There is a saying that says to “do less better”. The premise is to simply do less of something, but do it very well. Why is that? No matter what we do, we only have 24 hours in a day (1,440 minutes or 86,400 seconds if you were wondering). Limiting our efforts to a few things focuses our time and energy into fewer things, becoming better at them as a result.
This is similar to Malcom Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” rule. Of course, it really depends on the domain and the individual – some require less time while others require more. While it may not take 10,000 hours to become a master at certain subjects, the premise of investing deliberate time holds true. For example, if I wanted to learn to play the piano, I would learn faster (fewer days) by practicing for 3 hours each day than for 30 minutes each day. I will still need to practice about the same number of hours in total, but over a condensed period of time. Being deliberate requires focused attention on the endeavor, whatever it is.
In a business context, this means limiting the number or variety of products or service offerings, and focus on a few key elements that will make the business stand out. By doing so, the business is able (or more likely) to become a market force in a particular niche. By offering fewer products or services, businesses are able to focus their energy on market research, improving the product or service, or engaging with their customer.
This doesn’t mean businesses cannot diversify their offerings. Take Amazon for example. If it is for sale (legally), you can pretty much buy it on Amazon. What does Amazon sell though – logistics. Amazon offers millions of products online, but sells its logistics genius – arguably one significant service applied to millions of products. Most people can order a product and have it delivered in just a few days. Depending on where you live, some major metropolitan cities deliver within an hour – an hour! – after purchasing the product online. Amazon focused its efforts on delivering superiority.
It really takes leadership support to operate in this way. Too often leaders see “doing less” as a weakness. The reality is, doing less allows the organization (or individual) to become an expert –the best – and provide superior products and service. I have seen and been on both sides of the spectrum – some organizations embrace this concept and others say they do but really do not. The only way to truly experience the benefits of the “do less better” mentality, is to spend time and energy on less, but do them very well.
What about the rest of your life? Do you have kids, are you in school, do you have a hobby you just have to participate in? Where you spend your time, dictates where your priorities are. Make sure you intentionally spend your time right.
How will you implement this moving forward? Let us know by sending us an email or contacting us here.
What do you do when your supervisor insists on doing more (better) but does not give you enough time or resources (money, people, etc.) to accomplish the task? Selective disobedience is the answer and will be discussed next week.
Last week I discussed the transition from employee and peer to small group leader. As time goes on, another promotion may be in order for any number of reasons – organizational growth, retirement, and so on. Some organizations promote their employees but take them to other departments to lead new teams. This requires the leader and team to work to develop as a cohesive element, build comradery, striving towards success as the newly found team.
Many organizations will promote from within, taking someone from within the team and making them in charge of the whole team. The once peer, now leader, is about to take on another journey – leading other leaders. What does this look like? How does the new leader successfully lead this team, consisting of subordinate leaders and employees?
As with last week, there are a number of ways to do so. Here are a few tips to help make the transition smoother and more successful.
What other tips and tactics would you provide? What else would you like to see us write about? Share with us here.
Until next time.
One of the natural progression paths is to start at the bottom and work your way up. That is, get hired at a job, likely an entry level position if you are new to the field or freshly out of college, work hard, get a promotion, work hard, get a promotion, work hard… You get it. How do you handle the process and challenges of promoting to the point that you become a team or group supervisor or leader? Yesterday you were their peer and now you are in charge.
Here are a few tips.
What tips do you have for a new leader, leading a team where they were once a peer?
Next week I will elaborate on the process of transitioning from small group leader where you have a few team members, to large group leader where you will have subordinate leaders. How to handle the transition to leading leaders?
When I was going through Officer Candidate School (OCS), we were pushed to the brink (or so I thought) pretty regularly. Early mornings, late nights, long days, lots of sweat, and constant learning. One of the mantras we were taught really stuck with me, well, a lot stuck with me.
When in charge, take charge; when in a leadership position, lead; when in a follower position, follow.
It made sense. If you are in charge or report to someone, then do it. Well, the OCS cadre pushed candidates, placing them under pressure, to see how they respond. If they responded poorly, then additional training (in some form) was required. The purpose of this was to place these leaders into positions where decisions were to be made while under stress, to teach them how to manage stressful situations and lead others – prepare them to lead Soldiers into battle if needed. It made sense, if you are in charge then you better take charge and lead your Soldiers.
So, why was this so valuable? This also holds true in a business or non-profit environment as well. Let’s break this down.
When in charge, take charge.
You are responsible for the situation and you must take control and get the job done. Delegate as needed, provide task and purpose, and see it to completion. Sounds easy, right? How many times have you seen or been in a meeting or office where it was difficult to tell who was in charge – who’s the boss? If this happens, then whoever is in charge, is not taking charge. If this is you, then insert your authority and take charge of the situation. This does not have to be done in an “I’M THE BOSS” way, but make sure that what is supposed to be happening, actually is happening. Whoever is in charge, may not even be the boss. He or she may just be the person responsible for that task, project, or meeting. Still, if you are in charge, take charge.
When in a leadership position, lead.
Similar to when in charge, take charge, this is focused on leading others. If you are in charge, you may have a responsibility to see a task or project through to completion. If you are the leader, you have an obligation to mentor, direct, inspire, motivate, and so on. Leading is more than seeing a task through, it is about building others – building leaders. What happens quite often, is people in leadership positions really are or become managers. Managers are task or product focused – did enough product get delivered on time, is the office running efficiently, and so on. A leader needs to shift some of their efforts from task completion (which is important) to building others. If you are a leader, then lead.
When in a follower position, follow.
From a leadership perspective, following well is just as important as leading well. In fact, following well may actually lead others. Here’s how. Back to OCS… since everyone took their turn leading the class and being a follower, each candidate knew what it was like to lead a group, sometimes it was like herding kittens and others like a symphony in motion. So, the best way to help your peer leader succeed, was to be an exceptional follower. What does that mean? Well, if given a task from the leader, do it to the best of your ability. That’s it. Sure, sometimes our best is not that great, but all you can do is learn and do better.
So, by following well, you show your peers that you care enough to help them succeed, and in turn, they will do the same for you. Additionally, if others see you doing your best, they are more likely to do their best as well, or know that you care for others which inspires and motivates. Think of it this way. How many times have you seen or heard of the subordinate surpassing a superior, and becoming their boss? If that boss struggled to get their former subordinate to cooperate and do their share, what do you think they are most likely to do in return?
When in charge, take charge.
When in a leadership position, lead.
When in a follower position, follow.
To the best of your ability.
Last week I discussed effective communication and how to communicate effectively. This week, I will go into a bit more detail on communication, and discuss how to delight your clients, customers, and team through effective communication.
Effective communication is communicating in a way that enables the recipient of the message (listener) to clearly understand what is being stated.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t, but it can be! Communicating can be done effectively following a few steps.
1. Understand how the listener communicates
Effective communication is based on the recipient understanding the message, so the first step would be to figure out how the recipient (client, customer, team member, etc.) communicates best, or how they prefer to communicate. Some prefer email while others prefer text, phone, or face-to-face communication. Some prefer charts, graphs, or pictures while other prefer videos and others prefer simple text.
This is important to recognize. For example, if you are trying to communicate to someone by email but they are rarely on email, you may never actually get the message through! If you are calling and leaving voicemails with no response, maybe that person does not like to talk on the phone. Provide a text document to someone who prefers pictures, and your document will likely not be read.
2. Establish a common language
Each industry has their own acronyms, jargon, methods, and so on. If you are communicating to others in the same industry, you likely have a common language to some degree. However, even the different departments within a given organization will have different language that may not be easily understood by another department. Better yet, try speaking to another department in a different organization from another industry – good luck!
But we can make this easier. Spend some time to learn some of the common jargon and acronyms used. If something is said or written that you do not understand, then ask for clarification. Conversely, if you are going to use jargon, then explain what it means the first time you use it so the recipient has something to reference. Over time, both sides will gain a better understanding of each other and establish a more common language.
3. Establish frequency and response time
Some people love to text all day long, others email several times a day, while others live on their phone. Establish an expectation of how frequent and fast communication needs to occur.
Why is this important?
Say you and I are working together, and I expect a response in a few hours and daily responses at a minimum, but you are ok with 24-48 responses. If I email you at 9:00 am, I would expect a response by 11:00 or 12:00. If I don’t see anything, then I may begin to feel ignored and then follow up with another email, phone call, text, and so on. If that happens, you are going to begin thinking I am hounding you since you don’t expect to respond for another day or so. Now, we are both frustrated.
4. Determine length
Have you ever received an email response back with a simple response of “TLDNR”?
What does that mean, you ask? Too long did not read! Ha!
Determine the optimal length of the message (verbal or written) and do not go past it unless you must. Emails that could easily be published as books generally do not get read. A 6 minute voicemail will be deleted without being heard. Also, if someone expects a detailed response, and they receive succinct bullet points with little explanation, you are likely going to receive more questions than you would like to answer – especially if it is from your boss!
5. Consistency and flow
Communicating consistently helps the recipient anticipate how or what will be said. Establish a style that fits your personality and meets the need of the recipient. This helps reduce the follow-up questions as the format and style are expected and are easily followed.
Similarly, develop a fluid way of communicating. Don’t bounce around from topic to topic confusing the subject. Make it easy to follow what is being said, written, or displayed.
So, the steps are:
How do you delight your client, customer, or team?
I’m glad you asked!
Once you figure out how they communicate, using a shared language, as frequent as expected, with enough detail, consistently, do just that. Just know that it takes time. Most people do not take the time or pay enough attention to learn these steps. Don’t let that be you!
Too easy you think! I told you effective communication is easy (well, it sounds easy). The challenging part is figuring it all out and actually use it! You married couples out there know what I’m talking about here! But once you figure it out, and use it, you will surely delight all whom you communicate with – your clients, customers, and team.
Until next time.