The biggest obstacle to positive change is a lack of good sustainable habits. Many of the people we’ve worked with genuinely wanted to be more productive and reach their career goals faster. But old time-wasting work habits kept them from being effective on the job. The following five simple habits have generated the most impact for our teams.
1. Focus on priorities
It’s easy to get lost trying to balance duties of managing teams and delivering consistent business results, plus everything else in between.
An HBR survey of 1,300 managers, including more than 500 presidents and vice presidents, found poor priority setting to be common. The study noted that even though most executives work very long hours, only 47% of their working time is taken up with managerial duties.
A disciplined system of priority-setting can set you on the right path to ensuring you’re focused on those goals and activities that are most important to the success of the team.
TIP: Determine your top 5 weekly priorities. To achieve them, plan the days of your work week around those activities that contribute the greatest impact to your organization.
There is no optimum management style; in fact, sticking to one style can diminish team buy-in and derail vital endeavors. The behavior that will generate respect and buy-in from your team depends on the situation. By applying situational sensitivity, effective Leader-Managers know how to accurately read each situation and adapt their behavior to improve the outcome.
Personality is all about who we are: our way of thinking, feeling, and of how we perceive the world. Our personality traits stay with us for our entire life; they make us unique, and don’t change all that much.
We can, however, choose our behavior to suit our needs and goals. When it comes to management style, we don’t have to stick to the binary extremes of a dictator barking orders, or that of a ‘why-can’t-we-all-get-along’ type of manager. Management style is a discipline, a skill that can be learned and applied.
Effectiveness is generally misunderstood. Take the “busy” professional: they look good, work long hours, deliver fast — all highly valued traits in any organization. But real effectiveness isn’t about personality; it’s about performance, how measurable outputs achieve the results of the job. Confusing the two can lead to wasted time and lost opportunities.
Ask anyone how things are going at work these days and the most common response you’ll get is a variation of “extremely busy!” Our usual reaction “Busy is good!”.
It’s easy to associate busyness with higher status — a busy person must be doing a great job, right? Maybe not.
Someone can have energy, work long hours, sound smart, dress nicely, but may not be achieving results.
It’s natural to rate someone based on those personal style or behaviour. We all do it. But these factors alone do not determine real effectiveness. To measure a leader-manager’s effectiveness, we need to get beyond first impressions and consider their their track record of achieving outputs – real results.
Meditation and mindfulness practice is on the rise in organizations to promote wellness and balance, and I was ready to jump on board. So, I committed that I would try meditating, and of course, there’s an app for that! A quick search through iTunes of the word “meditation” brought up 97 apps. I chose the first (free) one that popped up.
The app allowed me to choose a short 10-minute meditation to practice with a voice and bells guiding me along the way – quietly encouraging me to let go of the thoughts cluttering my brain and breathe deeply. Sounds pretty simple?
Well….I failed miserably at it. I made all sorts of mistakes along the way – I tried using the app on my commute to work (bad idea with people sneezing and talking around me). I tried, and got distracted by email. I tried and got distracted by Netflix – you catch my drift.
And finally, I allowed myself to recognize I had failed. And I’m all about lessons learned (like maybe first time at meditation shouldn’t be on a moving train with throngs of people). Here’s what I bottom-lined for myself:
Most employees leave managers, not organizations. But how do you turn a bad manager into a good one? Train them on how to be better, right? Nope – training rarely sticks. Even the best-intentioned manager will often revert to old, comfortable and ineffective habits. Securing lasting adoption requires a system of engagement that reinforces effective management practices every day.
A costly goose chase
Companies make hiring decisions based on poorly defined criteria. Then, they try to fix that with one and done training – investing significant time, effort and dollars with little to show for it.