10 maggio 2015 § Lascia un commento
Often, when you get to the point that people agree to move forward with the collaboration, everyone thinks, “Whew! We are done.”
You’re not done—not even close. Now it is time to deliver.
A lack of focus on the discipline of implementation is the main reason companies fall short on their promises. That’s because implementation is more than a tactic; it is a discipline and a system that has to be embraced by leadership and ingrained into the threads of a company’s strategy, goals, and culture.
Three Keys to Successful Implementation:
1. Focus on the Goal
Successful implementation comes through focus. Individually, team members have to know what to do; they have to want to do it; they have to know how to do it; and they have to be disciplined in sustaining the course to get it done. As a team, they have to work well together by relying on one another, overcoming barriers, demonstrating trust and transparency, and holding each other accountable. An increased level of trust among participants will heighten confidence in one another’s intentions and actions, infusing commitment toward the common goal. When they have commitment, they are even willing to override personal self-interest in the interests of the collaborative.
Focus is required to prevent the ever pervasive scope creep that regularly slides into business projects. This can be costly and demotivating. Therefore, set hard deadlines and stick to them. Do not let inertia set in “to let others catch up.” When deadlines are not adhered to, the initial building phase can go on for years, even indefinitely. That’s why it is important to set goals, which can be easily viewed as a project with a specific beginning and end. This is much easier to get your arms around for planning, budgeting, and measuring return on collaboration.
2. Celebrate Success
Referring back to the race car analogy used earlier in this chapter, you have to keep the team motivated throughout the race. That checkered flag may be a long way off in the distance. That’s why it is important to celebrate the small successes along the way. Break down large projects into small steps to demonstrate “wins” in shorter time frames. Showing progress keeps everyone energized toward achieving the goal.
Keep the flame of purpose lit (the internal PR plan) so people don’t forget why they need to collaborate. It is important to align resources, recognition, and incentives to reinforce commitment.
3. Track, Measure, Adjust
Collaborators tend to have an entrepreneurial spirit—always looking forward, moving on to the next venture. This is an advantage and disadvantage. While being forward-thinking is a required characteristic for successful leaders, it often makes us forget the all important step of evaluating our efforts to ensure we are achieving return on collaboration (ROC).
Several factors can change over time that can cause collaboratives to veer off track. Market shifts, economic swings, competitive landscape, and consumer demands are continuously changing the business environment. Any collaborative strategy has to be adapted in response to these environmental changes.
Other changes may be going on within the collaborative that also need to be monitored. Are the goals and objectives of the collaborative’s members being achieved? How have expectations or opinions toward the collaborative changed? Have new players or leadership been introduced? Have new risks emerged that need to be addressed?
To ensure the collaborative stays on the right path, develop tracking systems and measures for both the planning and execution phases. Regularly assess your systems and measures. Does the tracking system get to the heart of the problem you’re trying to solve? Do your measures really tell you whether you’ve accomplished the objective? The right measures help make expectations clear. Get the team involved by pushing metrics/scorecards down to the team, where the data is being collected and used. A good scorecard has long-term outcomes and leading indicators (short-term drivers).
Don’t let the data get in the way of discussing why things aren’t working. It is up to the leader to see that meaningful conversations take place after all the numbers are reported. Therefore, set up formal reviews. Successful execution of plans means continual reviews. Meetings should track objectives and variances with a critical eye toward corrective action. Don’t allow rationalizations and excuses to obscure reality. People and resources should be a top priority at review sessions. The right people need to be in the right roles. This means continual evaluation.
8 maggio 2015 § Lascia un commento
Avoiding Common Pitfalls
Learn how to overcome several common
time management mistakes.
How well do you manage your time? If you’re like many people, your answer may not be completely positive! Perhaps you feel overloaded, and you often have to work late to hit your deadlines. Or maybe your days seem to go from one crisis to another, and this is stressful and demoralizing.
Many of us know that we could be managing our time more effectively; but it can be difficult to identify the mistakes that we’re making, and to know how we could improve. When we do manage our time well, however, we’re exceptionally productive at work, and our stress levels drop. We can devote time to the interesting, high-reward projects that can make a real difference to a career. In short, we’re happier!
In this article, we’re looking at ten of the most common time management mistakes, as well as identifying strategies and tips that you can use to overcome them. These ten mistakes are:
Mistake #1. Failing to Keep a To-Do List
Do you ever have that nagging feeling that you’ve forgotten to do an important piece of work? If so, you probably don’t use a To-Do List to keep on top of things. (Or, if you do, you might not be using it effectively!)
The trick with using To-Do Lists effectively lies in prioritizing the tasks on your list. Many people use an A – F coding system (A for high priority items, F for very low priorities). Alternatively, you can simplify this by using A through D, or by using numbers.
If you have large projects on your list, then, unless you’re careful, the entries for these can be vague and ineffective. For instance, you may have written down “Start on budget proposal.” But what does this entail? The lack of specifics here might cause you to procrastinate, or miss key steps. So make sure that you break large tasks or projects down into specific, actionable steps – then you won’t overlook something important.
You can also use Action Programs to manage your work when you have many large projects happening at once. (Action Programs are “industrial strength” versions of To-Do Lists.)
Mistake #2. Not Setting Personal Goals
Do you know where you’d like to be in six months? What about this time next year, or even 10 years from now? If not, it’s time to set some personal goals!
Personal goal setting is essential to managing your time well, because goals give you a destination and vision to work toward. When you know where you want to go, you can manage your priorities, time, and resources to get there. Goals also help you decide what’s worth spending your time on, and what’s just a distraction.
To learn how to set SMART, effective goals, read up on Locke’s Goal Setting Theory . Here, you’ll learn how to set clearly defined goals that will keep you motivated.
You might also enjoy our Book Insight into Long Fuse, Big Bang by Eric Haseltine. This book teaches you how to focus on your long-term goals without overlooking your short term priorities.
Mistake #3. Not Prioritizing
Your assistant has just walked in with a crisis that she needs you to deal with right now, but you’re in the middle of brainstorming ideas for a new client. You’re sure that you’ve almost come up with a brilliant idea for their marketing campaign, but now you risk losing the thread of your thinking because of this “emergency.”
Sometimes, it’s hard to know how to prioritize , especially when you’re facing a flood of seemingly-urgent tasks. However, it’s essential to learn how to prioritize tasks effectively if you want to manage your time better.
One tool that will help you prioritize effectively is the Action Priority Matrix , which will help you determine if a task is high-yield and high-priority, or low-value, “fill in” work. You’ll manage your time much better during the day if you know the difference.
You might also want to go through our Bite-Sized Training session How to Prioritize , to further enhance your skills.
Mistake #4. Failing to Manage Distractions
Do you know that some of us can lose as much as two hours a day to distractions? Think how much you could get done if you had that time back!
Whether they come from emails, IM chats, colleagues in a crisis, or phone calls from clients, distractions prevent us from achieving flow , which is the satisfying and seemingly effortless work that we do when we’re 100 percent engaged in a task.
If you want to gain control of your day and do your best work, it’s vital to know how to minimize distractions and manage interruptions effectively. For instance, turn off your IM chat when you need to focus, and let people know if they’re distracting you too often. You should also learn how to improve your concentration , even when you’re faced with distractions.
Additionally, our article on managing email effectively teaches you how to gain control of your email, so that it doesn’t eat up your entire day.
Mistake #5. Procrastination
Procrastination occurs when you put off tasks that you should be focusing on right now. When you procrastinate, you feel guilty that you haven’t started; you come to dread doing the task; and, eventually, everything catches up with you when you fail to complete the work on time.
For instance, one useful strategy is to tell yourself that you’re only going to start on a project for ten minutes. Often, procrastinators feel that they have to complete a task from start to finish, and this high expectation makes them feel overwhelmed and anxious. Instead, focus on devoting a small amount of time to starting. That’s all!
You might also find it helpful to use Action Plans . These help you break large projects down into manageable steps, so that it’s easy to see everything that you need to get done, and so that you can complete small chunks at a time. Doing this can stop you from feeling overwhelmed at the start of a new project.
Our Bite-Sized Training session, Overcoming Procrastination , gives you more in-depth strategies and tips for dealing with procrastination.
Mistake #6. Taking on too Much
Are you a person who has a hard time saying “no” to people? If so, you probably have far too many projects and commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress, and low morale.
Or, you might be a micromanager : someone who insists on controlling or doing all of the work themselves, because they can’t trust anyone else to do it correctly. (This can be a problem for everyone – not just managers!)
Either way, taking on too much is a poor use of your time, and it can get you a reputation for producing rushed, sloppy work.
To stop this, learn the subtle art of saying “yes” to the person, but “no” to the task . This skill helps you assert yourself, while still maintaining good feelings within the group. If the other person starts leaning on you to say “yes” to their request, learn how to think on your feet , and stay cool under pressure.
Mistake #7. Thriving on “Busy”
Some people get a rush from being busy. The narrowly-met deadlines, the endless emails, the piles of files needing attention on the desk, the frantic race to the meeting… What an adrenaline buzz!
The problem is that an “addiction to busyness” rarely means that you’re effective, and it can lead to stress.
Instead, try to slow down, and learn to manage your time better.
“Do More Great Work”, by Michael Bungay Stanier, is full of ideas and tips to reduce the “busywork” that you’re doing, so that you’re more excited and engaged in the work that matters. Click here for our Book Insight on it.
Mistake #8. Multitasking
To get on top of her workload, Linda regularly writes emails while she chats on the phone to her clients. However, while Linda thinks that this is a good use of her time, the truth is that it can take 20-40 percent more time to finish a list of jobs when you multitask, compared with completing the same list of tasks in sequence. The result is also that she does both tasks poorly – her emails are full of errors, and her clients are frustrated by her lack of concentration.
So, the best thing is to forget about multitasking , and, instead, focus on one task at a time. That way, you’ll produce higher quality work.
Our Expert Interview with Dave Crenshaw, looking at The Myth of Multitasking , will give you an enlightening look at multitasking, and will help you explore how you can manage simultaneous projects more effectively.
Mistake #9. Not Taking Breaks
It’s nice to think that you can work for 8-10 hours straight, especially when you’re working to a deadline. But it’s impossible for anyone to focus and produce really high-quality work without giving their brains some time to rest and recharge.
So, don’t dismiss breaks as “wasting time.” They provide valuable down-time, which will enable you to think creatively and work effectively.
If it’s hard for you to stop working, then schedule breaks for yourself, or set an alarm as a reminder. Go for a quick walk, grab a cup of coffee, or just sit and meditate at your desk. Try to take a five minute break every hour or two. And make sure that you give yourself ample time for lunch – you won’t produce top quality work if you’re hungry!
Mistake #10. Ineffectively Scheduling Tasks
Are you a morning person? Or do you find your energy picking up once the sun begins to set in the evening? All of us have different rhythms, that is, different times of day when we feel most productive and energetic.
You can make best use of your time by scheduling high-value work during your peak time, and low-energy work (like returning phone calls and checking email), during your “down” time. Our article, Is This a Morning Task? will teach you how to do this.
One of the most effective ways of improving your productivity is to recognize and rectify time management mistakes.
When you take the time to overcome these mistakes, it will make a huge difference in your productivity – and you’ll also be happier, and experience less stress!
3 maggio 2015 § Lascia un commento
Lamentarsi troppo inibisce i neuroni di chi ci sta accanto
Stare troppo tempo vicini a persone che si lamentano facilmente rischia di renderci più stupidi, perché sembra che inibirebbe la nostra capacità cerebrale di risolvere problemi.
Secondo alcuni neuroscienziati, restare a lungo esposti alle lamentele di parenti, amici e colleghi di lavoro rischia di renderci più stupidi.
A scriverlo nel suo libro “Tre semplici passi: una mappa per il successo nel lavoro e nella vita” è l’imprenditore Trevor Blake, in cui viene spiegato che stare ad ascoltare i problemi (spesso piccoli e ininfluenti) di persone a noi vicine, in ambito affettivo o nell’ambiente di lavoro, influisce negativamente sull’ippocampo, una zona cerebrale responsabile anche nella risoluzione dei problemi, e sui neuroni.
Bastono solo 30 minuti di piagnistei quotidiani per impegnare tale parte del cervello distogliendola da altri compiti più importanti e limitando, nel tempo, la nostra capacità di pensiero.
Il problema non deriva solamente da chi ci circonda, da coloro che vedono tutto negativo, da chi è convinto che il mondo (o un’entità eterea) ce l’abbia con lui. Sono anche le lamentele televisive, quelle dei talk-show o i dati negativi sviscerati al telegiornale, per intenderci, ad avere effetti di disturbo sulle nostre capacità cognitive. D’altronde, che i problemi ci creassero molta ansia e difficoltà di concentrazione è cosa che già ciascuno di noi ha sperimentato personalmente, senza bisogno di studi scientifici. Ma qui, però, si parla delle lamentele altrui.
Cosa fare? Sembra brutto a dirsi, ma bisogna essere una volta tanto egoisti. Dobbiamo allontanarci quanto prima possibile da chi incomincia il solito, inutile, irrisolvibile piagnisteo. Qualcuno suggerisce di comportarsi alla Homer Simpson, che a volte isola il cervello quando la moglie si arrabbia, oppure si tura le orecchie e inizia a cantare ad alta voce “LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA”!
Altri suggeriscono di portarsi delle comode cuffiette stereo con musica rilassante negli ambienti di lavoro. O, peggio, ricorrere a tappi per l’orecchio. Tutte misure non sempre applicabili quando si lavora: se il gran capo ci chiama o ci telefona e noi non rispondiamo in tempo, rischiamo di sorbirci anche le sue, di lamentele! Si potrebbe dire in modo energico alla persona lamentosa di darci un taglio ma potremmo peggiorare la situazione.
Più utile è cercare di rassicurare chi si lamenta di continuo tramite dei gesti o delle parole che possono trasmettere positività. E se anche questo non dovesse funzionare, potete passare al contrattacco e iniziare a lamentarvi anche voi con la persona pessimista, costringendola ad ascoltare i vostri problemi.
Magari, oltre a distogliere la sua attenzione dalle cose negative, la farete riflettere sul fatto che, in fondo, ognuno ha i propri guai!