Why Impact Dominates Productivity

Productivity is not what matters most. Making an impact matters. You probably know people, surely not you, who are running from pillar to post. They even complain (or boast) about how busy they are all the time. Busyness does not equate to influence. For example, checking off items on your long “to do list” keeps you occupied, but really important, impactful work is untouched. And, you are exhausted. At the end of the day have you ever wondered, “I’ve been working steady all day but what have I accomplished that has an effect?” Since we have all the time available, squandering it on low impact activities is expensive. Valuable resources such as time, money, creativity, and energy are depleted without much to show for it. Activity has its own rewards for its own sake.  Plus, it keeps you from doing something else that’s harder and more involved. Others can conclude you are really important because you are so busy. We even are praised for such hard work. Nobody is asking what difference you made. How to get out of the productivity trap and in the impact zone? At the start of your week, make a list of what you must accomplish to have a high impact week Day 1, list what you must accomplish to have a high impact day. These will come for your list for the week. Address first the activities that have the most effect with the least effort. Next address the activities that have the most effect with more effort. Day 2 assess the remaining items on your master list for the week. Repeat the process...

What Experts Are Saying About Employee Reviews

Employee reviews are not only time consuming, they are also dreaded by the giver and the receiver. How can an employee review be truly useful with so much fear and loathing? Saving your feedback for an annual review, reminds me of “Wait until your father comes home.” There is a better way. Such companies as Goldman Sachs, IBM, Accenture, Adobe, GE, and Microsoft have revamped the employee review process. The annual performance appraisal may be going the way of the dinosaur. The intent of the employee review is to help people improve job performance. With improved job performance, they make a bigger contribution to the success of the company. When they are aligned with the vision, mission and values of the company, employees are engaged. They see what they do matters. They are more likely to want to stay. It’s expensive to have a revolving door of employees who seek employment where they feel appreciated. Seven steps to improve employee reviews: 1)      Have clarity about what an employee is expected to do to contribute to the success of the company. 2)      Create goals that are simple, measurable and important. 3)      Transform feedback to coaching regularly and frequently. 4)      Use a monthly to quarterly schedule to coach [a.k.a. give feedback] your team. 5)      Make it a two way conversation: “How can I help you?” and “What do you need from me?” 6)      Separate coaching and compensation. 7)      Develop a nonthreatening, feedback rich environment. When you have frequent meetings with your team to provide coaching, you set up an environment of trust. With the purpose to support employees not to punish them, you...

How Dysfunction Is Draining Profits and Productivity

Although many business owners enable dysfunction in their companies, they do not do it on purpose. No leader would intentionally drain the profits from his company. No leader would diminish productivity in her company intentionally.  “Failure in the function of a system” defines dysfunction. Simply put, things aren’t working right. For example, a small but growing company has two partners who cannot be in the same room. One of them disagrees so fiercely with three recent hires that he has vowed never to come back to work in the office so long as they are there. Please bear in mind, after these employees were hired, work got done faster and with fewer errors. Plus, the atmosphere dramatically became more positive. Consider how expensive it is to operate in a dysfunctional culture: Unhappy employees, especially good ones, leave to work elsewhere Infighting among employees is the norm Work is below standard Leaders are not respected Deadlines mean nothing People avoid accountability Silos are common Despite its cost, companies and leaders tolerate dysfunction for multiple reasons. “This is how we do things.” “We know how to work with it.” “We do not know how to fix it.” “It’s too hard to change.” These are a few reasons leaders allow dysfunction to take root and to continue. How do you create a culture that’s working right? The short answer is one step at the time. 1)      Own the dysfunction. Be honest about the situation. It’s the only way to move forward.   2)      Build trust. Admit no one has all the answers, including the leader.   3)      Focus on critical areas of...

10 Ways to Outsmart the Saboteurs of Your Vision and Goals

Having an inspiring vision and well-crafted goals are no guarantee your business will achieve them. It is often the norm to put a vision and goals on the shelf so you can get back to work. This frustrates people, especially if they have been part of the process to craft the vision and define the goals. Nothing changes. People you need for your business to succeed lose heart. This is expensive and leaders lose credibility. The root of the problem is people, even smart people, are willing to tolerate the current reality rather than experience change. Asking someone to change, even if it’s beneficial to them and the organization, is losing something. This is scary. When people are afraid, they do what is necessary to return to “normal.” Recently I worked with a division in a large organization. We created a vision and the objectives, goals and strategies to achieve the mission and to move closer to the vision. It is hard to do this important work. The management team and staff did a remarkable job. At the conclusion of our second day together, I asked them to answer the following question, ”In order to move closer to our vision and to achieve the goals we have set, what is it ‘we must do’ and what is it ‘we must not do?’” The following are their responses: WE MUST DO……… 1. Embrace the direction of change with honest display of values 2. Review the goals, objectives and strategies monthly to stay on track 3. Be disciplined and focus on the work and time frames that are set 4. Listen...

Gardening Secrets for Leading a Team

  Regardless of the size, leading an organization is hard work. It is like gardening. You can’t just plant it and forget it and expect to receive a bountiful harvest. If you approach gardening with this mindset, you are in for a big disappointment. Being the leader of an organization and being a gardener have much in common. The results of your efforts can be rewarding but not always, no matter how hard you work. After hours of toiling in the hot sun, my two 4 x 4 raised garden beds were ready for planting. I had visions of summer vegetables just like Monticello. To my dismay, I did not harvest one thing. It did not thrive on neglect. Plus, a hot, dry summer did not help. To assure the best results, here are some guidelines from gardening to leading: 1)      Create an environment that is conducive to what you are growing. Till the soil; remove impediments such as roots, rocks, or construction debris. Make it as easy as possible for your team to work with the right lighting, proper tools whether those are software or jack hammers, and clutter free. 2)      Choose the right plant for your location. An orchid does not thrive in freezing temperatures. Hire the right people. Give them the training and support needed to do their job well. Do not put a shade loving plant in a place getting 12 hours of sun. 3)      Pay close attention. A wilting plant is screaming for water. With the right opportunities, your team can express what it needs to make a contribution to the success of your...

Leadership’s Underside

Carrying the mantle of leader may look glamorous. It is hard work. Much of what a real leader does is hidden. Another thing about leaders—they exist at all levels in an organization. Not all leaders have prestigious titles. All of them are not at the top of an organization. Here are 6 characteristics of leaders:       Self-awareness. There is no mistaking your weak points and your strong points. Don’t forget the blind spots that we all have, too. Self-mastery. The ability to practice self-discipline. Honor your word. It is your bond. Leadership is built on trust. You can rely on leaders to be accountable to themselves and others. Understanding change is the key to growth. To keep the status quo stymies not only personal but professional development. Change for the sake of change to chase the next shiny object does not count. Willing to do things differently. Even in the face of long standing traditions that once served a purpose, embrace a new way of behaving, thinking and doing. Courage. It takes bravery to release old beliefs. This is especially true when these beliefs are held strongly by people you love and respect. It may feel disloyal to adopt new beliefs that are counter to previously held ones. Wisdom. It’s true in cards as well as leading, “…know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.” Some ideas are ahead of their time. Some ideas are past their expiration date. There is no one right way to lead. Behavior, not fancy words, and results, not lofty ideas, are key indicators of leadership. Where are the leaders in your business?...