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At the heart of 3Q are three simple questions.
No one “owns” these questions.
They’re in the public domain.
You’re probably already using them.
Here they are…
How are you
How are we
How can I help
You can randomly use these three questions in any setting you like. You can even try them at home with your kids. They’ll love it. The 3Q Check In System is not random. It’s an easy to use but highly structured process. You should test the 3 Questions before you sign up for the 3Q Check In System. That will give you the opportunity to see how powerful these questions can be especially when packaged together and used consistently.
One of our new clients wanted to test the efficacy of these questions before engaging the full 3Q Check In System. He recounted his experience to me in this recent conversation.
“When I asked my employee How Are We it was an interesting moment, she paused and then began telling me a long story about how difficult it had been to work with the person who previously held my position as her supervisor”
I asked my client if it mattered to him if he “lost” this person, meaning would it make his work more difficult if she were to quit her position?
“Yes, that would not be good, I like her work ethic and would not want to see her go but after this conversation I realized that we had been closer to the likelihood of that happening than I had realized”
I asked him if he already knew this information or if it had been uncovered primarily as a result of asking her the How Are We question?
“No, I had no idea how close we were to losing her and I don’t think I would have figured it out I hadn’t asked this question”
My client then said the words every entrepreneur lives to hear: “I’m sold”!
Obviously results vary depending upon the situation, but all in all this is the kind of feedback we hear fairly regularly from our clients.
The 3Q adoption process looks like this
Try out the Three Questions randomly
Test drive The 3Q Check In System for 90 days
They contract with us for full support
If you’d like to learn how to consistently deliver attention to your employees and volunteers, get in touch. We can help. It’s what we do.
If you can’t walk on water, take a boat!
Jesus is famous for walking on water, but he only did that once. Most of the time he took a boat. He hid himself in ordinariness. He exhibited his power by not appearing powerful. This practice confused his followers; frustrated his critics and attracted ordinary people.
Charismatic leaders do not a great company make.
Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, says
...we were surprised, really shocked to discover the type of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one. Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good-to-great leaders seem to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy - these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates than Patton or Caesar.
How would you feel if there was an airplane crash everyday?
It was 1700 and England had a problem. Her naval ships were getting lost at sea. They lacked a way to accurately determine their location, specifically, their latitude.
It was THE problem of their era, like a daily airplane crash would feel to us.
The King offered $1M to whoever could solve the problem
Ideas surfaced – barking dogs, flying birds and stars
A clockmaker, named John Harrison, thought he had the solution -- invent an oceangoing clock that could sustain atmospheric changes - like rolling decks - and still manage to keep time.
Why? Because “everybody knew” if you could tell time at sea and knew the time in London, you could find your latitude.
The problem? No one thought it was possible to invent a clock that worked at sea, thus the barking dogs, flying birds and stars.
Harrison's first attempt was a grandfather sized clock. After 40 years of testing, he shrunk it down to a pocket-sized watch. We know it today as the chronometer.
Seriously, creative people will tell you everything is trying really hard to be crappy, but if you persist you can get it right.
The astronomers mocked him, the academics sabotaged him, but ultimately, he won part of the prize and invented the world’s first chronometer. With that navigational device in their pockets, the British Navy was able to expand its empire around the world.
Simple ideas are usually the best ideas.
I Don't Have Time...
"I don’t have time," is the #1 reason managers offer for why they don’t check-in with their direct reports consistently.
Here are others…
I’m too busy doing the work.
Leaders exist in organizations to facilitate the work, not do the work.
I don’t want to play favorites.
Leaders exist in organizations to decide who does and who doesn’t get their attention.
I don’t like taking notes.
“Equally important is what “writing it down” symbolizes…the act implies a commitment, like a handshake, that something will be done. The supervisor…can then follow up at the next one-on-one.” Andy Grove founder of Intel.
I don’t need coaching.
Then, you aren’t a serious leader. You aren’t even a good manager.
What can possibly be accomplished in a once a month 30 minute meeting?
Only you can answer that question. Try it for 3 months. If it doesn’t help then stop doing 3Qs, but only after you’ve tried it for 3 months in a row.
Here’s what we know for sure.
“When a manager doesn’t meet with employees one-on-one at all… Employees are four times as likely to be disengaged as individual contributors as a whole, and are two times as likely to view leadership more unfavorably compared to those who meet with their managers regularly." Harvard Business Review
How To Attract Top Talent
The Guardian Life Insurance Company recently published the 4 top trends in the future of work.
Here are two that caught my attention.
“Implement non-traditional recruitment strategies to unearth new talent.”
Spot talent that’s hiding out in the open. In your next 3Q ask, “who’s a rising star in your department?” or “who’s someone you think could really help us become a stronger organization?”
Start 3Q'ing your volunteer coordinators – the people who help you connect with the volunteers that show up to help. Ask them this question and you may discover your next new hire for the organization or your next volunteer coordinator.
“Implement a change management strategy that… can help overcome barriers such as poor communication and organizational silos.”
Who are 3 employees or volunteers you absolutely don’t want to lose?
What are their names?
Send them an invite to the 3Q Check-In System. You need them and they need you. You need to know what they’re thinking.
Listen closely to their answers to the 3 Questions
How are you?
How are we?
How can I help?
3Q is a change management strategy that’s doable for anyone in your organization that cares about overcoming barriers, avoiding silos, and growing as a leader.
You don’t need another seminar. You need a simple set of practices you can implement immediately. That’s 3Q
Lead With Your Ears
I heard a marketing expert explain how he approached communicating an idea. He broke it into three discreet, but interlocking stages - Shell, System, Story.
I make part of my living as a painting contractor. In that capacity I can tell you that far more dramatic design, trim, and window work is located on the front of the house than the other three sides. Which is also why, car and toothpaste companies rent celebrities to front their products, and book covers and titles are such big business. Maybe we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but publishers clearly don’t believe we're going to stop anytime soon.
One of the main reasons we buy a new car is for cool looks, but if the car doesn’t have normal “car” features such as a steering wheel, turn signals, and cup holders; no matter how cool it looks people aren’t going to buy it. If you go to a concert and your seat number says A23, you expect to have seat A23 available when you arrive, regardless of whether you want to stand up and dance in the aisle all night. When you’re done, you expect to have seat A23 available for you. That’s the system at work. If it works you may not notice. If it doesn’t, you may jump on Yelp.
3Q Check-in is a system, an organized process for helping a business create a self-replicating network of one-on-one meetings for employees, staff and volunteers. It’s scripted and designed so anyone can follow, but that’s not the 3Q Story. The 3Q story is learn how to Lead With Your Ears. We do physical exercise, but none of us care about doing 10 sit-ups or 25 push-ups. We care about feeling good and looking good. The story is "workout and look good."
The 3Q Check-in System gives you a path to walk on so you can experience Leading With Your Ears. That’s the story.
Practice Being The Last To Speak
I'm not much for motivational speakers. I think they're overrated. They inspire, but often fail to instruct.
This 1:39 video with Simon Sinek is definitely motivational and points toward an answer. What's missing in this talk and others like it are the "how-tos" the "practical steps."
For example, Sinek tells leaders to be the last to speak. He admits that it's hard. Where are the instructions for how to do this hard thing — or in my 3Q parlance — "Where's the salt shaker?"
3Q makes this hard thing easy simply by "requiring" that the 3Q leader do three things.
1. Ask questions
2. Take notes
3. Set a date for the next check-in.
I really love Sinek's ideas, but I love 3Q more.
As leaders, we won't change until we're forced to, either by circumstances or a self imposed system.
3Q is our forcing function that insures we pay attention to the people we're supervising, managing and leading.
The 3Q Check-In System provides leaders a methodology that insures they are the last to speak!
You Have an Open Door Policy … Is Anyone Walking In?
It seems that many of us were taught that our job is to hang a shingle, send out a few emails, post something on Facebook ... and wait.
“If you need something just ask,” that’s what we tell people when we happen to run into them, or as we’re quickly exiting a staff meeting.
"My door is open. It’s the employees, staff, and volunteers job to come to me, if they need something."
Joey Reimar, in his wonderfully cut-to-the-chase-way, says, “Spend time with your employees. Your time is part of their salary, not a bonus.”
Spend time with your employees.
Your time is part of their salary, not a bonus.
— Joey Reimar
It’s our job as supervisors, managers, and leaders to “plan” to run into our staff.
It’s our job to specifically, invite people to come through the door we have left open.
It’s our job to ”pay” attention to them religiously, because our time isn’t a bonus. Its part of their salary.
If You Want to be Great…
We were surprised, really shocked to discover the type of leadership required for turning a good company into a great one. Compared to high-profile leaders with big personalities who make headlines and become celebrities, the good to great leaders seem to have come from Mars. Self-effacing, quiet, reserved, even shy, these leaders are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates, than Patton or Caesar. — Jim Collins, Good to Great, p.13
You can’t pay people enough to be great.
When it came to the money incentive, Collins' team discovered that, if anything, the leaders of good to great companies came up a little short when compared to their peers in the underperforming comparison companies.
We found no systematic pattern linking executive compensation to the process of going from good to great.
The only significant difference we found was that good to great executives received slightly less total cash compensation. — Jim Collins, Good to Great, p.49
The good to great leaders are "a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They are more like Lincoln and Socrates, than Patton or Caesar." 3Q won't infuse the desire to be that sort of leader in someone with a preference for tyranny. But 3Q is an extraordinary tool in the hands of a leader working to blend personal humility and professional will.
Please Say Thank You
Thank you for contributing to our organizational life.
Thank you for taking our mission and goals seriously.
Thank you for trusting me with your challenges and insights.
Thank you for following through with your commitments.
Thank you for going the extra mile.
Thank you for helping us build a listening culture in our organization.
Thank you for helping me understand how to improve my performance as a leader.