Yes there is a difference and, no, it's not a riddle.
Peter F Drucker (and others after him) wrote: “Management is doing things right and Leadership is doing the right things”.
This month we are going to concentrate at how you spend your time encouraging you to do the right things; I am not going to give you all the answers, but I do hope to make you think.
Business, for most, is tough at the moment; we are in a recession so working smart and focussing expensive resources on business priorities is vital.
Many years ago I read the One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. A particular sentence from the book that I remember was: 'don't just do something, sit there'.
We all have a tendency to do the things that are most urgent (according to our perception at that moment) and to do the things for which we have a particular skill or preference. The point the authors were making was: think and plan before you act!
There will always be exceptions i.e. the phone rings so you leap for the handset of course, it could be a customer. I once had a retail client that decided to save money by developing his own ecommerce website. He studied the web-development software and perfected the site over several weeks, sometimes devoting whole days. The business drifted, but he enjoyed the work and was satisfied with what was a good website for little cash outlay. But the true cost of the website was the things he didn't do while he was bogged down.
The example may be an extreme case, but we are all guilty of sometimes doing the wrong things, and often forgetting the difference between what is urgent and what is important. So occasionally we need to review how we and others are spending our time.
The job of the 'Leader' is to decide the priorities for the business, for you and for the team if you have one.
Decide your business priorities.
Do this and you may be surprised (or maybe not) at the amount of time and other resources that you spent on non-essential tasks and activities at the expense of things that might have a greater leveraging effect on sales and profit. Take a sheet of paper and spend 30 minutes or so listing the critical jobs, tasks, other activities needed for your type of business to be successful. Look at it with fresh eyes rather than simply listing what you actually do now. Don't list the small things, stick to the big picture for the moment.
Score each out of 5 or 10 with regards to its contribution to the success of the business i.e. impact on sales, service / product quality, safety & welfare etc.
Double check that the high scoring activities are really your business priorities then leave it awhile, think about it and come back to it over the next few days revising and amending activities and scoring as necessary. You should now have a list that identifies most if not all of your business priorities.
You now need to think about how you and others actually spend your time.
Choose your method i.e. make a note of what you (and involve key people in your team if you have one) do during the day - this is good if you have good self-discipline and are looking to capture lots of detail. Or you could summarise at the end of the day what proportion of time you spent on various activities - less scientific but ok if you have a good memory. Make sure that you capture the things that you do less frequently, so you finish up with a fair summary of how you spend your time.
You should now be in a position to identify where change is needed, so ask:
- What could I do less of?
- What could I stop doing?
- What could I do more of?
- What could I start doing?
These are simple questions that can result in major changes, so think carefully about the costs benefits and possible consequences before you make any changes.
But if change is needed make the changes, if you don't work smarter your competitors will! Ask for help from us at Business Link.
That's all for this month.
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