Management and Leadership Practices for Pros


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According to Gallup

, only 33% of US workers are consistently engaged in their jobs, meaning “involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” Comparatively, the best companies have 70% employee engagement — double the productivity and results with the same amount of people.

How does this engagement happen? Our COO Brooks Pettus believes that a company’s management has A LOT to do with it. 

More consistently engaged team members, higher employee retention and customer satisfaction are some of the major benefits to creating a management practice, which we cover here.

One: Difference between a Manager and a Leader 

Every company needs both managers and leaders. Sometimes they’re the same person, sometimes not. But in order to start developing leadership skills and encouraging quality management practices in yourself and your team, it’s useful to know the difference. In the following video, Housecall Pro COO Brooks Pettus explains the difference between a manager and a leader and the functions of each.

I asked Mel about her philosophies around hiring and around management. And there are a few core tenants or core philosophies that I've come to live by as a leader. As a manager, I think about leadership and management as discreet ideas, leadership is your ability to create a vision and marshal people towards that. So think about someone who's leading people into the theater of war. It's the most unnatural act in the world. And yet great leaders are able to marshal a force and put them in harm's way because they create a vision that's so compelling. There's something so charismatic about their ideas and the way they connect those ideas with their people, their country, their tribe, whatever it may be that they do this extraordinary thing. So leadership is around that idea of management or the processes, the practices that help people unlock their potential.

You can point them at great problems, align them with that mission. And then you can move a force out to do again, to change the world. That's what you want to do. So I think about these ideas of leadership and management and very different and discreet ways, and leadership has always come pretty easily. To me. Management is something that I've had to really work at, building a skill, a craft in that, and it's, I've made it one of my life goals to become a great world-class manager. And ultimately what that means for me is this, is that I'll go back to this idea of a vision or to vision as a leader. What is the true North that we have? What is this larger thing that we wanted to go participate in? And then what are the strategies of the bets, the places where to put resources, to work, to go realize that that larger calling and then specifically, and this is at the function level, what are the goals we're going to set?

What are these objectives that will set in a monthly and a quarterly pace, but then you still just have a framework for what you want to go get done, the work, to be done, the job, to be done, what you still don't have with the people. You've got to go find the humans to go after and fulfill all of those objectives. And that's where the hiring piece comes in. Go build great hiring practices that bring extraordinary individuals in that align with these goals and with this vision that you have, and there's no problem you can solve. And we've learned that here at Housecall Pro and want that for our pros as well as we want our pros to set simple, straightforward, modest objectives, and have a vision for their business. And it doesn't mean I want to make a lot of money. That's not a vision.

That's not a mission for anything. It is. I want to go change the world. I want to have the best customer service of any HVAC company in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That's my mission. Or I want to have a place to work that I can be proud of that for my kids someday when they take over my business, that they'll be proud of. I want a legacy of being an extraordinary employer. I want to be a part of my community in some ways. So these are the kinds of things that become a mission. And then your specific goals may be, I want to go out and get 45 reviews by the end of the summer, I want to have, uh, three references every week from my customers to bring in new customers. To me, those are just very specific goals that you have, but then you go find these great people to come work with you and go do that work.

And the critical part in that is that people say, you can't find employees. I hear it every day, multiple times a day. I can't find texts to grow my business the way I want to. When I always say that, I know that's hard yet. Have you thought about getting more work, more productivity from the people you have, have you thought about the three, four or five people already working for you today? How can you get them to be more productive? It doesn't mean you can go work them to the bone. It means how can you excite them? Interest them, engage them in a way that they'll be more productive than they are today. And so the simple idea I have on this is about engagement. And what I really mean by that is I want you to give me an, our business, give me 75% of your mind share today, give me in a clean eight hour day, six of your eight hours focused on solving problems in our business and doing the work.

Now, you're still going to be dreaming about your dinner. Your mom's coming to visit your dog's at the vet, the date you have this weekend, whatever it may be. That's what humans do because we're all human yet. Give me six of your eight hours in a productive way. And there's no problem that we can solve. And I say that because in most companies, you're lucky if you get half of the productivity out of your people, half the time they're dreaming about going surfing and they're dreaming about somebody is coming to visit their dream about their vacation. They're just, they're thinking about something other than the problem, the word, the goals you put in front of them. So you can actually take your productivity up by half again, or even twice as much. If you can simply get better, work, more productive, work, more engagement for the people that you already have before you even go think about find that next one.

So to that end, we think a lot about active management, our practices and management to help unlock the potential of these great people work in these four walls. Now, we're really lucky here because, because of the culture that Mel has created, well, I created the environment she created and the culture that's been a byproduct to that. I think we have engagement at 75 to 90% across the organization. We run this unbelievable race every day as a company to go serve our pros and to change the world, honestly. So we're lucky on that front, but not everyone is quite that fortunate. So think about what you can do as a pro to unlock the potential of the people. You already have sitting next to you in that truck, back there on the office, whoever your partner may be, how can I get them to be more excited, more engaged about the problems and the goals that we've set in front of them.

And if you do that, your business will change right out of the gate. That'll come back to those management practices, which are, am I investing into my taking care of those one to ones? Am I investing my people? Do I care about them in a genuine way? Do I help them develop their career? Their career plans growth their development so that they don't want to just come here, learn from me, learn about my customers and take off and go take my customers. No, I want them to come, grow and develop and run that race with me and how I lead this company every day and how I serve them. So management in a very active approach to how you manage your people will unlock their potential yet. Here's the, again, the secret of this deal is that a leader, as a leader, as a manager, you have to check your own ego.

It can't be about you because again, otherwise you're back to being an army of just one can only do so much. If you want to have a team of people running that race with you, if you wanna have a team of people moving on those goals, you've got to invest in their success. You've got to help them develop. You've got to trust them. And often that means you gotta check your ego to make that happen. So that's where my core philosophy is. I think about leadership and management as distinct ideas, but really about how you unlock the potential of your humans, your people to do the extraordinary thing and line up around that vision that you have.

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Two: Creating a Management Practice

In the following video, Melina Fairleigh, Housecall Pro’s Head of People, explains

Google’s research

into what makes a good manager and how home service businesses can apply these traits. Here are the top ten traits of a good manager she covers:

  1. Is a good coach

  2. Emplowers the team and does not micromanage

  3. Creates a team environment, showing concern for success and well-being

  4. Is productive and results-oriented

  5. Is a good communicator — listens and shares information

  6. Supports career development and discusses performance

  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team

  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team

  9. Collaborates across the company

  10. Is a strong decision-maker

The real secret is you got to learn how to manage. And I say, learn because managers truly are made and not born. This is not a natural skill that we all have. This is a skill we have to develop. You know, you don't tell kids, Oh, you're such a natural manager. You know, you hear natural leader all the time, but you got to learn to manage. And so that's what we're going to spend the chunk of our time going through today is we're going to talk about how you can really start to practice active management with your teams. Literally, half of workers who leave report that their manager was the reason in the early days of Google, where we get a lot of the management practices that we use at Housecall Pro and the early days of Google. And some of you may have heard this. There's a big Harvard business review case study on it. They hypothesized that managers don't matter and they actually tried to prove it. Well, what did they prove that managers mattered more than they thought that teams with good managers had higher happiness. That's nice and productivity. That's really nice when together happy employees, productive employees. So if you can go from 33% engagement to 70% engagement, it's like getting twice that the efforts and results out of each of your employees and it's worth it to do what defines a great manager. We're really lucky that Google has opened source. All of that research that they did with project oxygen, they have literally done the research and they've shared it. And they've found that there are 10 things that make a great manager. And I'm going to share all of those with you today.

Technical skills, you need to have some level of tactical skills to be a good manager, but you don't have to be the best. I don't have to be the best recruiter, but I should know how to give my team the skills that they need to go out and be successful. I made me, it's pointing them in the direction of someone who's even more of an expert than I am. So you don't have to be the best, but you do have to have some level of expertise in the thing that you do. And this is the opposite of the micromanager. You're a good coach. You empower, you give them some autonomy over how the work gets done, how they approach their day. We all know that this feels good and being interested, but showing interest. So you guys have already given us all these examples, you show interest in someone, you know, what's going on. You know that they're in school, you know, what's going on with their families and then you help them progress. You helped them climb their own ladder, right? It's not just about making the business better, but about making your employees better. You might be thinking how in the world am I going to do all these things? I'm trying to run a business. But think back to that number I told you, 33% of us workers are engaged, but the best companies are more than double that if you can increase your engagement, you gain time, time back in your day to focus on the business. And this is how you put all these management best practices into action. The one to one are any of you currently meeting with your direct reports, at least twice a month, individually? Anyone here? Just a couple. So here's a goal between now and October of 2020. When you all come to San Diego for our big do the work conference, start doing one to ones.

Try out the one to one book, those tickets, um, it's the single most important thing that you can do as a manager and that's truly not an understatement. So what does it look like? This is really not that complicated. First of all, just do it make the time whether you've been working 60 hours, 70 hours commit to a time 25 minutes, twice a month is all it's going to take. You don't have to have an office. You stop by with a cup of coffee, have a beer. And one afternoon I don't meet at the Chick-fil-A at the mall. And then listen, ask questions. How are we doing? How could we do better? Asking questions, shows your concern and then take time to listen to the answer. So don't listen with the intent to respond. Listen with the intent to understand you will be so surprised what your team will tell you about your business. When you ask a question and then shut your mouth and it feels good to be heard. So let them know that you're interested in what suggestions they have and what they have to say. So if you do nothing else between now and October of next year, start doing, one-to-one just start who's. Who's willing to try it out. Okay. I'll take half.

Alright. And then this is the complete list from Google. So we'll go through this one by one. This is a slide that often gets lots of the camera's out once it's all up there. So again, I told you they did the research and they've come up with a list of the 10 things that matter. You guys have populated half this list for us in your examples. Good coach empowers does not micromanage. These are in order. Okay? Number one is as a good coach, shows, concern, productive results, oriented, listens, and shares. Information is a good communicator supports career discusses performance, but everything can't be bad, right? You've gotta be balanced. Like here are the things that went well this week. Hey, here's an opportunity to get better. Balanced feedback has vision and strategy for the team, the company, and look number eight is technical skills, not one, not two, not three number eight on the list.

So you need to have some technical skills, but you don't want to be the best. It's fantastic. When you have employees who are better at the thing than you are, right? So you can get to running the business, not just doing the work collaborates and makes good decisions. So this is the list of the 10 behaviors for good management. And you'll notice they're mostly what people would call the soft skills. The people skills. It doesn't say as a good accountant or as good at finance, right? You can farm out and get experts in some of those things, but it's about caring and connecting with your people. Because if you want to get to the top, if you want to climb the mountain, if you want to hit that goal, if you want to win as a team, you have to do right by them. And when you do, when you do right by your crew, your crew will do right by your customers. And when that happens, we all win. Thank you.

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