Are you an organized person?
How do you know for sure?
Would your leader agree?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Organizing is the process of synchronizing all the human, physical and financial resources for which you are responsible. All three resources are critical to consistently producing excellent results. Organizing also defines the role positions, the jobs related and the coordination between authority and responsibility.
Here are a few suggestions to enhance your ability to organize:
When starting any New Position complete these Tasks FIRST
Getting organized means getting your stuff together; know what you have, know where it’s located, and how to retrieve it quickly. As a new member, this is your first task when you arrive. Know who your people are and what they’re doing. Do you have what your unit needs to do the job?
Do you know what’s going on and what’s coming up? Ask for:
- A list of all people in your charge. Learn their names.
- A structure diagram showing who reports to who
- A listing of everything for which your unit is responsible
- Any keys, combinations or passwords that are part of the job
- Support getting your email and voice mail systems functional, ASAP!
- Any documents, supplies or equipment that pertain to your job
- A one-hour lunch with each team member to get to know them (Yes, you pay)
- A listing of all recurring events (weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual)
- A verbal update on any unresolved issues, changes, and assignments (both accepted and made)
- An office call with all Line and Staff Leaders in your organization to get to know them
Note: If possible, within the first 30 days, arrange a 2-day Team Building Session for you, and your team members.
Also, refrain from asking for or receiving opinions or commentary on the past performance of anyone in your unit. You don’t want to prejudge anyone. Let everyone start out fresh without any preconceived prejudice (good or bad).
Assess your Span of Control
Have you ever arrived at a new position and found that the current structure was not the best for your needs?
Span of Control is the number of team members you can effectively lead while consistently producing excellent results and improving your team.
Also, review the organizational chart for both your organization and your unit showing all the positions and the members who fill them.
Normally, you’ll have the authority to restructure your unit to meet the needs of your unit – with your leader’s approval. Advanced communications equipment can increase Span of Control. It’s your call. Use whatever works best for your unit. However, if you find yourself struggling to consistently produce excellent results or to improve your team, you may want to assess your Span of Control. In each unit, recognize that the leadership challenges are different depending on your level within the organization.
Identify your Priority Activities
Use the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 Rule). It’s a common rule of thumb in business; 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, means that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputs.
Other examples include:
- 20% of your activities produce 80% of your financial rewards
- 20% of team members are responsible for 80% of a company’s output
- 20% of customers are responsible for 80% of the revenues
In a business sense, finding the 80/20 ratios is crucial for maximizing performance. The leader’s job is identifying which 20% of his activities will take him along his path to success faster and farther than others. Then, to focus on completing those priority activities until finished. Remember, these priority activities are not activities that are being forced on you; they are only done “by choice” (like Planning and Training).
Here are some suggestions:
- Find the products or services that generate the most income (20%) and drop those that only provide marginal benefits (80%)
- Spend your time on the parts of your business unit that you can improve significantly by using your core skills and delegate all other tasks that are not your best skills (20%) to others
- Work hardest on thing that work hardest for you
- Reward the best team members well; cull the worst
- Drop your worst clients and focus on upselling and improving service with your best clients
Use your team to help you identify your priority activities, which could include things like preventive maintenance, relationship building, long range planning, continuous improvement, organizing, developing members, prioritizing, and make things better.
Distractions are by far the greatest enemy of Focus and Priority. Distractions mean anything that diverts your (or your team member’s) time or attention away from your Focus and Priorities. Protect members from outside distractions. Get anxiously involved in what is happening and be goal focused to get things done – completed. It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how many hours it takes. All that matters are what you get done – Finished.
Hunt down any distractors and kill them before they multiply.
From time to time, even your leader will assign you distractions (projects outside your Job Description). When this happens, and you can’t get out of it, make sure you inform your leader what will get delayed because of his distraction.
Take a moment to write down your most egregious time-sucking activities and anything else that could derail you from doing what matters most. Identify two of your distractions and eliminate them today. These may be tolerations. What are you tolerating and how much longer will you let this toleration continue? Now do the same thing with your team in your next meeting.
Don’t be offended if someone says, “We could get a lot more done if we didn’t have these stupid meeting every week.” Respect their opinion, even if you disagree. Now, ask, “Does anyone else feel that way? What can we do to make it better?” Then, listen, you might just learn something important.
Get your Fear and Pride out of your way. Let their voice be heard.
Your greatest distractions will come from surprises which cause crisis management. So, how can you eliminate crisis management?
Eliminate Crisis Management
It’s funny how life works. People always say they need to plan better only after surviving days of massive crisis management. Especially when you come to work and have a day like this.
Your leader stops by to see if you’re ready to fly with him to Chicago, leaving in two hours, for a major presentation, which you completely forgot about, ops! And, to make things worse:
- A major client stops by for his annual review of his portfolio
- Your administrative assistant tells you that you just ran out of toner and all your copiers are down
- The Fire Inspector stops by for his annual fire inspection
- A team member tells you that today is the deadline for a major financial report. And, since tomorrow is a holiday, it will cause your whole team to work overtime (all night) to meet the deadline
- And, if that wasn’t enough, your wife sends you an email reminding you to make reservations for your wedding anniversary (which is today)
This is what we call a BAD day. Ever have this kind of day? Ever have this kind of week?
Important to note here is that all these important activities, from both your professional and personal life, were known in advance by someone close to you. They weren’t total unknowns. The dates and times of these activities were known, sometimes a year in advance, by you or others in your office. This is when most folks take a step back and say; There’s gotta be a better way. Well, fortunately for you – there is.
What if I told you I’ve developed a software application (or App) that could help you look into the future and see this crisis coming? An App so powerful that it can tell you which days will be good and which will be bad, like the one above.
An App so strong that you could have seen this bad day coming weeks or months in advance, so you could have rescheduled, reassigned, or diminished their effects on you. Would you be interested in learning more? This App is so awesome that you can even convert those known bad days into a good day – eliminating the crisis. How much would you pay for this kind of App? Well, I’ve got that App and here’s how to get it.
This App is called the Critical Events Calendar (or CEC). A CEC is nothing more than a simple excel spreadsheet that lists all known events and activities with their associated Preventive Actions. This App is so simple you can build it yourself. All you need is an Excel Spreadsheet.
Step 1: Create a Draft “Critical Events Calendar”
Your Critical Events Calendar (or CEC), if used correctly, becomes the major time management tool for your unit. This is a document that everyone in the unit uses to plan and organize their daily, weekly, and monthly routine/rhythm. Your CEC also reflects the dates of all major projects, events, reports, meetings, visits, and any other known internal and external activities involving your unit. Your CEC should include all known events and activities, and all holidays both local, national, and religious; all reports, visits, due on a certain date, and activities that happen every week, month, quarter, and year?
Step 2: Create a Time Table for Each Project
Create a Time table for each project for which your unit has responsibility for the next 18 months. These projects might include trade shows, product releases, inspections, job fairs, or major events – the big stuff that happens to business units every year. The purpose of each Time table is to help you identify any/all Preventive Actions needed for each project. Preventive Actions are actions taken 30-60-90 days in advance of a project’s start to eliminate problems and mistakes, and enhance success. After reviewing these Preventive Actions, add what you need to the Time table for each of your projects.
An example of a partial Excel Spreadsheet (Timetable) for one of your projects:
These Preventive Actions are vital to the success of each project. Preventive Actions (meetings, tasks, and milestones) are the big things in any project. They require the collective and coordinated efforts of other members and resources to make the project a success. The most important thing you can do to enhance the success of any project is to achieve consensus through collaboration on the POA before it’s published.
Normally, two IPRs and an AAR are critical to project success because they’re intended to track the synchronization of all actions required by team members prior to the project. IPRs are conducted by the Project Lead with all team members. This is why you schedule IPR #1 is 30-45 days from the start of the project (or halfway between the time remaining), and IPR #2 is 7-10 days from the start of the project.
Here, all team members can discuss their progress compared to the POA. The intent of both IPRs is to coordinate status, disseminate changes, and capture and track any Unresolved Issues. Your consolidated time table, called a Critical Events Calendar (or CEC), gives you the ability to visually project these tasks and milestones (A tool used in project management to mark specific points along a project timeline and focus on major progress points that must be reached) out into the future so they can more easily be accomplished. It takes your units’ calendar and adds to it all the Preventive Actions that need to be started or completed before the project. The CEC is intended to prevent meetings, tasks, and milestones from sneaking-up-on-you causing surprises and crisis management.
Step 3: Merge all Time Tables into your CEC
Now, merge all the Time tables from all the projects for which your unit is responsible for the next 18 months, into your CEC. When you’ve merged everything, what you’ll find is that you’ll now have a calendar with several scheduling conflicts. These conflicts are the things that lead to crisis management. So, what can you do? You can de-conflict the future.
De-conflicting is the process of looking into the future and moving scheduled Preventive Actions to either a day before or a day after they were originally scheduled, to ensure that on any given day in the future you don’t become over-scheduled.
You can de-conflict any congestion or over scheduling by moving any Preventive Action a day earlier or a day later to eliminate the crisis management for that day.
After adding all your project Time tables to your CEC, you notice that April 22, for example, looks pretty jammed with IPRs all day. This will make April 22 a very conflicted (too many things going on at the same time) day, unless you de-conflicts it.
Step 4: De-Conflict the Congestion
If you leave the CEC as is, you’ll be scheduling a day when you and all team members will be in meetings all day. However, April 22 can be de-conflicted by spreading out the IPRs to different days. Note: If all team members are traveling from a long distance to attend these IPRs, it could make good sense to schedule all IPRs on one day.
Also, if they are all in the same location/building, you have just scheduled yourself and all your team members to be in meetings all day; which may not be desirable. If you can spread out (reschedule) these IPRs (Preventive Actions) to be either a day before, or a day after the overscheduled day (April 22), this will de-conflict your CEC. Just by rescheduling these IPRs (Preventive Actions) over a week’s period, you have de-conflict that one overscheduled day (April 22), and averted a BAD day.
The beauty of the CEC is that it lets you look into the future to see where you
will have scheduling conflicts, which helps you minimize crisis management, reduce stress, and bring order from chaos.
These conflicts are often referred to as being Overcome-By-Events (or OBE); too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done. When you get good at this process, your CEC can include things like member birthdays, social events, external school or community events and anything else important to the members of your unit. This is important because you don’t want to schedule a unit activity over a high school graduation weekend or during the Super Bowl.
Also, your CEC should get updated and published by the #2 Person in your organization (a delegated task), at least monthly, or as changes occur. Whoever does the scheduling of operations is the best person to manage this important task. This document should reflect which entries are new or have changed (in bold). If an entry has been canceled, it should have a line drawn through it (not just deleted). If an entry has changed, cross through the old and add the new in bold. This will help your members more easily update their schedule.
Step 5: Make the CEC available to every Team Member
To make the CEC available to all team members post the CEC on a shared drive and send a monthly email update, use your CEC in your weekly meetings to stay synchronized, and encourage your members to input to the CEC.
Once set-up, this task of updating the CEC should be delegated to your #2 Person. Your CEC doesn’t eliminate all surprises like unexpected visitors, accidents, sickness, injuries, or other unforeseen circumstances. What it does accomplish is to de-conflict any/all known activities by your deliberate and measured preparation for the future.
Give your Team Members a Break
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.
And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
– Dalai Lama
Consider the judicious use of these techniques – where permitted:
Comp-Time: Compensatory time is time granted by a leader to a member who works past normal work hours or on the weekend. It’s done with a sense of fairness to the member permitting him to either come in a few hours later or to leave a few hours earlier the next day.
Flex-Time: Letting members set their time schedule to best fit their personal life (child care, commute traffic, etc.), as long as they are present for scheduled meetings or certain core hours during the day (like 10 – 2 PM).
Telecommuting: Working from home is advisable for those with a long commute. This could be used including a periodic visit to the office once a week, or a few times a month.
Trust: All these options are based upon how much you trust your team members. This is a great way to show your trust in them. It also can reduce your operating expenses for office space.
Productivity: If you’re more concerned with productivity and getting things done, rather than counting heads or filling seats every day, these options should be considered.
If your members are happy and consistently producing excellent results,
why would you care where or when they work? Sounds like a win-win to me!
Identify and Exploit Opportunities
“Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.”
– Henry J. Kaiser
Effective leaders know that opportunities abound. There are only two reasons why you’re not seeing and exploiting these opportunities; either you don’t know what you’re looking for, or you’re not looking in the right places. Here’s an example to get you thinking:
“Years ago, Stanley Steamer started out as a company that just cleaned carpets/rugs. However, because of competition, they had to find a new and innovative way to add services to what they were already doing. Today, they have expanded to cleaning any flooring (wood, vinyl, concrete). They also clean heating and air conditioning ducts, and who knows what else.”
The point here is that every company only has two choices;
either adapt or perish.
The most important questions to ask to IDENTIFY & EXPLOIT opportunities are:
- What systems do we have in place to identify opportunities?
- What signs or signals is our system looking for?
- Who’s responsible for this system?
- Where is he looking and what is he looking for?
- Does he have the resources needed?
- Who and how often does he report his findings?
- What’s our competition doing?
- How can we beat them?
- What’s our *Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
- Why would someone buy from us and not the competition?
- What’s our **Competitive Advantage?
- Are there other services you could provide your customers?
- Have members Brainstormed this problem?
- When was the last time a ***Customer Focus Group was used?
- What other companies have access to our customers?
- Are there other companies that could help you grow?
- Any government agencies that could use our product or service?
- Any religious organizations that could use our product or service?
- How can we leverage our existing relationships with customers?
*Unique Selling Proposition (USP): Marketing concept first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern in successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940’s and states that such campaigns made unique propositions to customers that convinced them to switch brands.
**Competitive Advantage: When an organization develops an attribute that allows it to outperform its competitors, like a special tax exemption only they are granted.
***Customer Focus Group: Group of people randomly selected to candidly assess products and services for usability, cost, variety, and complaints/concerns.
If you aren’t seriously looking for opportunities,
guess what your competition is doing?
Use SWOT Analysis
The Team needs to know their current strengths and weaknesses. This is where SWOT analysis can be helpful. SWOT analyzes Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats routinely used to analyze the current progress of business units, so goals can be created for improvement. How can you capitalize on our strengths? How can you identify and strengthen your weaknesses? How can you exploit each opportunity? What are the weaknesses of your competitors? How can you mitigate each threat?
Create a Reserve and use it Carefully!
The purpose of any reserve is to exploit success, not redeem failure. Create a Cash Reserve of at least one-third of your Gross Annual Sales to use to exploit success (like investing more in a product or service that is seeing good sales numbers) or to invest in a great opportunity. Do not use your cash reserve to redeem failure (like trying to save a failing product or service line).
To be continued: If you’d like to learn more about enhancing your ability to organize, you can do so by adding this book to your professional library, today!
YOUR GUIDE TO BETTER ORGANIZING
Here you’ll learn:
Chapter 2: Enhancing Employee Transition
Chapter 3: Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Consistency
Chapter 4: What’s Most Important to Leaders?
Chapter 5: Caring for the Team
Chapter 6: Creating Focus and Priority
Chapter 7: Tracking all the Moving Parts
Chapter 8: Maximizing your Systems
Chapter 9: Measuring Business Processes
Chapter 10: Creating a Band of Excellence
Chapter 11: Maximizing Time Available
Chapter 12: Before Making Improvements
Chapter 13: Recognizing and Exploiting Opportunities
Chapter 14: Enhancing Customer Service
You now have the chance to enhance your career by learning how to become more effective tomorrow than you are today.
Or, you can take advantage of our Special Offer below.
To SAVE 75%, purchase The Effectiveness Guide, which contains all 10 Volumes, instead of buying each volume separately.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
CHAPTER 1: BY BECOMING A BETTER FOLLOWER
CHAPTER 2: BY BECOMING A BETTER DELEGATOR
CHAPTER 3: BY BECOMING A BETTER PLANNER
CHAPTER 4: BY BECOMING A BETTER ORGANIZE
CHAPTER 5: BY BECOMING A BETTER COMMUNICATOR
CHAPTER 6: BY BECOMING A BETTER PROBLEM SOLVER
CHAPTER 7: BY ENHANCING YOUR AWARENESS
CHAPTER 8: BY BECOMING A BETTER TRAINER
CHAPTER 9: BY ENHANCING YOUR ABILITY TO MOTIVATE
CHAPTER 10: BY ENHANCING YOUR CHARACTER
APPENDIX A: PLAN OF ACTION EXAMPLE
APPENDIX B: REAL WORLD PROBLEM SOLVING EXAMPLE
APPENDIX C: ADVANCE PROBLEM SOLVING WITH VUCA
APPENDIX D: CAREER ADVICE
APPENDIX E: CREATING MISSION AND VISION STATEMENTS
The Effectiveness Guide is the best investment you’ll ever make in your career.
Also, if you feel this information could help someone else, please take a few moments to let them know. If it turns out to make a difference in their life, they’ll be forever grateful to you – as will I.
Let’s make a difference together – one person at a time!
All the best!
Founder of TheCAREERMaker.com
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The 10 Core Competencies of Effectiveness
Followership | Delegating | Planning | Organizing | Communicating
Problem-Solving | Awareness | Training | Motivating | Character