I found this an unusually brief (!) and insightful commentary on the current demands upon leaders to be effective in today’s world.
Here are nine magic questions – if you develop crystal clear answers to all of these in any given situation, be it something for yourself, helping motivate a member of your team, or in a sales context, it will make a massive difference:
1. What do you want?
2. Why do you want it?
3. Why is that important to you?
4. Why don’t you have it now?
5. When would you like to have it? Why then?
6. How will you feel when you have it?
7. What do you need to do to get it?
8. Are you willing to do what it takes to get it?
9. What’s the Plan of Action to get it?
A very brief article today based on this question: “Is it possible to over-encourage people?”
Yes, you need to have the confidence to confront poor behaviour and manager under-performance through clear communication and constructive conversations. Let’s take that as ‘sorted’.
Without that accountability it’s certainly possible to create a culture that is falsely positive, where poor attitudes and slack work habits go unchallenged.
But, assuming that’s in place because you have well-trained managers (if you don’t, give me a call and let’s get them well-trained!), is it possible to over-encourage or is it the case that the more praise, encouragement and generally positive inputs to the work environment, the better?
What do you reckon? And what will you stop doing, start doing and continue doing as a result?
I’m genuinely really interested to hear your thoughts.
It’s Transfer Deadline Day in the football world, with the transfer window bolted shut at 11pm tonight. Any business that clubs don’t get done by that cast-iron cut-off point doesn’t happen….at least until the window opens again on 1st January.
Many I know, and I humbly confess to being one of them, will be refreshing the deadline day news apps on phones quite a few times between now and 11pm.
Whether you’re a fellow ‘refresher’ or have no interest at all, you can’t escape the fact that the deadline creates activity and lots gets done. The transfer window has been open all summer but it’s today that many of the deals get completed. It’s do or die, now or never, time to go and make it happen!
There’s something incredible about the deadline that generates action. We humans can’t seem to resist it’s power. Whether it’s ‘last day of early bird booking rate’, tax return submission day, job application cut-off, the big tender due date or the last day at work before holidays, the time when time is running out is so often when we are at our most productive.
Somehow our lack of self-discipline, poor self-motivation and well-honed procrastination skills all get put aside as the shadow of the pending deadline looms large!
My aim here is not to look at why this is, but rather to think about how we can use this naturally occurring phenomenon to our huge advantage.
What happens when we don’t have a big, externally-dictated deadline looming?
Here are three ways to harness some of the power of the deadline every single day:
1) Set a deadline for when you are going to finish working today
Make your plans, write your lists, set about your daily work but with a definite end-time which is 100% inflexible. I guarantee you’ll work more efficiently knowing that you can’t just keep going ‘for as long as it takes’.
2) Set the clock on a piece of work
When you have a large project or specific task that needs your focussed attention and you don’t know how long it will take, it can be really hard to get going with any sense of urgency. This is especially true if it’s one of those long-term projects that will generally improve the world but lacks any definite ‘we need it by then’ dates. Here’s where it can be really helpful to set yourself set blocks of time to make as much progress as possible. Choose a realistic period, an hour often works, to get your head down and concentrate only on that task. Set a timer and keep it visible in front of you and keep going until it beeps. Then schedule your next block of time to pick it up again.
3) Create an arbitrary deadline and make it public
Sometimes we will be more motivated by the potential for public shame than just the satisfaction of our own achievement! Where this is the case, set a date for a project, a launch, an event…anything really…and tell people. ‘Going public’ might be telling your family, your team, the whole office, your clients, all your social media followers or even the Stock Exchange. But do it and see the difference it makes!
The unavoidable truth is that deadlines work like a dream and, as is the case for many ‘refreshers’ today, can even make things a little bit more exciting!
Are you feeling rested, refreshed and energised to launch full-steam ahead into the Autumn? Perhaps for you or some colleagues, “exhausted and glad the kids are going back to school is more like it”?!
However you’re feeling as August comes to a close, the Autumn does tend to be a really productive – dare we say, ‘busy’ – few months where the natural lull in routine created by the summer gives way to full-scale activity.
Here’s a warning right away. As you well know, activity doesn’t equal productivity. Being busy and working hard doesn’t guarantee results.
With this in mind, my ‘one-percent’ recommendation is that you take some time to review and re-establish your routines – the regular habits that keep you on track. After a break in the norm, it can take more effort than we think to get back into good work habits rather than starting with email and seeing where the day takes us!
There are key activities that if practised routinely, make a huge difference to your productivity. Here are just a few examples:
– 10 magic minutes daily planning
– week review & planning meetings
– regular team meetings and one-to-one’s
– booked out periods of uninterrupted time
– finishing work at a set time to do other stuff!
I’m sure you could add to the list. Give it some thought and make a conscious effort (& book it it the diary!) to re-establish those routines that will help you stay a little bit more in control, focused on your high-payoff activities and working towards important goals over the next few months.
Here’s to a fantastic September!
Five quick and easy things to digest on a Friday!
This week it’s five things I hear most often that people want from their manager.
1. Consistency – this includes handling problems and mistakes, treatment of different team members & general mood. We like to know that our leaders uphold consistent standards and to feel that we are treated fairly and with respect.
2. Communication – in a nutshell, nearly every conversation I have on this subject contains the sentiment, “I want my manager to communicate more.”
3. Clarity – I read a survey a while back that suggested one of the greatest causes of stress at work was unclear boundaries. We like to know what’s expected. We like to know what success looks like & to have something concrete to aim for. We like to know our roles & responsibilities, & those of our teammates. Strive for clarity wherever possible.
4. Involvement – On a recent day of staff interviews in preparation for designing a line-manager development programme for a company, the appreciation for managers who were present, visible, approachable and who understood what their team actually did day-to-day was huge. NB. This does not mean micro-management!
5. Feedback – for goodness sake, let us know how we’re doing! Are we on track? Are we doing great? What needs changing? Few things stir unrest like the negative annual appraisal that comes out of the blue. Make feedback regular and routine. Both positive and negative.
That’s your Friday Five for this week. Do you agree? Anything else that you’d have in your top five?
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of spending a few days with many of my LMI colleagues from around the world at our annual convention in Florence. Our flight from London went into Pisa so, having never set foot in Italy before, it would have been rude not to stop and have a look around. As every good tourist does in that small-ish Italian town, we headed in what seemed like the direction of that world-famous wonky tower.
You can’t see the tower from miles away so it came as quite a shock when we rounded a corner and there it was, leaning away, just like in the pictures. Having seen it’s picture dozens of times, I was still amazed, when confronted with it in real life, at just how much it leans. It’s impressive!
Something I then found very interesting. The closer I got to it, the less obvious it’s lean became. It’s basic physics I know, but these things make an impact when you experience them first hand. Close up, it could almost be straight. Start walking away and look back, it’s lean becomes stark once again.
Lots in our lives and our businesses can be like this. We get so involved, so consumed by the the day-to-day demands, so ‘close’ to all that’s going on, we don’t notice how wonky it is.
When I look at the pictures I’m reminded to step back and notice where things may have become a little wonky.
Am I working too many hours & have lost balance?
Have I stopped being so careful about prioritising my work?
Are my goals a little out of focus?
Has our passion for great customer service dropped off a little?
Whatever ‘stepping back’ means for you at the moment, it’s well worth doing. And when you notice something’s wonky, get help to fix it (unless it’s so extraordinary that you can get rich off people coming to see it)!