Go Beyond the Checklist

Checklist IILet it be known that I’m a fan of checklists. There’s a certain excitement felt by checking off items as they’re completed.

Recently I met with several managers in the company regarding a specific project. Each of them, myself included, owned a portion of the project. One by one they told me they had completed their portion. Each person truly had checked off their assigned task.

However, the overall project wasn’t progressing.

Too much focus had been placed on the tasks – and not the overall goal of the project. Each step was being done but without a visual of what needed to be achieved.

Communication, coordination and a drive for project success (not just completion) were lacking.

Look at your to-do list this week – which tasks are achieving higher, overarching company goals?

I’m reviewing my checklist, updating my priorities, and emphasizing success that exceeds my individual tasks. We’ll see what improvements this makes over the next few weeks.

What’s your real problem?

Whats your problemAsk anyone in your organization to create a list of company problems and you will find many willing participants, and a list of problems a million miles long. Identifying problems is an easy skill; one that far too many people spend far too much time perfecting.

Ask people to come up with one or two solutions to company problems and nothing but silence may follow.

Anyone can tell you the problems.

The best people, the most valuable people, are those who offer solutions.

You want to be more valuable to your organization – be a “Soltion’ist”!

Don’t be a problem taker (or maker).

So What. Now What?

so-what-now-whatDriving into work last week I heard this quote from one of the local college football coaches.

So What. Now What?

Seems like a fitting phrase for many aspects of life – personal, professional, political. Life throws us curve balls (yes, I switched sports analogies). Things don’t always go as planned. More accurately, things rarely go as planned.

It’s not what happened (whether recent or past). It’s about what we do next that will determine our success.

Easy to say. Not always easy to do.

The past can only hold you back if you’re still clinging to it.

As a Business Leader You Only have One Job

number-one-1256037-640x480Recently I was asked what I most needed from my boss. Not referring to my current job or current boss, just a general career question.

After much consideration I came to the conclusion that I only need one thing from my boss:

Clear the Path

That’s it!

Clear the path of any obstacles, thereby enabling me to do the job I was hired to do.

As a boss, a manager and business leader that’s what is most important – clear the path so your team can most effectively do their job. If you can’t do that, nothing else matters.

 

It’s Not Business, It’s Just Personal

Ever noticed when a major business win is achieved everyone touts the people and relationships that made it happen. Contrarily, when tough decisions with damaging consequences are made these same people quickly hide behind the proverbial skirt of “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” This phrase is most often said to someone who will be personally affected by the recent decision.

ID-10034799“We’ve decided to buy from another company”

“You weren’t selected for the promotion”

“We won’t be accepting your offer”

“You’re being let go”

“We chosen another candidate for the position”

“Your request was denied”

Businesses aren’t the products or services they sell. Businesses are an intertwined web of employees, vendors and customers. It is the people that make business… well business.

Yes, hard business decisions are constantly being made. The decisions themselves are made by individuals whose personal experiences, opinions and biases go into each and every choice. People’s lives are affected by these so-called business decisions and the ripple effects are far reaching – never downplay that fact.

Celebrate the human element that comprises today’s business environment and stop saying “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” After all, it’s always personal and never just business.

 

 

Photo by Photostock

3 Tips for Managing Summer

window outsideSummer is here – warm weather, barbecues, and outdoor activities.

The beautiful thing about living in a state like Utah is the four distinct seasons. We enjoy cold snowy winters, mild springs, hot summers and cool falls. The downside, the joys of summer come and go very quickly.

Working during the summer months can prove challenging. With the kids out of school and late summer nights, there’s so much to do including swimming in pristine pools and retreating to clean mountain air (yeah, it’s a Utah thing). With so many fun things to do in the summer overworking yourself and your team seems… wrong.

So, you need to take the time to enjoy the season.

I’m not talking about personal time off (PTO) for vacations, but that’s important too. Instead I’m referring to the way to be highly productive at work, while enjoying summer.

The key then is to find the right balance between work and play. Yes, I’m still on this quest for balance.

3 Tips for Managing Summer:

  1. Accept it: Instead of fighting the situation, accept the fact that it’s summer. Life may run a little different for a few months. That’s okay – embrace it! That means not becoming frustrated. Enjoy this time of year.
  2. Take Advantage of the Weather: The allure of sunny skies and warm sunshine is tempting. Look for ways to get outside a bit. Examples include:
    • Offsite team lunches – a way to both get out of the office and get people offsite where they’re more inclined to relax a bit.
    • Visit key contacts – Jump in the car and go visit people. This may include top accounts, prospects, partners, or vendors. The extra rays will help boost your Vitamin D levels, while strengthening relationships in ways only possible through face-to-face meetings.
    • Take it Outside – A lot of heat and a little sweat will make you appreciate the refreshing A/C once back in the office. For example, eat your lunch at a park or take your 15-minute break by strolling outdoors.
  3. Switch-up Your Schedule: Instead of the normal 9-5 schedule, mix things up a bit to take advantage of summer weather.  Arrive early, stay focused, get a ton accomplished, and then leave early. You’ll get your work in and still have plenty of time for summer recreation late afternoon and evening. I find a ton can be accomplished from 7-9am, before most people have arrived at work. Another option to consider is requesting a few times during the summer to work 4-ten hour days, allowing for the occasional 3-day weekend.
    • Note: Make sure to clear it with your supervisor first – a good leader will see the wisdom in allowing you to do this, and may even decide to do the same.

Bonus Tip:

Plan for and Enjoy the Weekend: Don’t go to bed Sunday night thinking “Dang, I didn’t do anything all weekend long”. Plan ahead to spend weekends outdoors – enjoying the weather, having fun, being active and spending time with friends and family.

Maximizing summer can make it the best time for both your work life and personal time.

Now, get back to work – then feel free to take off a bit early today!

 

Photo cred: Idea go

Walls

The average prison cell is 6 feet by 8 feet (or at least I read something like that once). Compare that to the the size of a normal work cubicle. I’d venture to say the average cubicle worker spends the majority of their day in a much smaller space than the average prisoner. 

Cubicles are used because they’re practical, I guess. I spent a few years working in a high walled, dingy gray cubicle. It was a bit gloomy, but I didn’t mind it terribly. Now that I’ve worked in better office surroundings I look back at how poor of a work space and office environment cubicles create. I get that not every company has the space for actual offices and honestly am not sure offices are always the answer. Cubicles I know are not the answer though. A cubicle limits communication, stifles creativity, creates segregation and isolation. All things that limit effective business. 

I now work in a pleasantly open office environment. The open environment cultivates a culture of communication, creativity and collaboration. Admittedly sometimes I miss the privacy and quiet solitude of an office, but I do not miss working in the shadow of the walls of confinement of a cubicle. 

“Mr. Office Manager, Tear Down This Wall!”

-DJ