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My goals for the year were to change a habit each month.  January I gave up pop, February I decided to exercise, March I wanted to try to get up on time, for April it is to stay in touch with my people.

Right up until April my goals were going great.  Then busyness set in and the rest of my goals went by the wayside.  I started drinking pop because I needed it to get through the day, or so I thought.  I stopped exercising because I lost free time both with work and with having a baby.  Getting up on time has stopped happening because I don’t stick to a schedule and routine of going to bed on time and having enough time for relaxation.  Now I am so busy trying to keep on top of customers that I don’t know what is going on with some of my team.

I need to get back in a routine and start to focus.  To get past things you need to focus and have a plan.

To stop drinking more pop: Don’t buy it at home and take a jug of water to work and make sure that is the only thing you drink. 

Exercising: Schedule 3 days a week to do some exercise.  Don’t try to overdue it.  Just start slowly.

Getting up on time: Stay on a schedule of going to bed on time and have a routine to start your morning.

Keeping in Touch with my Team: Put them as an action item on your to do list.  Have things written each day to talk to each of your team members about.

 

Sorry this post was so me focused.  But if I cannot live out what I am talking about here I am just another blathering idiot.  I will get back to you on how this is going.

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Do you always wonder how to make work more fun?  Or anything more fun for that matter. 

Don’t you remember when you were a kid (or even now) to pass the time while driving you would play the ABC game or you would play Zip or some other game like that.  Your goal at the end was getting to your destination but you needed some tools to make the journey more fun. 

I love to transfer childhood lessons learned to leadership and business.

Today at work I was going through everything I ordered and also thinking about my goals for the year.  I was thinking to myself I need to give myself a jump start to get excited about selling things and talking to people.  I talked to one other person and we decided to make a game of greeting people and keeping track if we sell to them.  No this game isn’t all about sales.  It is more about making conversation with people.  I want everyone who comes to my business to get talked to by at least two people.

This is how my thought process worked:

  1. I thought of my goal: My goal was to sell 10% more than last year.
  2. A main step in getting toward the goal: Making sure every customer who comes in gets talked to and made to feel welcome.
  3. Come up with 3 ideas of how to achieve: Make it a policy, make it a reward, or make it a game.
  4. Think of how to implement your idea: Keeping track of how many customers you talk to and how many end up buying.
  5. Enlisting Others: Talked to another person at work about the idea and we decided to make it a game with lunch as the reward.
  6. Leaving room for change: Be willing to change how to keep track and different ways to make the game more interesting.

What is the use in playing games if you don’t keep score.  Quit making it easy and basing it on numbers.  Anyone can create a game like that.  Be a little more ingenious.

It is a lot easier to measure sales, ROI, and other things.  But the tough things to measure like your employee morale and customer satisfaction are the lifeblood of your business.  They are a lot harder to measure but are worth the time and effort to find them out.

What are the things your business measures? 

We had Reggie McNeal speak the other day in Orange City about how the church needs to have a different scorecard.  He talked on how the church measures people in church, how much money got taken in and other things.  He gave the story of how one church’s goal was that no one in their county went hungry.  Now that’s a goal to work for!

Instead of making a certain sales number your goal:

  • Why don’t you measure how many people you can make smile in a day. 
  • How many questions or problems over the phone you solve. 
  • Ask your employees what their goals are for the year both professionally and personally and see if they accomplish them. 

The best things to measure are the hardest. Numbers are easy to measure people are harder to measure.  So go out of your way to find out what things you need to measure that make the biggest difference.

Do you have systems in place to make sure you stay on track?  Or do you just fly by the seat of your pants following some mission statement or vision?

Matt from What’s Best Next had a post you should check out on Systems.

I love systems and are a big part of the fabric of what I believe.  I am around too many people in life that have great intentions but have no systems to harness their ideas.  The most creative people need to have systems so they can get the most of their abilities.

The greatest intentions are only as good as the most basic systems.

The best people and businesses are the ones who do the simplest things with excellence. 

So what should you have systems for in your life?

  • Your Daily Routine: You should be pretty close to clockwork on each day to be the most efficient. 
  • Your Ideas: All of your ideas should have a place they get recorded so you don’t forget them.
  • To Do List: Have a system whether it is over the internet, on your computer, a paper system or a combination of them.  Have a way to keep track of things you need to get done.
  • Goals: Review goals weekly or monthly and have a reminder of when to review them. 
  • Encouragement:   This should flow naturally but maybe set aside a certain time each day or once a week to write notes or tell people what they are doing.

I just became a dad for the first time 2 months ago and it is amazing how a system is way more effective for babies.  I don’t think we really change that much with age.

What type of systems do you use?

Matt at What’s Best Next had these Five Questions in a recent post:

  1. What will be the center of my life?
  2. What will be the character of my life?
  3. What will be the contribution of my life?
  4. What will be the communication of my life?
  5. What will be the community of my life?

These questions made me start to ponder what I want my life to look like.  Much of my life has been spent just going from one thing to the next without really looking ahead and doing some planning. 

Here are some questions I am asking myself about what I want the end of my life to look like:

  • What do I want people to say about me at my funeral?  Do I want them to say he knew how to make money or that he cared for others?  I think I know what I want to be said about me.
  • What legacy do I want to leave for others to carry on?  Who am I going to invest my life in to make this place better: my kids, coworkers, others I come in contact with.
  • Do I wish I would have worked less or more?  Think about what you want out of life and if you want to invest more time in your work or in other things.

Take some time to think about what you want out of life.  Many times we go through life without really thinking because we are so busy.

Why after awhile do we start relaxing, getting lazy, and forget what got us to where we are?  Do we think we have arrived?

It is so easy to go and go for a goal and then when you finally reach it you take it for granted and lose it.  You work for something and once you accomplish it you forget about it.  When I was in college I remember an experience that relates well to this.  I was on the JV basketball team.  I was probably the 3rd guy off the bench and played around 8 minutes a game.  I wanted to play more so I decided to play defense as hard as I could.  Pressure my guy, get in passing lanes, and do all of the little things.  Once my minutes started going up I stopped doing the little things and all of the sudden my minutes went drastically down.  At the time I blamed it on other things but looking back I realized I became complacent.

How you keep from being complacent?

  • Don’t forget where you came from:  Don’t forget how far you have come and what you had before.
  • Keep pushing yourself: Try new things all the time don’t settle into such a routine. 
  • Stay Focused: Stay focused on your main objectives and don’t go on bunny trails all the time.
  • Do the Little Things well: Don’t stop doing the little things that got you where you are.  Keep doing them but keep doing them better than before.

Complacency is easy to get into after working really hard.  Enjoy successes but don’t make success an excuse to stop improving.

Dan McCarthy always has good things to say but this article I thought was exceptional on 1 on 1’s.  Here is the list he had on there:

1. Schedule them out for 6-12 months, either weekly or bi-weekly, for about an hour each. Don’t wait for them to happen, because they won’t. Make it your employee’s responsibility to schedule them, but set the expectation and hold them accountable. It’s not an option.
2. Don’t cancel them. Yes, things come up – so reschedule if needed. If you’re always canceling them, you’re sending the message that they aren’t important.
3. Shut your door, don’t answer your phone, turn your cell phone off, and give 100% attention. If you don’t have an office, then use a conference room or other distraction free area.
4. Always let your employees go first. Clear their agenda first – it’s their time. Then cover any items on your list.
5. Make sure you don’t just discuss performance goals, metrics, quotas, or project updates. Save time to also talk about their development, job satisfaction, and yes, even a little time to get to know your employees as people.
6. At least once a year, set aside an entire meeting to have a career and development discussion. Review individual development plans on a quarterly basis.
7. You don’t need to follow the same rigid structure for every one of your employees. Tailor meetings to the needs and style of each employee. Some may prefer informal with no agenda – others may prefer agendas and formality. It doesn’t matter what you prefer- 1 on 1 are all about them, not you.
8. Like many of you, I’ve learned a lot about effective and ineffective leaders from my own managers. One manager gave me this piece of wise advice I’ll never forget: “How do you measure the effectiveness of your 1 on 1s? Take a look at your employees when the meeting is over. Are they leaving energized, enthusiastic, and motivated? Are they smiling? Or are their shoulders sagging, eyes glazed, and dragging themselves out of your office? That’s your scorecard as a leader.”
9. Kind of a follow-up to #8; don’t make your 1 on 1s feel like a complete physical exam (with prostrate check) to your employees. They shouldn’t be interrogations under a bright light.
10. Don’t accumulate a to-do list for each employee, and then use 1 on1s to unload your list. There’s nothing like leaving a meeting with a two pages of action items and wondering how you’re going to fit all the extra work into your week.
11. Be a barrier remover, not a gatekeeper. When an employee comes up with an idea, don’t shoot it full of holes (another fine “coachable moment”, right?), add so many of your own ideas to the idea that it’s no longer your employee’s, it yours; or add extra steps so that it takes longer to implement. Think about that last one… I just learned this recently, and it’s challenging. Instead of adding steps to your employee’s ideas, challenge yourself as a leader to remove steps, or barriers, so that the employee can implement the idea even faster.
12. Save some time to just talk. It’s OK to spend a few moments just asking what’s new, how’s life, how’s the family, etc….
13. Ask for feedback, opinions, input to important decisions, and advice.
14. Always try to end on a positive note – let your employee know how well they are doing (if it’s genuine); and how much you appreciate their efforts.

This was a great and comprehensive list that I am for sure going to use in my reviews with people.  The main thing I got from all of these was that you need to do more listening and evaluating of what they are saying.  Stop always trying to talk and get your agenda across.  Listen and help them achieve their goals.

Stop focusing only on the numbers!   Stop focusing so much on numbers that you forget about what got you here in the first place.  As a leader you need to work hard on putting the vision out there for everyone to strive for.  In the process of this you need to use numbers in some ways but don’t make them the fuel that drives the car. 

Why do we focus on numbers so much?  Because that is the easiest thing to measure and we as humans would rather take the easy answer than work at finding the best.

If you focus on doing your best work the numbers will come.  You need to encourage people along the way with numbers but don’t make them the focus.  Make the right behaviors and actions the focus.  Try to find different metrics such as notes or comments that people have given you or your company.  Getting encouragement that way means a lot more than any number ever will.  In the same sense your employees need to know how you as a company are doing.  They need to know the score so they know what to strive for.  Just don’t make the score all about numbers.

Don’t get me wrong budgets, ROI, and Sales are all important.  But if you forget about the customer and the relational part of the business everything else will suffer.

Here is a related article I read by Steve Farber that is great

The other morning I heard a song and the lyrics went:

"I don’t want to spend my whole life asking, what if I had given everything? Instead of going through the motions."

I have really been thinking about this statement lately as I have reflected on my life in the last year.  These are some of the things I did in my life to make sure I wasn’t going through the motions:

  • Cancelled My Cable: I know this might be a little extreme but I needed to do it so I could spend more time being productive than being entranced by that box.
  • Started Reading:  After not reading throughout college and out of college I decided to start reading.  I decided to jump head first and read 40 books in a year.  I have absolutely loved it!!!  This past year I started reading blogs also.
  • Joined a Bible Study/House Church: Got together weekly to discuss scriptures we read throughout the week.  I have learned a ton and really stretched myself and my beliefs.
  • Started Eating Right and Exercising: Although this does go through spurts I have been way more disciplined in doing this than in the past.  It gives me a lot more energy and helps me feel way better.
  • Being Deliberate with Conversations: Talking to as many people as I can and finding out what is going on in there life.  It is amazing what you can learn if you just care!
  • Writing Things Down and Staying Organized: I read somewhere that if your desk is a mess on the inside you are probably the same way.  So I have made a more concerted effort to keep everything more organized around me so I know where things are.  I write anything I can down so I don’t forget.  I have come up with an organization that I can trust way more than my memory, which seemed to fail me a lot.
  • Started Blogging: It hasn’t been that long but I have committed to doing this because I love writing and I love sharing what I have learned.  It is a great release to write about anything I want to.

I look back and see how much I have gone through the motions already and I am making a concerted effort not to have that happen anymore.  How are you working at making sure life doesn’t pass you by going through the motions?

Why are we so afraid of failure.  Don’t we know that true success only comes from failure first.

Parents raise their kids as to protect them from failing.  Leaders in business don’t let their team make decisions for themselves because they don’t want them to fail.

The best leaders in business give their people freedom.  The live by the mantra:

Fail the first time you make a mistake shame on me, but make the same mistake twice and shame on you.”

Give your people freedom to make decisions and don’t insult them by letting them set the bar too low.  But that starts with you.  Put the bar as high as you can.  Don’t worry about failure.  If you do fail: analyze it and figure out how to succeed next time.

I don’t know about you, but the best accomplishment in the world is setting the bar so high others say “They can’t do that.”  Then you go about your business and go above and beyond where the bar was set.

Set the bar high.  Surprise some people.  Then ask them to follow suit.