Leaders everywhere are striving for perfection, but this pursuit is in vain. No one is perfect, and no one needs to be. What’s most important is that you and your team are doing their best, always striving to be better, and consistently meeting goals. Perfection is only a story for suffering because it will consume your thoughts without ever being attainable. Here are some great ways to see past perfection and gain something more valuable: productivity.
Make Processes & Expectations Clear
Failure is inevitable if you don’t take the time to discuss processes and expectations with your team. New team members especially might not understand the most efficient way for accomplishing tasks, and that will certainly create issues when it comes to productivity. Make sure you, as the leader, are being clear with your team members about how things should be getting done. Go over the processes step by step by step.
Furthermore, the level at which these tasks should be accomplished is also important information to impart. (If you don’t share expectations with good examples of what constitutes “work well done” then you only have yourself to blame when you don’t see it.) Only after these two things are made perfectly clear will you be able to help your team achieve perfection.
Set Up Stage Gates
These are important in each and every business and will help leaders achieve a higher level of understanding and a higher level of achievement in their work. Set up specific milestones with your team so they know exactly at which point during a project they should check in with you. Nothing is more frustrating for both team members and organization leaders than getting a project completed in time for deadline only to find that it doesn’t meet the expectations.
Setting appropriate stage gates gives leaders the opportunity to find problems before it is too late and guide their team members along the path to success.
Make Feedback A Priority
Sometimes, team members may expect too much of themselves, and without regular constructive feedback, they can easily get in their own way. Feedback is the key to lowering anxiety and keeping personal expectations at a realistic level.
Make sure that you are checking in with your team members pretty frequently so they understand what you expect of them as well as so they can hear how you feel about their work. Feedback isn’t just about the team members that you manage, however. It’s about you too. Feedback from your superiors as well as from your employees will help you become the best leader you can possibly be.
Always Do Your Best
It’s important to remember that your best is good enough; if it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have the position you hold today. Again, no one is perfect, that’s just a fact. It’s the act of striving for perfection that makes us perfect. By continuing to work hard on each and every task that comes our way, leaders can achieve their own personal perfection and make their organization one of the best.
Money makes the world go round, so it’s understandable that many businesses think that money is the key factor in driving business success. (It’s actually not.) There are many things that affect the success of a business, but the most important factor is relationships. Building solid relationships isn’t an easy thing to do. It requires courtesy, professionalism, attention, and most of all, it requires change. When these relationships blossom, however, your brand will have some solid ground to stand upon.
There is always someone who has been where you are. There is always someone who understands the system better than you. There is always someone with a connection that could make your business big. If you don’t bother to connect and stay in touch with these “someones” then your brand won’t reap all the benefits.
Networking is important for both businesses and a personal career. It can be a ton of work, and it certainly requires some dedication, but it’s worth it. In the end, your connections may be able to take you somewhere you weren’t able to go by yourself.
It takes a great deal of work to maintain good customer relationships. It encompasses your online presence, how you interact with customers, and of course, at what lengths you’ll go to to work through issues and situations for them.
Customers drive business; without them you don’t have much. Developing a personal relationship with your customers is the best way to foster trust and garner loyalty from the people who make your brand a true sensation. Taking the time to get to know them shows your customers how much you value them, and that is not something many businesses do. They will take notice, and it will make a difference for your brand.
We like to think that businesses are run because of our knack for technology or acumen for finances, but what really makes a business shine is the people who work for it. When team members feel valued, when they feel needed, when they feel cared for, it shows in their work and their determination to see the brand reach new heights.
Showing your employees that you care about them is probably the easiest task here. Networking takes a great deal of effort and so does maintaining valuable relationships with your customers. Doing your best for your employees is easy in comparison. Giving a Christmas bonus or saying, hey, leave early and go to your daughter’s soccer game are easy. Even the smallest of gestures will leave an impression on your employees, and when they are happy, the business can prosper.
Driving Past The Competition
You’ll only get out of relationships what you put into them, and stellar relationships can put your brand ahead of the competition in many ways. The personal relationships with industry leaders, the trust you’ve instilled in your customers, and the dedicated, loyal employees are the driving force behind a business’ success. When you focus on these three types of relationships, there’s no telling where they can take your brand.
Opportunities pop up all the time both in your personal life and your professional one. They may be small or they may be big, but they are critical to your overall success just the same. With business opportunities in particular, the details often get overlooked and the outcome isn’t what you might want or need it to be. The key to making the most out of opportunities that come your way is to always assign ownership.
When Things Don’t Get Done
It may simple. but in fact, this is a very important lesson that although most leaders say they understand, they aren’t putting ownership into practice. Here’s why not assigning ownership is a big problem for business:
You have two team members you believe are working on a task. Each one thinks the other is responsible for completing the task. In this general scenario, nothing is getting done and the same will happen to an even larger degree when the group in questions is a longer one. This is how stellar opportunities become missed opportunities—and your business will suffer as a result.
Assigning Task Ownership
You as the leader are responsible for ensuring that opportunities don’t get missed. This doesn’t mean that you need to lead every project and work on everything yourself, it’s just the opposite in fact. It’s your job to identify the opportunities and assign ownership to each one. From there, your staff should be properly trained so the individual who is now in charge can build teams and lead others along the way to seeking the fulfillment of this opportunity.
The person who owns the opportunity doesn’t have to have the team work for them, but rather with them in a shared experience aimed at achieving a common goal. The success rate will be much higher in this kind of environment and with ownership assigned and expectations clear, the chances of the ball getting dropped are much less likely.
Setting Up For Success
What it really comes down to is setting up your business for success and having processes in place to keep everyone accountable. Without this kind of strategy being implemented on the regular, it’s all too easy for opportunities to pass you by. Don’t let that happen.
Work with other executive team members to identify team members who you can trust with owning opportunities that present themselves for your business. Talk to those team members and let them know the role they are taking on and what you expect of them while they hold that role. Give them tactics for guiding their fellow team members instead of dictating to them. Lastly, set up stage gates so the executive leadership team will continue to be aware of the actions being taken and progress for each opportunity.
Carpe diem my friends! It’s time to seize the day. When you commit to giving every opportunity an owner, you commit to reaching goals and building business through accountability and skill. Giving your team members the chance to step up and own different opportunities gives them the opportunity to shine as well.
Nothing comes easy; diligence is required for success. Strong leaders possess a myriad of positive qualities from good listener to fast learner to logical—but diligence is key. There are plenty of things a leader can do to get noticed, but diligence is typically what sets her apart from the pack. Diligence will mean something different for every project and every person, but it always requires doing things carefully and completely, meeting deadlines, and following through.
Carefully & Completely
No one appreciates sloppy work. No one. It’s as simple as that. Whether you work for a client or you work for yourself, you can’t get anywhere with subpar work. Somewhere along the line, someone will take notice and it will reflect poorly on you. Doing things carefully is not quite enough, however.
Everything you do must also be done completely. Not 90%. Not 98%. If you won’t commit to completing a project 110% then you shouldn’t bother at all. How do you complete something 110% you ask? Go back and check your work. Then check it again. Then have a colleague check it. Then brainstorm five ways you can make it better. Implement those changes.
Everything you do from running over a supply list to putting the finishing touches on a marketing campaign require nothing short of your best from start to finish and beyond.
Deadlines are a common theme in the business sector. Everyone has them and no one has yet figured out how to overcome them. (Not without negative consequences that is.) The truth is that deadlines are there for a reason. They help us stay accountable, show that we value our work, and give us the freedom to say “that’s enough” and move on to the next thing. If we are constantly focused on one project and one project alone, we don’t get the opportunity to move forward.
Deadlines are important for the people we serve for the same exact reasons. They want to move their business further and feel like you value the work you provide.
Always Follow Through
Follow through isn’t just for the people you work for; it’s just as valuable to you as it is to them—maybe more. It’s easy for anyone to get so caught up in setting goals that they never actually accomplish any. Following through makes you reliable for both your client and yourself. After all, if you can’t rely on yourself, who can you rely on?
Follow through is the last key piece that makes diligence complete, and when you follow through and see your goal come to fruition on this project, you’ll be much more likely to do the same on the next. It’s a circle that you just never want to end.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that If you want to rule, if you really want to dominate the market that you’re in, diligence is essential. If you are diligent, you will be noticed and rewarded. If you are diligent habitually, you will be in charge. The people who are in charge not only make more money, they have more options than those who don’t. The your success reaches will be largely in part to how diligent you are.
Businesses are built on risk and innovation and gumption. Once the leaders start to hire employees to help with the growing number of tasks, sometimes they lose sight of that. Challenges will arise every single day, and the leaders of a company need to have team members they can trust to take initiative and handle any and every situation that comes their way. Because of this, initiative should always be rewarded.
Why Initiative Isn’t Always Seen As A Positive
Sometimes employees who step up are seen as handling things that aren’t their business to handle. You can’t always be sure that the employee will make the same gut call in a situation as you would and that can cause problems. There might be unforeseen consequences, and as a leader in your business, you will be the one who has to deal with said consequences.
With all this in mind, it’s not hard to see why the company higher ups are likely to punish initiative, but that’s never the best way to handle this drive in employees.
The Upside Of Initiative
So managers, supervisors, and even executive team leaders should never punish initiative because adults repeat behaviors that are rewarded, and while initiative can have some downsides, it also has several perks.
- Production. No business needs an employee who sits idle until someone tells her what to do. Team members who take initiative always keep busy, and in doing so, can come up with new ideas and processes that management had never considered. This can be an incredible asset.
- Engagement. Team members who are engaged with the happenings around the office, with clients, etc. are much more likely to be committed to going the extra mile to achieve favorable outcomes.
- Ownership. Not everything that comes across a team member’s desk is exciting for her to work on. When the time arises for initiative, that team member gets to own the project and results in a unique way. This usually results in a different kind of dedication that you would normally see in day to day tasks, and this determination will certainly have positive effects on the business.
How To Handle Initiative
It is up to the leadership team to ensure that each team member is properly trained and has the tools at her disposal to make the tough decisions should she need to do so. If any team member has received the training and is still incapable of this, that’s a completely different issue, and the management team must address it separately.
When you can trust your team members, that’s an empowering experience for you both.
Instead of punishing initiative gone wrong, redirect your employee. Start by thanking them for taking initiative and make sure they understand that you value it. Next, discuss with them what a better course of action might be and your reasoning for traversing that path.
Always remember that when a staff member takes initiative, they are doing what they think is right. As their supervisor or manager, it’s your job to mold that definition of “right” and teach them to reframe their thinking so the next time they step up to the home plate, it will be a home run.
Every business is looking for ways to save money, that’s a given. With more time and resources available, brands can make the necessary changes that will help them grow and and achieve the goals and milestones that set forth for themselves. Businesses are constantly searching for that secret ingredient, that magic tool that will make them successful. The biggest asset that a business has to propel itself forward, however, is always close by and easy to access: it’s the people who work there.
Shared Goals And Vision
Too many people go to work, do only what needs to be done, and head home the very moment the clock strikes five eager only for the moment their paycheck will arrive. This kind of arrangement doesn’t allow for the ownership and pride that comes with truly being a valued member on a team. It doesn’t endear an employee to management or vice versa.
Employees become assets when they believe in what the company is doing, when what they are doing has a direct impact on the results the company is achieving. When you take steps to involve your team members in the development of the brand’s goals and vision, it becomes their own, and they’ll work tirelessly to see it come to fruition.
Making Productivity A Priority
Results happen when goals are clear and strategies are put in place to maximize the time and effort spent. Businesses can help employees reach the peak of their productivity by giving them the tools they need. This may include things like to do lists, stage gates, and even project management software to help streamline processes and keep everyone focused. Making productivity a priority may also mean spending some time coaching team members individually to determine what practices are best for them.
When team members share the company’s vision and are making the most out of the time they spend working, the achievement of the brand’s goals isn’t too far off.
Investing In Your Assets
Every business makes investments in the hope that the return on investment will be high. Sometimes it’s project management software. Sometimes it’s a membership into an exclusive group that will make the brand stand out for potential customers. But what most businesses fail to notice is that what they should be investing in is their employees. This can take many forms:
- Vacation and time off. The culture in American business has become very “work hard, play hard”, but somehow, many people seem to forget about the play part completely. Encourage your employees to take the days they need, encourage them to go on vacation. Time away from the office is essential to good health and it also helps employees rest so they will be fresh and ready to push even harder when they return.
- Create a loving environment. Employees work harder when they feel that they are loved and valued; it’s a simple fact. Spend the time connecting with your team members individually. Take everyone out to lunch now and again. Create a culture worth contributing to.
- Ongoing education. Everything changes. As soon as you learn new tricks and processes, the industry standards will have changed once again. This is why it’s essential that you invest into your team members through ongoing education so they can continue to contribute in meaningful ways. Not only will their improved skill set help your business, but your investment will show them how much you value them and give them the encouragement they need to stay focused and work hard.
Team Members Build The Brand
In a fast-paced business world, team members are what really make a difference for brands. They are sometimes the face, sometimes the hands, but they are always the backbone. Taking care of your employees should be your number one priority as a leader in your business, and when you take care of them, they will take care of you. With the dedication and determination of all-star employees, you’ll be able to build your business in ways you hadn’t imagined possible.
Most of us work hard. We go above and beyond the regular 40 hour work week because we want to move forward in business, but that extra time invested doesn’t mean results. This happens because we have ideas, we have what-ifs, we have vague inclinations about what success means, but we work aimlessly and tirelessly toward and end that hasn’t been defined. When you dedicate yourself to becoming focused and changing the way you function in your efforts, you don’t have to work harder because you are working smarter.
Write Your Goals Down
This is the first step toward working smarter and seeing the results you desire. On any given day, we could have a thousand goals floating about in our brains, but they don’t truly become tangible until we write them down. When they aren’t tangible, they can’t be reached. Seeing them on paper makes us more accountable for strategies and follow through than if we had simply allowed them to stay in the world of imagination. For any achievement to be accomplished, the vision needs to be known and shared by all.
Once clear goals have been set, it’s time to change the way that you work so all of that hard work doesn’t go to waste.
Change The Way You Work
This is where working smarter comes into play. Now that you have your goals in front of you, you must ask yourself how you will achieve them. You are likely to find that the processes you usually employ aren’t sufficient to achieve the end that you seek. Now is the time to change the way you work.
You will quickly realize that you don’t need to work longer hours foregoing time with family and pushing your other priorities aside to start realizing those goals for your business. Employ the SMART model to change the way you work:
- Specific – Be very specific about what you want to achieve.
- Measurable – Identify ways that you can measure your progress.
- Achievable – Decide who will be in charge of making this vision a reality.
- Results orientated – Be explicit in stating the results that can reasonably be reached.
- Time sensitive – Determine a time frame for accomplishing your goal.
The last one on this list may be the most important at this stage in the game as setting a time frame is essential for staying the course. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to get caught up in other areas of business, letting your goal slip away.
Make It Personal
It’s always necessary to remember how important your personal life is as well—never lose sight of that. Now that you have your priorities set at work and strategies in place for achieving your business goals, it’s time to turn your focus inward. Start setting realistic goals at home. Start small with with things like eating healthier or reading a new book once a week. These kinds of goals are realistic and achievable and can improve your personal well being so you can focus on working smarter when you get back to the office.
Harnessing the power of over-delivering to turbo-charge your career and give you an edge over everyone else.
“Find out what your boss wants and then over-deliver.”
Simple, but spot-on.
Wow is what happens when you deliver more than your customer expects. In today’s competitive environment, you must create wow to succeed.
The same is true in your career. If you want to turbo-charge your career and advance more rapidly, you must consistently over-deliver.
Delivering on what your boss expects will give you job security (maybe), but it won’t get you noticed. And if you don’t get noticed, you won’t get promoted. It’s as simple as that. You have to stand-out.
When I think back over my career and consider the hundreds of people who worked for me, the ones I remember are those who consistently over-delivered. They made an indelible impression on my psyche.
This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. Yet, it’s surprising that more people aren’t intentional about using it as a fundamental career strategy.
You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Or the most creative. Or even the hardest working. All you have to do is be committed to exceeding the boss’s expectations.
Here are some suggestions for harnessing the power of over-delivering to turbo-charge your career and give you an edge over everyone else:
1. Make the decision to over-deliver. Few good things happen by accident. You have to decide you are going to do something differently—or do it at a different level. Just making this decision will set things in motion. It’s amazing how many aren’t willing to do this. They are content to do just enough to get by.
2. Get clear on your boss’s (or client’s) expectations. It’s really not about you—not if you are going to succeed. You have to be committed to making your boss successful. What does he expect from you? This is worth considering overall and on the front-end of each initiative. Start by asking, “What do you expect from me?” His response sets the bar.
3. Identify specific ways you can exceed them. This is where the fun begins. List your boss’s (or client’s) expectations in one column of a sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet. Now, in another column, list what you could do to exceed those expectations. How can you make his jaw drop or at least make him smile with delight? Use your creativity to create a wow experience.
4. Make wow your new standard. Every time you exceed your boss’s expectations, you create a branding impression. You want to develop a reputation for consistently over-delivering. You want to be the first person your boss thinks of when considering a new position or important project. That’s the secret to getting ahead.
Of course, the problem with exceeding expectations is that your performance quickly becomes the new standard. That’s why you have to be committed to never-ending improvement. Every new position, every new project is an opportunity to grow and realize your own potential.
By: Michael Hyatt