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Clearview® Performance Systems brings you ... ® ... a Culture of Results & Engagement®

Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #53

What 'To-Stops' Should You Be Considering?

As many of you are aware from the work we've done together, my favorite ideation/brainstorming tool is the MBDL™ Visioning Matrix. For those of you not familiar with MBDL, the acronym stands for MORE | BETTER | DIFFERENT | LESS. The MBDL Method helps to optimize talent, processes, communications, execution, and ultimately, results.

While teams (at all levels of the organization) seem to manage well when identifying what they need to do MORE of, what needs to be done BETTER, and what needs to be done in a DIFFERENT way, most teams struggle with what they should do LESS of (or STOP altogether).

When I inquire about why the 'LESS' quadrant is so challenging, the typical response I get is that managers and leaders in contemporary organizations are conditioned to focus on the activities they should be doing and, typically, NOT on the activities they should stop doing. In essence, they focus on 'To-Do' activities—not on 'To-Stop' activities. Consequently, many managers and leaders are now simply doing too much doing (leaving less time for leading)!

Effective managers and leaders understand that optimizing any work process is not only about adopting new habits and new activities; a large segment of optimization requires an acute focus on activities, SOP's, and habits that need to be dropped or stopped (or, at least, done to a lesser degree).

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

Because most SOP's are proprietary to an organization—and therefore impossible to address in a public forum—this issue of CORE Bites will focus on ubiquitous Manager/Leader 'To-Stop' ideas that will help make you a more effective leader and give you more time to focus on the things that matter most. Here are a few TO-STOPs you should consider:

  • STOP Being a Tactician: Micromanaging—even a small amount—can have a negative impact on employee morale and on employee growth. Delegate assignments that are more tactical in nature to free up valuable time to help develop the skills of your employees (if you're a front-line manager) or time you can spend on longer-range strategy (if you're a senior leader).
  • STOP Being a Firefighter: If you feel like you spend a significant amount of your day putting out fires, did you ever stop to consider that maybe you're (subconsciously) motivated by the thrill of being able to solve problems and fix things? That maybe running from fire to fire gives you such a sense of accomplishment that you might miss opportunities to teach employees to solve their own problems or put out their own fires? To STOP being a firefighter, you need to START coaching your employees on root cause analysis and the steps necessary to solve problems.
  • STOP Fixating on the Trivial Many: In contemporary organizations it's so easy to be overwhelmed with information overload. There really is an endless amount of content to consume. The Pareto Principle (commonly referred to as the 80/20 Rule), reminds us that most things in life are not evenly distributed. This principle states that 20% of our actions account for 80% of the results and provides a pretty compelling reason to focus on the 'critical few' instead of on the 'trivial many.' Always remember this principle when allocating time, people, resources, budget, energy, etc. As President Abe Lincoln once said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I'll spend the first four hours sharpening the axe."
  • STOP Not Developing Yourself: It's easy to rationalize that you're too busy right now to take on any form of Breadth/Depth Learning. But if you're not moving forward (growing) then you're moving backward (because while you stay the same, the rest of the world is moving past you). As an easy way to resolve this, let me revisit a previous CORE Bites Issue (#46) that introduced Competency-Explicit Mentoring. This form of mentoring is surgically-precise because it focuses on a single competency that you might need to learn and is designed to be a short-term, Grow-and-Go, learning model.
  • STOP Neglecting to Set Clear Goals: Every employee on your team needs to be crystal clear about the team's purpose, direction, and goals. Individually, each employee also needs to know how he or she contributes to the team's goals. We are big fans of IMPact Goals because when a goal is Important, is Measurable, and is Precise, it logically leads to aligned actions (and results!).
  • STOP Missing Opportunities to Deliver Positive Reinforcement: Managers frequently tell me that approximately 95% of the work being done by their employees—in essence, the majority of the work being done—is quality work. But when I ask about how frequently these same managers are delivering positive reinforcement, it doesn't represent the same percentage. I'm not suggesting that you need to be reinforcing employees for 95% of your workday, but I think it's safe to say that each of us could increase the frequency—and the specificity—of our reinforcement. One of the easiest ways to keep your employees happy and engaged is by simply recognizing them for a job well done.

I'd love to hear how these HVAs work for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"A habit cannot be tossed out the window; it must be coaxed down the stairs a step at a time."

— Mark Twain —