This is a time of reflections, affirmations and reaffirmations. Every year we reflect on our personal achievements and resolve to do better in the next. Do we do the same in our businesses? The appropriate answer would be ‘of course.’ We integrate innovation, continuous improvement and meaningful change into every work day. But, the reality is that we probably don’t. It isn’t from a lack of trying; it is from a lack of doing. So, here is a reminder to follow through – despite the statistical average of an interruption every nine minutes throughout the typical manager’s day. Some founders, owners, managers actually achieve the previous ideal.
Here are ten tips and reminders to do just that.
Use an Effective Time Management System
We all use some form or system for time management, but are they effective in capturing both short term and long term objectives? Most of us spend our time immersed in short term daily and weekly tasks – an effective system embraces and supports longer term objectives. Revisit your system, is it working? If not, the excellent Getting Things Done by David Allen in conjunction with any of a number of excellent smartphone apps will get you back on track. I use Awesome Note for individual tasks and SG Project Pro for project management, but there are plenty
Become a Numbers Junky
Turn traditional Income Statements into oracles for change. Work with your bookkeeper, accountant and CPA to produce actionable financials. A useful income statement includes a column for forecasted versus actual, year on year and expresses entries both numerically and as a percentage. This allows management at a glance. Elaborate budget preparations are only useful if you are acutely aware of variances and take timely action to correct them.
For instance, take a business tip from Sony post Tsunami – if your organization does not have at least two and preferably three suppliers for key raw materials – you are both paying too much and introducing risk into your business.
Work ‘On’ your business not ‘In’ your business
This is a universal problem. We become so immersed in daily operations and nine minute distractions that we lose sight of objectives. Dedicate yourself to empowering and trusting your staff to put out the brush fires, so that you can remain focused on achieving the long-term vision. Delegate your way to success, Managers need the time and focus to remain strategic. Additionally, your staff will appreciate the empowerment and your leadership, if you are a staff of one, schedule time for reflection.
Google, one of the most successful companies ever, empowers their engineers with a 20 percent time allowance for pet projects. Give yourself a day a week to improve your business.
Celebrate the small victories
On your path to success, remember the big picture but celebrate the steps that enable them.
The pace of change and increasing competition are unavoidable. Be proactive in making change the new norm in your organization. Stamp out business as usual. “But we’ve always done it this way” is a caustic phrase. Engender a supportive climate and culture which nurtures experimentation and learns from mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, be tolerant and supportive, use them as ‘lessons learned’ and a path for evolution.
Read: Leading Change by John P. Kotter
Hire slowly, fire quickly
An effective organization is the sum of its parts and is reliant on a culture of success. Unfortunately, some in our organizations may not embrace the vision and resist change. Also, they are often vocal in their opposition; respectfully remove naysayers and eeyors from your organization. Better yet, take your time hiring, check references and make full use of probationary periods and the constructive feedback of their fellow employees.
Proctor effective meetings
Do everyone in your organization a favor and read Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.
Read a Business Book a month
A couple of favorites to get you started:
Zag by Marty Neumeier
Unfolding the Napkin by Dan Roam
Enhance the User Experience.
Last summer I became enamored with the transcendent customer service and delectable offerings of Thai on the Fly, a small gourmet food cart towed by a MINI, on NW Galveston in Bend, Oregon. My weekly visits became a reminder of the impact of attention to detail and the power of a smile and a warm welcome. Mystery shop your own business on occasion to flight test the user experience.
Catch others and yourself doing something right
Remember the Team. Too often, we forget, or at least fail to acknowledge all of the great work, persistence and dedication of our colleagues. Make it a point to make someone else’s day every day.
On occasion, spoil yourself with a Do Nothing Day! Happy New Year!
Eric Anthony Spieth is the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence and Economic Development and a business professor at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, Oregon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.