Identifying Time Management Issues and How to Fix Them

Do you Have a Time Management Issue?

You cannot manage time itself, but you can manage yourself and how you choose to use your time. These days we are under more time pressure than ever, and those little gadgets we use to make our lives easier may actually make our lives much harder.

Improving Time Management

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. You cannot buy more time. No matter how many people you know, they cannot give you more time. So the most important question you can ask daily is: “How can my team use time more wisely?”
One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide and learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should go in the future. One person in your group losing focus on congruent goals can impact everyone’s time, and even create a huge barrier for success.
Too often people search in the wrong places when trying to find out why they are not achieving their goals. They think there is something wrong with their time management program, so they buy a new one. They create long lists, and they eliminate certain things, only to find that they had no realistic effect on the organization. The real problem is not the process they currently use to manage or use time. Rather, it is the habit of thoughts or attitudes they use to decide how they will use their time.

How Belief Systems Influence Behavior

Belief systems lead to actions that cause results, which then impact your time management. If you or your people behave in counterproductive ways, try to identify the belief systems that cause that behavior. For example, let’s say you decide to exercise 3 days a week to improve your health. However, your primary belief system is that exercise is boring and painful. What do you think the chances are that you’ll exercise three days a week?
A common issue I hear from CEOs is that they spend little or no time on their strategic priorities. Instead, they spend their days putting out fires and dealing with their employee issues. They usually insist that this is just part of business as usual. However, a closer examination teaches us that there are people who like to put out fires and enjoy the immediate gratification of handling the daily emergencies, want to be the ones with all the answers, and have trouble telling others “No.” These habits directly impact their ability to effectively manage their time.
We seek immediate gratification in our society. The benefit of better health is a long-term goal. In the short term, a person avoids the pain of sore muscles and the loss of self-esteem that goes along with confirming one’s own bad physical shape by not going to the gym. In other words, they feel better about not going to the gym than they do about going. This is immediate gratification, even though the decision is a bad one for achieving long-term goals.

Identify Gratification Received From Bad Behavior

In order to change behavior, you must identify the immediate gratification you get from your bad behavior and the thought patterns that cause you to continue to practice it. Once identified, it is then necessary to find something more motivating to replace them. For example, many people would start to exercise if their doctor told them, “If you do not start to exercise tomorrow, you’ll have only six months to live, and if you do exercise, you will live another 25 years.” That is quite a carrot to dangle.

Tracking Time Spent

Most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where they spend it. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time, you can then try to increase the amount of time you control, or productively use your time by delegating activities to others, eliminating waste, and reallocating time to make it more productive.
Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

7 Keys to Working Smarter and Being Highly Successful

After observing thousands of leaders in companies from startups to over $20B in revenue and helping create over $1 Billion in business value, I noticed one superpower in highly successful people. They worked smarter, not harder, and derive much higher results in less time than almost everyone else. These very successful leaders tended to value highly the Management Strategies and Learnings obtained through Business and Executive coaching channels.

For clarity, I deem someone to be successful if they can accomplish three times more than their peers,  have more joy and happiness, and do all of this in less time.  Now, I have to draw a line as many of us are highly ambitious, driven, and are classic workaholics. Most workaholics do not commit to reducing the hours they work and find work exhilarating. Regardless of your view, it would help if you wanted to achieve three times the results and earnings in less time. What you do with the extra time is your business.  But everyone should want to work smarter and not harder.

I am often exposed to CEOs in the same industry and have always been amazed at how varied leader’s approaches are.  To me, the right approach is the one that produces three times the results with a similar effort.  Let’s take the restoration industry.  I have met many CEOs who started their business 20 years before and are stuck at $5M in revenue or less. Also, I have met others that were in the industry for just a few years and had revenue over $5M.   I do not only find revenue disparity. I also find profit and time gaps.  While the average company earns a net profit of 5% of revenue, we have helped companies generate over 20%.  Would you rather be a $10M company that produces $500K of net profit or a $5 Million company that produces $1M in net profit?  That was a trick because you should want to be the $10 Million company generating $2 Million profit, expecting the growth and the profits.

The most successful CEOs build far larger companies, have higher growth rates, have more free time, and have 3x the net profit margin. And, yes, there are other measures of success. I want you to consider that working more hours than everyone else, regardless of what you earn, is a fool’s choice! All I want to do is challenge us to work smarter continually.

Which leads us to the big question: “How can we make it easier to achieve our success goals faster?”  How can a person make far more, achieve their intended impact, and work a lot less? Not only is this possible, but others are already doing it. After watching these leaders, I noticed they were not necessarily smarter, more creative, lack ethics, or privileged.  I have met many highly successful people, some ultra-wealthy, and found that they were formerly homeless, living in trailer parks, had no college degrees, and so on. I am sure all of us are capable of high levels of success.

Achieving success is simpler than you think but not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it.  The strange part is that we are familiar with the concepts but not living them. Here are the principles you must follow to work smarter and not harder:

(1) Manage Your Thoughts

(2) Have a  Strategy

(3) Be Strategic

(4) Work a Plan

(5) Be Disciplined

(6) Resilience Rituals

(7) Build Wealth

Manage Your Thoughts

There are three dimensions to managing our thoughts: awareness, intention, and perseverance. Our mind is a potent tool. How you think will change your outcomes for better or worse. Thus you need to be aware of what you are thinking. For example, if you make up your mind that someone cannot do their job, your words and actions will differ from those based on the premise they are capable of. Your thoughts need to be congruent with your intentions. If you intend on accomplishing something and focus your thoughts on contrary purposes, you will fail. Imagine you plan to have a good day but your spend most of your day angry about something. 

Once our thoughts and intentions are in unity, we need to have perseverance. When was the last time you set out for something new and challenging, and it worked out exactly as planned? Most often, we find we run into unforeseen difficulties and roadblocks.  If you allow your mind to waiver from the finish line, you may not get there in a practical manner.

Have a Strategy

Too often, I find driven people are in constant motion. They confuse activity with productivity. When they see a problem to solve, they are off to the races.  Often leaders are solving the wrong problems or not taking the best route to solve their problems.  By doing so, you may feel better in the short term, but it could have long-term negative consequences.

I recently witnessed a senior leader get angry with a subordinate because he felt they were taking advantage of the company.  He immediately launched into attack mode and let the employee know how he felt.  While the concern was merited and the employee course-corrected, there were longer-term consequences.  You see, the leader was so busy being right that he lost one of the highest-performing people in the industry. That employee decided to quit his boss.

In the end, the leader was not strategic.  Had he been, he would have waited until he wasn’t angry and would have developed a strategy to course-correct the employee in a manner that was okay for both parties involved. Instead, he may need two people to do the work the one accomplished, and his reputation may cause other competent people not to want to work for him.

While I used a personal situation, the same goes for taking on projects, lofty goals, and conquering the competition. One thing we have all learned is that there are many ways to accomplish an objective. Being strategic requires you to consider achieving the ideal outcomes, choosing what “not” to do, using the least amount of resources, and within the desired time frame. It is usually best to consider expanding your options before choosing a path.

Work A Plan

We are working on a plan ties to being strategic.  However, the critical difference is that the strategy is the vision of where you want to go, and the action plan charts your course from beginning to end—many of us are big picture people. We can see what is possible and have a “can-do” attitude.  The problem with visionaries is they believe everything is simple and underestimate what it takes to achieve the outcome.  Taking the ball down the field is usually someone else’s problem.  To achieve grand visions, I recommend the following project management techniques:

(1) Be specific – The objective has to be clearly stated so that anyone could step in and know what needs to be done.

(2) Make it Measurable – Identify the measurable milestones and deadlines that indicate you are on track.

(3) Action Steps – Identify the action steps necessary to achieve each milestone.

(4) Monitor Progress – There must be processes and systems in place to monitor progress.

(5) Course Correct – When progress is insufficient, it is essential to revisit your plan to get back on track.

Be Disciplined

Whether you are working on getting healthy, achieving your sales goals, accomplishing a major project, it takes disciplined action.  Too often, we like the idea of the outcome but are not disciplined enough to achieve it. Think about dieting. If I eat healthily and eat the right amount of calories for three days a week but overeat unhealthy foods the other 4, it will take a lot longer (if ever) to lose the weight. Where if you ate properly every day, that takes discipline.

My brother Matt is the President of Steven Douglas, one of the fastest-growing recruiting and staffing agencies in the US.  Matt has been a top producer every year since he entered the industry almost 20 years ago.  Most people in his industry only dream of producing his revenue production.  Matt shared with me that he has hundreds of employees, and none of them produce as much as he does. Given that he is President, he spends far less time than full-time salespeople. This caused me to ask his secret. Matt has a list of 300 key contacts he calls every sixty days.  He does this by setting aside one hour daily for outbound calls.  This single disciplined activity has helped him achieve more in 5 hours a week than others can produce in 60 hours.  Successful people are willing to commit to such discipline. I have shared this technique with at least 100 people over the years, and none has had the discipline to implement it.

Resilience Rituals

The airlines taught us a very important less when they told us that we must put our oxygen masks on first before helping others. I have found that highly successful people have a regimen of activities that they use to recharge themselves.  Here are my resilience rituals:

 – 1/2 hour of daily exercise

 – 15 Minute breaks between meetings

 – 15-30 of Meditation

 – 15 Minutes of Quiet reflection

 – Spending time with friends and family

 – Take 4-6 weeks off on vacation throughout the year.

 – Monitor and control my work hours

 – Weekly Massage

It would be best to have the same level of committed discipline to your resilience rituals as your business routines.  For example, if you work out 4 hours in one day, it will not have the same effect as 1/2 hour per day.

Build Wealth

Too many of us are so busy working that we don’t spend the right amount determining how to build wealth. Every very wealthy person I met has at least three streams of significant income.  It is essential that you identify, develop, and give enough attention to your various income streams.  Most people will tell you that the most significant part of wealth came from income streams outside of their day job.  The day gave them the financial start in investing in other activities. Still, many of those activities require learning about and developing strategies and plans to develop each stream. 

In Conclusion

While you can be highly successful without practicing the above activities, it does not invalidate them.  However, by managing your thoughts, being strategic, working a plan, being disciplined, practicing resilience rituals, and building wealth consistently, you will find your path to success with less friction.  Now I challenge you to determine how to use these principles to work smarter and not harder, so you have more time to do the things that are most important to you.

 


Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm, please visit his website at Activate Group Inc or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216.

Meeting Length vs Effectiveness: Effective Meetings Require Time

Meeting Length vs Effectiveness

Meeting length vs Effetivenss has a huge impact on how you should engage within your organization. Do you find that your organization faces the same problems and challenges year after year, with no resolution? Do you discuss the same issues concerns, people, and customers month after month? Do you find that right when you are getting to the heart of the matter in the middle of an important debate or topic, your meeting is over and you have to postpone for a later date? Do you create goals and plans that do not come to fruition?

These are typical results when you do not spend enough time meeting with your leadership team.

Cons of Not Setting Aside Time for Effective Meetings

Have you considered the amount of time, productivity, and growth you have lost by not setting aside enough time to properly make decisions, to debate and resolve issues, to align priorities and to hold leaders accountable? By avoiding meetings, critical decisions do not get made or are made poorly.

Failure to debate priorities and work through issues can bring organizations to a standstill while leaders wait until the next meeting or for a final decision, allowing your competition the opportunity to thrust forward. While it is counterintuitive to most leaders, spending more time in meetings could actually double or triple company productivity.

Optimal Meeting Lengths

The key to an effective meeting is a commitment to setting aside enough time. Assuming you know how to run an effective meeting (and experience says you probably need help), the executive team should be allocating the following time blocks to work on the business, to debate issues focused on strategy, accountability, setting priorities, new opportunities, evaluating your people, challenging the business model, etc.:

Daily Meeting Length:

10-Minutes a Day for a Huddle with Your Direct Team

Weekly Meeting Length 

1 Hour per Week

Monthly Meeting Length 

1 Full Day

Quarterly Meeting Length 

2 Full Days (1 Day is Strategic)

Failure to have these meetings and to focus on the right topics robs you of significant growth and profits. Contact Activate Group Inc. for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 305-722-7213 to see how a business coach can help you run a more effective organization.

Learn more about effective meetings:

  • Effective Meetings Start On-Time
  • Effective Meetings Focus on Decisions
  • Effective Meetings Require a Purpose
  • Effective Meetings Have Conflict

Time Management – Do you use your time, or does it use you?

You cannot manage time itself, but you can manage yourself and how you choose to use your time. These days we are under more time pressure than ever, and those little gadgets we use to make our lives easier may actually make our lives harder. They certainly make us live life faster!

To a very large degree, your success will depend on whether or not you master the art of effective time organization. However, time management is a skill few people master and is one that most people need. In many cases time management is more about what you decide “not to do” rather than “what you do”.

Time is More Valuable than Money

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. No matter how rich you are, you cannot buy more time. No matter how many people you know, they cannot give you more time. So the most important question you can ask daily is, “How can I and everyone on the team use time more wisely?”

One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide and learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should go. One person in your group not focusing on congruent goals can cause everyone’s time to be misused.  Many people not using their time wisely can be a huge barrier to your potential.

The Real Issue with Time – Your Attitudes

Change Your Attitudes, one of my earlier articles, focuses on how belief systems lead to actions that cause results. So if you are finding that you are not getting to the most important activities, deadlines are slipping, and too much time is being spent on activities that are not going to yield the highest value to your business or career, the first place you need to look is your thoughts and beliefs.

A common issue I hear from CEOs is that they are spending little or no time on their strategic priorities. Instead, they spend their days putting out fires, dealing with their employee issues, and other daily issues. They are usually insistent that this is just how their business is. However, at closer examination what we typically learn is that they are the types of people that like to put out fires, enjoy the immediate gratification of handling the daily emergencies, like to be the ones with all the answers as it gives a feeling of pleasure, have trouble tell others “No” (especially customers), and usually are very slow to fire poor performers. All of this has to do with habits of thought which cause their time management issues.

Do You Know Where Your Time Goes?

Most people do not have a good sense of where their time goes. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where it goes. If you want to get the most out of this exercise, contact us about the form we provide our clients to use and the things we have them look for. Once you have a solid understanding of how you spend your time you then have two choices: try to increase the amount of time you control, or make the hours you use more productive. This is done by delegating activities to others, eliminating waste, and reallocating time to make it more productive.

Let us help YOU take your career to the next level. Take the next step and contact us to learn more about how Executive Coaching can help you and check out the testimonials page to see how we have helped other executives like you.

How Showing Up Early May Help Increase Revenue

Showing Up to Work Early

We all know that missing meetings, showing up late, or canceling at the last minute causes a bad reputation, which leads to lost income. Well, have you ever thought that showing up early to a meeting could actually increase your revenue and business growth?

The Factor of Time

We all have built a lifestyle where we really could use a 36-hour day vs. a 24-hour day. Time management is key to making the best of your days and keeping commitments. Imagine you are heading to a meeting. You have no time to spare. You rush in, imagining the others are already a little annoyed because wasted minutes seem like wasted hours, and you scramble to get everything out to begin your presentation.

Now picture yourself arriving early. You stroll in calm, collected and have a chance to take in your surroundings. The people you are meeting with are feeding off your energy. Your chances of getting the sale increase dramatically because you seem dependable from the beginning. The factor of time just helped your image and pockets.

Errors Take Up Time & Money

When you are rushed, you tend to overlook things. You skip things because you are crunched for time, and you try to stay focused on what the meeting was supposed to cover. There is no time for extra questions or small talk. The clock is ticking, and your peers/clients are rushed with you. When you are rushed, the room for error increases. When there are errors, you waste time fixing them, and that results in losing money.

Business Reputation

If you are prone to being late, you need to find a system that works. The label of always being “late” labels you as not being dependable or respectful towards the people you are meeting. Set your clocks ahead 15 minutes to trick yourself into thinking you do not have enough time. Space out your meetings by another 15-30 minutes so you do not run over and become late for the next one. Give yourself the chance to appear dependable. Do not take on another task or start something you know you cannot finish because you think you have some time to spare. Take that time to walk into your meeting with a clear mind, ready to close the deal.

Increase Revenue & Business Growth

Activate Group, Inc. is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. Learn more about Activate Group or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213.

Setting Deadlines for Your Team

Setting deadlines is the most painful and underappreciated part of delegating a task. Too many leaders give employees tasks without setting a deadline or asking what else they have on their “to do” list. This is a motivation killer. You must keep in mind that even though the task you are assigning is of great importance, your employees have their tasks too.

Do You Ever Say No?

Most people are trained to never say “no.” They have been wired to say “yes,” even when they know they already have too much on their plate. Often times, the delegator already knows this, but chooses to take the position of “not my problem.” In the long run, this can destroy trust and respect for the delegator and decrease employee morale, organizational productivity, and profitability.

How to Properly Delegate

When you delegate a task, you must sit with the person you are delegating to and make sure that realistic deadlines are being created. It is your job as the delegator to help your people be successful and not set them up for failure. If you are delegating to someone who has a history of over-committing, it is important to help reconcile commitments to make sure that the most important things get done first. Always make it clear that you are aware they have other tasks so want to make sure they are available to meet your deadline. Also always make sure the deadline is a realistic one. After all, when your employees succeed you succeed!

Call Howard Shore for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how an executive business coach can help you run a more effective business or become a more effective leader.

Effective Meetings Have Conflict

Effective Meetings

Are your meetings boring? Do your meetings result in everyone feeling more engaged after you are done? How many meetings does it take before you can make a key decision? Are your meetings mainly status updates? Are the meetings dominated by one or two leaders? Is the senior leader dictating to everyone else what they must do? How well aligned are everyone’s priorities? Do leaders hold each other accountable? Do all the leaders really say what they are thinking? Are everyone’s ideas heard? Do people leave feeling stressed?

If your meetings fit any of the descriptions above, then the good news is that your meetings can be a lot more productive than they currently are.

How to Measure The Success of a Meeting

Most often, leaders are concerned that there are too many meetings, that meetings are too long, or they are measuring the effectiveness with another incorrect measurement. I suggest changing the measurement system in which you determine the effectiveness of your meetings.

For example, a good leading indicator that something important is being discussed is that there are different opinions — or conflict — and that most of the people in the room are engaged in the discussion. Other indicators of good meetings are the number of critical decisions made, new actions developed, number of new ideas created and accepted, and an increase in percentage of goals achieved.

These are real indicators that your meetings are worthwhile. If you have a really good meeting, then everyone leaves feeling invested in the decisions that were made and are better aligned as a team! If you run your meeting well, the participants should leave feeling stretched but not stressed.

Every Meeting Should Have Healthy Conflict

There should be good, healthy conflict in every good meeting, and people should venture out of their comfort zones. Do not confuse this with stress. Your meeting should be an environment where everyone is stretched and doing their best thinking.

When there is a lack of conflict or engaged dialog among the team, it is an indication you are not talking about anything that requires any real discussion, failing to emphasize the hard-to-achieve goals and key performance indicators, not holding people accountable, not talking about the “elephants in the room” or the real issues going on the in company.

If you are not having this type of regular conflict, you have a problem with your “team”, and I recommend reading “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni. The lack of conflict can be an indication that the foundation of a strong team — trust — is missing.

Run More Effective Meetings

Failure to conduct effective meetings is robbing you of significant growth and profits. Contact Activate Group Inc. for a FREE consultation or give us a call at 305.722.7213 to see how a business coach can help you run a more effective organization.

 

Effective Meetings Require a Purpose

Do you want to increase the effectiveness of your meetings? Do you ever wonder whether you belong at a particular meeting? Do you ever wonder what the difference between one meeting and another is? Is it possible that you are talking about too many different topics at your meetings and not going deep enough into any one topic?

Did We Achieve Our Purpose?

As a business coach, I find that defining the purpose of a meeting and naming the meeting based on that purpose, it becomes clear who needs to be at the meeting and what the agenda needs to be. At the end of the meeting, everyone can answer the question “Did we achieve our purpose?” For example, let’s say you need to hold a meeting to decide whether or not to acquire a company called Blue Diamond. You could name the meeting “Pros and Cons of Acquiring Blue Diamond”. Everyone invited to the meeting now knows that they will be involved in making a decision on acquiring Blue Diamond. As a result, everyone will be expected to be prepared. Attendees will have to decide what information will need to be prepared prior to the meeting and by whom.

Giving focus to the meeting, declaring its purpose, and making sure that people are prepared for the discussion lead to much better dialog and faster resolution of decision. If at the end of the meeting you are unable to make the decision, a proper outcome would be to determine the specific action steps needed to make that decision, and what alternative decision deadline is acceptable.

How to Determine if Meetings are Effective

Consistently using this approach of naming and setting a purpose for your meetings will allow you to determine if your meetings are effective and how often your meetings fail to achieve their purpose and why. If this is a regular occurrence, you need to challenge your team to identify whether it is a failure in preparation or some other symptom causing the organization to be ineffective. Do not allow yourselves to get off the hook. By the end of the meeting you should answer the question “Did we achieve our purpose?”

 

Failure to conduct effective meetings is robbing your organization of significant growth and profits. Contact Activate Group Inc. for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how a business coach can help you run a more effective organization.

Learn more about effective meetings:

Effective Meetings Focus On Decisions

Does your team look forward to each and every meeting? Do your meetings effectively drive your business? Or are your meetings really status updates, rehashing the same issues over and over again, full of too many agenda items, and never seem to accomplish much? When most leaders are honest, they tell me their meetings really need improvement. Often I see unrealistic agendas and too little time set aside to discuss anything in depth. In my experience, less is more, and more is less! What I mean by this is that you probably need to have more of the right meetings and in those meetings talk less about the wrong agenda items.

Do You Conduct and/or Attend Too Many Bad Meetings?

As pointed out in Pat Lencioni’s book Death By Meeting, most people conduct/attend too many bad meetings. Is it your habit or preference to meet people one-on-one to get their ideas on major issues? Experience shows this to be very ineffective because you wind up discussing the same issue without really creating the right debate, fluidity, and speed appropriate to the matter. When you do meet in a group, do you find that the agenda is packed with so many items that it is hard to get deep in to discussing, debating, and really addressing your critical issues? What percentage of your meetings consists of status updates and presentations by various people versus constructive and vigorous debate that involves everyone in the room and thrusts the business forward to higher levels? Is it possible that you have run poor meetings for such a long period of time that you are actually just wasting a lot of leadership time?

Scheduling Frequent Meetings Helps An Organization Become More Effective

Highly effective organizations have learned to schedule a good series of daily huddles and weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings that can be carefully designed to get all of the right people together at the same time. Each meeting is assigned a purpose, which is built around specific decisions that need to be made. The agenda is then constructed to facilitate making those decisions and encourages the dialog necessary to reach those decisions. The outcomes of these meetings then become policies and actions that need to be taken as a result of those decisions.

 

Failure to conduct and lead effective meetings is robbing you of significant growth and profits. Contact Activate Group Inc. for a FREE consultation at 305.722.7213 to see how a business coach can help you run a more effective organization.

Learn more about effective meetings:

Effective Meetings Start On-Time

Are you in the habit of keeping your time commitments? When you are scheduled to attend a meeting or conference call, are you early, just-in-time, casually late, known to reschedule often, or known for being habitually late?

If you are honest, your real answer will be, “it depends”. It depends on who you are meeting with, the purpose of the meeting, how important the meeting is to you, whether you feel the group will wait for you or start without you, your seniority as compared to the others in the room, whether there any consequences for lateness, whether you think that what you are doing is more important than what will happen at the meeting, etc. In other words, it’s all about YOU. So it’s all right that you are being selfish, do not care about the others’ feelings, are only worried about the here and now, and are not thinking about the broader consequences.

You Generate Direct & Indirect Costs When You Miss or Are Late to a Meeting

Every time you reschedule, cancel, miss, or are late to a meeting, you generate direct and/or indirect costs. If one looks at the situation objectively and follows the chain of impact from rescheduling, canceling, missing, or being late in order to quantify the costs, you would see that some examples of the problems include:

  • Reduced employee loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger; which in turn leads to decreased productivity and/or increased employee turnover
  • Reduced customer loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger; which decreases revenue
  • Increased errors, which can reduce customer service or product quality, leading to a rise in product returns, reduced revenue, increased charge-backs, etc.
  • Decreased productivity while people wait around for meetings to start, or stop for recaps of material already covered for the benefit of latecomers
  • Increases in the length of time it takes to make critical decisions, sometimes by months, which costs you revenue and sometimes extra expenses.

Justifications to Being Late or Missing a Meeting

The culprits always justify their actions with comments such as:

  • My biggest customer needed me.
  • An emergency had to be dealt with.
  • I had too many phone calls or e-mails to return.
  • Another matter was more important.
  • Traffic was bad.
  • I was in another meeting that ran too long.

Consequences When You’re Late or Miss a Meeting

The reality is that you damage your personal brand, hurt your organization and others every time you are late, cancel, miss, or reschedule a meeting that you agreed to attend. You need to be responsible when making meeting commitments, and try your hardest to be on-time for them. People would not invite you unless they felt it was important for you to be there to provide your input. If you do not want to participate in a meeting, do not accept the invitation. If you are in the habit of overcommitting yourself… stop, and take the time to look over your schedule.

Do You Over Commit?

Overcommitting is not helpful to anyone, including yourself. If you question the value of a meeting or your need to be there, do so beforehand. Most importantly, be respectful to everyone. Those leaders that have the mindset that “I am the boss so everyone should wait” are usually the ones who have the lowest employee engagement / productivity. To those of you who think that a call from a client trumps everything else, your clients have no idea what you are doing at any given moment, and most of the other issues you think can’t wait really can.

 

Learn more about effective meetings:

Call Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 for a FREE consultation on how an executive coach can help you become a more effective leader.

Time is More Valuable than Money

Time is the great equalizer. Everyone gets the same amount of time: 24 hours in each day. No matter how rich you are, you cannot buy more time. No matter how many people you know, they cannot give you more time.  So the most important question you can ask daily is, “How can I and everyone on the team use time more wisely?”

One of the essential keys to maximizing success as an individual or an organization is to effectively determine where your time should go now and into the future. Where you used time in the past only serves as a guide and learning mechanism for your decisions as to where time should go.  If one person in your group does not focus on congruent goals it can cause everyone’s time to be misused.  If many people are not using their time wisely it can be a huge barrier to your potential.

I find the most effective executives are very intentional and disciplined about the use of time and have a well-structured set of policies, systems and procedures for keeping their teams aligned and focused on the right sets of activities. You have most likely found that people can spend a whole  day’s worth of time trying to figure out why someone assigned a task that could be completed by the right person in 20 minutes has spent 3 weeks on it and is not yet finished.

The following are some opportunities so achieve better use of time:

  • Clarifying the specific expectations from each person’s role in terms of project, position, department, process, and organization
  • Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the organization and directing efforts toward utilizing each person’s strength
  • Identifying and narrowing focus around the fewest goals and priorities possible
  • Planning and preparing for obstacles
  • Understanding who is going to do what and when
  • Identifying, measuring and managing around the proper leading key performance indicators toward achieving short and longer goals
  • Knowing and making sure that progress is made on the most important priority daily
  • Developing and implementing an effective meeting and communication regimen throughout the organization.

We have found that the concepts from Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0 – Scaling Up, by Verne Harnish, can provide a simple and effective means for capitalizing on the above opportunities.  The tools and process identified in this book along with the assistance of a certified Gazelles coach in helping you make the right decisions around strategy, people, process and cash can help you better execute your decisions through the disciplines of priorities, data/metrics, and meeting rhythms.

As a Certified Gazelles and executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group Inc., based in Miami, Florida, Howard Shore can help you and your leadership team to become more effective. To learn more about the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, please visit contact Howard at 305.722.7213 or email him at shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Simple Ways to Increase Productivity

These days, time is the ultimate luxury. We executive leaders easily fall into the trap of living on our gadgets in an effort to streamline our lives and buy more time. We try so hard to make our lives easier, but sometimes we end up just living our lives faster.

If you want to buy back some real time, instead of losing yourself in it, follow my five simple steps to a more productive professional life:

  1. Unplug. It’s not easy to gain the right perspective if we spend most of our day in the middle of an information stream. Take an hour or two and cut off the info overload. Tell everyone that you are unavailable, shut off all your gadgets, go somewhere private, and take some time to think about what is important and what is not. What are your goals? Where are you going? What will it take to get there?
  2. Prioritize. Once you have your head cleared, you need to figure out your priorities. Ask yourself this question: What task can I do that will get me the most return on my time investment? Think about the project that will make the biggest impact on your business.  Make a list of these types of tasks and establish them as your top priorities. If you have a list of things to do everyday, and one or two of them are truly essential, do those items first thing in the morning.
  3. Delegate. Look at your list and identify what is not essential. Which items can you drop or delegate to someone else? Then, as you focus on your essential tasks, check back on that list periodically. You may realize that the less essential tasks are really unnecessary ones.
  4. Simplify. Do not rely on a bunch of gadgets, or the latest and coolest applications to manage your time. A simple notebook and a simple to-do list can work wonders. Forget about the tools and think only of the tasks at hand. If you are too focused on the tools, you may not actually be getting anything done!
  5. Focus. Most of the time multi-tasking is a waste of time. You cannot get things done when you have 10 other things vying for your attention. Focus on the essential task in front of you, to the exclusion of all else, and you are much more likely to get it completed, in less time, with less effort.

Streamlining your professional life is easier than you think. Don’t be afraid to cut the “fat” from your schedule and be ruthless about it. In everyone’s schedule there are unnecessary things sucking up time. Get rid of them and take your time back!

What time suckers have you found in your schedule?

Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please visit activategroupinc.com, contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

Avoid Pointless Meetings

Do you have too many meetings? Are your meetings too long? If you think this is the case, perhaps the culprit isn’t the frequency or length, but the subject of your meetings. There are simple ways to tell if your meetings are impactful or pointless.

If something important is being discussed, there is likely some conflict occurring. During good meetings, decisions are made and people are held accountable. If you have a really good meeting, then everyone leaves feeling uncomfortable because there is so much more to be done, and everyone has a stake in it!

There are seven key factors that when managed correctly, result in great meetings and top results for organizations.

1. Conflict: Conflict is a necessary part of good meetings. There should be good healthy conflict in every meeting, and people should feel pressure. A lack of conflict is an indication that the group is not talking about anything that requires any real discussion, is failing to emphasize the hard-to-achieve goals and key performance indicators, is not holding people accountable, or is not focusing on the real issues in the company.

2. Purpose: Every meeting should have a purpose, and you should define that purpose before you enter the room. By the end of the meeting you should be able to answer the question, “Did we achieve our purpose?”  If the answer is ‘no’ on a regular basis, you need to challenge your team to identify whether it is a failure in preparation or some other symptom causing the organization to be ineffective. Do not allow yourselves to get off the hook.

3. Time: Making sure that you schedule your meeting on a day and at a time when you will get the team’s undivided attention is very important. You also want to make sure that you schedule plenty of time to support your agenda. If you have covered all that you need to, it is okay to end a meeting early. If you did not cover all that you needed to, you need to extend your meeting or reschedule the remaining items for a later time.

4. Preparation: All participants should know what is going to be covered in the meeting and what needs to be prepared in advance. This will allow for a more productive meeting.

5. Continuity: Whenever possible, it is recommended that your monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings be done off-site. This will reduce and/or eliminate interruptions as much as possible.

6. Responsibility: Make sure that the responsibility stays in the room, and you do not play the blame game. Your meetings need to be about solutions.

7. Accountability: It is critical to agree on who will be the one person responsible for each item, and to make sure that person is held accountable. Review key developments, assignments, and deadlines regularly until an assignment is completed.

Howard Shore is an executive leadership coach and founder of Activate Group Inc, based in Miami, Florida. His firm works with companies to deliver transformational management and business coaching to executive leadership. To learn more about executive leadership coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at 305.722.7213 or email him.

Stop Wasting Time! Avoid These 12 Things

Your time management habits need to be improved. I’m not trying to single you out, but seriously, most of us could improve the way we manage our time. Especially leaders. In my long tenure as a leadership coach and trainer, I’ve noted that time management is one of the biggest challenges most leaders face and is one of the easiest to fix.

What I’ve noticed is that the same daily tasks and activities are sucking time away from leaders. See if you can spot the ones that are sucking up your time:

  1. Interruptions: telephone and personal visits.
  2. Meetings: the long, purposeless ones.
  3. Tasks that should be delegated.
  4. Procrastination and indecision.
  5. Acting with incomplete information.
  6. Crisis management: putting out fires started by others.
  7. Unclear communication.
  8. Unclear objectives and priorities.
  9. Lack of planning.
  10. Stress and fatigue.
  11. Inability to say ‘no.’
  12. Desk management and personal disorganization.

Guess what? You are probably both the cause and the solution to your time challenges.

Here are a few strategies to avoid the time stealers listed above:

  • Put your daily plans in writing.
  • Plan your days by listing your activities in order of their priority.
  • Delegate.
  • Make brief notes immediately following a conference, meeting, or important conversation.
  • Keep simple records regarding the routine of your daily life.
  • Schedule quiet time – and use it.
  • Use wait time wisely.
  • Keep your work area free of distractions.
  • Stop “living” in your inbox. Check email at set times and be ruthlessly efficient about deleting junk mail.

To be an efficient leader, you must set up and follow a few time management strategies. Just like anything else, when you get into the habit of using your time wisely it will become easier and easier to instill these habits in the rest of the team.

What are your biggest time wasters? Are they avoidable or do you feel trapped by the inefficiency around you?

Howard Shore is a leadership coach and trainer with expertise in time management, leadership coaching and human capital management. To learn more about AGI’s executive coaching, management consulting, and leadership training, please visit activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

What Advice Would You Give to a New Business?

If you were asked to give business advice to a new entrepreneur, what would it be? I’m asked this all the time, and find myself dolling out all sorts of tips and tirades—some quite original and others terribly obvious. But the thing that intrigues me about this question is that it sometimes becomes a very powerful reminder to myself on the lessons I’ve learned over the years; lessons I may have forgotten.

For example, I learned early in my leadership career that there is no substitute to sitting across the table from someone and looking them in face. But just the other day, as I was writing the longest email in the history of CYA emails, that I re-learned that lesson. I had gotten so addicted to the time-saving, butt-saving email that I forgot about my own Business 101 advice to new leaders. I promptly reminded myself, deleted the draft email and picked up the phone.

It did get me thinking though. What simple pieces of business advice would you give a new business owner? And have you remembered to heed it yourself?

Howard Shore is a business advice and growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential. To learn more about how an executive coach, management consultant, leadership training, or business coach can help your team, please visit his website at activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

How 15 Minutes Can Change Your Business

A truly effective executive keeps his/her time commitments. Regardless of your industry, position, function, or company size, it’s critical of your reputation to be on time. In addition, I believe that if you don’t get to meetings 15 minutes early, you’re losing big opportunities. While being on time and keeping your meetings is necessary, being 15 minutes early can be a virtual gold mine.

Have you ever noticed that when arrive at someone’s office for a meeting, that they only start prepping for your meeting when you arrive? This is especially true if you are in sales. The prospect is never ready, so by getting there right on time you lose 10 minutes or more of your allotted time. Arriving early usually gets you 10 more minutes of productive time with the prospect. And if the prospect is someone really important (like the CEO), it might be weeks or months before you get face time with them again.

Other reasons for arriving 15 minutes early: It allows you to take a few minutes between meetings to have a glass of water, make a call or two, and take collect your thoughts.

This little time management philosophy could just change your business life. I know you will find that you get more done, have better meetings that give you time to develop rapport with co-workers, employees and prospects.

Being late doesn’t imply authority. It communicates disrespect for all those around you.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please visit his website at activategroupinc.com or contact Howard Shore at (305) 722-7216 or email him.

15 Minutes Early Plan

Have you ever heard the adage that 15 minutes early is on time, on time is late and if you are late, well, you may as well not have  shown up for your meeting/appointment/interview? True story! A truly effective executive keeps his/her time commitments. Regardless the industry, position one holds, function you are in, or size of the company, it is critical to take being on time seriously. In addition, I believe that if you do not get to most meetings at least 15 minutes early you are losing huge opportunities. While being on time and keeping your meetings is necessary, being 15 minutes early can be a gold mine. I have had clients partially apply this secret, and the results were automatic.

Here are some examples of the problems that can be caused by cancelling, re-scheduling, or showing up late to meetings:

  • Reduced employee loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger, which in turn leads to decreased productivity and/or increased employee turnover
  • Reduced customer loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger, which decreases revenue
  •  Increased errors, which can reduce customer service or product quality, leading to a rise in product returns, reduced revenue, increased charge-backs, etc.
  •  Decreased productivity while people wait around for meetings to start, or stop for recaps of material already covered for the benefit of latecomers
  •  Increases in the length of time it takes to make critical decisions, sometimes by months, which costs you revenue and sometimes extra expenses.

We all know how important it is to be on time, in any situation, and yet the vast majority of people fail to use this simple idea of the “15 Minutes Early Plan”. If you are on time and keep your meetings with someone, you help earn trust, which in turn helps earn power with someone, and then the sales process has a chance of happening. On the other hand, if you cancel meetings, make people wait, show up late, and constantly reschedule, you lose their trust. You lose power with that person, and there is no deal. It is that simple!

To add to your success, try the “15 Minutes Early Plan”.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Of Course You Can Do Better – Part 2

In Part 1, we got our attitudes in order, turned our decisions into commitments, made sure our word was worth something, and tackled time management.

Now we’ll look at business-practice habits that lead to greater success.

SMART WAY Goals. Successful people have goals that meet the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based. These goals must be Written, Aligned, and Yours. You cannot effectively plan your time without knowing what you want to accomplish. Please read my other articles on this topic for more details on this subject.

Know Your Priorities. Most people and organizations have too many goals. Their “reasoning” is that everything on the list is important, so we have to find a way to do it all. The reality is that by trying to accomplish too much, they compromise the chances for accomplishing much of anything. Set priorities!

Pick a “Top 5” list, and rank their importance. Put the most energy towards the number 1 item on the list. You help propel your organizational and personal success by achieving results, not by creating wish lists.

Make a list of the benefits of achieving the goal and consequences of not achieving the goal. After making your lists, if the consequences or benefits are emotionally compelling (you feel like this is something you needed to start yesterday), you have a solid goal. If not, stop now because there is not enough motivation for you to follow through.

Second, if the goal passes the emotional test, list all the obstacles that might prevent you from achieving it and begin to develop the best solutions for those problems now. By anticipating obstacles, one dramatically increases the likelihood of surmounting them.

Have Strong Action Plans. Most people lack comprehensive action plans for projects they agree to complete. Or they have personal goals with no action plans. Lack of detailed planning is a primary reasons for failure to achieve a goal.

Be specific in your action plans. Determine who the players are, what steps to take, what the timeline is, and what the benchmarks are to determine whether the plan is working or needs course correction.

Create a Dashboard of Leading Indicators. Do you spend more of your time looking at lagging indicators (those found on your balance sheet and income statement) or leading indicators (those you highlight in your financial statements).  The most successful people spend their time identifying what the most important leading indicators are for every facet of their business, find a way to measure them, and spend their time working on improving those. Having a good dashboard and reviewing it at least weekly produces the financial statements one wants.

Perfect Your Organizational Structure and Personnel. The biggest hidden drains on growth and profits are poor organizational structure and having the wrong people on your roster. This is because a traditional financial statement does not capture soft costs.

It does not capture customers lost because the top salesperson (oftentimes the owner in smaller businesses) has no time to go out and get them. The salesperson has to spend time doing things that other people should be doing.  It does not capture the lack of productivity because leaders are diminishers rather than multipliers. It does not measure customer turnover because “B and C Players” instead of “A Players” are servicing the accounts. It does not measure the need for 2 to 3 times as many employees because you hired “B & C Players” instead of “A Players.”

The leaders can see some of this because they spend a fair amount of their time in management meetings revisiting the same business and people problems over and over again. These are problems that go away and bring you more time and success when you create the right structure and learn how to hire the right people. “A Players” solve problems and help you make money, not spend it. Successful people learn how to get, keep and grow “A players” and master their organizational chart.

Focus on Strengths. The Number 1 reason for people to leave their jobs is that they are not doing work they feel they are good at. Marcus Buckingham likes to point out that your strength is NOT what you are good at, but something that makes you feel strong when you do it. What is the work that you do that makes you feel strong? Are you doing enough of that, and can you find someone else that feels strong doing the things you do not like to do?

How many of your people spend most of their time doing the things that make them feel strong? Do you spend a lot of time focusing on the weaknesses of someone in your organization and not appreciating their strengths? Do their strengths outweigh their weaknesses? Can you redistribute responsibilities to match strengths and weaknesses?

Hold Effective Meetings. You know you are holding effective meetings when people are looking forward to the next meeting, everyone shows up on time, there is great constructive discussion with everyone participating, and you are moving your company forward toward your most important priorities with every successive meeting. Everyone in your company should be in at least one meeting a week. If not, you need to improve how you hold meetings. In most companies, the problem is not too many meetings. The problem is too many bad meetings.

Improve 1% A Day. Executives and organizations that focus on improving 1% daily and direct those improvements toward the most important goals are the most successful. Everyone can find one way to be better every day. By doing this and compounding those improvements over a year, you have dramatic improvement over the course of the year versus trying to make a dramatic leap at one time. You must strive to constantly learn and improve to feel and be more successful. After all, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”

There are a lot of great habits to implement in this article and hopefully you practice some of them. I recommend that you pick at least one a month to work on perfecting. Follow my blog as I will be expanding on each of these.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies and people that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Of Course You Can Do Better – Part 1

I recently held a workshop for a group of owners who are members of the Entrepreneurs Organization.

While these people have all experienced a high level of success in their lives, despite their successes, they were concerned that they were not achieving enough of their goals. As a result, they asked me to create a custom program that would help them achieve more of their goals.

Part of my program development process is to learn about the participants. Although these owners’ businesses are based outside the U.S., it was obvious that their challenges were no different from those faced by most successful U.S. executives I know. It also was clear to me that they needed to develop some common habits that would help them feel and be more successful if they made them part of their daily regimen.

This article summarizes those habits for greater success.

Change Your Attitudes. Belief systems lead to actions which cause results. If you or your people behave in ways that are counter-productive, or do not support your primary goals, then it is imperative that you identify the belief systems that cause that behavior. For example, let’s say you decide you want to exercise 3 days a week to achieve your goal of better health. However, your primary belief system is that exercise is boring and painful. What do you think the chances are that “exercise 3 days a week” will happen? In order to cause the behavior, you will need to replace your primary belief system with something that will have you excited with going to do the exercise.

Commit To Your Decisions. Many executives are good at making decisions but not so good at making commitments. The problem is that most goals/decisions are the equivalent of “I will try,” and that typically spells death to the likelihood of everyone doing whatever it takes to achieve them. If you were to make every goal/decision in your company mandatory, how would behavior change? How would your decision process change? Make the shift to mandatory, and see how behavior and, more importantly, results change.

Give and Keep Your Word. To keep your word, you have to give it. People who keep their word consistently create power and focus in their lives. Together, power and focus provide the ability to be more effective in shaping events and circumstances. Effectiveness, in turn, enhances our feelings of well-being. The better we feel, the more successful we become.

Many times it is better to say “no” to a request than to say “I’ll try” or “I’ll think about it” in order not to hurt someone else’s feelings. The “maybe” answer causes the other person to keep coming back for more false hopes. Neither party feels comfortable in the long term. Similarly, people say “yes” because they want to please others, yet they are not in a position to deliver properly on their yes. In both these instances, all the players feel bad. This in turn has a long-term effect on success achievement.

Know Where Your Time Goes. As careers progress, many of us have found that we control less and less of our own time. After meeting our various business and family “must-do” responsibilities, we are lucky if we actually have 20% of our time left to our own devices. This is the time we have left for value-added activities to truly contribute to our business organizations, for personal travel, community activities, extended family interaction, and “me-time” that make us feel productive and happy.

In an average week, a highly productive person typically has 119 waking hours, of which they control only 23 hours or 3 per day (personal and work). So we have two choices: try to increase the amount of time we control, or make the 3 hours per day more productive. Before we can do either, we must find out where the time is going now. At least once every six months, executives should track their time to see where it goes. If you want to get the most out of this exercise, contact me about the form I have for my clients to use and the things I have them look for.

Plan Your Time. Time has many of the attributes of money. If used wisely it can bring you much satisfaction, or it can be wasted away. Unlike money, time is finite – once you lose it, you cannot get it back. Moreover, it appears that there is always more to do than time in which to do it. This makes time precious. Just like money, the better we plan its use, the more likely we are to use it wisely and to maximize our returns on investment.

Those who plan time use get more of the right things done and have a greater sense of satisfaction. This happens because they have a greater sense of what they should be doing, make sure they do it, and are able to know where their gaps are. Those who do not plan have excess stress because they never quite figure out if they spent their time well or not.

Focus on Energy vs. Hours. In the Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz remind that there are certain times of the day when each of us is more productive. Some of us are “early birds” and some “night owls.” We each have our own cycles. We also have to give ourselves breaks and eat at regular intervals to keep ourselves at peak production. Failure to do so causes us to not produce our best work and can cause executives to burn-out unnecessarily.

There are a lot of great habits to implement in this article and hopefully you practice some of them. I recommend that you pick at least one a month to work on perfecting.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies and people that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Are You Really Coaching Your People?

There is a big difference between having conversations with people on a regular basis and coaching. Coaching is not giving advice, pointing out to someone that they did something wrong, or showing them how to do something. It is also not giving your people face time. So what is coaching?

Coaching is a process whereby you bring out a person’s potential so that they can overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. The role of the coach is to provide a process of discussion using the subject’s own goals and recent experiences to help the person uncover their constraints to greater success. It takes time and patience to help them discover what they might not be seeing.

Many times the coach can immediately see the issue but has to patiently allow the person being coached to discover it for themselves by asking questions and probing. The coach also has to be careful to leave out personal bias and not make any assumptions. By doing so, the person being coached is permitted to develop the thought patterns necessary to go it alone when similar circumstances arise. If you circumvent this process by giving them the answers you run the risk of avoiding some key factors they must process before the learning process is completed. The end result is a much more lasting advantage. It becomes co-creation, and the coach and the person being coached will be able to achieve significantly better results together than either could have achieved alone.

Here are five key questions that indicate whether you are really coaching your direct reports or not:

  1. Can you finish most of your coaching sessions with them by answering their questions with questions?
  2. Do you give your direct reports your undivided attention for at least ½ an hour twice per month to talk about whatever they want to that you would call just coaching?
  3. How much time do they talk during the session versus you?
  4. Who develops their solutions and answers when you meet one on one?
  5. When you finish a coaching session do you ask the question, “what did you take away from today and what are you going to do about it?”

You should know whether or not you are being a good coach to your people by answering the above.  Coaching takes time, but its benefits are huge.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

1 Easy and Beneficial Time Management Secret

A truly effective executive keeps his/her time commitments. Regardless the industry, position one holds, function you are in, or size of company, it is critical to take being on time seriously. In addition, I believe that if you do not get to most meetings at least 15 minutes early you are losing huge opportunities. While being on time and keeping your meetings is necessary, being 15 minutes early can be a gold mine. I have had clients partially apply this secret, and the results were automatic.

Every time you reschedule, cancel, miss, or are late to a meeting, you generate direct and/or indirect costs. If one looks at the situation objectively and follows the chain of impact from rescheduling, cancelling, missing, or being late in order to quantify the costs, you would see that some examples of the problems include:

  • Reduced employee loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger, which in turn leads to decreased productivity and/or increased employee turnover
  • Reduced customer loyalty/satisfaction because of frustration, disappointment, or even anger, which decreases revenue
  • Increased errors, which can reduce customer service or product quality, leading to a rise in product returns, reduced revenue, increased charge-backs, etc.
  • Decreased productivity while people wait around for meetings to start, or stop for recaps of material already covered for the benefit of latecomers
  • Increases in the length of time it takes to make critical decisions, sometimes by months, which costs you revenue and sometimes extra expenses.

The culprits always justify their actions with comments such as:

  • My biggest customer needed me.
  • An emergency had to be dealt with.
  • I had too many phone calls/e-mails to return.
  • Another matter was more important.
  • Traffic was bad.
  • The other meeting ran too long.

The comments above may be reasonable responses on occasion, but, in most cases, they are excuses for not being responsible, and they are costing you, others, and your company even if you cannot isolate and measure the cost.

Think about your own experience. What are your true thoughts about someone who is late? When your doctor keeps you waiting for 45 minutes, are you happy when he finally sees you? Does he seem more qualified, somehow better than other doctors, worth paying more to see? Is this someone you would want to refer to a friend, invite over for dinner, do a special favor for, or maybe work until midnight for? Of course not! Amazingly, though, bosses somehow think it is okay to make employees stand outside their offices for 20 minutes while they take a phone call, or have them wait in the conference room until they’re ready to make an appearance, or ask people to cancel other meetings to attend theirs. In the end these executives are ineffective and are causing their team to be ineffective as well, which is costing their organization big money.

Regardless of what people tell you, if you are late for meetings by more than 5 minutes twice a week, reschedule or cancel meetings more than twice a week, or miss meetings twice a month, you can be more successful merely by improving your time management.

Another aspect of the importance of keeping meetings and being on time is trustworthiness. Salespeople have learned that the first step in the buying process is to get the prospect to “buy” the salesperson. If the buyer does not trust the salesperson, it will likely not matter how good the company or its products are. The salesperson will go home without a sale. If the salesperson does not show up on time it lowers trust.

Well folks, everyone is in sales. We are selling to employees, bosses, boards of directors, shareholders, children, customers, vendors, and so on. If you are on time and keep your meetings with someone, you help earn trust, which in turn helps earn power with someone, and then the sales process has a chance of happening. On the other hand, if you cancel meetings, make people wait, show up late, and constantly reschedule, you lose their trust. You lose power with that person, and there is no deal. It is that simple!

Even better than being on time is the “15 Minutes Early Plan.” Have you ever noticed that when you arrive at someone’s office to have a meeting, that is when they start preparing for your meeting? This is especially true if you are in sales. The prospect is never ready, so by getting there just in time, you lose at least 10 minutes of your allotted time. Arriving early usually gets you 10 more minutes of productive time. And if the prospect is someone really important (like the CEO), it might be weeks or months before you get “face-time” again, so those are 10 big minutes.

Another benefit of the “15 Minutes Early Plan” is to lower the impact of road rage from the horrible traffic in Miami and South Florida. Estimating a just-in-time arrival requires PhDs in geography, quantum physics, and mathematics, and a lot of luck. By planning to be 15 minutes early, you can bring less stress to your meeting and your life.

Even if you do not have to drive, it is just no fun to rush around. It is nice to have a few minutes between meetings to have a glass of water, call your significant other to say hello, or take a few deep breaths before running to the next meeting. You will find that you get more done, and your input will be much better. In addition, it gives you an opportunity when you get to the meetings to have some time to develop rapport with others without having to waste valuable meeting time.

As I’ve already mentioned, all of this is linked to success. What is meant by success? Success is defined by the individual, and typically defined in terms of money, friends, possessions, colleagues, status, power, prestige, customer satisfaction, strong family, etc. At the end of the day, I leave it to you to find your definition of success. Use the “15 Minutes Early Plan” and you will have more of it.

We help clients maximize their growth by providing strategies on the fly, knowledge, and motivation. Contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com to find out how a business coach, our consultants and trainers can help you accelerate your success.

State Your Goals the SMART Way

The first step in successfully executing a goal is to state it properly. You know your goal is well stated when anyone who reads it knows exactly what you are trying to accomplish and in what time frame. The better a person states the goal, the easier it is to create the action plan. An acronym commonly used for stating a goal properly is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based).

While these criteria seem simple, they are actually not easily achieved. If they were, everyone would be reaching a lot more of their goals. Very briefly, let us discuss what each of these criteria really means:

  • Specific – You say exactly what it is you want to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, “We are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by 10/1/XX.” You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
  • Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way that allows you to definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see whether the trend is negative so that you can modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, “We are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff.” How often would you consider acceptable, and what do you want to communicate about?
  • Attainable and Realistically High – Goals must be lofty enough so we do not trip over them. If the goal is too low it will not stimulate anyone to put forth extra effort. On the other hand, if the goal is unrealistic no one will take it seriously.
  • Time-Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your to-do list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.

The following is and example of a SMART goal:

  • Get 10 appointments with decision-makers in the hospitality industry that employ more than 250 people and are located within 50 miles of Miami area by the end of the quarter.

Once you have stated your goal in a manner that meets all of the SMART criteria, you then need to consider whether they achieve WAY (Written, Aligned, and Yours).

It is not unusual to meet people who have goals they have not communicated to anyone. Even worse, they may not be written down anywhere. In personal and organizational circumstances, it is always best to write your goals down for the following reasons:

  • Helps clarify your thinking
  • Keeps your goal from unconsciously being altered
  • Helps strengthen commitment
  • Simplifies the communication process
  • Provides a framework for measurement
  • Allows you to compare them to other goals

A common reason goals do not get achieved or take longer than expected is improper alignment. Goals may not be aligned for reasons that include:

  • Creation by separate people or departments
  • Failure to consolidate goals in one place to review congruence
  • In our desire to be optimistic, we are unrealistic
  • Incomplete or nonexistent action plans that underestimate what it will take to achieve our goal.
  • Failure to prioritize goals, thus giving them all equal priority.

Lastly, if a goal is yours, it is much more likely that you will be internally motivated to achieve it. It is hard to get excited about somebody else’s goals. This is primarily due to the fact that most people act based on their own self interest.

If you have goals that are not communicated succinctly to everyone, who is responsible for accomplishing each part of the plan, and what is the likelihood they are going to do it? People like to have purpose and know where they are going. We use goals to focus individuals and organizations in the same direction. When we achieve goals, it increases energy, which has a positive impact on results, thus further increasing energy, increasing focus on goals, increasing results, increasing energy, and so on. It is that simple!

If you want to achieve more goals, make sure that you state them in a SMART WAY! Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation, Mohnton, PA

Seven Steps to Delegating for Results

Have you ever noticed that great leaders are also excellent delegators? Delegation saves time, develops and motivates people, and makes an organization more productive. Therefore, it is fair to say that this is one of the most critical skills for any leader or manager to acquire. For this reason, I encourage every leader to become a master delegator.

On the surface this seems like an easy task. Give your work to someone else; sounds nice, doesn’t it? So why are so many leaders so reluctant to delegate? And when they do, why do so many leaders delegate so poorly?

The problem is that many leaders have acquired the skill of delegation through on-the-job learning. There is no course in school and only minimal reference to delegation in textbooks at school. Delegation is not easy and is a process that has a sequence of steps. Like any process, if you miss a step, it does not work properly

There are Seven Steps in the Delegation Process

1.Defining What to Delegate

There are really three reasons to delegate work: to better control our use of time, to build our people, or to motivate our people. So the first question you will need to answer is: why are you delegating? When looking through these three lenses, we usually find a reason to assign most of the work on our desks to others. The higher you are in the organization, the more your role should be growing and developing the organization and less “doing.” Delegation is the primary tool!

2. Selecting the Individual or Team

Too often leaders go to the same people over and over again. They get too comfortable with specific individuals or teams. This is usually a mistake as it demotivates other team members in the organization and may even compromise the performance of your “A” team. That “A” team usually depends on support from the rest of the organization to get things done. Silos form in the organization, and this prevents the entire organization from coming together to its fullest potential.
While I think we should always give our most important projects to our best players, we need to involve and delegate to the entire team at some point. With each person, consider why you are delegating (motivation, growth, or time management) a task, and match the appropriate tasks to that person’s capabilities.

3. Assess Appropriate Level of Delegation

Typically, leaders delegate using the same style for every person on their team and this is a mistake. The level of delegation should be adjusted based on the task and the person being delegated to. Delegation is not just telling people what to do and expecting them to do it. There are many different degrees of supervision and involvement required of the person who is delegating the task. The more experienced and reliable the other person is, the more freedom you can give. The more critical the task, the more cautious you need to be about extending a lot of freedom, especially if the company’s financial future or reputation is on the line.

4.Communicate Tasks In Specific Terms

This is where most delegation fails. Many leaders and managers do not do a good job of expressing what they want. People are not mind-readers. Many hours have been wasted doing re-work because leaders failed to explain what they wanted up front.
If you want something done a specific way, tell them. If you are not clear about what you want, take the time to brainstorm with your colleague before they start working. Employees find it frustrating and get demotivated when they feel like lab rats or are spinning their wheels.

5.State Measurable Results

Explain how a task fits into the overall organizational picture, describe the measurable results you are looking for, and let them know how you will rate their performance.

6. Agree on Deadlines

The deadline is the most underappreciated part of delegation. Too many leaders give people tasks without asking what else they have on their “to do” list. This is a motivation killer.  Not only is it disrespectful to the recipient, it is disrespectful to anyone who is depending on the person you just delegated to. Most people are trained to never say “no.” They have been wired to say “yes,” even when they know they already have too much on their plate. Often, the delegator already knows this, but chooses to take the position of “not my problem,” which in the long run destroys trust and respect for the delegator and decreases employee morale, organizational productivity, and profitability.
When you delegate a task, you must sit with the person you are delegating to and make sure that realistic deadlines are being created. It is your job as the delegator to help your people be successful and not set them up for failure. If you are delegating to someone who has a history of over-committing, it is important to help reconcile commitments to make sure that the most important things get done first.

7. Follow-up and Feedback

It is essential that you have a feedback system in place so that you know that things are on track. Provide support should your delegatee need help in getting the task accomplished. It is essential to let the person know how they are doing and whether they did a good job. In the end, you should take the blame for failure and pass on the credit for success.

Delegation is one of the most important tasks as a leader. When done correctly, it develops your succession, increases your personal productivity, and motivates your people. Many leaders develop excuses not to delegate that include: they can do things faster themselves; they like doing things themselves; their people are not ready. These excuses and others all have short-term benefits but long-term adverse consequences. However, the investment in delegation is usually worth the positive long-term benefits.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Seven Simple Ways to Speed Up Your Productivity

“I never have time to finish all my tasks.” “I wish the day would last 30 hours.”  Those are common expressions I’ve heard from my prospects before we start a growth discovery development process.

These days we are under more time pressure than ever. We have new electronic gadgets to provide us with “real time” information (e-mail, instant messenger, task bars, calendars, GPS, etc) and open a world of input in front of us. We buy those gadgets to make our lives easier, but sometimes what we try do is to live our live faster.

In order to release the time pressure and get more benefit from our use of time, here are 7 simple ways to be more productive with less effort:

  1. Clear your head. It’s not easy to gain the right perspective, to know what is important and what it is not, if we spend most of our day in the middle of an information stream. Take an hour, two if possible, to shut off the information flow. You will have the opportunity to get a better view of your life and your job. The time you “take off” will be well worth it. Tell everyone that you are unavailable, shut off all your gadgets, shut yourself in somewhere private, and take some time to think about what is important and what is not. What are your goals? Where are you going? What will it take to get there?
  2. Concentrate on what is important. Once you have your head cleared, you need to figure out your priorities. Ask yourself this question: “What task can I do that will get me the most return on my time investment?” Think about the project that will get you the most recognition, or will help you to increase your business.  Make a list of these types of tasks — they are your most important priorities.
  3. Get rid of what is not important. Now look at your list. What’s on there that’s not essential? Can you just drop those items from your schedule? Or delegate them to someone else? If not, put them on a “to do” list. Then, as you focus on your essential tasks, check back on that list every now and then. Sometimes you’ll realize that the less essential tasks were not really necessary at all.
  4. Do what is really important first. If you have a list of things to do today, and one or two of them are truly essential, do those items first thing in the morning. Don’t wait until later in the day. Get them out of the way, and your productivity will speed up.
  5. Keep it simple. Do not move around with a bunch of gadgets or the latest and coolest applications. Find a simple notebook for writing things down, a simple to-do list (no frills) and the simplest application possible for doing your work. Then forget about the tools and think only of the task at hand. If you are too worried about the tools, you’re not actually doing anything.
  6. Do one thing at a time. Most of the time multi-tasking is a waste of time. You cannot get things done when you have a million things pulling for your attention. Focus on the essential task in front of you, to the exclusion of all else, and you are much more likely to get it completed, in less time, with less effort.
  7. Simplify some more. Once you have created your priorities, identified your essential tasks, and eliminated distractions, you should become productive. Every now and then, take a look at what you’re doing, at the information coming into your life, at how you spend your time and the tools you use. Then simplify some more.

At Activate Group we help clients achieve quick, efficient and profitable growth through the easy implementation of proven methods. For more information, please contact us at 305.722.7213 or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

Remove Distractions to Ignite Sales Growth – Part 1

For a time, I attached the following quotation to my e-mails: “Never confuse activity with results.” (Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM) While this applies to every person in your company, today I am going to focus on the sales force. During the last 7 years I have met and worked with hundreds of Chief Executive Officers. Regardless of whether their sales growth was high or low, many of them had the potential to double and triple that growth. The scary part is that most of them did not know it.

The most common thief of sales growth is distraction. Based on my experience, I estimate that on average, employees lose 40% of their time to distractions. This number ranges between 30% and 60%, depending on the company they work for, and can reach as high as 70%, depending on the individual. Distractions can be classified into two types: 1) leadership and organization; and 2) individual-specific. The leadership and organization distractions can be categorized into poor sales support, customer service mishaps, products that do not meet client needs, bad sales management, and poor communications. “Individual-specific” distractions refer to daily mental or situational conditions faced by the salesperson.

Part I deals with leadership and organization because these have a more dramatic impact on growth than most companies realize. Most companies’ systems and processes do not allow their salespeople to run at full stride, and in many cases hold them back. What is your senior management team doing to help remove distractions that interfere with the performance of your sales force? You should be holding weekly meetings to address the issues, and here are a few of the questions that need to be answered:

  • What product issues regularly come up that your salespeople have to continually address?
  • What customer service and account maintenance issues do your salespeople regularly deal with that you can assign to someone else so your salespeople can spend more time qualifying, hunting, and closing?
  • When you listen to your salespeople, can you identify some of the personal biases that affect their sales performance and could be remedied through coaching?
  • Does your compensation system motivate your salespeople, or is it a distraction?
  • Which of your people were hiring mistakes and are taking too much time to manage?
  • Is your sales manager demotivating your salespeople, and is he/she a good manager?
  • Does your sales manager spend at least 80% of the time managing, and, within that 80%, is the right amount spent coaching, motivating, holding salespeople accountable, and recruiting new salespeople?

Ultimately, your organizational processes and systems need to be established in such a way that you hire, develop, and support top performers. Success can grow dramatically by removing distractions and keeping your salespeople focused on selling. I find that many organizations unwittingly do the opposite, thus compromising growth. While we cannot win every sale, every minute spent by a salesperson on a distraction is a guaranteed no sale. Please stay tuned for part two of this article which will focus on the “individual-specific” distractions that affect your salespeople.

Review our website to understand how an executive or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Proper Time Management Earns Trust and Success

If you are regularly rescheduling, canceling, missing, or late to meetings you must read this article. Keeping your time commitments is a success secret that I share with every client. However, many do not take it seriously at first. They find it hard to accept that time management provides such a big opportunity. This is particularly true in Miami, where being late and canceling meetings is an epidemic of grave proportions.

Resistance notwithstanding, time management is a concept that is basic and simple to apply, and the positive results are astronomical. Whether you are in sales, management, or working your way up the ladder, being on time and keeping your meetings can be a goldmine. I have had clients partially apply this secret and the results are automatic. Interested? Then read on!

The real problem it that is difficult to isolate and quantify the direct and indirect costs of canceling or rescheduling meetings, being late, or missing meetings. The culprits always justify their actions with comments such as:

  • My biggest customer needed me.
  • An emergency had to be dealt with.
  • I had too many phone calls/e-mails to return.
  • Another matter was more important.
  • Traffic was bad.
  • The other meeting ran too long.

Regardless of what people tell you, if you are late for meetings by more than 5 minutes twice a week, reschedule or cancel meetings more than twice week, or miss meetings twice a month, you can be more successful by improving your time management. The comments above may be reasonable responses on occasion, but, in most cases, they are excuses for not being responsible, and they are costing you something even if you cannot isolate and measure the cost.

Think about your own experience. What are your true thoughts about someone who is late? When your doctor keeps you waiting for 45 minutes, are you happy when he finally sees you? Does he seem more qualified, somehow better than other doctors, worth paying more to see? Is this someone you would want to refer to a friend, invite over for dinner, do a special favor for, or maybe work until midnight for? Of course not! Amazingly, though, as bosses you somehow think it is okay to make your employees stand outside your office for 20 minutes while you take a phone call, or have them wait in the conference room until you’re ready, ask them to cancel meetings to accommodate yours, and so on. But you were tending to your biggest customer, so they should understand. Right?

I use a method in my coaching to educate my time-challenged clients on the importance of keeping appointments. If they do not give me 48 hours notice before cancellation, they pay me a large fee for meeting cancellation. This is done to help my clients realize that every time they cancel a meeting, whether it is with me or with someone else, and there is less than 48 hours notice, there is a cost to every person involved in the meeting and those around them. For those of you who think I do this for revenue, less than 10% of my clients ever pay even one late fee, and only two clients have ever paid more than one.

What does canceling meetings have to do with trustworthiness? As I coach salespeople, I have to help them with the first step in the buying process, which is to get the prospect to “buy” the salesperson. If the buyer does not trust the salesperson, it will likely not matter how good the company or its products are. The salesperson will go home without a sale. If the salesperson does not show up on time, it lowers trust.

Well folks, everyone is in sales. We are selling to employees, bosses, boards of directors, shareholders, children, customers, vendors, and so on. If you are on time and keep your meetings with someone, you help earn trust, which in turn helps earn power with someone, and then the sales process has a chance of happening. On the other hand, if you cancel meetings, make people wait, show up late, and constantly reschedule, you lose their trust. You lose power with that person, and there is no deal. It is that simple!

Even better than being on time, I propose that everyone start living on the “15 Minutes Early Plan.” Have you ever noticed that when you arrive at someone’s office to have a meeting, that is when they start preparing for your meeting? This is especially true if you are in sales. The prospect is never ready, so by getting there just in time, you lose at least 10 minutes of your allotted time. Arriving early usually gets you 10 more minutes of productive time. And if the prospect is someone really important (like the CEO), it might be weeks or months before you get “face-time” again, so those are 10 big minutes.

Another benefit of the “15 Minutes Early Plan” is to lower the impact of road rage from the horrible traffic in Miami and South Florida. Estimating a just-in-time arrival takes PhDs in geography, quantum physics, and mathematics, and a lot of luck. By planning to be 15 minutes early, you can bring less stress to your meeting and your life.

Even if you do not have to drive, it is just no fun to rush around. It is nice to have a few minutes between meetings to have a glass of water, call your significant other to say hello, or take a few deep breaths before running to the next meeting. You will find that you get more done, and your input will be much better.

As I’ve already mentioned, all of this is linked to success. What is meant by success? Success is defined by the individual, and typically defined in terms of money, friends, possessions, colleagues, status, power, prestige, customer satisfaction, strong family, etc. At the end of the day, I leave it to you to find your definition of success. Master your use of time, and you will have more of it to enjoy your success.

Review our website at to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

If time is money, how big are your savings?

Since the beginning of time, we have been a population preoccupied with the concept of time. Unfortunately the term “Time management” creates a false impression of what a person is able to do. Time can’t be managed and is uncontrollable. However, we can manage ourselves and choose how we use time.

We measure daily activities, progress, even distances in terms of days, hours, or minutes.  Most important, we think of money in terms of time. “Time is money” is a phrase often heard in the business world. Our job productivity is often related to the time consumed in performing specific tasks. In many businesses, compensation and services are paid for in terms of rates per hour.

Do you use time, or does it use you? Do you stay on top of things, or do they stay on top of you? To a very large degree, your success will depend on whether or not you master the art of effective time organization. However, time management is a skill few people master and is one that most people need. If you really want to improve the use of your time and your productivity and at the same time feel good and effective, you should start by building a strategy around your time, evaluating your current behaviors and habits.

Time management is a skill, a technique, a mindset, and a lifestyle. It can be adopted by anyone who wants to:

  • Feel in more control
  • Attain more out of life
  • Reduce stress
  • Realize more balance in life
  • Achieve success in business

To use your time successfully you must first accomplish what is most important for you. When you don’t accomplish what you truly want, you may feel confused, compromised, and frustrated. Many people try to use time management techniques that work for others, only to be disappointed. It does not matter if you use a paper-based system, a PDA, or one of those expensive mobile devices. What really matters is that you are using a system that makes you effective.

Myths About Time Management

Some of the myths related to time management use are a direct consequence of our attitudes. Our attitudes are developed through a conditioning process that began very early in life. As you examine your past and the future, you will develop a much better understanding of why you do the things you do. Let’s take a look at some myths related to time:

MYTH: My life is completely controlled by external events.

FACT: You can have some control over many aspects of your life, but you and you alone are responsible for initiating that control.

MYTH: I should meet everyone’s expectations.

FACT: The needs and demands of others may be inappropriate for you and your lifestyle. First, become clear about what your own needs are. Then, consider what others expect of you.

MYTH: I should have no limits.

FACT: We all have limits …. failure to acknowledge this may cause you to become perfectionistic in your expectations. Perfectionism normally leads to procrastination.

MYTH: I do not have time

FACT: You need a time strategy.

Common Time-Wasters That Need To Be Identified

In order for a time management process to work, it is important to know what aspects of our personal management habits need to be improved. Below you will find some of the most frequent reasons for reducing effectiveness in the workplace. Identify the ones that are major obstacles to your effective use of your time. Identifying your time stealers:

  • Interruptions – telephone
  • Interruptions – personal visitors
  • Meetings
  • Tasks you should have delegated
  • Procrastination and indecision (see my article “The Habit of Doing Nothing)
  • Acting with incomplete information
  • Dealing with team members
  • Crisis management (fighting fires)
  • Unclear communication
  • Inadequate technical knowledge
  • Unclear objectives and priorities
  • Lack of planning
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Inability to say “No”
  • Desk management and personal disorganization

Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to manage your time, be more in control and reduce stress. You can analyze your time to see how you may be both the cause and the solution to your time challenges.

There are many ways we can manage our time more effectively. The following is list of some strategies you can use:

  1. Put your daily plans in writing.
  2. Plan your daily time use by listing your activities in order of their priority.
  3. Delegate.
  4. Be selective.
  5. Make brief notes immediately following a conference, meeting, or an important conversation.
  6. Keep simple records regarding the routine of your daily life.
  7. Schedule a quiet time – and use it.
  8. Use waiting time wisely.
  9. Keep your work area uncluttered and free of distractions.
  10. Keep incoming “Junk mail” to a minimum.

Using your time is your responsibility and is controllable if you choose to do so. The degree of your commitment to achieve personal goals will determine how serious you are about setting priorities for your time.

As an Executive Coach, I help individuals and organizations develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. I work with my clients in all areas, including business, career, finances, time management, productivity, employee motivation, and relationships. As a result of coaching, clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths.

If you wish to explore deeper into the subjects contained in this article, please call Activate Group at 305.722.7213 or send an e-mail to pjperez@activategroupinc.com.

Reference and excerpts taken with permission from Management and Leadership published by Resource Associates Corporation.

Have Your Goals and Achieve Them Too!

You see it every day in your daily lives and particularly at year-end, with all of the New Year resolutions and business plans. Next year you are going to do all of those things you have never done, and more. Or maybe you just want to get back to where you used to be. You set goals for some really important reasons:

  • Keep you on target
  • Make better decisions
  • Keep you focused
  • Increase self-motivation
  • Develop self-confidence
  • How many goals do you have going right now?
  • How have the anticipated rewards influenced your progress (or lack thereof)?
  • Are all of your goals planned out fully? What difference might it make?
  • How do you know if you really are going to achieve those goals?

Here is a quick quiz to see if you are on track:

  • Do I state my goals in a way that tells exactly what will be achieved and by when?
  • Are my goals measurable in a way that I will know whether they are achieved or not?
  • Do I set goals that are attainable and are not designed to stretch to some level below that goal?
  • Are my goals set realistically high so that they require some sort of behavior change?
  • Do all my goals have a definite target date for completion?
  • Do I evaluate my goals to make sure that I do not have too many goals?
  • Have I taken the time to prioritize my goals?
  • Have I written down all of my goals?
  • Do all the people who contribute to my goals know exactly what the goals are and how they contribute to them?
  • Have I thought through in advance and considered all the detailed steps that it will take to complete my goal?

The answer to every question above should always be yes whether it is a personal or professional goal. For every question you answered as “no,” you can probably drop your goal success rate downward by at least 20%. Do not try to put more importance on any one of these items as that would be like building the engine of your car or baking a cake and saying one part or ingredient is more important than the other. The reality is that if one part or ingredient is missing, your car will probably not start or your cake will be inedible.

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of the critical factors that can help you increase your goal success rate to over 90%. There are too many factors to cover in this article so my aim is to clarify some of the top (key) points.

There are a lot of things you do (consciously or subconsciously) to achieve or not to achieve your goals. although I would agree that outside circumstance can play a role in goal achievement. If you are honest with yourself, when you fail to achieve a goal, whether it’s more sales, customer retention, employee retention, or something personal like weight loss, success or failure is more dependent on the goal-setter than on outside influences.

Commitment

I always get a funny look when I discuss this issue with clients and friends. Many people think that because they made a decision, they made a commitment. This could be the farthest from the truth. Actually, the hardest decisions oftentimes have the weakest commitments, particularly the larger the group size.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? More than a year is spent thinking about something, maybe even a committee is created to evaluate it, consultants are hired, friends and colleagues conferred with, money is spent for market research, and finally an affirmative decision is made. The project, system, process, or other decision is placed into action, and all of a sudden the inevitable happens – problems arise, big problems, little problems, and problems disguised as attitudes.

What happens to most people’s level of commitment when faced with these problems? Rather than solving the problems, they ignore all of the thought that went into making the decision and allow emotion to take over. Their commitment to the decision it took them a year to make crumbles, and with it the chance of following through on the decision.

IF YOU MAKE A DECISION, MAKE A COMMITMENT!

Smarty Goals

The first step in setting goals is to establish a SMART goal that is stated positively. As alluded to in the Quiz, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistically high, and Time-based. However, one often-overlooked item is the goal must be Yours. While this criterion seems simple, it is actually not easy in execution. If it were, everyone would achieve a lot more goals. Very briefly, let us discuss what each of these criteria really means:

  • Specific – You say exactly what it is you are going to do. Hazy goals are doomed to failure. For example, we are going to establish a new training program for our supervisors by 10/1/XX. You are not defining what you want to train them to do.
  • Measurable – The goal must be stated in a way so that you can definitely know whether it has been achieved. In addition, you should be able to see if the trend is negative in order to modify your detailed action steps accordingly. For example, we are going to increase the frequency of meetings with our hourly staff. How many additional meetings would you consider acceptable? What purpose would these meetings serve?
  • Attainable and Realistically High – Goals should have sufficient rewards and/or consequences to be motivational, and they must be attainable. If it appears that your goal will not require any kind of behavior change, challenge yourself to make sure that it does. Either the goal is too low, or you are not being realistic about what it will take to get there. The reality is you have set it as a goal because you are not already doing it, and the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”
  • Time Based – When do you want this goal completed by? Be honest, are there goals you have talked about for years that are still on your goal list? It is probably because you have not committed to a deadline.

The following is an example of a SMART goal:

  • Get 10 appointments by the end of this quarter with decision-makers in the hospitality industry within 50 miles of the Miami area whose companies employ more than 250 people

Write your goals down and broadcast them!

It is not unusual to meet people that have goals about which nobody knows. Even worse, they may not be written down anywhere. In personal or organizational circumstances it is always best to write your goals down for the following reasons:

  • It strengthens commitment.
  • Unwritten goals change unconsciously.
  • It rounds out your thought process and gives you an opportunity to think things through.
  • It provides a means to communicate to everyone who is responsible for execution.

If you have goals and they are not communicated succinctly to everyone who is responsible for doing what it takes to get to where you want to go, what is the likelihood they are going to do it? People like to have purpose and know where they are going. We use goals to focus individuals and organizations in the same direction. When we achieve goals, it increases energy, and that has a positive impact on results, thus further increasing energy, increasing focus on goals, increasing results, increasing energy, and so on. It is that simple!

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

Fighting Time!

Do you feel you’re in a constant battle with time? Does time seem to be winning, no matter which technology, process, and system one uses? While the amount of time in a day, week and year remains the same, people are attempting to fit more commitments into the same finite time spans. After many years of observing and working with senior management, I have found a fundamental flaw in how they approach time. This flaw causes significant bottlenecks in their companies. Worse, their poor leadership regarding time strategies causes others to have problems with time.

An example of the above is a company that never has time to create clear business plans. There are no clear specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based (SMART) goals for the overall organization and for each executive. As a result, the organization spends far more time than necessary reconciling their lack of integration and problems.

Typically this company has positions open for a year or more for lack of time to establish and perfect their hiring process. Consequently, current employees work significant overtime, mistakes in product development occur, sales returns happen, company reputation is damaged, employee productivity decreases, and people burn out. Lacking the training or the experience to hire well, they often take much longer than necessary to get good candidates and attract a smaller pool of good candidates than they should and could. Once it is time to choose a candidate, their process is so broken they fail to select an “A” player for the position. For a year, I suggested a solution to this problem that would involve approximately ½ a day of training for the management team and the head of human resources. The answer, “we do not have time” has come up each time. So goes the vicious circle.

Companies must narrow priorities to get to the root of “what is eating time to begin with.” CEOs have to be the most effective when it comes to setting priorities for themselves and the organization. When they fail, they become a huge bottleneck for the rest of the organization. Lack of prioritization and clarity at the top will kill your organization. This same discipline of prioritization has to be developed and aligned at every level. Without it, effective use of time is destroyed.

Here is a set of questions to ask yourself:

  • What are the 5 most important goals of my company, and which is the top 1 of those 5?
  • What are the 5 most important tasks I can do today to help move those 5 most important goals forward?
  • Am I working on those 5 tasks?
  • What are you doing that does not relate, and how can you stop immediately?
  • What can you do to help accelerate the top 5 goals of the company?
  • If you have more than 5 priorities, who can help you whittle that list down to no more than 5? Or how can you delay some of the other goals so that there are no more than 5 on your plate now.
  • What is your number 1 priority now? How can you accelerate its completion?

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.

7 Time Management Secrets that Can Make You Wealthy

Do you want to increase your earnings by 50% or more? Who wouldn’t? The challenge is how to do that and work less at the same time. Many of the ultra-wealthy in our country have figured out how to do just that. After all, the person now earning $20 million a year probably earned $200,000 or less at an earlier point in his/her career. That same person is not working a 100 times harder today. That person has learned to maximize their own productivity and to help others in their teams do the same.

There are 7 secrets to time management that can make you wealthy:

  1. Top 5 Organizational Priorities – The management team needs to agree on the top 5 most important things that must be done in the next 12 months and the next 90 days in order to achieve its goals. These goals need to be put in rank order and communicated regularly to everyone.
  2. Top 5 Personal Priorities – Each individual needs to identify their top 5 priorities as they relate to the organization’s top 5 priorities for the next 90 days and put them in rank order. The status of the priorities should be reported back on a weekly basis.
  3. Daily Task List – Each individual should have a daily task list that should be prioritized into to 2 categories: “must do” and “should do.”  The “must do” category should have no more than 5 items. To make sure the “must do” items can be realistically done that day, a person should estimate the time it will take to complete each task. Add up the time for all the “must do” tasks and all the time scheduled on the calendar. If that time exceeds 80% of the available day then it is unlikely that all of the task will be accomplished, since e-mail, phone calls and unscheduled interruptions must be taken into account in the schedule. The task list should also be compared to the individual’s “Top 5” personal priorities list to make sure that they are making steady progress and not wasting energy and time on the wrong activities.
  4. Create Weekly Goals – At the beginning of the week, decide what it is you want to accomplish by the end of the week. Determine what tasks will be necessary to complete these steps and delegate as necessary. Put an estimated time next to each task you will need to complete and block out time on your calendar to complete each task.
  5. Control Interruptions – While open door policies and responsiveness to customers are good qualities, they can backfire on you. Research tells us that every time you get interrupted, it takes 20 minutes to get back to full concentration. Allowing people to come in at any time, constantly looking at e-mail and BlackBerry, answering the phone whenever it rings, and other common habits cause executives to use 3 to 5 times more time to re-create their original levels of activity. You should create time windows where you are going to accept interruptions. Look at your schedule and identify good break points in your day in which to answer e-mail, return phone calls, and have unscheduled meetings. By getting into the habit of having discipline in these areas. you will create discipline in others. Now they will have to consolidate their questions and condense them into 5 minutes. If they need longer ask them to schedule a regular meeting.
  6. Touch it Once – Whether it is a hard copy document or e-mail, people are touching things 3 and 4 times before they do something about them. This is tremendously inefficient. The rule should be “do it”, “dump it,” “delegate it.” or “file it.” The goal at the end of the day should be to have no piles on your desk and nothing in your in box. If you accomplish this you will save a lot of time in the long run.
  7. Closed Time Management System – Whatever time management system you use, it must be closed. In other words, the same system must take into account your goals, time, tasks, and notes. If your keep these items in different systems you will likely have alignment problems, and important items will slip through the cracks.

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.