Ever since becoming engrossed with Tony Robbin’s Personal Power program in the early 1990’s, one of my primary life-long passions has surrounded taking charge of how my time is spent.

By focusing, and executing, on the most urgent, critical and important activities in our life, we can deliver the necessary results to propel our lives toward optimal success.

Some of my earlier blogs such as the 6 P’s about proper prior planning and High Leverage Activities reinforced the importance of taking charge of your life on this earth.

What I have found during my professional business and coaching careers is that we are responsible for our own demise when it comes to “time & life management.” The predominant culprit appears to be the dis-ease of Over-Commitment!

For a myriad of reasons, human beings seem to be unable to say “NO” when we should.

In teaching “time-management” over the past few decades, I’ve encouraged attendees to plan or commit to no more than 50% of their/your available time. Surprises, unexpected interruptions, unplanned activities, etc. will quickly absorb the remaining 50% that you thought you had available to be used at your discretion!

By Under-Committing, you have a fighting chance of actually staying in control of your precious personal time…and how it will be spent.

Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame stated that “He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life.  But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”

Here’s your challenge: will you CHOOSE to…under-commit, over-deliver, eliminate chaos, and gain control???

overcommit

bankrupt

I firmly believe that one key differentiator between successful versus struggling businesses is the ability to effectively execute their plans.

Sounds logical enough, right?  Nonetheless, I am dumbfounded by how a business team can typically plan and prioritize the most critical action items necessary for success, and yet when it comes to implementing & executing the required important activities, there often seems to be some excuse as to why they weren’t able to effectively follow-through and complete those actions!

As noted in a previous blog on Execution Excellence, the ability to do what you say you are going to do tends to separate great visionary leaders from the “wannabes”.

Winston Churchill stated that He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.

Margaret Thatcher advised us to “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan”. 

My philosophy is a bit more assertive…“Not executing your business plan may lead to an unplanned “execution” of your business”.

head-heart

In my personal and professional life, I have observed a pattern with regard to how decisions are made…anatomically.

Starting with the Southern part of our body and heading North…

  • Especially in the heat of the moment, the knee jerk reactionis very common. This technique employs minimal insight and information when responding to a given situation.
  • From there, we may opt to the more sophisticated seat of the pantsapproach, where we use our limited personal experience and judgment to come to a conclusion without considering procedures, planning, or other available technology or input.
  • Then, we may advance North to “gut feeling.” At this stage, we utilize intuition, both our own and that of others, coupled with additional data in order to come to a conclusion on how we believe things will turn out.
  • Improving upon this practice, we might continue upward to “listen to our heart,” wherein we now allow our deepest emotional inclinations to have a stake in determining next steps.
  • Finally, we can move to the final stop in this anatomical journey…where we “make decisions with our head.

Incorporating the aforementioned components of personal experiences, available information and technology, valued input from many prudent sources, and then mixing in the proper amount of emotion and logic, we arrive at the “best decision:” one derived from your brain’s coordination of all available data points.

This fact-based decision making may take a little more time and discipline, however, our entire anatomy will thank us later.

As each year ends, my wife and I go through an exercise wherein we review our journals from the prior year, reflect on what we have, and in some cases have not, accomplished.

The end goal is to establish what our “top-ten highlight reel” might look like for the year gone by…we are typically amazed by all that has been achieved.

A post-exercise routine of comparing our respective “top-tens” is not only fun, but also provides a barometer for how well our values and beliefs are aligned, i.e. what’s truly important to each of us. It further reinforces the many blessings we have in our lives and the people and events that are shaping our destiny.

Further, this practice helps to create positive feelings and an inner-state that tends to energize a constructive planning effort for what we would like to realize during the upcoming year.

If nothing else, take time to reflect on your core values and guiding principles; and reignite your internal flame by establishing some meaningful, challenging and achievable goals to shoot for entering this new year.

New Year

customer-service

In the sales world, ensuring that proper service, support & satisfaction levels exist requires consistent & frequent engagement with your customers, including any combination of the following tactics:

* the business’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is closely monitored by Sales Management to make certain that all the necessary activities are occurring, being updated and remain current

* the Sales Team is being challenged during weekly sales meetings for updates on key clients (a prudent method for monitoring any salesperson’s awareness with regard to the status of their customers)

* periodic customer surveys (either electronic or via phone, depending on the type of client base) should be administered to gauge current levels of satisfaction with regard to: responsiveness, delivery times, product quality and assortment, etc.; while further ascertaining details about any concerns

* random follow-up calls to customers conducted by Sales Managers in order to get instantaneous feedback with regard to their customer’s current needs & levels of satisfaction, as well as their Sales Team’s performance

* the aforementioned weekly sales meetings provide an obvious forum for the sales team to share examples of actual sales success stories and best-practices with regard to what is working with customers, and/or changes in the marketplace that should be addressed

Further, Sales Managers must provide periodic updates to their team providing  commentary on any recent “wins” or key findings. This additional information sharing can be utilized by your salesforce as part of their selling “toolbox.”

Importantly, sales success stories should be ideally spread throughout the entire organization, directed at creating a collaborative culture and spirit of camaraderie across the company.

Finally, from a brand enhancement perspective, customers should be solicited for testimonials about the company which can be utilized by the marketing team for promotion of the business (which also can be utilized to celebrate the sales team successes).

Why not conduct a self-assessment of your organization’s sales operation to validate that these activities are consistently occurring?  It couldn’t hurt!

 

Image result for sales & marketing team

A common fault that I find in the businesses that I coach is a lack of alignment between the marketing and sales operations. 

Actually, I consistently discover a lack of cooperation and collaboration between most departments in any given business operation!

Simply stated, the fundamental purpose of a company’s marketing efforts, beyond building their brand, is to generate and increase leads, i.e. opportunities for the sales organization to pursue and follow-up.

In order for the marketing team to excel, there must be consistent and frequent communication between these two business sectors (versus having them operate in their respective “business silos.”)

This lack of alignment between the marketing and sales operations can easily be remedied via well structured weekly, or worst case fortnightly, meetings between these two groups. 

The objective outcomes…

  • monitor performance
  • establish actual or perceived return on investment (ROI) from the marketing efforts
  • provide updates on what is and isn’t working in terms of lead generation
  • discussion regarding new opportunities that may have surfaced as a result of marketing efforts

My recommendation is to conduct a quick check-up within your business to gauge if these two business functions are operating in a co-dependent fashion.  This is mandatory in order to optimize sales productivity & results.

 

sales-activity

During my experience of either managing multi-million dollar sales organizations or coaching and training businesses on how to improve their selling operations, there is one belief that I am convinced of:

“Activity Breeds Results.”

Whether it’s executing face-to-face visits, making outbound phone calls (i.e.“dialing for dollars” ), prospecting for new customers, proactively maintaining existing client relationships, or massive quote generation with timely follow-up, the “sales” people who create the most activity are the one’s who tend to be the superior producers.

An obvious performance management necessity for any selling organization is the establishment of quotas or targets, coupled with a reporting measurement mechanism that can “scoreboard” the results for all of the players on your sales team…on a daily basis.

Most businesses will have some form of a CRM (Customer relationship management) system to facilitate this tracking & reporting for their business.

Now here’s the key to actually optimizing this “activity notion”…

“Managed Activity Improves Results.”

Mix in a component of consistent daily performance management, including praising for successes while coaching on those down days, will tend to multiply those results!

In order to accelerate your organization’s selling momentum, promote massive activity and manage it accordingly.

In the press of business (and life), it is so easy to get caught up in things, to feel trapped in the “whirlwind,” and become overwhelmed by all that is going on in “your world.

The rapid evolution of technology during our current stage of the “Information Age” makes it even more challenging to stay focused and deliver on our commitments.

Among certain individuals, there exists what I consider to be a truly exceptional trait, an oddity that, given my personal experience, exists in about 10 % of the business professionals that I have worked with and/or coached…

“doing what they say they are going to do,

and by when they say they are going to do it!”

Given this ultra-competitive world in which we live, it amazes me how often people or businesses are slow to, or in some cases don’t, follow-up on requests, obligations, vows, inquiries, etc.

Those unique people who indeed do what they say, and within the time frame that they promise, truly separate themselves from the majority who either are delinquent with, or worse yet, abandon their commitments.

Here’s a closing thought…perhaps we should consider delivering more than what we promise, faster than it is expected!

do what u say

success team

My previous blog responded to the question: “Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great?” with the answer “both”.

Focusing on the second part of this question, here are 10 common denominators that I’ve observed which help people become great (or at least much better) at what they do:

  • EVERYONE understands the company’s Vision, Direction & Purpose
  • There are clearly defined roles and responsibilities for every person on the team
  • KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and SLA’s (Service-Level Agreements) are established with each individual, and agreed to by both the manager & employee
  • Actual performance is measured against targets and “score-boarded” for all to see
  • Good results receive timely acknowledgement & praise
  • Poor results receive timely “coaching” for how to improve going forward
  • Employee strengths and opportunity areas are identified & understood
  • Strengths are exploited and areas for improvement reinforced
  • Ongoing growth & development within the organization is encouraged
  • Candid praise & constructive feedback occurs consistently with EVERYONE

Here’s a Leadership Challenge suggestion for you: review each of these 10 items and rate your business on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being poor & 5 being great.  Then, prioritize your opportunity areas for focused improvement based on the lowest scoring results.

 

A question for you to ponder: Do the best leaders surround themselves with great people, or do they help the people around them become great? 

My experience tells me the answer is…both!  But let’s start with the first part…

During a recent conversation with a highly successful manager, who operates in the challenging food & hospitality industry, a point was made about team development. He noted that one of his key objectives was to hire people who were better, smarter or more talented than he was.

This resonated with me as this has become one of my essential success tenets.

Decades ago, once I became mature enough to put my ego aside, the realization that if I secured, & surrounded myself with, really talented people, perhaps my leadership role would become much easier. And it did!

Often I’ve worked with leaders who feared talent that was potentially as good, or even better than they were.  They let their ego’s and foolish pride get in the way of doing the smart thing, which subsequently led them toward hiring marginal talent compared to what was available in the market place.  This ultimately resulted in less than optimal performance.

These “bosses” shared an underlying concern that the potential “superstar” would make them look inferior, or even worse, eventually “steal” their leadership position away!

This type of self-centered thinking not only limited the team & businesses success, but truly restricted that leader’s ability to grow through the organization.

The reality is that leaders who surround themselves with the best possible talent tend to produce better-than-average results. Further, they consistently demonstrate the ability to develop talent for the organization, which often facilitates professional growth and advancement.

Perhaps you have seen this happen in your experiences as well.  Or even worse, if you happen to be one of those who has unknowingly inhibited your success by falling into this trap, this could be the perfect time to take on that new approach for building your team.

surround