Category: Decision Making (page 1 of 3)

Your Calendar is the Key to Managing Your Time and Priorities

Keys to an Effective Calendar

To begin with, it doesn’t matter what calendar program you use whether Outlook, Google Calendar, or some other app. What matters is that you make the most of the technology available.

Use whatever program you like and are comfortable with to manage your time. The key is to establishing ownership of your time by setting reminders to maintain focus and performing weekly reviews to ensure priorities make it into your schedule.

This is the third part of a four-part series on time-management. Don’t forget to check out Part 1 and Part 2 in this series.

Own Your Time by Putting It on Your Calendar

In a previous post, I discussed some quick tips that will help you own your time. In that post, I briefly discussed the importance of using your calendar to gain ownership of your time. Scheduling priorities on your calendar allow you to protect your time and get things accomplished. Focusing on what is important to you is the key. Also, scheduling your priorities communicates to other people what time is off limit.

Allowing others to determine how your time will be spent forces you to focus on their priorities and not yours.

If you want to get something done put it on your calendar. As Stephen Covey said, “The key point is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”

Time is your most valuable resource. It is the only resource you have in abundance. It may not feel like it if you have allowed others to own your time. Liberation will come when you acknowledge that you own your time.

By scheduling your priorities, you take complete ownership of your time. Putting priorities on your calendar makes that ownership real.

In my next post, we will talk about the importance of priorities and discuss some ways to go about establishing them.

Use Reminders

After you have established ownership of your time the next thing you need to do is keep yourself focused. One of the most underused tools in calendar apps is the reminder. People tend to put things on their calendar and then fail to follow through on those items.

Using the reminder gives immediacy to your scheduled priorities. It gives you a heads up that your priority is due and keeps it front of mind. Use your reminder to keep you on track and focused on your priorities.

Weekly Reviews

Finally, scheduling a weekly review will help priorities stay scheduled and protect against infringements of your time.

The weekly review should be a scheduled block on your calendar. It should be a one-hour block of time that is reserved for doing calendar maintenance.

This is your time each week to ensure that your priorities remain on your schedule. It is also the time where you will ensure that others have not taken control of your time.

This time should be scheduled at the end of the week, so you can review the previous week and plan for the next week. Maintaining your priorities on your schedule is the key. Take time to review your priorities, what you have accomplished, and what you need to accomplish.

Make sure your schedule for the coming week conforms to what you want to get accomplished. Clean out items that conflict with your goals.

In Summary

Good time management requires that you know what your priorities are and that you create a schedule that aligns with those priorities.

Your time is yours and you need to protect it. A calendar app is the best tool for accomplishing this task. By scheduling activities that conform with, and support your priorities, you take ownership of your time.

Next, reminders help to keep you focused and on tasks. They help to prepare you for the work that you have set as being important.

Finally, weekly reviews help you to maintain your focus. By looking back on what you got accomplished and looking ahead to what you need to do you get to set your action plan to keep you focused and effective.

By scheduling your priorities on your calendar you protect your time and establish ownership over it. And when your priorities are scheduled you will not be living somebody else’s priorities.

Lose the Battles But Win the War

Fighting All Battles

When I was a young supervisor I wanted to fight battles. Every problem that needed to be solved I saw as a battle to win. Being focused on winning these little battles that it made me short-sighted. I did not see the long game and because of it, I damaged relationships and my reputations.

A lot of new supervisors and managers run into this problem. And if truth be told, I still struggle with it from time to time. But I have gotten better at understanding the long game and have become better focused on winning the war. In other words – winning hearts and minds.

Understand the Long-Term Goals

To put it another way, problems come and go. We need to keep them in focus and in scope. Understanding what the long-term goals are can help. Focusing on where you want to be and what the ideal situation looks like with all concerned parties in mind is the way to win the war.

Not every problem needs to be solved. And not every problem needs to be solved to your satisfaction. Sometimes we must let others win to build and grow relationships.

This doesn’t mean that we sacrifice things that are important to us. It just means that we need to prioritize what things are important and which are just nice to have. The nice to have things we can live without meaning we can let them go allowing others to get some things they want.

What is Important?

Equally important is understanding what things are important to our long-term success, and the success of the team, organization, etc., can help us to focus on what matters and let go of things that don’t matter.

By changing our focus from picking battles to winning the war we open our view to what’s good for us to what is good for the organization. We become team players. And in this way, we will win more than we lose.

Being picky about what battles you fight shows others that you are willing to compromise. It shows a level of maturity. And it brings more people into your circle of influence.

People want to be around a winner. Winners understand the importance of other people to their success. It is only by being able to engage, inspire, and work with others that we can become winners.

Questions to ask when determining the problem resolution path:

1. What will be the long-term effects of your problem resolution?
2. Consider the cost-benefit of the problem resolution?
3. What are the relational costs of the problem resolution?
4. How will the resolution benefit the organization?
5. Does the resolution leave other people whole?
6. Do alternative solutions exist that may lead to better outcomes?

Lose a Battle to Save a Relationship

Ultimately, whatever path you decide to take when dealing with a problem make sure you understand all the ramifications before acting. Once you damage relationships it can be hard to repair them. Make sure that you have clearly defined the problem, the relationships involved, the effects of certain actions, and what the long-term consequences of your actions are.

Keep the long-term results in mind. What you do today can have negative consequences that can take years to overcome. Better to move slowly and lose a battle than to lose the war and your career.

Playing Favorites – And Why Sometimes It’s Alright

Do you play favorites with your employees?

Playing favorites might not be as bad a thing as you think. Often, we get told that we need to treat all employees the same. And on the surface, that seems like the right and sensible thing to do. But that is not always the case.

Let’s take two different scenarios

Scenario One:

You have two employees. Employee A is always picking up extra hours, stays late, takes on additional responsibilities without complaining. This is your superstar. Not a brown nose, just a hard worker willing to do whatever is required and with a positive attitude.

Employee B is always complaining. This employee has an attitude and complains anytime they are asked to do anything that is outside of their job scope. This employee doesn’t do anything wrong, but they don’t do anything extra. Employee B does everything that is expected and no more.

Scenario Two:

Employee A is a friend of yours. Everybody likes them. This person does just as much work as everybody else. Maybe on occasion, they do a little extra because your buddies and they like you personally.

Employee B is a person who has a personality that doesn’t mix with yours. You’re not unfriendly with this person but you don’t go out of your way to talk to them. This person doesn’t do anything wrong, they are good at their job, and they are occasionally willing to pick up additional job duties.

Now let’s suppose that in each of the two scenarios both employees want a certain day off and the only one can have it. How do you choose?

I would argue that in scenario one it is o.k. to play favorites and give the day off to the employee who has done more work, has a better attitude, and takes on additional responsibilities.

In scenario two it isn’t so clear-cut. In this case playing favorites by rewarding the person you like more with the day off would be unethical. Instead, you need to weigh the merits of each employee and determine who will get it either based on equivalent contributions or use a non-biased method for determining who will get it when all else is equal.

Not Black and White

Playing favorites with employees on the surface isn’t always as black and white as it would initially seem. There are times where employees have earned preferential treatment through their own hard work and initiative. And there are times when employee’s efforts are evenly weighted and the only thing separating them are personal factors.

Where there is no clear separation in effort and attitude favoritism is not just unfair, it is unethical.

In situations where there is a clear difference in effort and attitude playing favorites can set up an incentive structure whereby employees are rewarded for going above and beyond. You just need to make sure that you are being fair about how you are judging people’s efforts.

A Word of Caution

Caution must be given to how we approach our personal feelings about employees. We need to ensure that our personal friendships don’t color our opinions and lead us to favoritism because of these relationships.

It is best to keep your friendships out of the workplace and hold all employees to the same standards. But if you maintain consistent standards and are judging all employees through the same lens than favoritism can be an ethical motivator.

Use Your Best Judgement

The bottom line is to use your best judgment. Don’t avoid playing favorites to motivate a hardworking employee who is always giving extra just because you are afraid of playing favorites. Be consistent in your expectations and how you reward your employees.

Use caution when giving additional benefits and favors. Make sure that you are not doing it out of personal feelings and friendships. Reward good workers even if you don’t personally connect with them.

Playing favorites, when done ethically and fairly, can create incentives that encourage employees to go above and beyond.

Still looking for more help than sign up today and receive my free EBook – How to Succeed as a Manager or Supervisor. Also, receive a free 45-minute coaching session (A $100 Value) for a limited time. Just sign up for my email list below or go here for more details.

 

What is Accountability – Podcast Episode 2

What is accountability?

In this podcast, we flesh out in greater detail what accountability is and how to maintain it in a way that positively engages your team. Check out my blog post on accountability that is a companion piece to this podcast.

In my blog post and podcast, I dispel the myth that accountability is the same as discipline. Further, I assert that discipline is not the first step in accountability, but is the last action that should be considered.

Why is this important?

There are too many managers who want to attack problems. They see every problem as a nail and they are hammers. Because of this, they fail to achieve true accountability and destroy trust with their team.

Today, people need to be engaged in a positive manner. Discipline is often used to cover up for the failures of the manager. Accountability starts with good communication. It starts with establishing what the end goal of the team’s action is.

What will you learn?

You will learn what the goal of accountability is. What actions are important for you to ensure your people are being held accountable. And, you will learn tips and strategies for maintaining accountability. You will also learn why discipline should not be the primary focus of accountability strategies.

Accountability is About Correction not Discipline

Accountability Not Blame

Accountability is at the heart of leading and managing people. It is about holding people to a standard and then ensuring that they are maintaining that standard. What it should not be about is blaming people and punishing them.

Holding people accountable for their work and addressing underlying issues that are the cause of performance deficiencies should be the goal of a manager or supervisor. Blame assignment should not be a part of this process. And in most cases, the first response shouldn’t be about discipline. Instead, you should be looking for the root cause of the problem, assigning responsibility, and then working with the employee to correct the cause.

Too often managers and supervisors shoot from the hip when addressing performance issues. Instead of taking the time to gather facts and think about what the long-term consequences of their actions are, or what they are looking to achieve, they just jump into blame and punish mode.

When this happens, it serves the opposite purpose of what should be the intended outcome. The manager’s or supervisor’s goal should be the discovery of the root cause of the performance deficiency and then working with the employee to resolve it. Improvement of the individual’s performance should be the focus.

The Goal of Accountability

The purpose of holding people accountable isn’t the same as discipline. Accountability is about establishing performance expectations, communicating them, and helping employees understand where they are falling short. Correction of deficiencies and improvement of performance are the key.

Accountability is not discipline. Discipline may become part of the process after you have performed the other steps necessary to address root cause and help the employee improve performance, but it should not be the focus.

Begin With the End in Mind

Anytime a manager or supervisor is addressing a performance issue they should be thinking about what the end goal is. What does the ideal state of performance look like and how does it differ from the current state. But you also need to consider what the goal is with your relationship with the employee and their relationship with the team. If you have read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you will recognize this as Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind.

So often we are operating from a state of putting out fires that we don’t always take the time to really think about what the end goal is and what affect our actions are having on individuals in our organization and our team.

When addressing performance issues, the key is to identify what you hope to achieve in the correction of the problem. And to make sure that those actions are in line with overall company and team goals and objectives.

In most cases, the end goal is to maximize efficiencies to ensure profitability. To accomplish this, you need to motivate your employees to want to perform to a level that meets these objectives. Your accountability objectives should be focused on the best way to improve employee performance by engaging the employee in the solution and motivating them to want to correct it.

Placing blame does not motivate people. Being concerned about them and their performance does. Having a genuine concern for the success of the individual, and framing the problem resolution in that light will motivate much more than placing blame.

An Accountability Strategy

When accessing your accountability strategy consider the following:

  • What is the end state that is desired?
  • What actions can I take to try to reach this end state?
  • How will the employee perceive your actions?
  • In what way will your actions affect the team?
  • How will your actions help reach organizational goals?
  • What is the best way to identify the root cause of the problem?
  • How can I help the employee improve their performance?

Accountability is about setting clear expectations, goals, and consequences (both positive and negative). The goal is to help employees improve their performance with the end goal of meeting organizational objects. It is not about placing blame but is about identifying the root cause of performance problems and correcting them with the end in mind.

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