Letter from John (December 2015 Newsletter)

Last month, I talked pretty bluntly about burning the candle at both ends, and the consequences of running too hard. But I don't just run. I also spend time rebuilding the candle.

As Floricane welcomes a new consultant to our ranks (see below), it feels like a good time to talk about the importance of quality candle making at work.

In our Manager Development Program, Debra and I refer frequently to the work of the Hay Group. Specifically, we talk about their research that shows the strong causal relationship between leadership, team climate and team performance(orresults).

Think about climate -- which encompasses elements like clarity, commitment, flexibility and rewards -- as the candle. When it burns too fast, people run out of steam. When the candle is poorly formed, the flame flickers. Well- constructed candles create strong, steady light.

At Floricane, our team looks to our periodic "work on the work weeks" as important candle making opportunities -- time together to build clarity and important candle making opportunities -- time together to build clarity and alignment, strengthen our relationships, put processes and systems in place, train and grow.

We value these planning periods as deliberate, concentrated time together without client interruptions to focus on our own business, to strengthen our candles.

This fall we modified our approach to #WotWW. Our team met for three days last week before the Thanksgiving break. We'll regroup just before New Year's Eve for three more days of planning time. That makes for 12 days of #WotWW time in 2015.

I recently did some napkin math on Floricane's assorted holidays, vacations, #WotWW, team meetings and professional development days. Over the course of the year, we spend 25% of our time off-line -- either recharging on a personal level, or planning and growing together as professionals. We're not engaged in client work for almost 60 of the 260 weekdays in a year.

The math can be staggering. For our five full-time employees, that's 300 non- billable days of work each year.

Of course, there's another way to look at it.

For the 1,000 days a year that the five of us are working directly with people, teams, and organizations focused on growth and change, we're more likely to be rested, engaged and fully charged. Our candles are more likely to burn strong.

Last week, four of us met for an abbreviated #WotWW to build on a deliberate reconstruction of our business that started in July. It looked something like this:

  • We agreed to dedicate a portion of our time in 2016 to building a stronger consulting practice, where all of us would be aligned around our philosophy of work and passion for community; develop or strengthen our consulting skills; and deepen our passion for working with individuals and organizations at the intersection of growth and change.
  • We mapped out business development, pricing and budgets for 2016. (Dull, a bit painful, but ultimately important work!)
  • We finalized our calendar of events and workshops for the upcoming year, and discussed the distinctive purpose and feel of each event.
  • We dove deeper into our new Client Engagement Map, and identified key activities and processes that will strengthen the experience our clients have with Floricane -- and build on our core values of Relationships, Authenticity, Challenging and Fun.

A couple of years ago, I thought that we'd have to tighten up on hours as the business grew. It's been reassuring to see, instead, a doubling down on the importance of planning, recharging and growing together as a team. As we move into winter, I can think of no better metaphor to embrace than that of brightly burning candles. Cheers!