Are You Deflating Beach Balls While Your Team Is At the Beach Bar?

Summer is winding down. According to many kids, at least those in Texas, it’s already over because they are headed back to class. Those of us in Dallas even got a tease of fall last week with a day where the temperature was below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. So a metaphor about deflating beach balls seems apt for this blog post.

How confident are you that every one of your employees is contributing at their full capability and that they are all working together towards the vision and goals you have set for your organization or department? If your answer is anything less than 100% confident – and I’m willing to bet it is – then you are leaving results on the table.

By definition, your business or department cannot obtain maximum results if every single individual is not contributing at their maximum potential. Each individual employee contributing fully is necessary for your organization to achieve its maximum results, but it is not sufficient. Everyone must also be working together towards a common outcome. But we’ll tackle pulling toward a common goal in a future post.

So how much results are you leaving on the table? Let’s look just at the individual performance side of the equation. Using employee engagement as a surrogate and based on research done by Gallup, engaged employees are 21% more productive than disengaged employees. That means if you engage five employees it is like getting a sixth employee at no additional cost! What would that be worth?

My work with businesses of all sizes has convinced me that the single most important thing you can do to assure every single team member is contributing at their maximum potential is to drive decision making down. Sound too simple? Let me assure you it’s not. Were you hoping for something a little more revolutionary? I promise it can be. And if you do it right, it will be one of those most challenging and rewarding things you ever undertake as a leader.

If you are mentally ticking off all the reasons you can’t drive decision making down, let me share some of the benefits of doing so.

  • Staff will be more invested and committed
  • Staff will take more initiative and ownership
  • Staff will be more creative, productive and innovative
  • The company will be more competitive
  • You will no longer feel like you are responsible for making all the decisions and solving all the problems
  • The business will achieve better results
  • You will be in a position to command a better sales price when you are ready to sell the business
  • You won’t be sitting in your office deflating beach balls while everyone else is at the beach bar (keep reading – you’ll understand)
  • You can really take a vacation – without constant interruptions

Here is a tool you can use to begin developing your team’s problem solving and decision making skills. I call it “Bounce-It-Back”. Think of it like this. Every time a staff member comes to you asking for a decision, wanting direction, or expecting you to solve a problem, imagine that they are tossing you a beach ball. Simply catch the imaginary ball, bounce it back to them, and ask them what they think or how they believe the problem can best be solved. Initially they may need some guidance, encouragement and a few directive questions from you. Eventually they will be able to solve all but the toughest problems and make all but the most critical decisions on their own.

Yes, bouncing the problem or decision back to the employee will take more time and perhaps more effort on your part initially. But what’s the alternative? Continuing to sit in your office day after day deflating beach balls long after all your employees have headed to happy hour at the beach bar?

Are you frustrated because you feel like your employees are too dependent on you for direction, decisions and problem solving?

Are you tired of sitting in your office every afternoon all alone, deflating beach balls long after everyone else has headed out?

Are you ready to achieve maximum results in your business by maximizing the contributions of your staff members and harnessing the power of teamwork?

Explore how we might be able to help. Email Julie at; call her at 972-701-9311; or connect with Julie at

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POSTED ON: Strategy and Vision