Secrets to Focused Productivity
In any given day, you are pulled in many different directions, which if not managed effectively, can quickly erode your productivity and ability to strategically plan for your team, division, or organization.
At times throughout my career, I have also found myself in this situation . Each time I find it helpful to ask this simple question: What one thing can I do to improve my current situation? This question, while simple on the surface, invites reflection and moves the mind from a reactive to a strategic perspective.
Here are some of my answers to this question.
Often times when I feel overwhelmed, it is because I have chosen to take on too much. As a leader, it is my job to ensure that I focus on the activities that deliver the most value to the team. Generally, this means making choices on which tasks I should take on myself and which should be delegated.
Choosing to delegate has dual benefits: 1)as you let others assume more responsibility, you allow them an opportunity to grow and mature into a leadership role, and 2) . grooming others is one of the most important aspects on which a leader focuses.
It is easy to get wrapped up in the issue of the moment and bark out orders to keep the delicately balanced house of cards from toppling over. This is the quickest way to ensure you lower team morale, decrease employee engagement, and encourage team members to adopt what I call the “employee” focus. This is when they stop being innovative and develop an attitude of doing only what their job description says. This is dangerous territory for a leader.
Instead of reaching this dead end, stop yourself and try listening to your team members and employees. They possess a wealth of knowledge and engaging them in problem solving empowers them to take a more active role in the resolution. This is an area where it is easier than you think to succeed. Some quick tips to help you develop this skill include 1) solicit feedback in team meetings and let the discussion mature without jumping in to give your own opinion, 2) hold regular one on ones to develop a strong working relationship with your employees, allowing trust to build, and 3) applaud those that raise issues.
Take the extra time to incorporate these activities into your leadership strategy and you will be rewarded handsomely.
When you feel overwhelmed and start making lists, it is a sure indication that your regular planning has taken a back seat to other priorities. Do not let this condition persist for any length of time or it will take a large amount of time to get back on track.
What do I mean by planning? Having a system that enables you to capture the things you need to remember and surfacing them at the right time. The most important thing is to stop using your email inbox as your to do list. Important to your planning is having periodic reviews to ensure you are tracking to your short and long term goals. I usually do this early on Sunday before the family wakes up. This is the best time for me to focus on my goals during the week and ensures that I begin the week on the right foot.
Don’t underestimate the value of finding a planning system that works for you and sticking to it. Making this small investment of time regularly will pay huge dividends in terms of overall effectiveness.
Leave the firefighting to the professionals. Instead of constantly putting out fires, which ultimately leads to stalled progress, take time to examine the root cause of an issue and address it to reduce the chance of it knocking you off course again.
Being proactive is a technique that is utilized by effectiveness support organizations and incorporated as part of problem resolution methodologies, which . take a two pronged approach. First, seek to restore service as soon as possible or return to a state equilibrium. Second, take time to review the problem, and fix the root cause to eliminate the issue from surfacing again. This is the hallmark of a learning organization that is striving to constantly learn from its missteps.
Reactivity is a sign of immaturity in your leadership style. Don’t succumb to this operating method, it is highly ineffective and quickly imbues your team with a bad reputation for delivery.
At times, I have found myself suffering from nearsightedness, and at other times, farsightedness. The prescription for this condition is simple, ensure you are giving the right amount of focus to short term execution and long term strategy. Focusing too much on one or the other can enhance your blind spots and make you more susceptible to mistakes.
Regularly giving time to check in is a great way to ensure you keep your vision at 20/20. This means honestly evaluating where you are on your roadmap to achieving your organizational goals. These check-ins are an effective way to ensure you don’t get too mired in the details and find yourself one step behind the rest of the organization.
These are straightforward leadership principles that should be incorporated into every leader’s toolkit. Always keep the basics in focus to ensure a solid foundation.