Leadership at all levels knows the story: there’s more to do, fewer people around, and everything is moving faster. In the absence of step-by-step leadership, and with the velocity of change in business, it’s important that we educate everyone in the organization to a new kind of personal leadership. The first thing to go? Time management.
Never Manage Time
Time management is a bad deal. In this, we try to squeeze the best out of the hours in a day. But everyone has 24 hours in a day. It’s a flawed mindset. And working 8, 12, or 16 hours might or might not get “more” done, but does it get the right stuff done? That’s the issue. Especially with all the remote workers out there now, the old word of “butt in chair” management isn’t working any longer.
People also tend to fill up their “to do” list with tasks that might or might not be urgent, but that rarely align with the goals of the organization or even sometimes your own goals. The excitement of doing “to do” items clouds us from our “should be working on” items.
Priority Management in Bigger Companies
The new goal is to align work based on priorities. That should rule all else. And when we talk about priority, depending on the size of the team, it is a matter of understanding the company’s goal, and then aligning departments and teams towards it.
When we talk “priority,” it means the BIGGER story of what serves our buyer. Use the term “buyer” to mean both the actual end customer as well as the people who benefit from your internal services, and of course, the boss. If you work for a larger company, it might look like this:
- Actual customer – What does the customer need? Is the work you’re doing in alignment with what will please existing customers and earn more new ones? How do we make our buyer the hero? Is it give them insurance that they’ve bought the right product?
- Teammates – If we serve internal “buyers,” who are they? How do we help them while still advancing the needs of our buyer? For whatever reason, we tend to forget that aiding a teammate is a great way to earn more success for our own projects as well.
- Boss – Does this work forward the boss’s agenda? A lot of times, we focus on our own work, but everyone does better if we help the boss meet their objectives. Many times, we’re doing what we think helps but sometimes, we’re playing against the boss’s objectives.
However you choose to track your projects, you now list the projects that matter to those people’s success. Yes, you must accomplish whatever goals are agreed upon for your individual contributions, but when you look for areas of your role to work on, you make decisions based on the larger priorities, and not just “things that need doing.”
Let’s say you’re a sales person. You have a quota. You have X number of “opens” and calls and sales to make. The priority is to serve prospective buyers and help them understand how you help them succeed. Beyond this, your role is to help your teammates accomplish their goals because it will help you improve your capability to serve your buyer. Your boss need more than just your sales quota. She might need you to expand in specific territories or verticals instead of just the “easy pickings.”
Priority Management for Solo or Smaller Teams
When you work for yourself or a small company, you still can and should use priority management as the mindset. The question to answer is as follows:
Does this grow my business?
Almost every small business needs growth more than any other factor. Priority management for you involves learning whether your work is on propelling company growth or if it’s simply serving your existing customer base.
Some mental tools for priority management in small/solo businesses:
- Spend 1/3 your time on new customers, 1/3 your time executing on your existing work, 1/3 your time on serving your existing customers.
- If you’re doing coaching type work or consulting, let no customer account for more than 15% of your revenue. The priority is to keep at least five clients and better still seven.
- Split your work between eating seeds (serving today) and planting seeds (serving tomorrow). Sometimes, you need to eat and so you have to sell and push and work on the here and now. Other times, you need to develop so that you can have future success.
- If you can sell to someone once, learn to sell to them even more, IF you have more you can help them do.
- If more people know about you, more people can become your buyer. Prioritize communicating and reaching out to share with others.
Priority Beats Time Management
Work on what’s important, not on “to do” items. Work on what moves the larger story ahead, not “busy” work. And don’t ever (ever!) “put in your hours.” Do the work that will grow the success of your buyer (and team and boss), and this will grow YOU along the way as well.
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