A lot of the people that I work with now are exceptional at what they do, but they may struggle to get other people in their organization to be able to do it, because they haven’t codified the success protocols that would allow them to say, “okay, this is how we perform this task. This is how we do this. This is how we do that.” And when they start doing that, they’re just amazed at how far their people can come so quickly.

David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing your protocols for success. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: Hey, it’s such a pleasure to be here with you again. This may be a situation where I want to sit back and listen to you a little bit because I know you have a lot of experience and coming up with these protocols and things like that.

So I’m just going to say hit me and I’ll see if I can learn something here.

David: Okay. Well, when I talk about protocols for success, we talk a lot about systems and processes and the work that we do with our clients. And if you want to be able to create consistent results in your business, you need to have these things in place.

Protocols is another term for it. But the reason I like the word protocols is that it sort of establishes the fact that these things aren’t optional. This is what we’re doing. This is how we’re doing it in this organization. And when you approach it like that, everything gets a lot easier because you don’t have to make a hundred different decisions now.

It’s like, I know what the process is. I simply need to follow it. If you’re veering from it, you know it. If you’re on it, you know it. And so does everybody else. People who don’t like accountability will not like that. But people who do like accountability will know, Hey, listen, I followed this procedure to the letter and this didn’t work.

And then you can talk to the person that you’re working with to have them explain, okay, well maybe this protocol needs to be changed or updated.

It’s almost like a baseline. Most people need to start with some sort of baseline protocol that they’re going to say, okay, this is how we do this.

This is how we perform this particular task. And then you have a number of people do it and they follow the protocol or they don’t. If they follow it and they get a comparable or consistent result, great. That’s a good protocol. If five different people try it and they get five different results and they all follow the protocol, you have a problem with your protocol.

You need to clarify, you need to identify, okay, what are the problems with each of these steps? And I need to tweak that so that when I hand it to five different people, they can all get a similar result. That’s the nutshell version.

Jay: Hmm. You know, this is something that’s so critical. I think a lot of managers miss this point.

Managers are afraid to hold people to the protocol or hold them accountable, and they don’t realize that this actually robs your staff from feelings of success. Because if you don’t have a baseline, and the baseline is basically when they fall before it, it’s not a matter of getting mad at them, it’s a matter of saying, okay, what was wrong with the protocol first?

And if the protocol is good, then we probably have a training issue, right? So that’s underneath the expected line. But above the line means that they met the line or they did better. That’s the only way you’re going to feel success. If there is no line, I promise you, your employees will never feel like, man, we did it.

Because you never put a baseline on it. So that’s, to me, how you consistently make people happy. And that’s why I like the word protocol over accountability, because accountability always sounds negative to people.

David: Yeah. I mean, accountability is basically, did you follow the protocol or not? The protocol is the list of steps saying this is how we accomplish this task.

And there are probably a lot of people watching this video or listening to the podcast who have worked in a sales organization where their entire training regime consisted of “dial nine for an outside line,” back when people were working in offices with switchboards and things like that, right? That was it.

That’s not a protocol, that’s a free for all. And the big difference between a protocol and a free for all is that free for alls create wildly inconsistent results and protocols create more consistent results.

It’s not perfect. It’s never going to be perfect. But as long as you’ve got a protocol that provides a reasonable degree of certainty, in terms of the outcome that they’re desiring, you’re going to be in much better shape.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And you said it’s never going to be perfect, but it should be always improving, right? So when we see something happen, we find out, was it a person problem or was it a protocol problem?

I believe 95 percent of the time it’s going to be a protocol problem, but instead, we always look for the person to blame, right?

Whose fault was it? That’s the worst way to handle it, in my opinion. You look for what happened. And I’ll tell you, we did this this year. I spent six months last year, preparing for our peak season.

We have four months of absolute madness. And I built my systems and I was so proud and I’m like, we’re so ready to go in.

And that system fell apart within days. And I was so proud of it. So I took notes on every step. I’m like, here’s where we’re going to change this. Some changes we could make midstream. Other things we were stuck with until the offseason when we can fix them.

But I’m always taking notes. How do we improve here? How do we improve here? And the protocols did affect people because I wasn’t prepared. Now they’re not prepared. And now that goes to my customers. with a feeling of not being prepared. We’re talking about mission critical stuff here.

David: Yeah, you raised so many great points . there’s a great old war quote, It basically says no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.

And so when we put together protocols like that in your business, you’re putting it together based on what you know and the things you’re thinking about at the time when you’re putting together that protocol, right?

And so it’s like, yeah, this is great. This is basically what I would do. But unfortunately, until you get that in front of a prospect to be able to hear what they’re going to be able to say, you don’t have the feedback to be able to update, adapt, and modernize that plan so that it takes into account what happens when they go this way instead of that way.

The advantage of a business plan is we say, we know where we’re going. But the disadvantage of a business plan is that everybody we interact with has different places they’re going.

And so we have to provide for that in the contingencies. You also raised a great point where you were talking about how people tend to blame the people first rather than blaming the protocols.

So naturally, if I write protocols, I prefer to think it’s not my fault, right? But the reality of the situation is that it’s pretty binary. It’s pretty easy to know if it was the protocol or if it was a person, if you’ve got systems in place for tracking.

Jay: Yes.

David: So if you are recording phone calls and you’ve got bullet points that need to be hit, if those bullet points were all hit, then it wasn’t the salesperson if that person hit all those points. And on the reverse side, if they didn’t hit all those points, okay, well, then it’s not a protocol problem. Then it’s a problem with the person who’s doing that work.

So it can be easy to track if we make sure that we have those things in place.

Jay: Yeah. And then the worst case scenario is you don’t have protocols. Something happens and what is your option? You only have one option and that’s to lay into the employee. You didn’t tell them, you didn’t tell them what the standards are.

You probably didn’t train them very well because you don’t have protocols. And so your only choice is, “why did you do this? How can you?” And I think we’ve all worked in that situation.

And what you create is an employee, a staff member, who doesn’t feel like they can ever win. Because the only time they’re going to hear from you is when it’s negative.

That person is going to slip into what I call minimum expectations mode. In other words, I’m going to fly under the radar. I’m going to do as little as possible to keep my check. Because I know I’m going to get beat up anyway. So it’s the worst way to de incentivize people.

David: Yeah. And I would say the majority of businesses that I’ve known and worked with and worked for in the past, did not have anything close to the kind of protocols that are necessary to create a consistent result.

A lot of the people that I work with now, my clients, they are great at what they do, they’re exceptional at what they do, and they struggle to get other people in the organizations to be able to do it, because they haven’t sort of codified those protocols that would allow them to say, “okay, this is how we perform this task. This is how we do this. This is how we do that.”

And when they start doing that, they’re just amazed at how far their people can come so quickly.

Jay: Yeah, absolutely. And I would think maybe 60, 70, 80 percent of my time with my partner, we’re talking about protocols. We’re talking about how we’re going to do this better, even down to the types of forms we have, how we collect information, when we start doing certain types of work.

Fortunately he’s a systems guy too, so we get along really well. A lot of people are not systems people, so this is a very foreign concept to them.

David: Yeah, it’s a plus. It’s a real big plus when you’re both on the same page. Even if you’re not both systems people, if at least you’re both on the same page about the necessity to have them and have them work, you’re going to be in a great spot.

Otherwise, you’re just winging it. And you cannot create consistent results with inconsistent inputs.

Jay: That’s right. You know, at first you may have to wing it, but take notes, watch it. You can’t build a great system from thin air, which is kind of what I did before this last season. I projected in my mind what it was going to be like. And I was wrong most of the time.

But at least I had established a baseline, right? Here’s what I thought it would be. Okay, here I got it right. Here I didn’t. So now I’m taking notes for next time. Here I’m making midstream changes.

So I’m very confident it may take a couple of seasons, to where we’ve really honed in that system. But I’m already excited for the next busy season, because we’ve made so many changes.

I know it’s going to be so different and I’m talking about doubling our sales next year, if we can get these systems in place. We had a lot more money we could have taken in this last year, but we weren’t prepared for it because of our protocols.

David: And in fairness, you probably didn’t get most of the things wrong, you probably just weren’t able to complete it. You probably had some really good systems, some really good structure and the bones were there, but there weren’t enough of them.

And that’s probably what happened. I doubt very seriously that you put together a bunch of really bad protocols because that just doesn’t seem like you.

Jay: No, I mean if I didn’t have those protocols, we wouldn’t have survived at all, so…

David: Right.

Jay: You know, so yeah, fortunately we had those. All right. How do people find out more?

David: You can go to TopSecrets.com/call, schedule a call with myself or my team. We’d just love to have a conversation with you. If you’re at a point where, you know you need to grow the business and you want to do it sooner rather than later, let’s have a conversation.

If we can figure out a way to work together, we’ll do that. If not, it’s no problem, but we’ll both know.

Jay: All right. Fantastic. It’s a pleasure talking to you.

David: You too. Thank you, Jay.

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