George Murray

This blog contribution is from George Murray and reminds us that focusing on the critical few things our team needs will help everyone get so much more done and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that go along with it. George is a Results-Oriented Manufacturing Executive – with extensive expertise in developing, implementing and managing international sales programs, strategic planning and transforming businesses. His background is in technology, manufacturing, consumer goods, renewable energy and the services industries. He is Black Belt Lean Six Sigma certified, a continuous learner and servant leader.

George can be reached at (763)688-1875,, or


Top 3/Bottom 3 – it’s that simple

Are you sending the right message when you communicate? More importantly, are you listening?  How many actions and tasks fall short because of lack of communication or follow-up?

More than once, I’ve discovered the direction of a company and its communications were lacking in clarity, and that its concerns were not outlined to help the team become more successful.

Do you spend more time working in the business than on the business as a leader? For example: When you find yourselves behind meeting the budget, or your sales revenue target, or work on improving your customers’ experience, there can be a frenzy of communication. But how do you separate critical messages that matter from the multitude that make up the noise?

To address these issues simplification has always worked well for me. Like taking 10 minutes out of the week to give each individual on my team my full attention, listening to what successes they have had, what struggles they are going through and, discussing their needs.

Part of your job as a leader is to help your team focus on the key actions people need to complete in a timely manner and the steps that have the most beneficial impact on the business.

Your team in turn will feel more involved and excited about their accomplishments, and the business will move along at a swifter pace with that kind of focus.

What is the tool to accomplish this? A template that aligns the specific thoughts of each individual and streamlines critical information.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 2.07.08 PM

I have found spending quality time with my team to understand challenges, opportunities, and how I can be of help to be successful. When your team receives help in removing roadblocks they get more accomplished and in turn the organization becomes more successful. How do you do that? One way that I found successful is asking what is your top three/ bottom three and three areas that you need help in.  Then setting the time up one-on-one to discuss each.

First, this simple tool focuses each team member to take time to praise what they or their team has done-Recognition-and everyone loves recognition! It will also give you 52 examples to use when you do their review. Not just remembering the last thing they didn’t get done.

Second, the team member focuses on the challenges they have which gives way to dialogue. It’s not a time to solve every issue for them, but to be a sounding board. Let them clarify the concern and outline options. I was taught by a mentor early in my career that you should bring at least two solutions to every challenge. This provides the opportunity to address problems via meaningful discussions.

Finally, issues they need help with, this is a chance for them to be more specific on how they need help improving their work. This is also a mentoring opportunity for them to understand any “lessons learned” so the next time the challenge arises they know how to fix it. It’s also an opportunity to listen, in a day and age with employees at low levels of engagement, good people leaving organizations, etc. We must listen and help everyone improve.

The process in summary:

  • Ask each team member to send the template out two days prior to the meeting for a chance to read, give thought, so there can be an effective discussion.
  • At first you may want to set up a meeting on Monday to kick off the week and another one on Friday to see progress.
  • Once implemented Fridays seem best for me but you decide what is best for your company. Friday is when the week winds down and it’s always a great opportunity to reconnect before the weekend. It gives team members a sense of connection, success and most importantly hope for a better week with additional support. Even if it’s morale support.
  • It’s also important for the leader to provide quality time for each of their teammates. You need to understand their successes, challenges, and thought process and how they either overcome the challenges or require additional help.
  • Finally, this tool enables leader’s to create their own top three/bottom three to help point the team in the right direction for the next week.

Focusing on the few will get so much more done!

So let me ask you: what are your top three and bottom three for this week?

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