Friday, November 20, 2009

Increasing Personal Productivity - Part 2

Watch this quick video for part 2 of Increasing Your Personal Productivity. If you haven't read yesterday's post I would encourage you to take a quick peak at that first.

I thope this was valuable. I know this minor shift in thinking has been very helpful to me in the last few weeks. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Seize the day!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Increasing Personal Productivity - Part 1

Have you ever wished you could get more done in the time that you had? Do you have any items on your to-do list that just never seem to go away (i.e. get done)? Unfortunately, I have answered "yes" to both of these questions within the last few months.

In my reading I have stumbled onto something that has already helped me, and I think is going to make a big difference going forward. The beauty of it is that it is so simple.

I am currently reading David Allen's "Getting Things Done" and have grasped onto a simple, yet profound concept he calls "next actions." Let me give you an example.

Last week I came across an item on my to-do list called, "Follow up with ABC Company about potential project." It has been sitting on my list for well over two months. Every time I see it I say to myself, "Oh, yeah, I really need to do that...uh, later." Then I move on to something else. This time when I looked at it , however, I realized something important. I needed to define the next action.

Defining the next action simply means to define precisely the next physical action that is needed to complete the task. Many times our inaction is the result of not making a clear decision about what actually needs to be done. In my example above, "Follow up with ABC Company about potential project" is too vague. Was I going to call my contact? Was I going to send him and email? In either case, what was I going to say/write? So, when I would see that item on my list I subconciously recognized I hadn't made those decisions and, therefore, didn't really know what to do. As a result, I would move on to something else where I did know what to do.

Now that I have clearly defined the next action, the task is off my list. Voila!

In my next post, I will cover another simple, yet profound concept that has helped me improve my personal productivity.

Seize the day!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Providing Stability - Pillar #3

Here is an excerpt from my newsletter that just went out the other day. It is a continuation of the series on what people are looking for from their leaders. Enjoy!

Providing Stability - An Anchor in the Storm


We have been through, and continue to be experiencing some very challenging times. If your leadership has never been severely tested in the past, I am certain that it has been this last year.

People everywhere are looking to their leaders to provide a sense of security and stability. Although this has been particularly true in the recent downturn in our economy, the research done by Gallup shows this to be a consistent desire people have regarding their leaders.

A Solid Foundation
People want strong leadership. They want solid support they can count on. This is true regardless of the economic landscape. Strong does not mean overbearing or domineering, but rather consistent, capable and dependable.

When there is a firm foundation of leadership people are free to focus their energy and talents on the overall vision as well as the tasks at hand. Read more...

Seize the day!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Goals That Work

Here is an excerpt from one of my earlier newsletters that focuses on how to help people set goals and make them happen. I hope you find it helpful.

Setting Goals that are SMART

“What are the 3-5 most important results I should expect from you this quarter? What goals would you like to create,” I asked Pete.
“First, I would like to implement a new warehouse in the inventory software,” he replied.
I followed up with, “Okay. What will be the benefits that we will experience as a result?”
Pete responded, “This should really help us to eliminate any more stock outages.”

The above dialogue represents a very common experience I had in talking with my direct reports. Here is another example:

Leader: “What goal would you most like to work on in the next 60-90 days?”
Associate: “I would like to work on improving my leadership skills.”

Result vs. Task
The first example highlights how people tend to set a “goal” that doesn’t represent the end-result they want. It is a task they want to execute to achieve the result. Pete’s desired result was to eliminate stock outages. But, when I asked him what his goal was he focused first on the task. The second example also lacks a clearly defined end-result.

As leaders we need to help them dig deeper and discover what they really want as the final outcome. The individual tasks associated should be developed later.

SMART vs. Vague
Both examples demonstrate the other major problem people encounter. Their ideas lack elements that will actually help them to accomplish the goal. So, what are the elements that would help a person get results? Read more...

Seize the day!

Hire Someone Better Than I Am?

I recently came across some reading material where the author was encouraging people to be willing to hire people better than themselves. At first blush my response was, "Absolutely! That is the right way to do it." However, as I reflected on that idea it hit me that this is probably much harder to do in practice than in theory.

As human beings there is a natural tendency toward self-preservation. I have seen it in myself and I have seen it in others...most others.We want to grow, we want to advance, we want to be the cream that rises to the top. You may say, "The competition is already stiff enough out there and now somebody wants me to actually bring someone into the organization that is better than I am?" I think that is a tougher pill to swallow than most of us are willing to admit.

How can we look at this differently so we will be more willing for this? I would like to offer two perspectives that I feel are important.

First, I think the bottom line is to be the team player that we all say we are. I have yet to interview a person who didn't claim to be a team player. I don't think I have had a single exception to this. No has been honest or bold enough to say, "No, I am pretty selfish when it comes right down to it."

If the team really is what is most important, then what is the goal? The goal is for the team to "win" (however your organization defines that). If we want to win then one of the things we need is great players. If that means that I have an opportunity to significantly increase the team's ability to win I need to do it --- even if that person is going to end up being able to make a more significant contribution that I can. After all, if we all don't win, none of us wins. Go team!

Second, one of the most important skills a leader can demonstrate is the ability to hire well. HR folks will tell you that a bad hire can end up costing an organization 3-5x that person's salary (or more). Therefore, I am a firm believer that by hiring great people I actually raise my value to the organization significantly and put myself in a position for meaningful advancement.

So, are you willing? Do you have the courage and confidence to hire someone better than you? It could be a breakthrough opportunity for you as a leader.

Seize the day!