STOP MAKING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS . . .

Xmas picSo let me ask you, have you made your “New Year’s Resolutions”?  I have a recommendation for you– STOP IT.  But why, for you make new resolutions every year.  There is part of the problem, it becomes a vicious cycle. So stop making New Year’s Resolutions that just don’t work.

A former client that owned several health club facilities, said that he sells more memberships in the months of December and January than the rest of the year.  Why is this?  This is due to our human desire to get in shape and change our body image.  He said is that you will find his facility packed to capacity during the month of January and February- with long lines at the machines and the classes full of people.  But, wait until March or April– 70% of the people that started working-out in January just QUIT!!

The problem with making New Year’s Resolution is that it sets you up for failure.  The best test for you is to determine if have S.M.A.R.T goals.  S.M.A.R.T. refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed.

Specific: Goals need to be specific. Often we set goals that are so loose, therefore it’s nearly impossible to judge whether you achieve these goals or not. For example, a statement like “I wish I will lose weight” is too vague. How will you know if and when you’ve reached your goal? Setting a goal like, “I will lose two pounds each and every week for this year” is more specific. At the end of each week and month it will be a simple matter of weights and measures: take your measurements and get on the scale.

Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. For example, many of us want to increase our number of contacts. But, “meeting new clients” is an ambiguous statement. A clearer objective is “I will meet three new prospects each week, and at least one of each of these prospects will become a client.”  It’s a simple, concrete goal. This makes it easy to see if you hit your target.

Achievable: Goals need to be reasonable and achievable. Nearly everyone has tried to drop a few pounds at one time or another. Often their success or failure depends on setting practical goals. Losing 15 pounds in 30 days is unrealistic (unless you’re planning a medical procedure). Losing two pounds per week is reasonable and achievable. So in order to lose just two pounds per week, you decrease your caloric intake by 7000 calories per week (a reduction of 3500 calories equals one pound of weigh loss) and you can do this by reducing your daily intake by just 1000 calories and increasing your activity. Make it easy, enjoyable, and achievable; however don’t set yourself up for failure by setting goals that are out of reach.

Realistic: Goals need to be realistic. Guess what, we are not 18 years old anymore, so stop thinking you can still do everything as you once did. As adults, we learn that while we can achieve a great deal, you can’t have it all at once– the point here is to reasonably pace yourself.  It’s important to honestly assess yourself and your personal and physical limitations. Also, do you have the ability and commitment to make your dream come true?  For example, you may love to play tennis, but do you have the time, ability, talent and commitment to become a pro? So be honest with yourself.

Time Framed: Goals need to have a specific time frame. Having a set amount of time will give your goals structure. For example, many of us want to find a new job or start their own business. Some people spend a lot of time talking about what they want to do, someday. But, without an specific goal and date there is no sense of urgency, no reason to take any action today. Having a specific time frame gives you the motivation to start today.  It also helps you monitor your progress during the process.

I devised a quick and simple 2013 Personal Goal Setting Exercise . . . .

1-  Write down your ‘magical’ and memorable moments for the past year.  Identify those moments that will live with you the rest of your life.  It may be something simple as having a ‘belly laugh’ with an old friend.  Seeing your newborn grandson or granddaughter for the first time.  It might be getting that promotion you worked so hard the past 5 years.

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2-   So what didn’t work in 2012?  Now this is a tough one.  What will you do differently?  What will you NEVER do again?  What do you need to change?

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3-   So what are you committed to changing this year?  This is a tough one.  You need to get very specific and detailed- remember these must be S.M.A.R.T. goals.   The bigger the goal, the more commitment and measurement needs to take place.  So, break these goals into smaller manageable goals, or KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators).  But also clearly identify the consequences if you don’t achieve your goal and ultimate cost in your life?  Put these goals in front of your ‘nose’, so they are seen on a daily basis.  One client puts the S.M.A.R.T. goals above the bathroom toilet, so they are seen each and every day.

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4-   Set up a Daily Ritual.  An example of a Daily Ritual is, “When I wake up every morning, the first thing I will do is go for a 45 minute run”.  Another might be, “I set 5 hours every weekend that I can read one book per week”.  What you need to do is clearly identify what you need to change, and make the change.  Changes start with Your Daily Ritual.

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5-   Make a list of every person that you will share your S.M.A.R.T. goals with, including key persons within your organization, your spouse or partner, your friends, and your Business Mentor & Coach.  Keep in mind that your ’accountability partner’ will agree to hold you to the goal, and ask that you supply regular accountability, and also keep you accountable to making the necessary changes in your life or business to attain these  S.M.A.R.T. goals.

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ADD AN HOUR TO YOUR DAY . . .

clockWhat the heck . . . . you are probably working more hours than ever, and now another hour is added to your day! First, let me ask you a question . . .  So what would you do with an extra hour? An extra hour that you could you what you WANT to do. Sounds like the plot from a comedy — but in truth it’s an opportunity that many world residents receive around this time every year. I’m talking about the change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time when we turn back our clocks and repeat one hour.

Now, let me acknowledge that it’s not really an “extra” hour. You have to give it back in the spring, and it doesn’t really affect your lifespan. However, it’s important to consider what to do with extra time — since one of the most frequent concerns of managers is not having enough.

In an article by Robert H. Schaffer about why managers waste time. In the article, he shared a question that had been posed to dozens of managers: “Imagine if the president of your company personally asked you to take on a special assignment — working directly for him/her. The project would take one day per week but you would have to continue your regular job in the remaining time. Would you take the assignment?”

By now we’ve asked this question to hundreds of managers —most who complain about not having enough time already — and 99% say they would take the assignment.

The reality is that we all have “extra” hours available, without having to turn back the clock. Sometimes it takes a presidential request or a customer crisis to find them; and sometimes it takes a personal incentive such as clearing the decks before a vacation.

But we all know that those hidden hours exist, buried in unnecessary meetings, inefficient work processes, interruptions, false starts, PowerPoint perfection, misplaced files, and a host of other time-wasters. We may assume that these patterns are part of the normal rhythm of imperfect organizational life — but unconsciously (and sometimes consciously) we know that these inefficiencies give us a cushion in case we have to suddenly step up the pace.

It is still likely that most managers have more cushion than they actually need — and some of that time could be applied to reducing today’s feeling of overload, instead of waiting for a crisis or special event. If that applies to you, then here are a couple of ideas for identifying and capturing a few additional hours:

1-    Do a quick calendar analysis. Go back through the last few months of your Outlook calendar, your Blackberry, or handwritten diary. Grade every activity by assigning a dollar value to each.  So for example, opening and reading your email would generate a value of $10 per hour.  In each of the nine boxes below, assign a value for each activity you perform during the day. Which activities generated no revenue, nor add value to you or your business?  Do you start seeing a pattern?  Finally, look forward at your next couple of months and see if there are meetings or activities that you could bypass or eliminate without any consequence. 

Where would you grade yourself in the nine boxes below? Remember that an owner of a $1 million annual revenue company, is responsible for the company’s revenue at the rate of $500 per hour (times 2,000 hours per year).  Much like a stop light, spend a much time in the ‘green’ areas and avoiding the ‘red’ areas a much as possible.

9 box grid2. Ask for feedback. Our time-wasting patterns are often invisible to us — but apparent to those around us. So a second useful step is to ask your subordinates or colleagues if they could identify some activities that you could do less often, do in less time, or stop doing altogether. For example, one manager who did this was told that he didn’t need to attend a weekly operations meeting that was run by one of his people — a meeting that had no value.

A one great mentor once said to me, “No employee is more motivated, efficient and focused than the week before they take vacation”.   How do you find extra time, you don’t– you simply make the necessary time?

So, make every day count– just like you are taking vacation tomorrow.

STOP WASTING TIME IN MEETINGS

Meeting picWhen was the last time you looked at your calendar and realized that every working minute of your day was going to be spent in meetings? Probably not that long ago. When you looked at that schedule what was your reaction? Excitement? Anticipation? More likely you thought “How am I ever going to get anything done if I’m in meetings all day?”

According to a Microsoft survey of 38,000 people in 200 countries, on average, people spend 5.6 hours each week in meetings and 69 percent of those surveyed feel meetings aren’t productive. That’s a lot of wasted time.

Here’s the thing: with the right intention and structure, meetings can be highly productive. Really, they can! They are an integral part of how you can infuse effective communication throughout your business, and how you can ensure employee cooperation, buy-in, and focus toward your business goals.

Here is an outline of some basic points about how to conduct productive and inspiring staff meetings at all levels of your organization.

Types of Meetings

What kind of meetings should you have in your business? How often should meetings take place? Who should be involved in the staff meetings? Some basic staff meetings include:

– Employee Development Meetings

These meetings occur between a manager and their direct reports. They can help managers address employee issues such as inadequate performance or negative attitudes. They can also help facilitate the growth and success of individual employees.

– Department Meetings

These meetings take place between all members of a given department. They help maintain a coherent team atmosphere and keep everyone on track and on the same page moving forward.

– Company Meetings

These involve every member of an organization. They help the business owner ensure that everyone in the organization gets essential information in the same forum. They are similar to Department Meetings but on a larger scale.

– Strategic Planning Meetings

These meetings can occur within or between departments, can involve managers and/or employees, and are generally geared for the purpose of working on specific business development goals and strategies.

– Financial Review and Analysis Meetings

These meetings might involve a business owner, CEO and CFO (and possibly an outside accountant and Coach) who carefully review key financial reports to direct and inform their management decisions in the business.

The same Microsoft study we mentioned above found that the most common productivity pitfalls in the workplace are unclear objectives, lack of team communication and ineffective meetings. Regardless of what kind of staff meetings you choose to incorporate into your business, if you follow a basic set of guidelines and standards, you can turn them into extremely effective and productive activities.

Effective Meetings 

1-    Have a clear purpose. Everyone in the meeting should know what result the meeting is supposed to produce, and why their participation is necessary. Whenever possible, the purpose of the meeting should be connected to the overall goal of the business, which can help keep everyone connected to that vision and how they fit into it.

2-    Follow a defined agenda. This includes (at a minimum) the time and duration of the meeting, the specific issues or ideas to be addressed, and any required resources or documents to bring to the meeting. Make sure that this information is shared with all attendees well in advance to ensure everyone is prepared and can get right to the heart of the matter at hand.

3-    Be action oriented. If you walk away from a meeting without clearly defined next steps, you haven’t done it right. Make sure your meetings include a follow-up plan that makes it very clear how each of you and/or the project will move forward, along with due dates for each step in the plan. Having a meeting just for the sake of having a meeting might be acceptable when getting together with an old college buddy or a group of friends for a sporting event, but staff meetings in your business must help drive the business forward.

4-    Have a facilitator for each meeting, someone who assumes accountability for keeping the meeting focused, on-track and on-time. This person could also be the note taker who can disseminate the key points of the meeting and keep track of carry over items for follow-up. You might also have the meeting recorded so that others can listen in as needed after the event.

Staff meetings should essentially be a collaborative effort and should invoke the participation of everyone involved. The best meetings at all levels of an organization are energizing and motivating, as well as informative.

When conducted properly, staff meetings will support your progress toward your goals and be an important part of your company culture. Our clients who direct their attention and intention into creating effective staff meetings in their business experience increased levels of communication, productivity, accountability and cooperation. They really can serve as a catalyst to move your business forward; it’s all in how you approach them.