332 | People + Process = Productivity

There’s a bottleneck in business that causes us to lose our footing and come to a crashing halt.

It doesn’t matter if you’re leading 2 or 200… it can happen to you. You can fall into the trap of being people dependent or process dependent. It’s a two-sided equation, and you must be balanced on both sides.

Learn 4 questions you can ask to discover if you’re people or process dependent:


Episode 322: Get Results: Stop Settling for Task Completion

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Chris LoCurto: The bottleneck in business that causes us to lose our footing and come to a crashing halt. More on that coming up next.

Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that business is what you do, not who you are.

I have a hilarious story for you. Years ago I had a team member that worked for me, that went out and bought a brand new bike, a racing bike like doing for triathlons, all that kind of fun stuff. Had never ridden one of these bikes before, one out and got one of the ones, you know, you can pick it up with your pinky. It’s super light, got all the, the right gear, got all the right setup, got spandex out the Wazoo, got on the bike, clicked in which, you know, again, these bikes are different than a normal 10 speed where you put your feet on a pedal. These have like a little pegs and you clip into the peg. So he clips into the pegs and goes riding and is doing really, really well. Doing a great job. And as he pulls up, there’s a stop light, turns red, and there’s this convertible Mustang that’s sitting up at the stoplight and he pulls all the way up to the stoplight and realizes something.

He’s never actually taken his feet out of the pegs before. He didn’t practice that before. He didn’t try that before. It’s so literally as he comes to a complete stop, he literally just falls right over. Bam. Crashes right next to the mustang. And the guy in the Mustang goes, uh, you okay? He’s like, I’m good. Totally wiped out. Well folks. Today’s topic is to make sure all of us, everyone who leads uses the pedals on the bike correctly, the pegs on the bike correctly and stays upright and moving forward. So most leaders have a tendency to fall into a common trap that becomes a bottleneck for their business or even for their team. And this can happen to every single leader. It doesn’t matter what size of team elite at all, period. If you’re leading 2, if you’re living 2000 it can happen to you.

You can fall into the trap of being people dependent or process dependent. Now when you are overly dependent upon people and you don’t have solid processes, it becomes a total bottleneck or the absolute reverse can be true. And now this is something we’ve been looking at for the past two episodes and that’s the biggest bottlenecks in your leadership, your team growth, and if you’re a business owner in your business. So, so far we’ve covered shooting from the hip and correcting culture. This is the third of three bottlenecks that keeps leaders, teams and businesses from growing. So back to the bicycle, two pedals or pegs, either way, you want to look at it, people plus process, not either or. So one pedal or peg is people. One pedal is processes. Now you have to keep both feet on the people and the process pedals to get where you need to go.

Now if you’re unbalanced, guess what? Just like pulling up to a stoplight. And of course there happens to be a convertible Mustang sitting right there with a person watching this happen. If you’re unbalanced, you’re going to crash. So if you see this bottleneck in your leadership or business, you’re not alone. Literally in every single strap line that we do, businesses that come through, discover their processes or lack thereof are bottlenecking their business, whether they’re nonexistent or inefficient, the processes are always a bottleneck. And a lot of times we’ll discover that processes exist, but they’re so out of date that they’re just considerably inefficient. People are moving around the processes. That’s 100% of businesses that I’ve led through StratPlan over the years. The only times I see really good processes is when they come back for their second or third event, right? Because the first time they’re just not that great.

An example of that would be the decision making process. Every time, now again, the folks that are listening to this that are coming in for StratPlan are going to know the answer when I say this, every time we have a team come in, so we do an opening dinner the night before we start, so we usually start on Tuesday morning. So we do a dinner Monday night. We do dinners Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and we start the event on Tuesday morning. So on the night before, I like to just to get to know the whole leadership team. I usually know the business owner or leader because they’ve come through next level life. And so I need to get to know them, the other leaders and have discussions and make sure that they understand what they’re about to go through, all that kind of fun stuff. And it just sets up the week. Every time,

there’s two things I talk about and one of those things is the decision making process. And I’ll say to the leadership team, one of the things we’re going to discover over this week is how you guys make decisions. Every time until I started talking about this on the podcast, every time somebody on the leadership team would go, oh, well we know how we make decisions every single time. I’d say, okay, I’m going to ask you about that in about a day and a half from now and see what you think and completely leave it alone. About a day and a half later when we’ve gone through so much perspective gathering, I’ll say, hey guys, what do you think about your decision making process every time it’s the same thing. We had no clue that that’s how we made decisions and we’ve got, all this information that we’re going through up on the screens and stuff that we see how they’re making decisions and they’re always blown away.

We had no clue. We had no clue that we made decisions that only the business owner could make the decisions we had no clue…you can fill in the blank. There’s all types of things, all types of ways that we make decisions inside of a business that we have no clue about. Looking at people versus processes…it’s a two sided equation and you must be balanced on both sides. So first, let’s take a look at being people dependent and not having enough processes. So, so leaders start to grow a team. They grow divisions, they grow business.

And they think, you know, I have an issue with people when what they really have is a process issue. You’ll see a ceiling on capacity and margin of team members. So when your focus is on people, then you have to realize that in a day your team members only have so many hours that they can be doing whatever it is that you want them to do. So they can only accomplish so much in a day if we become really dependent then they have a capacity and a margin. This is it. This is the amount that five team members can do in a day. They can only make so many calls in a day. They can only put out so many fires in a day. They can only manage so many relationships or build and nurture relationships in a day. So the best team with phenomenal team members can experience people dependencies that slow things down.

Now here is how you know you have solid processes and are not being overly people dependent. So instead of fixing situations, you fix systems. You take a look at a a broken system or one that is lacking and you fix the system. So take a look at it this way. If we’re people dependent, it’s like having a first aid kit full of Bandaids, right? That’s all we’ve got. If it’s a person, how do we fix the person? If we don’t have a great system in place, if we don’t have great efficiency, then we’ve got to keep coming back to the person and saying, you’ve got to do better. Okay, I’ll try and do better. But instead, if we put in great systems and systems of efficiency and processes of efficiency, then we can focus on the process. Is the process being done right?

Is the process efficient? Could the process be better? Is the process up to date? If so, then instead of only focusing on the person, we can focus on the greatest system, or the greatest process and make sure that the process is accomplishing what we want it to, then we’re not solely focusing on the person. So if you focus only on the person, you’re putting a bandaid over the problem. Instead of, you know, solving the underlying issue, which is that there’s a process that’s missing or broken. You’re also not running around putting out fires. So if you identify what’s happening and the systemic issue that’s creating the fires, then you can solve the process. If we’re focused only on people are heavily on people, then when there’s a fire, we go back to only the person, hey, why is this thing happening? And what we don’t discover we don’t solve is the process that should be in place.

So if a team member or a leader is out of the office or quits, then things can keep on going as they need to because we just continue to follow the process. But what happens if somebody leaves and we have no process? Now we have to figure out what did they do? How did they do it? How are we going to cover all this stuff? While the same time we’re trying to learn, how this role is executed. So when solid processes are in place, nothing shuts down. Even if someone leaves, because we can still have somebody come and fill in on the process, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be taxed on your team. It doesn’t mean that your team’s not going to be stretched, but we don’t have to reinvent the wheel because the wheel left, right?

Just the person operating the wheel left. Someone is able to step in and pick up where things left off, and keep following the good processes that we put in place. Now you have to make the move from people dependent to processes. So let’s take a look at what happens when you’re unbalanced on the other side of the equation. When you’re process dependent, so negative of too much process. Many times leaders have an ability to overprocess to keep people from failing that you know that it actually keeps people from thinking for themselves and truly leading. Now remember, processes are there to serve the people. People aren’t there to serve the process. But what happens a lot of times is that we will discover that leaders are processing the living daylights out of a role so that they can’t make any mistakes whatsoever. That sounds like a really good idea, right?

And you know, put a process in there so that a monkey can do this thing, right? Here’s the problem. When you so process a role, you cause the person doing the role to not be able to think. They don’t make good decisions. They don’t look ahead and see where things are going to be a problem. They literally come in and have to think about it. They step into their spot on the assembly line and just assemble. They don’t have to think about it because it’s so overly processed. Now if you are doing something that is am assembly line and that’s exactly what you need, that’s fine. But most of the people listening to this show are not in that situation. And we’re not talking about just that role inside of your business. We’re talking about your business as a whole. So if you overprocess a role then what you do is you stop your team members from thinking.

So then all they will do is just the process that you’ve given them. Nothing more than that. They’re not going to think beyond that. They’re not going to think of potential pitfalls. They’re not going to come up with good ideas. They will show up, do a job that involves processes and collect a paycheck and go home. So if you’re too process dependent, you’re not treating people like people, you’re treating people like things that just make mistakes, right? And so you’ve put so many things in place. Again, we’re back to the bandaids again, just on the other side of stuff. We’ve put so many processes in place that the process is the thing that must be great. Unfortunately, we’re now cutting out the potential of our team members. We’re also cutting out the potential of our team members risk that they would take in these roles, in these situations.

And again, their potential. What else could this person be other than just doing these processes? You’ve heard me talk about the task result gap. If you’ve not listened to episode 322, we’ll put a link in the show notes where we talk about how we can put so many tasks in place and hold somebody to the tasks that we don’t end up with the result that we’re looking for. There’s a gap between task and result and the only way to fill that gap is accountability in that process. So if we only focus on just the process and not the person, then we will be stunned that we are getting tons of tasks done, but we’re not getting the result that we want. If you want to avoid that then go back and listen to episode 322. Now I’m going to give you some specific action steps right after one of my favorite leadership experts tells you how to become a stronger leader and run a solid business.

So weekly action steps. Again, what we’re looking at is where’s this balance? You can’t be crazy people dependent, which is usually what we see way more than the opposite, which is crazy process dependent. But we see that as well. There has to be this great balance. And so listen, I’m about to give you a ton of information, but you can get a download on this and you can go to ChrisLoCurto.com/336 to get it. There are four diagnostic questions you can ask to discover if your people are process dependent. So first thing is is I want you to examine key primary areas. Take a look at your hiring, take a look at your accounting, take a look at your operations as a whole. Take a look at your communications inside of your culture. Take a look at your marketing, take a look at your sales, examine these primary areas and ask these diagnostic questions to help you determine if you’re operating as people or process dependent.

Number one, can you name from beginning to end every step that has to happen under those key areas or is your company depending on people’s judgment and grit? So example, in your hiring process, do you have a process you believe fully vets people? Make sure that you’re getting the right people, make sure that you’re not missing out on everything that you can get in the hiring process. Make sure that you really understand the person who is stepping in the door or they really understand the role that they’re stepping into. Or are you placing all your confidence in a few people’s judgment? I know no leader has ever done that ever. That’s never happened in the hiring process where a leader goes, man, I really liked this person only to find out that the person can’t do the role. Number two, are you dependent upon team members memory to drive things forward?

So, an example is when you launch a product or a service or if you have like a big marketing push, are you relying on a marketing team member to execute every detail of the marketing initiative from memory, you know, audiences for ads, links, testing, analytics, the whole nine yards. Is there a repeatable process in place that gets executed regardless of what the team member remembers to do? If there’s not, if those things aren’t in place, then you are completely dependent on the memory. How do you, how do you test this stuff? How do you track this stuff? How do you go back and take a look at how something did? What if they don’t do the same stuff that a we can track? Like what if there we’re not doing ab processes, right? If we don’t look at this and go, well, this is what we tried this, this way.

We tried this this way. How do we know? What if they’re supposed to add specific things into the marketing process and they leave one out. I have been in my 30 year, almost 30 years of leadership. I have had situations where we left a piece out that affected the whole marketing campaign. So are you dependent on a person’s memory or do you have everything in place? Number three, when delegating and empowering your team to make decisions without your input, have you done all of the things necessary to be able to give them rope to have trust? Now, obviously I teach delegation a little bit different than most people do. And in killing the leadership crazy cycle, we talk about proper delegation, which is setting the person up for success. So, I’m not talking about the way that most people delegate, which is give to somebody.

Have you got it done yet? Is it done yet? How come you did it this way? You did it wrong. I might as well just take it back. That is not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about proper delegation. If you’ve trained them up and set them up for success, then can you trust them with making decisions? If you can’t, if you’re not in that place to allow team members to make decisions, then guess what? Everything is dependent upon you. Instead of giving a clear process for your team to follow and make wise decisions in this area, then processes have to actually be taken to you or through you. Which means again, that we are being people dependent because everybody must come through you. There needs to be a balance. If you’re not able to hand these things over certain things or delegate properly, then you have to ask the question, why has nobody taught you how to delegate properly?

Which is usually what we find whenever we’re talking about proper delegation. What we discover is everybody’s been trained the same way as everybody else, which is the way I just explained it. You give something to somebody, you expect that they accomplish it incredibly well, not setting them up for success. And when they don’t accomplish it well you just take it back. Yeah, that’s not proper delegation. So ask yourself, how much is the decision making process dependent on you as the leader? Number four, are you so process oriented that the result of the task is lost in translation? So again for example, if a team member completed an entire checklist, yet the KPIs aren’t being hit, the key performance indicators the metrics aren’t being hit, then you don’t see the results from that team member that you were expecting, right? If we don’t make sure that the team member understands the result that we’re looking for and we hold them accountable to the result plus the tasks, then we become so focused on just the tasks that there is no responsibility on the team member’s part because they did the thing you told them to do, which is the tasks.

And we’re now process, dependent, right? We need people to think for themselves. We need to be able to guide people to here’s the result we’re looking for and we need to be able to hold them accountable. So if that’s where you’re stuck, then guess what? That is a sign that you are too process dependent. Phew. okay. So there’s a lot of information. There’s a lot of stuff there guys. And again, we’ve got a pdf download for you. So if you would like to get those, those four diagnostic questions, go to ChrisLoCurto.com/336 to get that download. Now this again is super important to find out where do you need to fix things? Where do you need to fill in the gaps? If you’re two people dependent then what I can promise you is your efficiency is nowhere near where it can be.

If you were too process dependent, which is few of you, it’s considerably less than the people dependent. If you’re too processed dependent than what I can promise you is, again, you’re productivity is down because you know it doesn’t take a whole lot of brain power to do the process, but I bigger pieces missing and that is that task result gap. We will probably be doing a really great job on doing tasks, but we’re not getting the results that we want. So hopefully this has helped you today and helped to give you some information to put in place right now, this week as you are leading your teams. Thank you for joining me. I hope it served you well. I encourage you to subscribe, rate, review, and share the podcast to help more people join our community. And as always, take this information, change your leadership, Change Your Business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.



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Meet Chris LoCurto


Chris has a heart for changing lives by helping people discover the life and business they really want.

Decades of personal and leadership development experience, as well as running multi-million dollar businesses, has made him an expert in life and business coaching. personality types, and communication styles.

Growing up in a small logging town near Lake Tahoe, California, Chris learned a strong work ethic at home from his full-time working mom. He began his leadership and training career in the corporate world, starting but at E'TRADE.

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