Manager

You're Not Charging Enough For Your Services.

The other day, I came across an old contract when I worked at <confidential> from a famous consultancy called <confidential> in NYC. The contract was signed prior to my employment and after 2 months, I fired the consultancy based on their incompetence with the project. I was amazed with the short and cavalier agreement and the associated fees for each service:

  • Project Management: $39,800
  • Creative Development: $45,025
  • Website Development: $57,350
  • Audio Production: $8,550
  • Testing & Delivery: $27,350
  • On-Site Production: $98,580
  • Electronic Mail Campaign & Fulfillment: $5,875
  • Recording Studio & Equipment Rental: $15,885

The Grand Total? $298,415 for approximately 2 months work building a simple web site with six hour-long webcasts. Oh by the way, the price doesn't include any changes/additions, overtime, hosting, travel expenses, or technology. That's extra. (I get the feeling they came up with the number and worked the financials back into logical groupings — again just a feeling)

Three-Hundred-Thousand-Dollars. Granted, the agreement was dated 2000, so in today's dollars, we're talking over $400K to build a simple site.

But I present this contract to you to illustrate one simple fact:

MOST PEOPLE DO NOT CHARGE ENOUGH FOR THEIR SERVICES.

Why? You're afraid of losing clients and scaring away any potential prospects.

Guess what? GOOD! You don't need to work with them! It's time for you to fully understand the value of your services and to get a better idea what the market will bear. What would happen if you increased your fees by 50%? 75%? or 100%? I know what would happen . . . it happened to me:

  1. You would have less clients. You can then spend more quality time with your current client base.
  2. You would have higher paying clients. People who are probably more successful.
  3. You would have clients who are serious about working with you. You will be working with people who play better tennis, so you'll have to bring your 'A' game.
  4. You would have clients you really want to work with. Charging more allows you to be picky and not just take anyone.
  5. You would begin to build a long list of clients who demand your services.

Are there lines around the door when HTC releases a new phone? No. How about Apple? Absolutely. You need to be the Apple of your industry.

At first it's scary. Clients will bolt, they will complain. But new clients will appear and start telling their friends.

As an example, I have a client who was charging some of her clients $100-$125 per session. After much prodding on my part, she is now charging $200 per session, and her clients are telling their friends — and her appointment book is overflowing with new clients. (By the way, she just hit her all-time yearly revenue goal in 2016!)

I also coached another client who was feeling unappreciated in their current role. They have been delivering key improvements to the company for over five years (most making the annual report). But for some reason, they received no raise, promotion, or accolade from management. They tried to inquire, but were rebuffed time and time again. Ultimately, I had them look outside of the company and within a month, they had a brand new position at a bigger firm with an increase in pay of 20%.

Raise your prices with chutzpah and the clients will line up at your door.

P.S. I'm not a hard-liner on this. I do coach two pro-bono clients every month. So there.

The Best Tool To Communicate Effectively With Your Manager.

Everyone has a manager/boss. Even if you are in business on your own, someone is out there plucking the puppet strings of your career. I work with a myriad of people who have incredible success and terrible issues with their manager. Some bosses are insane, some are saints, some are psychotic, and some are surprisingly normal.

One area I find where most people begin to see the cracks appear in their relationship concerns how they communicate with their manager.

Healthy, regular communication will always ameliorate any potential situation, ensure problems are addressed, and steps are taken in a reasonable amount of time.

Things go wrong when people forget two-way communication resembles a tug-of-war with a huge rope. When one side doesn’t communicate and pulls away, the other side needs to fill the void, take up the slack, and increase their communication.

So how do you do it? Here are some simple rules:

  1. Regular — schedule it on their calendar; meet with them (face to face) to discuss what’s happening.
  2. Short — make it a 10-15 minute meeting; the shorter, the better — focus on the tactical.
  3. Stick to business — cover what you’re working on and discuss next steps. Use an update sheet (1 page) to document what is discussed.

Here’s a great email/paper template I offer to my clients (Rule: Only 1 Page):

1. Accomplishments (from last week):

  • Accomplishment 1 (keep each bullet point short)
  • Accomplishment 2 (keep it less than 5-7 words)
  • Accomplishment 3 (easy to scan)

2. Activities for this week:

  • Project 1 (projects to be completed this week)
  • Project 2
  • Project 3

3. Long-Term Projects (in the near future):

  • Project – Due Date (must have due dates)
  • Project – Due Date
  • Project – Due Date

4. Concerns & Issues:

  • Issue 1 (talk about obstacles)
  • Issue 2 (come with solutions)
  • Issue 3

This template allows you to document your progress and ensure there are no crossed expectations about what you do and what your manager wants you to do. In addition, when you have 52 of these sheets in a binder, reviews go so much easier because you have a syllabus of accomplishments to choose from.

If you meet regularly with your manager (say weekly) for 10-15 minutes and use the recommended template, your relationship will strengthen and soar.

I've even suggested this template for attorneys to keep their clients up-to-date on their progress. It actually helps when their retainer runs out and the client asks 'what have you been doing?' — you now have a weekly documented process to bypass these uncomfortable conversations (and ultimately when you discount your fees because they're angry).

What do you use to update your manager/client on your progress?

Be A Better Leader - 30 Leadership Hacks For Managers.

I managed large teams for over 20 years in corporate and have been coaching C-Level clients for 14 more. During this time, I've probably run into every scenario a manager can experience. Here are my top 30 hacks to make you a better leader (in no special order): 1. Motivate people, don't command them. It's a lot harder, but you will like the results a lot more.

2. Identify your key employees and reward them so they know they're valued. Don't worry about losing poor talent.

3. Translate upper management's vague directives into things your team can understand and take action on.

4. Never bullshit your staff. If something requires secrecy for the good of the company, just be clear on 'I cannot discuss that’.

5. When things go well, don't tout yourself to upper management, tout your team. You'll get the credit as well.

6. Don't worry about losing poor talent. In addition, the best thing you can do for your best people is to get rid of the worst people.

7. Remove any obstacles in the way of them accomplishing their tasks.

8. Elevate the individual and team as a whole when someone does great work. Let them take the limelight.

9. When someone on my team screws up, be the responsible "buck stops here" person as the manager. Act as the umbrella to ensure the wrath of senior management does not rain down from above, and it's your responsibility to discipline them after you catch shit from on high. In addition to that, any discipline effort should be an opportunity to learn from mistakes. Help them to help themselves when they need to recover from a mistake.

10. Don’t be their friend. It's not worth it. You are no longer "One of the guys/girls" You can have fun, don't be a jerk, but you will never be one of them again. Don't try to be. Be cool, but not that cool, otherwise you will get walked on.

11. The more you make your employees feel like they're working with you, and not for you, the smoother the sailing. That being said, make sure boundaries are clear.

12. Make sure each area is covered in the case of a family emergency or vacations and have them matrix-train their co-workers in their respective responsibilities.

13. It's better to be a just, unkind manager than a kind, unjust one, in more ways than you can imagine.

14. Always remain calm. The way you react to and handle situations will have a profound and lasting effect on your staff.

15. Criticize in private, praise in public. Praise often, punish seldom.

16. Never promise something you cannot deliver on.

17. Learn everyone’s first names.

18. Figure out the intricacies of discipline and HR at your organization. Be careful how you treat different cultures and people with different (dis)abilities. A fellow supervisor hired a woman without really verifying her abilities and background. When it became apparent that she didn't know anything, and could not produce any useful code, the supervisor started the whole termination procedure: Tell the employee she's at risk of being fired, start a test period - she has to do this exact work by this date, etc. At the end, the supervisor told the employee she had failed and would be fired shortly. The employee cried and wailed. It turns out the supervisor had missed one of the steps in the termination procedure, so he had to start it AGAIN. Any serious disciplinary action has to be absolutely by-the-book. Get help and a buddy in HR.

19. Learn to listen. Especially to the new hires. And the quiet ones.

20. Be loyal to your employees and they will be ten times loyal right back.

21. Have a few bucks squirreled away so those that really, REALLY need it can get a lunch.

22. Don't go nuts when one rule is broken.

23. Command respect, do not demand respect.

24. Learn to delegate. It creates some frustration in the short term, but saves you huge amounts of time and makes people feel more important in the long term.

25. Be an advocate for your good workers.

26. Get everyone comfortable chairs. Trust me.

27. Create an environment that people want to work in. I find people work harder and are more motivated if they're happy. Don't micromanage, treat people with respect, and create a sense of joining a team rather than a top-down approach.

28. Always be fair. Everyone talks to each other and compares the slightest things whether you like it or not. If you have favorites or treat someone differently, eventually people will find out. This will definitely effect how they see you.

29. Create an open door policy. My favorite policy is that I never mind when people ask questions about the situation or what they need to do. I'd rather someone mess up rather than doing noting. Of course, I'd rather someone ask me questions so they can figure out how to do things on their own, effectively, and efficiently too. Similarly, this also helps with building respect, creating a sense of team, and having more motivated and happy people.

30. MOST IMPORTANT: Take care of your people and they'll take care of you.