Start Doing Or Start To Do
3. What do you need to start doing?
This question asks you to think of things you are not doing that could be important to getting better results. Personally, I know that delegating effectively has a tremendous impact on my results. I have a team of highly talented individuals who support my vision, and I continually ask them to handle things on my behalf. Some of the approaches I take toward my delegation include:
- Asking my staff to handle actions (including correspondence, filing, mailings, running errands) that otherwise consume time I could spend more effectively as a leader
- Making daily lists that detail actions and priorities
- Having daily follow-up meetings to check status and to break through bottlenecks
- Noting e-mail subject lines with "action required" or "response requested"
- Contracting with outside partners or consultants when we are stretched for time or expertise internally
I estimate that the above tasks provide me with at least two "extra" hours a day that I can better spend talking with prospective clients and building the business. I have created a culture wherein my team members are always thinking of how to spend their time most effectively while communicating honestly and frequently about progress and problems. As a result, we are efficient and streamlined, able to exceed our customers' expectations, and see real success – as evidenced by our bottom line. Each year, I see an increase in my company's revenue and a decrease in inefficiencies that distract from growth.
4. What do you need to stop doing?
Here you'll identify low-impact, time-wasting activities to eliminate from your daily habits. These activities could be minor, such as spending too much time on the telephone with colleagues, helping others out on nonemergency items while pushing aside your more critical tasks, inefficiently preparing for meetings, and generally allowing small things to push you away from your primary objectives.
These activities could also be major. Instead of delegating to your staff, perhaps you're spending several hours a day on tasks that would be better handled by others, which reduces your ability to meet critical deadlines. For example, instead of returning phone calls to the company's insurance provider, ask someone in HR to manage it. Don't conduct basic research; ask your assistant to do it instead.
Maybe your fondness for micromanagement is causing resentment in your colleagues and delaying progress because your continual henpecking for status updates results in high turnover. I used to work with a fellow who constantly barraged his team with requests for status updates. Every day he sent endless e-mails to the team, detailing what they had accomplished, what needed to be done, why it hadn't been done, and what was going to happen next.
Although a culture of communication and status updates can really help with productivity, too many requests can ruin morale and suck away valuable time. After repeated complaints from his team, he now limits his status checks to once a day and most of the time does not even need to request them. He has created voluntary change by easing up on his staff, who more readily communicate with him instead of resenting the frequent intrusions.
Perhaps there are some hard organizational changes that need to be made from staffing or responsibility perspectives, changes that would improve overall production. In the past I've had the unfortunate task of letting employees go. In management, this is just a fact of life, but it never gets easier. I once had an employee who was a terrific person but just not efficient enough for the fast pace of my organization.
Her agonizing attention to meaningless details slowed everyone's productivity. Additionally, she wasn't as organized or neat as I needed her to be, and in her absence (which was frequent) we could not quickly find important documents or follow-up items. Luckily, I had a friend who operated a small company and needed a part-time assistant. He hired this employee, and the match turned out to be a good one for them.
In return, I was able to hire someone who better suited my organization's hectic demands. Making this change freed up emotional worry on my part and enabled the rest of my team to regain the clockwork efficiency that really defines what we offer our clients.
There are real impediments to your productivity, and they need to be exposed. Beyond honestly identifying them, however, you must make the commitment to eliminate them from your daily routine. This may sound easy, but habits are hard to change! It will take real devotion from you, so when you start to buckle, think about your vision, why you want it, and how wasting time is just going to push you farther away from where you want to go. Once you eliminate these time wasters, you'll have greater focus and be able to better tackle the high-leverage actions that feed your success.
Procrastination is a bad habit that greatly restricts results and effectiveness, but it can be controlled. The first step is to identify the reasons behind it, then make the commitment to move toward production, the opposite of procrastination. Production is the completion of tasks and projects in reduced time frames, and it is greatly accelerated by the concept of Production Before Perfection (PBP). Rather than waiting for every aspect of a project to come into perfect, linear alignment, PBP allows you to manage the aspects in parallel, adjust the project as you progress, and reach greater results.
The concept of PBP will be uncomfortable for others at first, however, so you will need to be persuasive and persistent to effect voluntary change. The next post will help you alter others' attitudes and behavior through images of influence, an understanding of which will boost your persuasion power and increase your communication effectiveness.To learn more, you can check out Start Doing Or Start To Do.
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