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.