Do you know the biggest secret
to time management?
The most important approach to successful time management is delegation – a skill that must be developed and practiced to be applied effectively. While time management gurus often speak of prioritizing tasks, handling each email when it’s opened rather than reading it and deferring action until later, tracking time spent on various tasks, and other such techniques, the impact of these approaches pales in comparison to the time you will save by not doing tasks that can be effectively (and often more economically) performed by others. Yet, delegation is one of the most underutilized management techniques, and few leaders and managers have received any formal training in effective delegation.
In order to delegate effectively, there are some hurdles that must be overcome:
1. You must be willing to accept help.
2. You must accept that others may do things somewhat differently than you, and that those other approaches are most often an acceptable way to get things done.
3. You must have confidence and trust that others can perform to acceptable standards, and if they can't, there may be a performance related issue that you've not addressed.
4. In many cases, you must be willing to make a one-time investment of your time to provide guidance to the person to whom you are delegating a task. If you never train others, you will never be able to delegate to them. This should be followed up with periodic monitoring and mentoring to be sure progress remains on track.
5. You must acknowledge that sometimes things will not go as planned, and accept this as a learning experience for you, in terms of providing ample and clear instruction and guidance, and the person to whom the task was delegated, in terms of how the work is performed.
It’s difficult to lead when you’re doing all the work yourself. By practicing the above steps you’ll be able to leverage your available resources for greater performance, higher productivity, and create more time for you to exercise true leadership skills.
Is paralysis by analysis
preventing you from
capitalizing on opportunities?
Many organizations find it very challenging to be nimble. Such organizations often miss opportunities because they fail to take timely action for fear of making a mistake or encountering problems, yet the outcome from inaction is often worse.
Three of the most common underlying root causes for inaction are a desire to build consensus prior to making a decision (to avoid making an unpopular decision or being held accountable for a bad decision), a desire to collect and analyze comprehensive data (to be sure all things have been considered), and not wanting to be the first to try a new approach (because of the risk). If you find you or your organization trapped in this scenario, following are some things for you to think about…
Not all decisions are well suited to consensus. Gathering diverse input before making a decision is always wise, but involving personnel in the decision making process who lack direct knowledge or experience with the subject matter generally results in poor decision making and dramatically reduces your organizational speed. Gather input quickly and empower those with relevant experience to make the decision. Preclude the potential effects of not having consensus by communicating the decision in a manner that addresses emotional factors at the same time as the rational basis for the decision. This will dramatically increase support and reduce the potential for people to become polarized against the chosen path. For more information on how to communicate in this manner see our book, Seven Secrets to Superior Presentations.
The amount of directly relevant data is generally small.
Since implementation of the Internet, the amount of readily available data on every topic has increased dramatically and is continuing to grow at an exponential rate. Organizations often feel the need perform exhaustive data collection and analyses before making a decision, but the vast majority of that data has little direct relevance to the decision, and considering irrelevant data can actually result in poor decisions. Instead, use the Pareto principle, where 80 percent of the benefit comes from the first 20 percent of the effort, and focus only on the collection and analysis of directly relevant data of significance. You’ll save time and money, and increase your organizational speed.
Prototype based decision making reduces the risks of being first. Many of us have been trained to gather and analyze extensive amounts of information, determine the best course of action, and implement it with a strong commitment to the chosen direction. This works well when time is not critical and there is considerable stability in the business environment. A better approach in dynamic environments is the prototype based decision model where a small amount of highly relevant data is gathered and analyzed, a path is chosen and implemented, progress is monitored frequently and regularly using key performance indicators, and then minor adjustments are made to optimize the results. This flexible approach generally produces better results, faster, and at lower cost.
Highly successful firms such as Apple have shown us that disruption and speed pave the path to progress. Being overly concerned with failure is the wrong attitude. Focus not on why something won’t work, but how to make it work and your odds of success will be significantly greater.
Your negotiation approach
impacts current and
Next to presentation and persuasive communication skills, your negotiation skills will likely have the greatest impact on your organizational and personal success. This is because many activities internal and external to your organization involve negotiation, although they may not always be recognized as such interactions formally. Fortunately, even modest improvements in your negotiation skills can have a significant positive impact because few people are skilled or trained negotiators.
Of all the elements that can significantly impact your ability to achieve desired outcomes during negotiation, one of the most important is the overall approach. People frequently view the realm of outcomes as they would a pie, with a finite quantity that must be distributed among those who want to share in the pie. This approach is generally called distributive negotiation, and it typically involves the opposing parties using whatever leverage they can find and behaviors they deem appropriate to increase their share. As a result, the outcome is usually one where neither party is fully satisfied, and often the relationship between the parties is strained or damaged in the negotiation process.
Interest based negotiation is a preferable approach because it involves the identification of methods for increasing the total value of what is being negotiated and leveraging the differences in priorities exhibited by each party. By enlarging the pie in this manner, both sides benefit, and the relationship is generally preserved or even strengthened. Successful interest based negotiation requires that you develop a good understanding of the value each party places on various elements of the negotiation, know the opposing party's perspective well enough to enable you to identify items that are of lesser importance to you but of strategic value to them, and exercise a high degree of creativity and collaboration to identify mutually beneficial solutions. This requires some preparation, but the results are well worth the effort.
To learn more about interest based negotiation and other techniques for improving your ability to achieve desired outcomes while protecting your relationship with the opposing party, call PMGI at (863) 529-2126.
What silos tell you about your organization...
Many leaders in both the private and government sectors say they have "silos" in their organization, where people in various divisions or departments are reluctant to share information or resources with other groups, and prefer to operate independently. In extreme cases, one department will outsource work that can and should be accomplished by another internal department.
Such behavior reduces efficiency, precludes the ability to capitalize on synergistic opportunities, and often increases operational costs by requiring duplicative resources. More importantly, it usually results in poor service for those people your organization serves, and it reduces professional development opportunities and creates discomfort for the organization's employees.
To combat this behavior, leaders frequently emphasize the need for teamwork and collaboration, and in many cases managers are penalized in their performance appraisals for not being more collaborative. However, this addresses only the symptoms and does not identify or address the root causes, so the problems persist.
Silo behavior is symptomatic of issues involving trust, fear, and competence -- trust that others can and will do what's required, fear that one's own performance will be adversely impacted by others, and a perception or actual awareness that others lack the competence to do what is required. These conditions are often amplified by those at the leadership level not providing sufficient guidance and empower-ment to the employees, and failing to adequately address real performance issues when they do exist.
These are not always easy issues to resolve, but treating the symptoms without addressing the root causes will only lead to additional cost and frustration. It's important to address the trust, fear, and competency issues by starting at the top of the organization and providing the necessary education, guidance, empowerment, and accountability to foster a healthy, collaborative culture. It's no accident that the characteristics of trust, empowerment, and competence are also mentioned in our article about organizational speed. All three of these characteristics are critical success factors for best-in-class performance.
For assistance breaking down silos in your organization call PMGI at (863) 529-2126.
What you need to know
about organizational speed...
Whether you’re in the government or private sector, organizational speed plays a huge role in your ability to achieve or surpass goals. This is because speed influences how much of your limited resources are consumed in getting things done, and how well you’re able to capitalize on opportunities when they arise. Speed supports innovation, which has an order of magnitude larger impact on economic results than productivity and efficiency improvements alone.
Many people believe that having a culture based on consensus driven decision making precludes the ability to be fast, but that’s not true. Many things influence organizational speed, but the following four interrelated factors have the greatest impact:
- Empowerment. An organization can only reach its optimal sustainable speed when employees are empowered to make decisions appropriate for their level of responsibility. Unnecessary levels of approval and bureaucracy must be identified and eliminated through procedural change. Empowered employees are happier because when given such responsibility they feel valued and trusted. And, those who your organization serves will notice a difference in how they are treated when you have happy employees.
- Trust. In order to fully empower employees, trust must extend throughout the organization vertically, between employees, supervisors, and leaders, and horizontally across functional units. To achieve speed, there must be sufficient trust to hand off work to appropriate departments and levels of the organization.
- Skill. Empowerment and trust are easier to implement when there is a high level of confidence in the skill of each employee. Thus, adequate professional development, in the form of training, mentoring, and coaching, is a key to building trust and supporting organizational speed.
- Decision Model. Whether your organization chooses to employ a consensus, top-down, or majority driven approach to making decisions, the use of a dynamic prototype decision model provides both speed and better outcomes. This model employs the Pareto principle, where 80% of the benefit comes from the first 20% of the effort. By making a rapid decision, monitoring the results in real time, and making minor course corrections you can enhance effectiveness without losing valuable time.
To learn more about increasing your organization’s speed, call us at (863) 529-2126.
What you need to know
Nearly every employee satisfaction survey shows that communication is one of the top items, if not the top item, that needs improvement. And, it’s an issue that affects everything from organizational alignment and efficiency to employee retention, as well as the relationships of your employees with the internal and external customers they serve.
Organizations address this need by concocting strategies that involve everything from newsletters to town hall meetings, and still struggle to generate what employees perceive as a true improvement. That’s because these approaches typically address the frequency and content of communications, and neglect to consider how the information is expressed.
People respond to communications cognitively and emotionally. The emotionally based components comprise 62% of the response basis. So, for instance, when you explain the rationale behind a controversial policy change, you’re only addressing 38% of the basis that affects a person’s reaction. Emotional responses also occur about ten times faster than cognitive responses, and once the emotional response occurs, it’s much more difficult to sway someone’s belief, no matter how rational the justification.
The solution is learning to communicate content in a manner that simultaneously resonates with the audience’s cognitive and emotional orientations, and leverages both these aspects of the response to achieve the desired outcome.
As Einstein is credited with saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
To learn a new and better way of communicating, call us at (863) 529-2126.