking at the three areas, one is clients and workflow. Historically, it's been all about more, more, more, more, more. Yeah, growth is only growth if we are getting bigger.
Tim Sweet: [00:09:47] Versus bigger in the right ways with the right people.
Paul Farmer: [00:09:50] And so at the moment, what I'm finding is resetting, resetting hashtag growth. What is growth to a business owner, to a business, to a leader? What is growth over the next 12 months? Because at the moment what I'm starting to find is that's shifting because if we look at the capacity of our team, for example, it's changing. But if our expectations of growth do not change, then we're going to be in a space where we're going, well, hang on. For example, a business I was talking to, they wanted to go from 12 people to 20 people in the next 12 months. But they haven't been able to add one person in the last year and a half. So the expectation for them was frustration because we will have 20 people by the end of 12 months. I said, for what purpose? At the moment you're already challenged with how much time you spend with your family. You're already challenged by delivering what you're trying to deliver now. I said, How is adding another 7 people to your team, how is that going to give you a business that you feel better in? Anyway. Well, if you're not growing, you're going backwards. I said, Well, sometimes you've got to traverse the mountain to be able to go again. And so in that space the conversation was what does growth actually mean now? What does growth mean? And I look at the leadership space and if the business owner is trying to add $10 million to their turnover, but they don't have the capital to be able to deliver $10 million of extra work, then is that growth aligned with the organization that we have at the moment? And the pressure, I use pressure deliberately, because the pressure is going to come back to the leaders to be able to get more out of their teams. But their teams are going to go, you know what, no, I'm not going to do 50, 60 hours a week. And so middle management - business owners have expectations, the people below them have expectations - the middle management are the ones that are getting squeezed because they're the ones that are going to have to be delivering growth. But growth in the old view of growth as opposed to the new view of growth. And then you've got to manage the expectations which are based on the new version of growth for people in the business. But we haven't actually reset any alignment. So the people in the middle are in that element where they're going, well, we're trying to deliver for the owner, but then also we're trying to deliver for the people and we're in the middle of going, Well, there's a misalignment with what's going on in this space. So the leadership space, I'll call it middle management, that space there, unless we actually step back and reset what growth means as an organization then there's going to be a misalignment and the leaders are the ones that are going to get caught. They're going to get hammered because the expectations are they will deliver this. At what cost?
Tim Sweet: [00:12:59] We've seen that very clearly. I mean, the pressure is on middle management right now because they have, over the last 2 or 3 years, supplemented a lot of the needs of their employees. And they have also said yes and they've shown that they've been the layer that traditionally has shown that grit. We always hire for grit. The person that's going to stick it out when things get tough, show up for that 60 hour week. And so they're also the ones that are getting burned out or they are leaving. And in many cases, they're getting scapegoated for when things aren't changing. And as we move towards, you know, a new balance, a redefinition of growth, for instance, or scale in business, it's funny because as you're talking, I'm thinking back to my days in total quality management and we were looking at, you know, when we start to design a product or we start to design a process, we have to not just look at what the outcome of that process is, but is that outcome tailored to the qualities, plural, that we want to see out of that product? And we have to start thinking about both the leadership experience and the employment experience and the strategy of the business in terms of what's the business outcome by the true qualities that it actually possesses.
Tim Sweet: [00:14:20] So if we're going to say, you know, how do we define what growth is in an organization, what does that actually mean? What does it feel like? What does it look like? Is it size? Is that growth? Is it number of customers or is it quality of customers? Is it average revenue, whatever that is? And then we get into saying the same thing, well, what is the employment experience going to look like? And then most importantly, to myself and my clients, what is the leadership experience going to look like? Is it going to look like you're able to build the team around you that's going to be, you know, happy and healthy and showing up fulfilled and ready to work. And it is in balance with what they want to see out of life.
Paul Farmer: [00:15:03] We get to choose. So I'll put a business owner hat on. We get to choose the feeling that comes into the business. Yeah. So there are three areas that I see that have the biggest ability to influence, that, is - and again, we choose these areas - but one is the clients and the workflow. Who are our clients? Now, historically, we may have had a certain client who was our ideal client, but that may have shifted because our previous ideal client may be labor-intensive. Our new ideal client may be the client that takes less labor but adds the same value. What's to say that traditionally we've worked with a certain type of client, what's to say that that client continues to be an ideal client? Now maybe there's an element that we haven't reset an expectation from an existing client. And this comes back from our leaders. And I've had a conversation with a business owner last week, and they're in a space where their product is shifting consistently. So in that space they have clients who previously had a certain product, but that shifted in six months, whereas previously it would have been a seven-year product. So resetting who their ideal clients are, the ones that are able to take on constant change and the ones that want to be updated whenever there's an update, they become your ideal client as opposed to the set and forget. So the change in the client and the workflow in that space is looking at it to say, well, do we have to do as much or is there a way to be able to have more but not have to do more?
Paul Farmer: [00:16:55] Now that workflow and client ideal client space is resetting that space to go if we want to turn over $10 million and we've done it with a certain, let's say we did it with, you know, ten clients, a million bucks a year each client, then what's to say that we have to continue with ten clients at a million bucks a year? What if we were to have five clients at 2 million bucks a year? Do we need the same capacity as ten, but with five? We could end up with the same amount. We reset our expectations because we have a capacity that's set. So looking at our business from a capacity perspective and going, well, if we're in a space where it's challenging to find extra capacity, then look at the capacity we've got and say, well, how do we make this work for us? And so top one, clients and workflow. That for me we have the ability to be able to look at our client base and go, Who are our people? That may have shifted during Covid, that may have reassessed? Historically, these are our clients, but then we look at it now and go, Well, actually we're moving into a different area or we're attracting different types of clients, or we're in a space where we go, Well, we want to be able to attract clients that have extra value, but don't take extra resources because we don't have extra resources at this point in time.
Paul Farmer: [00:18:21] That's number one. Number two is our team. So our team, who's on board, the type of people that are on board, the environment that we're providing that gives them the ability to feel like something that's bigger than just them. They are not a profit center. They don't turn up, do a job and leave. You know, some people want to do that, because - and I had this conversation two weeks ago - there was a guy who said, oh, there's a guy on my team, he turns up, does his job and leaves. And I said, So what's the problem? And he said, Well, you know, I want him to step into a leadership role and whatever. I said, Do you understand what's going on in his space outside of work? And he went No, not really. I said, So can I ask you to find out? Anyway, next time I spoke to him, he said, Oh, he said, he's got four kids. His wife has just finished up a job and she's about to start another one. And he's in a space where he has to spend time picking the kids up so he can't work longer.
Paul Farmer: [00:19:22] So outside of work, there's a bunch of stuff going on that means that his time is valuable not just for the business but for himself. And so the business owner hadn't made time to find out what was going on in this person's space. All he assumed was what he saw, which was this person's not performing. So digging a little deeper and getting an understanding of what's happening in people's spaces outside of work, it's not I want to know about your personal life. It's just I want to understand that if there's stuff outside of work that is influencing your capacity at work, then I just want to be in a space where I get it. Are there ways that we may be able to structure things or help you in a way to ensure that, you know, when we're at work, we would like everyone to be at 100%? If there's stuff that we can help with, then let us help because we want someone who turns up that's running on all cylinders. And if it's not, then we want to be in a space where we can provide an environment where you feel comfortable, there's trust, and we're there to help you because we want you to be successful. And it may be that there's stuff outside of work that's impacting work. We just want to come from a space of help. That's two.
Tim Sweet: [00:20:43] Yep. So clients and workflow, number one.
Paul Farmer: [00:20:45] Client workflow, number one. Team, number two. And your role either as a business owner or as a leader. What is your role? Because when you are clear about what your role is and what you are doing, then it allows you to be able to choose what you do in your space. So where you're choosing to do stuff, whether it's consciously or subconsciously, whether you're choosing to do stuff that isn't in your wheelhouse, then often that then starts to eat away at your ability to bring a feeling into the business, which is a feeling of I feel like I feel great, I feel awesome, I love what I'm doing, whatever. Looking at your role and going, Well, what is it that I can bring to my role? Or what are the elements that are challenging me and can I have a conversation about those elements with those that are either in the business or those that may be outside the business. So, for example, you look at leadership in a space. If I'm in an environment where I feel part of something bigger than me and there is trust, then I'm in a space where I feel like I can ask for help. Because I feel like I'm not good enough pops up and I'm going to get sacked because I'm not good enough in my job. Whereas being in a space to reach out to a leadership coach, a leadership specialist, to be in that space, to say, well, you know, these are the expectations and there's a couple of things that are challenging me, but I don't feel like that's something that within the workspace I want to chat to someone about, that's where someone external becomes really valuable because you can have it in a safe space to help you keep moving forward. So those three things, those three things are the things that I see. We can choose how we deal with those three, which will influence the feeling that we bring into the business and the business will reflect the clients and the workflow, the team, and our roles as leaders.
Tim Sweet: [00:22:51] As you're speaking, one of the thoughts that keeps crossing my mind is people know that things have changed over the last three years. There's very few people that don't feel impacted by Covid. And I think it's pretty well known that most people have gone through, you know, a great deal of introspection, thinking about how they want to live their lives, rebalancing for themselves what's important. And yet we return to work, we return to these strategies, and we may be trying to hold up strategies that were crafted in the old way. And if we've got employees and leaders and customers that have changed, we have supply chains that have changed. We have access to capital that's changed. We have technology that's changed. All of this stuff has shifted. And in many ways it's shifted for the better. And the notion of grit and the exchange between how long I'm going to spend at work and what I'm going to get out of it and what it's going to cost me has all changed. From that perspective, it's logical that businesses have to shift to say how we are actually calculating the business and designing the business to produce value for everyone in that grand win, has to be reconsidered and we have to approach it with the same level of introspection, openness, and creativity that we have given ourselves. And if these businesses are the children of the people that created them and those that nurture them, then of course they're going to change too. As we talk on here, I think we still have people that are struggling to catch up, that are trying to do it the old way, that are plagued by limiting beliefs and myth and a feeling of security about it's always been done this way. And they're trying to hold on to that.
Paul Farmer: [00:24:47] If you don't reset, then you can hold on to the historical. That's what you've known, that's what you know, and that's what you go, Well, no, nothing's changed, we'll just keep doing, we'll keep everything the same as what it was before. Then what you're starting to find is the mismatch between the business expectations and the team's expectations are like this. And so then, as I say, then you get a mismatch. And if the definition of growth isn't reshaped, then what you find is that in the middle there's a middle manager. And as you said before, middle managers are the ones that are, you know, taking, from a metaphorical term, they're taking the beating of a mismatch because they're having to manage a mismatch. Now, depending on the size of the organization, you're going to have shareholders that want the targets that were there previously and they're going to want all of the return and all that sort of stuff, which is a different beast again. However, being in a space to be able to say, well, you know what, if we said $10 million turnover is what we wanted, then we can still suggest that $10 million turnover is, we can see for that. But let's shift the way that we look at getting there. Does it have to be ten and a million? Can it be five at 2 million or, you know, whatever it is? But if we try to keep putting a square peg in a round hole because the hole's always been round, then who loses? You're going to lose really good people because they're going to take a hammering for not hitting an old version of growth.
Tim Sweet: [00:26:32] So when I'm taking leadership teams, if we're doing strategy work and we're trying to get ready for change, we're trying to disrupt so that they can think differently, my first protocol is always to go out and gather perspectives from around their business, and then we put those in the middle and we say, this is where everybody's minds are at. And if we can get very, very clear on what that is, we usually see what can or cannot work moving forward. And that's usually for myself, that's one of the first steps I use to really say, the future you thought you were going to have is not the one you're going to get. Because just look at where everybody's minds are, including your own. Tell me a little bit about if you run into an owner who is still, you know, got an iron grip on the past. What are some of the tools or some of the conversations you have to really shake them up?
Paul Farmer: [00:27:32] I had this conversation two weeks, I was down in Melbourne, and I had this conversation with a business owner who, and to be honest, they were the example was wanting to go from 13 to 20 trucks on the road. That's what their view of growth was. And so I was like, okay, well, for what purpose do you want 20 trucks on the road? And they said, well, you know, it'll this, this, this, this, this and this. And I said, okay, well that's great, but what if you could have that without having to add 7 trucks? They went, What do you mean? I said, Well, what says? I said, at the moment, what's the biggest thing that you are challenged with in your space? And he said, Finding people said, No, it's not. I said, You've got good people. The challenge is you don't have enough time to spend with your family. And he went quiet and he went, Oh, actually, yeah, you're right. I said, So how's adding 7 people to your business going to give you more time with your family? I said, You got 7 more people to deal with. You've got to add an extra admin person. You've got to add all of this onto your business.
Paul Farmer: [00:28:38] So can I ask you one question is what is the business that you actually want? What is it? Is it 13? Is it 17? Or is it a business that allows you to choose where you spend your time and allows you to be able to choose to spend more time with your family? Because at the moment, that's the thing that is lacking and that's the thing that's driving you to add more people so you can spend more time at home. But you add more people, you're going to spend more time away because then you've got to get more clients and all of this. I said, So what if we reshaped your space and said, well, what is your definition of growth over the next 12 months? And he said being able to spend more time at home. I said, does that need more people? And he said, no. I said, what if you could get 5%, 5% extra profit out of the current team that you have at the moment? For whichever way, whether it's your mark up or whatever. I said, what if you get 5% extra on a $5 million business?
Tim Sweet: [00:29:47] With five hours more with your family.
Paul Farmer: [00:29:51] True. I said, So profitability is one. So that's, you know, 5% of a decent number is a decent number. But then also you get the ability to be able to choose to have Friday off or have Monday off or be in a space where you can choose to take a day off, which means you work four days a week. But at the same time, you're in a space where you don't have to manage an extra 7 people. And the final question I asked him, I said, Would you like to be able to become a consultant to your business? And he went, Oh, and his shoulders dropped and he said, Oh, yeah, but I can't do that. And I said, no. I said, I'm not saying now. I said, Would you like to be in a space where you are not part of your business, you choose where you spend your time in your business. And he went, Oh, that'd be awesome. I said, So look at your business. You've already got the basics to be able to make that happen. I said create it as though you're not there. And who will be doing, if not me, then who? Who'll be doing what you want him to do? So running a strategy day, for example, is sitting down with a business and going, Well, let's be 100% honest with ourselves. What is it that we actually want this thing to be? Do we want to find more people? Do we want more people? If the answer is yes, then that's okay. However, for what purpose? What do you want, more profit? Yes. Well, what if we could add efficiencies to the way that we currently operate? Or what if we were to look at our client base and go, Well, you know what, 50% of our client base is on our old pricing. What if we had a conversation about what it is that we have done historically and say, well, we're going to be honest, we need to reset the basis on which we operate because that's, you know, 1970s pricing. So if we revisited that and say, well, you'll get more value because we're choosing to not go exponentially more people, we're going to give our existing client base better value, which means that they are potentially prepared to pay bit more for that. If not, then at least we're having a conversation with them around, you know what, things have moved on. Yeah. Reset.
Tim Sweet: [00:32:13] Yeah. There's a whole nother mind shift there in terms of playing with that example, if you were to have that conversation with your client and the client said, No, we're here because of the price. If you then choose to say yes to that, well, you've just determined your own worth and you truly are stuck.
Paul Farmer: [00:32:30] And potentially you're not valuing yourself. You're choosing to value the relationship more than what your value is. Because if you were to say no, for example, if you were to go back and say this is what it looks like, then it's interesting how some people can be in your space forever. But some people may not be in your space forever. Yeah. So you look at an element to say, well, we've got a potential client that, you know, let's say your charge out rate's 200 bucks an hour. Yeah. Historically it's been 200 but because of the fact that now our business has grown and our expertise has grown and we deliver better value or whatever, you know, that $200 has gone to $400. Then if someone's only prepared to pay $200 for what is more valuable, then they become price driven. And are your ideal clients price driven? No, they're value driven. So potentially you may have outgrown them. And the value that you offer has outgrown what they're prepared to pay for. So maybe they become someone else's clients, not your clients. And so from a leadership perspective, dealing in that space is, it's challenging because you've got a relationship, but also if there's an expectation that you'll continue to hit targets and there's a conversation that comes up about an existing client who has delivered consistent quantity, to then go, Well, hang on, our pricing is half what it should be, but we're getting consistent quantities, then as a middle manager, are we going to be in a space where the expectation is that, for example, the work may not be the type of work we want to do, but there's a historical legacy relationship there. So then the people doing the work aren't going to be happy. Then you've got middle management who are dealing with it and they're not hitting or they're not contributing to their targets as they could be if they said no to that person, but said yes to someone else at the new rate. So they're in a space where they feel like there's a ceiling on what they can do. But then the owners are sitting there going, Well, the expectation is you'll deliver at this level and you'll deliver this, this, this and this, which may be the old style of growth. If we don't go back and have a, what I classify as having an adult conversation, you say, just going to be honest, this was the price back then.
Paul Farmer: [00:35:02] We've moved on and the value that we offer has increased. We offer better value. Now if we're in that space, then if we value ourselves, it will be the price will be the price. If the price is a little out of someone's league, then maybe, just maybe, we may have outgrown them in the value that we offer and what they're prepared to pay for. Either they come on board or it's a conversation to say, well, you know, if we choose to keep them at the same pricing because they have a massive volume, that's our choice. But at the same time, the question of for what purpose do we continue to allow them to have the old rate? Because if they have the old rate, then anyone they know is also going to want the old rate. Oh, but they're on that rate. So well, things have moved on, but they're getting that rate. All of a sudden if we choose to not value ourselves, then they will take us on their journey as opposed to us taking them on our journey.
Tim Sweet: [00:36:03] People have turned their lives to deliver what they believe they deserve. And as we said before, people are spending in different ways and they're deciding how they want to work. We have to consider every element of the business from the customer landscape through to, you know, the processes that we use and the policies we deploy and how we organize around the work with that same lens, with that same level of discernment, and say, you know, we've done the work over here. We've had the adult conversation already in our homes, around our table with ourselves, and we cannot avoid having that same level of introspection or analysis done in the business side. It deserves it and it'll never furnish us what we need as our new selves if we try to maintain the old. It has to be up for conversation. Up for debate.
Paul Farmer: [00:37:01] And I'll be honest, at the moment I'm finding so many business owners are getting frustrated that the business isn't what it was. They're not getting from the business what they were getting from it previously. It's changed. The dynamic of the business has changed. You know, it used to be double-digit growth and we could find people and whatever. Certainly down here, anyway. It's the element, the access to human capital has changed. Now it's in a space where the frustration is coming up that we can't find enough good people to do what it is that we want to do. But that's based on what we wanted to do with the people that we had previously. We're not resetting.
Tim Sweet: [00:37:44] You had mentioned Paul Ferneyhough earlier. We're both big fans. We love that guy. And having worked for him and experienced him as a leader, you know, lots of fond memories. But when we were working together in Australia, I don't know if you remember, but I likely would have used this video in one of my sessions and that was students at MIT had designed this bike and the bike had square wheels and it could roll just like any normal bike if the road was a series of half circles. And the distance of the half radius was the length of one side of the square. Right? And so you could change. And I think what's happened here is we've realized just how much we've had to shape ourselves for this style of work. And we don't want to be square wheels anymore. But unfortunately, now the business is kicking back because we designed the wheels for the road and not the road for the wheels. And so now we have to stop and say it is not a sacred cow. It's not something we cannot touch. We have to look at it and say the answer is not to find more grit and work faster and work harder and keep all the clients and add 7 more trucks. And all these things were sort of the original assumptions. It's to back it up and say, What road do we want to be on here, folks?
Paul Farmer: [00:39:13] Let's design a bike that can go on multiple roads. And it isn't just for one road, but we also, and the word, the key word that you said before, was stop. If you don't stop and look at the road ahead, if you don't stop and look at where you are at the moment and go, well, what bike do we need? Do we still want to have a bike with square wheels? So that means that we can only go on roads that have, that are shaped like that, or do we look at it and say, well, what if we looked at our bike and say, well, do we need a racer? Maybe we need a mountain bike, but with round wheels, which means that we can go on that road, we can go on this road. We can choose any road we want to, but it fits into us and our space because we're focusing on our bike, not what other people expect us or the bike that we had previously.
Tim Sweet: [00:40:05] When we back that up, then when we think about those leaders who are having trouble with the transformation. One of my mentors, Donald Cormier, always says all change means loss, right? And when you have people that have made their careers about riding real fast over this road that was built for square wheels, suddenly now that's how they found success. They were experts at the old game. And so I feel that part of that resistance to open the books and look deeply at what we can change and what beliefs we can challenge, you know, they were experts at that game. And if I lose that confidence and that surety that I'm going to win at the new game, it's tough.
Paul Farmer: [00:40:54] That's based on fear.
Tim Sweet: [00:40:56] Yep, 100%.
Paul Farmer: [00:40:59] If you sit in the space where you go, well, you know what, and let's say infinite possibilities, but in challenge there is opportunity. So if I was in a space where I was the expert at the square-wheeled bike and all of a sudden the square wheel bike is going to become obsolete, what's the opportunity for me to look at my expertise and go, Well, how do I apply that in another space where they want to leverage the fact that they are a business that have a square wheel bike and they want to be able to change from the square wheel to the round wheel? Well I'm an expert in a square wheel, so I can say, well, this is what I know. And then, well, what would you need to change to be able to translate that into the new one? Well, this, this, this and this. And all of a sudden you become a transformational expert because you're the expert in the old, but you become really valuable because those that are wanting to change, you can look at it and say, well, this is how we change. There is opportunity in challenge.
Tim Sweet: [00:41:55] Oh, for sure. And if they are only looking at what they're going to lose, there's no abundance. If they say, Yeah, we're going to lose some stuff, but look what we can gain. And we open up the horizon and say, this is what's possible, and I really do like what you said earlier in the conversation around, you know, what are we really after? Are we defining growth wrong, and are we assuming that we've got one way to get there? Trucks, rather than saying if growth means more time with the family, we've got to ask better questions, we have to actually question whether or not we're trying to solve something with the right solution, but to the wrong problem. We need to check what's the problem we're really after here.
Paul Farmer: [00:42:38] Looking at it and going, well, what does growth really mean to us? And be 100% honest with ourselves and go, what is growth? What do we want this thing to turn into, say, in 12 months time? And be honest and say, well, this is what it looks like.
Tim Sweet: [00:42:52] Your advice from earlier, just to recap here, as we sort of wrap up, three places to look at. We're going to look at clients, if you're an owner or you're a leader, let's open the books on, you know, clients and the workflow that we use with those clients and to satisfy them. And are we doing that in ways that are based on historical assumptions? Could those be opened up and look at them different ways? The team, is the team functioning in a way we expect the team to function? Are there behaviors, the correct behaviors? Is the team crafted around the new way of work? And potentially have we outgrown some of the members of that team? But, you know, we don't always look there first. But still, is the team makeup right?
Paul Farmer: [00:43:34] Do we understand what their space looks like?
Tim Sweet: [00:43:38] Yes. And the empathy. Yeah, for sure.
Paul Farmer: [00:43:41] That also is a massive piece as well.
Tim Sweet: [00:43:43] Great. And then the leader or the leader owner, what are they expecting? What are they, what are their current challenges? What are they, how do they see themselves?
Paul Farmer: [00:43:53] What's their role?
Tim Sweet: [00:43:54] Yeah, what's their role? And I always like to use the word fluent. Are they fluent in how they work and how they want to work, what they do and how they add value, how they bring genius to the table. Right? But can they assess that and is that tuned properly, each one of those three things? Well, that's really great, Paul.
Paul Farmer: [00:44:14] All of that will influence the feeling in the business. Because if you have good clients and good workflow, if you've got a good team and your leaders and owners are clear on what their roles are, then if you've got those elements there, then that creates an opportunity for the business to feel good, which means that when the business feels good, you're working with good clients, doing good work with good people and there's clarity around the roles of the leaders. But then it also, that gives the team line of sight of what it could mean for them because they could be going, Well if, an example just quickly, the example popped up that, you know, people were finding it hard to have people who quality people to step up into that leadership space, into a partnership space and I said, well, I'll be honest, why would they? You work 60 hours a week, you do weekend work, you're always at the office. I said, Why would someone want to pay to be in that space to buy equity so they can do that? I said, No way. I said, Your role, you have to be clear, but everyone has to be clear about what your role is. You get to choose the stuff you want to do. I said, Because if we want people to step up into your role one day, we've got to make it as though they want to step into it, not I don't want to touch that with a 60 foot stick because that is, I don't want that. Yet that's what they, the message they were having people aspire to. You can you can be like us. You want me to buy into something where I've got to do 60 hour days and spend no time with the family?
Tim Sweet: [00:45:50] Hard pass.
Paul Farmer: [00:45:51] Yeah. No thanks. No, thanks.
Tim Sweet: [00:45:53] Yeah. We'll wrap this up, but there's something that I want us to kick around next time, and I'm going to make a big note for myself here, and that is, businesses are still hanging on to these old notions or these old arguments because I think they're easy to talk about. And you said the word honesty. They mask that honest conversation, that conversation we need to be having. And so, like typical ones would be something along the lines of, well, okay, it's the economy or it's the cash flow crunch or it's our capacity with trucks as we talk about, we keep kicking that example around. You know, businesses can have this boogeyman that they always refer to. And it keeps us from actually looking at the real issue, right? So if we're always, you know, lamenting why we're not doing, why we don't have the staff we need, they're not working hard enough. They're not at their desks early enough or whatever. It's masking the real issue. And we have to get down to what do we really need to be talking about? Maybe it's not capacity of trucks, it's actually, you know, are we working in a way that helps people feel the way they want.
Paul Farmer: [00:47:02] The element in that space comes back to taking 100% responsibility for what it is and having what it is that you want. You know, we don't need to do anything. But the space is that if we want a business that feels good, then these are the things that we look at. Now, it's not we don't have enough people. It's like, well, we have what we have. So why wish, the three wise men wishing, waiting and hoping? Yeah. Why wish we had something else? Let's look at what we actually have. Look at the business and go, Well, let's reshape it. Let's work with what we have with a view that if we can then add extra people, then we can then upsize what we're doing. But let's be honest, we don't have an extra 7 people. So why wish, wait, and hope and blame everything else? If we took 100% responsibility for everything that was in our space, regardless of whether we create it or not, look at it and go, We have 13 people.
Tim Sweet: [00:48:03] What can we do smarter, or...
Paul Farmer: [00:48:06] What can we do smarter now to create it, to still create growth? But maybe we're in a space where rather than going up the tree, we can traverse, we can add extra value, which will then give us time to breathe, which will then allow us to say when the right people come along, then we might be able to incrementally grow.
Tim Sweet: [00:48:24] Yeah, it may not be intuitive right now for that team, but maybe we need to change the nature of your intuition and then things won't seem so logical or so constraining. Awesome, Paul. Well, thank you very much for spending the time with me. It's always enjoyable.
Paul Farmer: [00:48:41] Thank you, sir. Always a pleasure. Always a pleasure. I hope things continue to be great up in the Northern Hemisphere. And I may be up September time. Maybe. Let's see.
Tim Sweet: [00:48:53] We're going to have to put some beef on the barbecue for you.
Paul Farmer: [00:48:56] Sounds good.
Tim Sweet: [00:48:56] All right. All right, Paul, best wishes. We'll talk soon.
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