MAXIMIZING YOUR TIME: PROVEN STRATEGIES FOR SWAMPED LEADERS

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Maximizing Your Time: Proven Strategies for Swamped Leaders
Time

There is a universal constant that I always uncover when I work with leaders:

They do not have enough time to do everything they have to do. But even more important, their employees often fail to make the progress that is required because they do not have enough time to execute the activities that they are coached on.

If this sounds like you, then you may be finding yourself increasingly frustrated and even downright depressed as you feverishly attempt to motivate your people to focus on the critical pieces of their job that really matter and improve business results.

In this blog post I will offer you a clear framework that change the way you look at time and help you accomplish more with less stress.

Send me the Special Report now!

The Big Lie: I Don’t Have Enough Time

The reason we call this Big Lie is because this whopper is so prevalent. It is the reason given by all of us whenever anyone asks us why something did not happen as they thought it should have. Now I am not saying that you do have enough time to do everything that is on your plate: You absolutely do not – unless of course you truly are not working very hard to begin with. I’m going to step out on a limb here and assume that if you are reading this post then that is NOT the case with you. No, this is the Big Lie because it absolves us of addressing the real problem of why we are not making the progress we truly desire.

As Henry David Thoreau put it, “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”

Have you ever stepped on an ant pile? They are industrious little creatures. Here in the South we have particularily hateful variety called fire ants. They are vicious little stinging critters whose one mission in life is to sting you until you leave their precious mound alone. So perhaps Thoreau was wrong – they are absolutely busy AND they have a mission – the difference is that we don’t think their mission is particularily helpful to us enjoying the great outdoors.

What Thoreau was getting at is that we do not really have a time problem. We have an activity problem. In fact we almost always judge the value of time spent this way. Think about it: Here are two situations that we would view completely differently:

  1. You spend 3 hours in a highly productive meeting with five of your peers. Everyone is clearly engaged and motivated to make the process a success.
  2. You spend 3 hours in a planning meeting with five of your peers. People are multitasking and only pay full attention when it is their turn to speak. The meeting concluded with a plan to meet again in ywo weeks to assess progress. There are few clear indications that any progress will be made in those two weeks.

 

Here is the truth about time: We feel better about our use of time when we enjoyed the activity we were involved in and/or we feel that we made progress on a desired results.

That is both the promise that keeps our hope alive and the paradox that keeps us frustrated about how our days seem to spin out of control.

In what ways are you most frustrated as a leader? What would you change about both your personal and your professional life if you had the time? What would be different with your employees if you could help them solve the time management challenge? How would your bsuiness results improve?

My original plan was to stuff everything that I have learned about how to maximize your productivity into this one blog post. Then I realized that would be a mistake. This is a big challenge for leaders and it deserves to be handled as such.

So here is my offer for you: Click here or on the link below and you will receive a FREE three part Special Report on how to get more control over your time and your life. This Special Report contains specific and immediate strategies that you can take to shift your business into high gear – ultimately putting you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your time.

So click here to get the FREE three part Special Report or on the offer below.

Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t you’re right.” Make a decision that you can stop telling the Big Lie – then help others to do the same.

Cheers!

Andrew

THE HALF LIFE OF COACHING

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The Half Life of Coaching: How to Escape the Groundhog Day Coaching Experience

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How do you make sure that coaching does not end up being a circular exercise that saps your energy and yields virtually no results? In fact, you end up feeling like Bill Murray in the classic movie Groundhog Day. You know the one where he wakes up and relives the same day over and over until he can get it right. Well in your version of Groundhog Day you have the same coaching conversations over and over. And unlike Bill Murray, the conversations don’t usually end in a happy ending.

Coaching has got quite a bad rap lately as the term is often equated with long tedious converations that can make even the most experienced manager want to run for the exit. However the coaching process can and should yield positive long term results.

The good news is that it’s not your fault – you have just been using a broken process!

The process most companies utilize in coaching is; Coach, Measure – Repeat as Necessary on a 30 day cycle. Each time we ‘repeat’ we become just a little more frustrated and in fact start to become convinced that the employee is not going to work out. Given the fact that replacing a non performing employee can cost up to 9 times their salary, we should be heavily invested in correcting the situation quickly!

We have been counseliing clients how to address this cycle for over 20 years using a process we call the Half Life of Coaching.

Here is how the Half Life of Coaching works:

Step One: Identify the KPI

Identify the KPI that you want to improve. Make sure it is a leading indicator of success that can be measured easily and is objective. While a subjective KPI can work, it is far more difficult to gain agreement around and there is almost always an available objective KPI you can use. For more information on how to slect the correct KPI, see the earlier blog post on Turbocharging Your Coaching.

Step Two: Gain Agreement on the KPI and the Time Frame

Use effective coaching techniques to gain buy in from the employee on the KPI and the behaviors that will drive improvement. Now when we say ‘agreement’, it would be ideal if the employee was willing to work with you collaboratively and agree on the objective. While that is not always possible, even in difficult cases they can still be in ‘agreement’ that they know what the expectation is. You must also agree on a reasonable time period for follow up. While there is no ideal time frame, it should probably be in the order of a week. Longer than a week tends to encourage a lack of focus.

Step Three: Have the Employee Report Their Progress

At the end of the agreed upon time frame, have the employee report their progress to you. Of course, you scheduled a follow up coaching session at the end of last session, so the first order of business is to review the results the emplyee ahas achieved. Under no circumstances should you usurp the employee’s responsibility to report their results. If you do, you have now taken on the responsibility for them to change.

Step Four: Determine the Root Cause of a Lack of Progress

Assuming that the employee has not yet been able to achieve the desired results, coach them to an awareness of what is happening and the behaviors necessary to drive success. While the employee may try to take you down the rabbit hole of ‘reasons why I can’t…’, it is important that you keep focusing the conversation on how they can.

Step Five: Schedule a Follow Up Coaching Session at HALF the Last Time Interval

It is key to communicate that we are decreasing the time interval to help both of you determine the root cause of the challenge they are experiencing. It is of course possible that the goals you are expecting progress on are not reasonable, so you must be open to that possbility. If the goals are indeed reasonable, then the decrease in the follow up time frame will assist in:

  1. Providing clarity (for both you and employee) as to what the root cause of the problem is.
  2. Increasing the sense of urgency with which the problem must be addressed.
  3. Eliminating much of the ‘noise’ that clouds a review of what employees are really spending their time on. Quite often it is not a lack of effort that drives low performance – it is a lack of effort on the right things.

Step Six: Repeat or Celebrate!

If performance improves – resist the urge to jump back out to a 30 day follow up cycle. Remember that habits are not formed overnight. I would suggest you back out slowly toward a more regular follow up time frame.

However if performance does not improve, then go back to Step Five. Rarely do you need to get to more than daily check ins as the root cause is quickly identified with shorter time periods between coaching sessions.

Want to learn more about how to accelerate your progress and close the gap between where you are today and where you want to be? Click here or on the image below and let’s get started!

 

 

TURBOCHARGE YOUR COACHING

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Turbocharge Your Coaching

So yCoaching.pngou know the drill: Your team (or a part thereof) needs to change, increase performance, communicate more, increase quality or (insert specific change here) – whatever – it does not matter. Whether you picked the team or not, it is your job as the leader to make it happen.

Every leader has faced this challenge. In fact, if you are not currently facing this challenge it is because:

  1. You have done an amazing job of attracting great talent, hiring, and then coaching them to amazing levels of productivity, or
  2. You are expecting far too little.

That is because the environment you are operating in continues to evolve, and as such, the expectations of your team will also evolve.

Now, unless you have been blessed with a perpetually huge budget to hire individuals whose skill set exceeds the job requirements (in which case you will have high turnover and need to hire again), you will have to find a way to increase the skill of your team and align their behaviors to the changing business needs.

So we resign ourselves to coaching the team member(s). When we ask our clients what comes to mind when they think of coaching employees, they often say:

  • It takes a long time
  • It is often not successful in driving long term change

Both of these beliefs are not only dangerous, they are also self fulfilling. 

So how do we ensure that our coaching doesn’t drain our energy by taking too long, and that it does lead to long term behavior change?

Note: If you have not read our post on increasing your coachability this might be a good time to make sure you are ‘walking the talk’.

Ok, back to you.

We are going to assume that there are a number of changes that your employee ‘Sue’ needs to make. Now, what we would typically do is make a list and download that list as soon as possible to Sue. Then we would follow up 30 days later. Then repeat for 3 cycles. The we determine that Sue is not a good fit and decide to either find a new Sue, or lower our expectations of Sue’s performance. Sound familiar?

Let me suggest a different approach.

When it comes to coaching, there is an almost inescapable temptation to fix everything NOW. While it is fine to make a list of the most important changes that need to be made, the next step should be to ignore everything on the list except the easiest item that will have some measurable impact. Now, I know this sounds crazy. I have had many managers tell me that they cannot just ignore all the other items that need to change. When I ask them why they can’t perhaps not ignore, but at least put them aside while we work on one item, they tell me that it all has to change NOW.

Well, you and I both know that most people change very little and certainly don’t change more than one thing at a time – so why would we set people up for failure by demanding they change a whole list of things? Now, I am in no way suggesting that the other items on the list be forgotten!

Once we get a change on the easist thing on the list that we have chosen – we will have something to praise the the person on and we can move on to the next easiest thing to change that will have a measurable impact.

On the other hand, if the person cannot make a change in this ‘easiest’ of things, then we may very well have hired a person that is not a good fit for the job… either in terms of behavior, attitude or skills.

Stay tuned for our next post where we will add even more boost to your coaching thru a concept called The Half Life of Coaching.

 

HOW TO COACH AND DEAL WITH DEFENSIVENESS EFFECTIVELY

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One of the most insidious challenges we must deal with as we continue our daily trek is the fact that most people would rather blame others for their circumstances than place at least part of the blame where it certainly belongs: With themselves. We even have a term for this: Defensiveness.

When I speak with audiences there is an almost universal agreement that this is one of the core challenges that they deal with on a daily basis. Whether they are speaking with a family member, or a peer, their boss, or perhaps an employee: we all struggle with the desire to help someone make progress. Unfortunately, too often they seem preoccupied with deflecting responsibility onto someone or something else.

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Some years ago one of my mentors, Bob Proctor, taught me that when we are presented with a new idea – or at least one that conflicts with what we believe to be true, we have a choice to make. We can choose to learn from that idea or we can choose to attack that idea and defend what we know to be true. But we cannot do both. Now if we were to be honest, most people would have to agree that it is hard to be open minded about ideas that are presented to us that conflict with what our experience has shown us to be true. And yet that is the very challenge we are faced with when people we seek to influence are defensive with what we communicate to them.

What we really want is for them to be open minded – in other words we want their mind to be open to the possibility that they could learn and that the idea may actually help them. Unfortunately, our process for getting them to change their minds is flawed.

Instead of opening their minds to the possibility that their understanding of what is happening is flawed, we instead encourage the very defensiveness that frustrates our ability to assist them in making a positive change. In other words, we try to argue people into changing their minds. Rarely does this work, so we up the ante and increase the volume and intensity of our dialogue. Even if this results in a temporary change in behavior – it is too often short lived, and the person reverts to their previous behavior pattern.

Note: To identify the areas you may need to help the team improve complete our Complimentary Team Assessment.

So then how do we coach positive change in another person?

It is actually easier than you may think.

As a leader, we are often told to ‘walk the talk’ or ‘model that which we expect from others’.

Unfortunately, we tend to interpret this in the narrowest sense – we should arrive on time if we want others to do so, we should work hard if we want others too etc. While all of these habits are a great start – they are really just the price of admission to being able to ‘lead effectively’.

So what should we do?

The answer is to model the very behaviors we desire in those we seek to lead. So, if we want people to be in ‘learning’ mode rather than ‘defensive’ mode – we need to model that behavior ourselves.

When faced with this challenge, leaders often look perplexed as they believe they already are in ‘learning’ mode. And, of course, they often are. The question is – are the in ‘learning’ mode when they are interacting with the people they seem to model the behavior for? That’s when it counts – when they see you making an effort to learn (interpret this as understand) their perspective on a change you are seeking them to make.

Try this experiment next time you are faced with defensiveness from another person: Set aside the need to be right and ask questions to understand their perspective. That does not mean they are right and you should accept their answers as facts, however it does mean that you listen and really try to understand why they feel the way they do. You will find that the emotion in the dialogue decreases, they open up and you actually can have a conversation rather than an argument.

The reason this works is that when we are in ‘defensive’ mode we are almost always talking. When we are in ‘learning’ mode we are almost always listening. So, to model ‘learning’ behavior we must listen. Only then will you understand how the other person sees the issue.

To learn how to increase your leadership skill and reinforce the core attributes of high performing teams, use our Complimentary Team Assessment and learn:

  • Whether there is sufficient trust for open dialogue
  • Whether your team engages in constructive conflict
  • Whether the team feels there is commitment to team decisions
  • Whether the team feels there is true accountability for results