Sep 242012
 

team, key performance indicators, leadership, hiring employees, building a better business, outsource, goals, prioritize

There are three steps managers and staff can take toward a more efficient, more productive organization. .

1. Identify and focus on your biggest priorities.

Too often employees find themselves spending time on work that isn’t core to the success of the business. As the Pareto principle states: 80% of the value comes from 20% of the work. The key here is for your business to identify the few objectives that drive Continue reading »

 September 24, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Growth, Team, Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Sep 172012
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Smart Rules to Follow

Here are some tips that will help empower and enable your team to succeed while you’re away, and they may just make your vacation more enjoyable.

1. Set some ground rules.

Set expectations before you leave. If you just can’t not check email, make your plans clear to those around you. Perhaps you want to check email just once at the end of the day, and respond to only notes that have been marked “urgent”–or you may not want to respond at all. Either way, make a plan before you leave so that everyone knows what to expect.

2. Delegate.

Make sure your team feels empowered to carry on and step up without you. Delegate responsibilities for approvals and decisions to team members whom you trust. And make sure your team knows who is responsible for what. This will not only ensure nothing goes unnoticed, but it will empower people to take more initiative–when you’re gone and even after you return.

3. Give yourself a schedule.

If you said you’d check your email once a day, stick to it. If you decided to do one conference call, don’t add more to the calendar just because you feel you should and you’re free. Stay true to the expectations you set.

4. Make an effort not to respond.

The more you respond to non urgent emails and phone calls, the less clarity there is around responsibility. You are on vacation; you should do your best to stay there. Remember that you’re helping your team as well as yourself.

5. Trust.

There is a reason you work with the people you do; you probably hired most of them. They’re smart; you trust them. Remember this, and don’t worry about what happens when you take a vacation.

6. Allow for mistakes.

Everyone drops the ball at some point, but even that is a learning experience. Allow for mistakes to happen when you’re away. It won’t be the end of the world.

7. Enjoy your vacation.

Really take your vacation. You deserve it. I always feel a bit sorry for the people who constantly check in even if they’re on vacation, because they’re obviously not having an excellent time.

The leaders whom I respect the most are the ones I never hear from while they’re away. Set a good example and go away–preferably where cell service is spotty. And have fun.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 17, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  2 Responses »
Sep 102012
 

time management, email settings, to do list, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are 7 daily tasks you probably can eliminate from your workday to help you stay focused and be more productive.

1. Stop overloading your to-do list.

You might feel the need to write down everything you need to accomplish each day, but resist making an impossible list of daily tasks. Compiling a lengthy list of things you need to accomplish might seem productive, but you could be doing more harm than good. It results in too many items at the end of the day that are not completed. This will make you feel stressed out, inadequate and unfocused. Instead, create a manageable list of essential tasks that should be finished on a given day–and save the rest for later.

2. Stop having open-ended meetings.

Figure out your priorities before you call a meeting and make them clear to all the attendees. Too many small-business owners waste half the meeting just getting to what they really want to talk about.  You will find putting three priority topics at the top of your agenda will help you avoid getting sidetracked by other issues.

3. Stop answering repetitive questions.

If you find yourself answering the same question from clients or employees frequently, you’re wasting time. Instead, put together a FAQ on your website or create instructional videos that people can access via links at the bottom of your emails. Figure out better ways to answer [questions] without your having to be involved.

4. Stop taking the same follow-up approach if people ignore you.

If you’ve sent someone an email and the recipient hasn’t responded, don’t keep firing off more emails. Try communicating in another way–calling, sending a text or visiting in person if it’s appropriate.  Too many business owners get bogged down communicating with people inefficiently.

5. Stop making regular visits to the post office.

Instead of going to the post office, schedule mail pickups from your business or home office. You also can buy envelopes with pre-paid postage or invest in an inexpensive scale and postage printer.

6. Stop making piles.

Eliminating clutter can boost efficiency. Rather than organize papers in piles whose logic is known only to you, stick to a systematic filing system and eliminate any pieces of paper you no longer need.

7. Stop signing every check.

I am a firm believer that the task of accounts payable should be the business owners responsibility. This way we remain in control of all money and funds going out of our businesses. However, just because this task remains on our plate it doesn’t mean that we can’t look for ways to make it more efficient.

Designate a specific day and time for certain tasks, such as signing checks, rather than allow them to randomly interrupt your workflow. Better yet, you can have your signature printed on checks to avoid signing each one. Programs like QuickBooks let you use preprinted checks and keep track of transactions.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 10, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Sep 052012
 

time management, email settings, small business communication,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The average U.S. professional spends half their working day on email. They are constantly tethered to their smart phone, responding to short bursts of communication, and creating email overload.

I have whittled down a list of email best practices that can help you and your team start a revolution, reduce dependence on email, and stop wasting time–today.

1. Make sure email is the right communication option.

Not all communication is appropriate for email. Segment your personal communications by interactions that are right for email versus phone versus in-person meetings. Adopt a company-wide policy, and don’t allow email to become the default communication mode. A great first policy: Don’t start discussions via email. It takes significantly more time to compose a point and then debate it on email than to have an in-person conversation.

2. Think about the person reading your note.

Many email responses are clarifications of what the sender wrote or additional questions that perpetuate email churn (rather than end a thread succinctly). You can greatly reduce the amount of back-and-forth by thinking more about the email recipient–the user, in this case–and by crafting your message to meet her needs. Before hitting Send, slow down to consider: Did I give all the information needed? Will the reader understand my message? Is my point clear? Are the next steps obvious?

3. Anticipate questions.

The easiest way to reduce needless email is to anticipate what your recipient’s impressions and questions will be after reading your message. If you send a brief email stating, “budget meeting is canceled today,” the reader will probably wonder why, and when the meeting will be rescheduled. Anticipate the recipient’s reaction and communicate more thoroughly, answering questions you think she’ll have.

4. Call out important information with headlines, bullets, and numbers.

Example:

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Most people don’t read. In our fast-paced digital culture, we scan and skim content, looking for the highlights. You’ve probably noticed that major Web publishers use headlines, bullets, boldface type, and other design best practices to ensure readers stay engaged. The same applies to your emails. Don’t send paragraphs of text in which the salient points and calls to action are buried.

5. Save time by creating email templates.

Many emails to employees, clients, or colleagues are similar in nature. Rather than constructing each one from scratch, save templates that remind you of important details to include and contain prebuilt design best practices. For example, at my company, we have templates for client service updates, for scheduling confirmations, and for scheduling reminders.

6. Target your communications.

Irrelevant messages are not opened and can create a negative impression. Think very carefully about the people you include in your “To” field. Does that recipient really need the information, or are you adding to email inbox burden?

7. Select email preferences.

Establish your email preferences (how often you like it and when), and make those norms known throughout your company. When leading a project, don’t default to being copied on everything. Indicate to your team when you should be CC’ed on communication. Likewise, ask your colleagues and staff for their preferences in your communications with them.

If you enjoyed this post, I would be grateful if you helped spread the word by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Thank you!

 September 5, 2012  Posted by at 6:00 AM Time Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »