Originally posted on CU Insight – 4/18/14
There is a lot of information on how to be more productive not only at the workplace but also in one’s personal affairs.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on this very topic. One book that I highly recommend is “Folding Time” by my good friend and internationally renowned productivity expert, Neen James.
One of the most common mistakes that organizations make and that leads to decreased productivity is that they misidentify priorities. What do I mean? There are many examples. Let’s examine a couple of “priorities” that are pretty common:
We need training on _______. Organizations decide that their employees are lacking in a certain area. It might be a specific skill set (service, building relationships, business development, lending, etc.) Executives realize that if their employees get better at those things, they will be more productive. They will work smarter….not harder. They will reach and exceed the goals that have been set. They will be happier and the company will benefit.
We need to perform an analysis of the competitive forces that exist in our market. A thorough understanding of any organization’s marketplace is crucial to its success. Enough said.
Our employees need to be more engaged. For full disclosure, I am not a big fan of the term “engagement.” I think that’s it’s overused to the point of it being sociologically cliché. When I talk to clients, I encourage them to create loyal employees. To do so, the organization must have a solid and effective value proposition. So the task is to create that strong value proposition and then provide the guidance and training for the employees so that they can truly be advocates for that value proposition.
So, now you’ve identified some priorities. Now just GO and TAKE ACTION on them! Simple enough, right?
Not so fast. Unfortunately, something else happens in entirely too many cases. Namely, the organizations collect information, perform due diligence, obtain proposals, and then…..
“We’re too busy for this right now….”
“We’re still thinking about it. Yes, we know. It’s been 6 months….”
“Our meetings get in the way…..”
“So and so didn’t do their part….”
“Maybe we can fit it in for next year…..”
Also, there is a bit of unprofessional and even discourteous behavior that occurs in some cases. Namely, when the people (e.g., internal company personnel or even outside service providers) that take the time to prepare proposals try to follow up for an update or answer, they find that voicemails go unanswered, e-mails are ignored, and there seems to be no contact at all. So it begs the question – was this really a priority?
Do any of these excuses or actions sound familiar?
Here’s how the best organizations deal with what they’ve identified as priorities:
They don’t let other things get in the way of completing the tasks associated with going into action.
If something is truly a priority, they are ready to act immediately when they are presented with a plan that can get the job done.
They don’t get “buyer’s remorse” before they even buy.
Everything that is not on that “priority” list will have to wait. Period.
They have the professionalism and courtesy to respond to the people that have taken valuable time and put in considerable effort preparing the information that was requested.
So when you’re identifying priorities in your organization, make sure that they are really and truly the most important things that you should be working on right now.
If you’re not prepared to ACT, it’s not a priority. If you get buyer’s remorse before you even buy, it’s not a priority. If you know that this is really a Wish List item for “one day,” wait until that day when you make it a priority before you request that anyone start working on a plan.
But be honest with yourself and others that might be counting on you to “flip the switch” that puts a plan in motion. Identify your organization’s true priorities and get to work on those things….now.
Look for my new book in late-summer or early-fall 2014!!
The first book, Stop Complaining! Start Growing! Is available through Amazon here.
Who’s facilitating your Strategic Planning Session this year?