What to Do When Your Rocks Aren't Rolling

An EOS team's Quarterly Rocks weren't rolling down their Accountability Chart. The Integrator and major function heads, even the Visionary, were getting Rocks done. Not so their direct reports—amid the daily rain of pebbles, they weren't prioritizing their Rocks.

I sent this leadership team a little love note about Rocks. And now I'm sending it to you!

Love Letter to a Team Whose Rocks Weren’t Rolling

Team, I suspect the Rocks symptoms you identified at our Quarterly relate to underlying weakness in how you’re using the Rocks tool in your Traction component.

Here are the symptoms:

  1. Gray, murky accountability

  2. Struggling to prioritize, have urgency about Rocks

  3. Not tracking project milestones

  4. People aren’t updating milestones before L10s

  5. We need to assign Rocks to people with the capacity and skills to do them

  6. We need to elevate Rocks to a job description level

Symptoms: Lack of accountability, prioritization, and tracking

Symptoms 1-4 can be addressed simply by communicating about Rocks more. Rock communication is built into EOS. Here’s where Rocks get communicated:

Quarterly State of the Company

  • Where we’ve been

  • Where we are

  • Where we’re going

Quarterly Conversations: The 5-5-5*

Have a conversation with each of your direct reports quarterly on these three topics:

  • 5** Core Values

  • 5** Rocks

  • 5 Roles

* For more on the 5-5-5, see How to Be a Great Boss, p. 98.

** Up to 5, that is. Most people below the leadership team should have just 1-3 rocks each; preferably closer to 1. Simpler is better, less is more.

Weekly Departmental Level 10 Meetings

Rock Review is the place to keep track of Rocks weekly. Read the list of Rocks and get a quick “On track!” or “Off track!” from the owners. If it’s off track, we neither complain, explain, nor discuss—we drop it down to the Issues List.

Symptom: "We need to assign Rocks to people with the capacity and skills to do them"

This symptom requires:

  • A stronger Accountability Chart

  • Mindful and consistent leadership and management of your departmental Level 10 meetings. Sales/Marketing must lead the Sales/Marketing L10; Ops must lead the Ops L10; and Finance must lead the Finance L10.

  • Intimate knowledge of each person’s GWC (Get it, Want it, and Capacity to do it) that comes from talking with them weekly in the L10 setting, and quarterly in the Quarterly Conversation.

Symptom: "We need to elevate Rocks to a job description level"

This symptom requires you to say to each other, “Yes, that’s exactly what we need to do!”

Ninety percent of what you expect of your people falls into the categories of Core Values, Rocks, or Roles.— How to Be a Great Boss, pp. 98-99, emphasis added.

Push Your Rocks Down the Hill

Your Rocks won't roll down to your direct reports unless you give 'em a push. Fortunately, Rocks pushes are built into EOS. Just follow the system!