10-5-3™: Why are these numbers important?

Remember these numbers:


What are they?

Where your employees see themselves in 𝘁𝗲𝗻, 𝗳𝗶𝘃𝗲, 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗲𝗲 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘀 from now.

Why is that important?

By asking your direct reports about their future goals, you are showing that you are invested in them and creating opportunities to not only establish meaningful connections, but also help them in their journey.

Here’s the thing, your number one job as a leader is to do everything that you can to make your people great…

…𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯 𝘪𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺’𝘳𝘦 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘳𝘰𝘢𝘥!

Let’s explain the 10-5-3™ program a little further…

10-5-3™: A Pathway to Building Your Team's Greatness

The 10-5-3™ program is a series of three numbers that have huge impact and are everything about making our direct reports great.  If you have direct reports, read on…I challenge you to MAKE YOUR DIRECT REPORTS GREAT!

Why is it important to know our direct reports?

So, what is the 10-5-3™ program ?  Simply put, it is understanding the people who report to us in a way that allows us to find opportunities and to make meaningful connections with them.  Of course, this assumes you believe in paying it forward.  We teach the concepts of 10-5-3™ as part of the Accelerated Gross Profit Program offered by my company Evolve YT (designed for frontline field service managers).

The concept of the 10-5-3™ program is where do you want to be ten years, five years and three years from now professionally and personally.  For many of us leading others, this is something we can answer easily.  Yet the more I work with leaders and managers in companies with 10-250 employees (and many larger ones) it is surprising that many of their managers also cannot answer this question.  When my team is working with service personnel in field service companies (pest control, landscaping, HVAC…) and we ask this question it is shocking how many have never thought this through (you may be one of these people).

When introducing the 10-5-3™ program, it is critical for the person you are asking the questions to understand the WHY behind the questions.  They must truly believe you want to know more so you can work closer with them as their manager and leader to help them achieve their dreams.  Once this is set in motion here are some questions to get things going, posing each one in the three different time realms 10, 5 and 3 years from now.  I always start with 10 years.

As you think about this, a great read to get your juices flowing on the 10-5-3™ program is “The Dream Manager” by Mathew Kelly, written in fable form it helps you understand the power of truly getting to know the people that report to you and the questions you may want to ask.

While the 10-5-3™ program is the method I developed, I have to attribute the 10 and 3 years to one of the greatest thought leaders of the 21st century, Gino Wickman.  Wickman, author of Traction, uses the time frames from a business visioning perspective in his Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS®) and I have adapted this, added five years and now use it to learn more about our direct reports.

We start at ten years from now as this is our big picture, what Jim Collins calls our “BHAG,” our big hairy audacious goal.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming, but it should also be based in reality, we may not know exactly how we are going to get there but we are intent that we will achieve it.  Five years is where we start to refine what our path will be and our three year, will give you as the manager, the insight of what you need to do with your teammate to develop their plan.

When I am talking about the 10-5-3™ program many ask, “What about the one-year plan?” and again I have to steal a page from Gino Wickman. The 10-5-3™ program is what Wickman would probably describe as a “Personal Vison.” The 10-5-3™ program is where we are going whereas the one-year plan is how we are going to get there. So, while every service manager should have a one-year plan, they must start with 10-5-3™.  We then use the 10-5-3™ program to help formulate their one-year and even shorter-term plans.

What questions should I ask when using the 10-5-3™ program?

What questions should I ask when using the 10-5-3™ program?


Instituting the 10-5-3™ program begins with taking the time to ask questions and listen.  You’ll also want to take lots of notes during the process. If you need to help your direct report along, you can because you want them talking.

  1. Do you want to be living somewhere else?
  2. Will your family situation be different?
  3. Will your hobbies be the same?
  4. Do you want to be in the same job?
  5. Do you want the same responsibilities?
  6. How much money do you want to earn?

Here is where the hard work comes in. As I mentioned earlier, you better have your best listening skills on and not only listen to the words, but watch the body language.  Are they uncomfortable when answering certain questions, do the answers come too easily?  It is your job to get them to answer truthfully and to get them thinking.

While they are answering the question, I am the lookout for the following:

  • Do they want to be promoted to another position OR do they simply want to be great at what they currently do?
  • Do they have entrepreneurial aspirations, do they want to own their own business and if so, do they want to do this on the side or full time?
  • Do they LOVE the industry you are part of are do they want a different career path and/or a different industry?

How they answer these questions will greatly impact the things you can do to help them.  So often our direct reports are scared to tell us the truth for fear of losing their jobs.  But if you can get the best two years from one of your reports and help them achieve their dreams what is wrong with that?  I suggest nothing.  I would take ten people giving me two great years versus ten people that are above average, or worse yet, going through the motions.

One word of caution, when we ask the questions the first time it is likely your direct report will be stupefied.  That is OK and you want to give your employee an opening to go home and think it though.  They probably want to talk it over with their spouse, significant other or a family member, maybe even a close friend.  This is profoundly hard for them as most people have not thought past one year if even that far.

Also be on the lookout for things that do not match up personally and professionally.  For instance, if the person in ten years wants a house on three acres and is making $50,000 and their spouse is at home with the kids and the market rate for the property is $500,000 this clearly is unlikely to happen.  Now of course that is dramatic, and I used it for dramatic effect.  More likely you are going to find the personal and professional goals are close but maybe not completely in sync.  It is our job as their leader to help them achieve all they want and in return, they will look to you as a mentor. Helping them come up with a career plan to get them to their dream, helping them in setting realistic steps to make it happen OR helping them to set realistic personal goals are all part of it. Either way, your job is to help them to achieve their GREATNESS.

Remember, people leave companies because they do not like their supervisor even when they like their companies.  You want your direct reports loving you, loving your company and referring their friends to come and work for you and your company.

Interested in the 10-5-3™ program?

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