Most managers, and even leaders of extremely large organisations, have a big blind spot they are not efficient at self-management. Their meetings routinely run over by half an hour or more; they over-promise and under-deliver; their to-do lists are too long.
There is a chasm between what many people at the top think they should be doing and what they actually do. Some of the shoulds are:
§ Consistently emphasise their vision and mission for theorganisation/team.
§ Influence the culture of the organisation/team.
§ Develop the people who can run the business/team tomorrow.
§ Put a public face on the business for the press, customers, suppliers, and staff.
§ Formulate a clear, well communicated, strategy.
§ Be out and about in the business with employees and customers.
By contrast, heres what most are actually doing:
- Spending their time holed up in meetings with other senior level executives.
- Spending an inordinate amount of time managing day-to-day details.
- Starting too many new initiatives.
- Spreading themselves too thin across too many projects.
- Being invisible to, unconnected with, and uncontactable by, their employees and customers.
In most instances managers are unaware of how their time is being used, and the vast majority of them are unrealistic about how long different projects take. Put it to the test!
§ Write down where you think you spend your time.
§ As a separate exercise write down where your time should be spent, given your role and where you should be delivering the most value.
Once you have completed these two short exercises put both documents away for two weeks. During these two weeks track and record where your time is actuallybeing invested. Compare the three documents. The results are often astounding.
Once you ruthlessly eliminate the endless meetings, needless to-dos, and unnecessary reading material from your schedule, you will find a huge scope of things that can be adjusted. Many people report that they opened up as much as 40% of their schedule. The reality is that there is more than enough time to get to the important issues on the freshly pruned list of to-dos.
To further cement the impact of how you spend your time, start playing the three must-dos a day game. Identify only three must-do things that will have the most meaningful impact on your business and team. Make it a habit of doing these three things every day, no matter what. If you get other things done in addition to these three things, thats okay, but the three items you pick as must-dos must always take precedence.
Changing behaviour is not an easy thing to do. If, however, you do your top three consistently for two weeks, there is little doubt that you will have experienced some meaningful change. Bear in mind though that when the pressure is on again, we all tend to fall back on our old coping mechanisms. The key here is to quickly review the impact the new tactic of focusing on three things a day has had upon the results you have been producing.
It is not natural to have your day taken up with streams of telephone calls, e-mails, queues of people traipsing through your office, mounds of paperwork taken home over weekends, and consistent late nights at the office. This type of behaviour is negative and you need to identify the cause of this negative behaviour. Fear, believe it or not, is at the root of most of the out-of-control agendas:
§ Fear of failure
§ Fear of forgetting something
§ Fear of letting go (resulting in inadequate delegation)
There are other factors however:
§ Lack of focus. Many managers, at all levels, are not really clear on whats important in their role. The result is that there can be no filtering mechanism.
§ Lack of planning. If you dont think through things, your agenda will be littered with random actions.
§ Lack of, or inadequate, delegation.
§ Lack of trust in other people.
§ Lack of self-awareness.
Your conditioning that the secret to success is to work harder than everyone else may well be an inhibiting belief system. Having your head down, buried in your work, results in your people never seeing you and they will begin to misinterpret you as uncaring and maybe even as being uninterested in the business. The reality is that the true purpose of any manager is to get the best out of his/her people. Through helping them achieve results you achieve results. Through helping them achieve success you automatically achieve success! If you are in this trap you should maybe do three things:
§ Spend an hour a day walking around the office chatting with employees.
§ Send a thank-you note to an employee for something youve noticed
§ Communicate the clarified purpose and vision of the business/team to at least one of your people every day (more if possible).
Maybe you dont view these things as being of high importance but you will notice a profound difference in the results your people produce.
What message are you sending your employees, shareholders, and customers by your actions?
Remember that internal misjudgements are six times more likely to cause failure than external factors. Success in business, as in life, is all about getting the fundamentals right and the actions you take! Money is an outcome, not a purpose!
Will is the master of the world. Those who want something, those who know what they want, even those who want nothing, but want it badly, govern the world.
PEARLS OF WISDOM
A hundred years from now we will all be gone from this planet. This idea can fill us with needed perspective during times of perceived crisis or stress.
Make a list of all the things you can think of that you agonised over during the past year. Decide which ones will seem important in a hundred years from now.