In the fast-paced, ever changing world we live in, many executives, professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders tell me how busy and “maxed-out” they are. With demanding schedules and lengthy “to-do lists”, the question arises, “how do I get it all done”?
The truth is…you don’t because you can’t. Here are some of the causes of poor prioritization:
- Action junkie; always on the move
- Difficulty saying no
- Ego; overestimating capacity
- Perfectionist; need to do everything
- Time management; too busy to set priorities
The higher you go in the organization, the more responsibilities you have with less time to get it done! In order to survive and prosper, you must prioritize what’s important on a daily basis.
Here are 7 things you can do to make it happen:
- Be clear about your goals and objectives. Use a personal or strategic plan.
- List goals in order of priority. Get clarity about what’s mission critical for you.
- Watch for the activity trap. Rather than trying to do all 37 items on your to-do list, focus on one or two that are most important first.
- Don’t play favorites by only focusing on what you like. Use data and intuition, not just feelings.
- Be efficient in how much time you make for others. Get to it and get it done!
- Write it down. Taking time to plan upfront frees up time later. Stephen Covey calls this “sharpening the saw”.
- Don’t procrastinate. Avoidance makes life more complicated – make a decision and move on.
What are you waiting for…get started…NOW!
We’ve all smiled at the phrase “you know, feedback is a gift”. But the receiver’s defensive reaction(s) can be a significant deterrent, when you are simply trying to be helpful by providing them feedback. This is especially true if the receiver is someone who typically responds with difficult behaviors such as: interrupting, justifying, arguing, or worse, lashing out with brutal attacks. They are often unaware (or even in denial) about their behavior. I refer to these people as B/C Players.
Some leaders of B/C Players will “look the other way” and tolerate these behaviors.
The most common excuses I hear are: “But they’re so productive and produce results”, or,
“I don’t have time to deal with stuff like that”.
I find that B/C Players are usually poison in an organization. They provide obstacles and make it difficult for A Players to thrive. Oftentimes, they are poor examples of living the core values.
Leaders MUST deliver the tough feedback message by doing the following 8 things:
- Collect examples of behavior through first hand observations and interviews with A Players.
- Spend time thinking about how to make your feedback message behavioral (citing the actual behavior).
- Schedule a feedback meeting that is formal and structured.
- Deliver the feedback directly, no sugar-coating.
- Actively listen to the B/C’s point of view, but don’t waiver from yours.
- Be willing to offer coaching.
- Get agreement about behavior change and follow up minimally on a monthly basis.
- Recognize improvements; stay firm if no improvement.
Leaders have an obligation to the organization and to A Players to deal with difficult people on their teams by having these conversations.
Imagine 2 Organizations…
The first is led by a leadership team whose members:
- Are open with one another
- Passionately debate important issues
- Commit to clear decisions even if they initially disagree
- Call each other out when their behaviors or performance needs correction
- Focus their attention on the collective good of the organization
The second is led by a leadership team whose members:
- Are guarded and less than honest with one another
- Hold back during difficult conversations
- Feign commitment
- Hesitate to call one another on unproductive behaviors
- Pursue their own agenda rather than those of the greater organization
What steps have you taken to build a higher performing organization where you work?
I had an opportunity today to coach and train a young middle management team at one of my Fortune 100 clients. It inspired me to ask myself, what are the qualities that leaders need to demonstrate to be a winner?
The topic was helping them develop strong and effective meeting facilitation skills and getting groups to make a decision. They came in a bit resistant, but within minutes I could see enthusiasm, desire and willingness to not only absorb the material but to connect with it, apply it and see new possibilities for introducing the skills and concepts into their organization.
I was in the company, all day, with “A Players”.
I can’t over emphasize the importance hiring and retaining A players in your organization. To do this, you must focus on finding talented people who are not only smart and capable but demonstrate the values of leading, commitment, making a difference and of learning. For me, that creates a winner.
I’m amazed at how critical meetings and the simplest elements for group communication continues to stymie the organizations that I work with.
I recently spent a day with a client’s leadership team. The following day, we added the next level of management below them to the meeting.
Initially the CEO asked me, “can you bring in the middle managers and facilitate a meaningful conversation among us? There are half a dozen issues on which we’re not aligned, where we have conflict, and where we don’t communicate”.
We ended having an effective day, had a number of good conversations and solved several key issues.
In doing so, we identified the 5 things that an organization must do to be more effective:
- Leaders must become strong facilitators.
- A Leader must create a thoughtful agenda that includes critical conversations with outcomes.
- Teams must gain an appreciation for conflict and passionate debate.
- Team members must develop trust and be authentic with each other.
- Discussions need to come to a close with problems solved and decisions supported by all.
Leaders and organizations can and must learn how to do these things in order to scale and achieve outstanding results.
As I read what Jeff Bezos said in the NY Times responding to the latest news at Amazon, it brings up the importance of having core values in your organization.
Core values are a handful of rules that guide behaviors in the organization. There are 3 key tests to determine if they are for real.
The first test – would you really fire someone who repeatedly violates a value? The second test – would you be willing to take a financial hit? Would you be willing to actually cut out a vendor, or cut out a customer that broke a core value?
And the third test, which is most crucial is, are the values alive and well in your organization? Which means, do your people talk about them? Are leaders talking about them? Are you telling stories about them?
If you can’t pass those three tests, you don’t really have core values in your organization. It makes me wonder how much work Amazon did in instilling values into their organization?