Important vs Urgent: Using a Default Diary

Default Diary Template and Example from ActionCOACH Rob Pickering

One of the most effective ways to improve your time management is to create and use a “Default Diary”. The majority of us struggle to make the best use of our time. We all have the same amount, yet some achieve a lot more than others. Our days are busy, yet surprisingly few significant goals are achieved! Where does the time go? Well, it’s a symptom of things that appear urgent taking over and dominating our day. So what’s the alternative? 

If you consider the things that make the really significant impact on our long-term progress, they tend to be the things that are rarely ever urgent. For example, creating a business plan is never urgent, but it is very important. Other examples might include regular 1-to-1 meetings with our staff, checking progress on long-term projects, updating the website, and more. All these things actually tend to have a big impact on our success in the long-term, but there’s rarely any given day when one of them is drop-dead urgent! So consequently these things get deferred… and deferred… So how can we make sure we get these things done regularly? The answer is to identify these important activities and reserve time in our diary to deliberately work on them.A “Default Diary” is a plan of specific times in a week or month that are dedicated to important activities. It’s not your main diary, it’s a plan of what you will do by default or, to put it another way, what you would ideally do when your week goes according to plan. Do this however works best for you, but what I do is to have a printed sheet on the wall next to my desk showing my default dairy for a typical week. On a Friday, as I finish the week and plan next week, I plan as many of the default diary activities into my main (electronic) diary. Sure, I don’t always get to fit them all in, but mostly I do. And just by having it on the wall I know it all off by heart. If it’s Tuesday at 2pm it’s time to call a past client and just check how everything’s going. Ten minutes is all it takes, and you’d be surprised what I get out of it (and them too!). It’s the kind of thing that’s never urgent but makes all the difference. What’s in that category for you? What are the activities that, if you spent time on them regularly - even though they aren’t urgent - you and your business would progress much better? Some ideas include:

A “Default Diary” is a plan of specific times in a week or month that are dedicated to important activities. It’s not your main diary, it’s a plan of what you will do by default or, to put it another way, what you would ideally do when your week goes according to plan. Do this in whichever way works best for you, but what I do is to have a printed sheet on the wall next to my desk showing my default dairy for a typical week. On a Friday, as I finish the week and plan next week, I plan as many of the default diary activities into my main (electronic) diary. Sure, I don’t always get to fit them all in, but mostly I do. And just by having it on the wall I know it all off by heart. If it’s Tuesday at 2pm it’s time to call a past client and just check how everything’s going. Ten minutes is all it takes, and you’d be surprised what I get out of it (and them too!). It’s the kind of thing that’s never urgent but makes all the difference. What’s in that category for you? What are the activities that, if you spent time on them regularly - even though they aren’t urgent - you and your business would progress much better? Some ideas include:

  • Create/update your business plan
  • Create/update your marketing plan
  • Review the standard info on your website
  • Write a staff newsletter email
  • Write an update email to your key suppliers
  • Have lunch with an employee/supplier/customer
  • Review your own personal training plan
  • Learn a new skill
  • Read a trade/industry journal
  • Look at what your competitors are doing and learn from it

If any of the activities are very specific, use a more general description and each week do something different under that broader heading. To get you started, you might like to download a template that I’ve shared at Default Diary

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Do You Ask for Help?

Are you someone who finds it easy to ask others for help? Or are you part of the majority that hit barriers and just keep pushing harder and trying to figure it out on your own?

There’s a lot of truth in the jokes about men driving around lost and refusing to stop and ask for directions. Logically it makes little sense, but I know from my own experience whether driving or otherwise that there’s some sort of satisfaction in finding the solution myself. I noticed recently that as my wife and I walked into a large retail outlet, looking for a specific item as a present, my wife’s first aim was to find an assistant to ask. My reaction on the other hand was that even if it took all day, I was going to find it on my own! After ten minutes up and down the aisles my wife insisted on asking the assistant, only to be told that they don’t sell that product. I realised this is almost always what I do in shops, and it’s not very sensible!

If you hadn’t guessed yet - I’m drawing parallels with the work environment. My working days as a Business Coach are split between helping existing clients with whatever aspect of their business needs attention and the other half is talking to business owners who are “absolutely fine on my own, thanks” and busy working it out for themselves. The fact is that only a tiny minority of business owners look for help - or even accept it when it’s offered!

A very wise colleague of mine explained many years ago that we spend our formative years in an education system that discourages what is called “cheating”. In class we would have it drummed into us “better to make your own best effort than to cheat and get someone else to help you”. Copying someone else’s homework or asking a classmate what the answers became morally unacceptable and punishable offences. “It’s not about winning, it’s about taking part” - a worthy-sounding endeavour, but one which sets us up poorly for a competitive work environment. My colleague’s assertion was that we’ve all been programmed from an early age not to ask for help - that it’s better to try and try until we work out the answer ourselves.

When you look at it logically, it’s easy to believe that we’ll get much faster results by asking for help from someone who’s ‘been there and done that’ and can give us the shortcut. The very word “shortcut” can imply “cheating” and people avoid it. Seriously, I see it all the time, people in business being paid by the hour to work out answers to things that many thousands have already done before. It’s not a recipe for success.

So if you want to succeed to a greater level and much faster, how about asking for some help from those who know the answers? It could be your accountant, your bank manager, a solicitor, an HR advisor, or maybe it’s a virtual PA or bookkeeper to actually do some of the things for you that you’d take ten times as long to do yourself. Business can feel tough enough without turning every step into a personal challenge, so reach out and ask for some help - today!

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By: Rob Pickering

Avoid Killer Clients

Ideal Customers

Do you ever dread answering the phone and discovering it’s one of those clients that’s always getting you down? Complaining or demanding more for less with unrealistic expectations? Asking you to do work you hate doing, at times you don’t want to, for prices that are too low? Then it’s time to fire the dud clients and hire the ideal ones!

I really like all my clients. I look forward to spending time with them on the phone or in person, and I really want them to do well. And I’d like to think think the feeling is mutual. I’m careful to work only with clients who I believe I can help, and with whom I feel aligned.

Many business owners I meet tell me that some of their clients are great, but others are a complete nightmare! It’s easy to understand that in any business there’s a pressure to find more customers. This leads people to literally work with anyone that can pay.

If you operate a retail business it can be hard to choose your customers, but they don’t tend to hang around long either. The real issue is in a business where you’re dealing personally with the same client over and over. These are typically service businesses such as accountants, financial advisors, lawyers, coaches, and many others. To enjoy our work we need to like the people we’re helping. Merely tolerating them or worse, loathing them, is no good and makes for a miserable working life.

I was lucky to have a colleague recommend a book called “Book Yourself Solid” by author Michael Port (Google it and download a few chapters free). The part that really struck me was what he called his “Red Velvet Rope Policy”. It’s like when you go to an event and there’s an entrance with a red velvet rope stretched across the door - only selected people are allowed through. Michael Port says we should all have a red velvet rope policy for the clients we work with. Further, they should be people who “inspire and energise” you. It’s some of the best advice I’ve had in my business and it means I enjoy what I do, every day.

What would be your “red velvet rope policy” for your business? What would be the attributes of your ideal customers? Probably they would appreciate what you do, value the service and not quibble about price, pay on time, show up on time, make reasonable requests and refer you to lots of other great clients. You might include attributes about the size and type of their business, their location, and more. Think about this carefully and get really clear on your ideal customer - then go looking for them and target your sales and marketing efforts toward them.

Remember that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with customers that don’t fit your ideal; Chances are they’re ideal for someone else’s business, but not yours. Be gracious and helpful and rather than just turning them away, be honest that “We’re not the best choice for you to work with” and consider recommending they try someone else who they would be better suited to.

The more you work with ideal clients, the more you’ll enjoy your work and the better the business will perform. In turn it will lead to you attracting more of the right clients.

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By: Rob Pickering

Are You Smart Enough to Succeed?

In everyday life we need knowledge in order to do what we need to do. Many of the basics like how to cook, how to drive, DIY, cleaning, washing, organising the household bills - they all require us to put in some time and effort to gain the necessary knowledge. And if we don’t have the appropriate knowledge, or don’t want to do it, then we have to pay someone else. They gained the knowledge, so we pay them for the value that they can provide.

To succeed in business you also need to invest the time and effort to gain appropriate knowledge. Exactly what’s appropriate will depend upon your areas of need. Running a small business is more demanding than running a large one in many ways because you need to have a very wide range of skills; You need at least a basic knowledge of finance, marketing, sales, plus knowledge about the products or services you’re offering.

As a business grows and you employ staff you need to focus more on leadership, delegation, planning, communication skills, HR and people skills. Then as the company becomes even larger the Leadership and communication become even more important, while things like sales and marketing and finance are handed off to specialists in those areas.

The speed at which a business can grow is very often limited by the speed at which the business owner learns and gains skills in the various areas and changing the focus over time. In this situation it’s easy to get busy, buried in the day to day work and neglecting the learning and skills required to move the business to the next level.

So what should you do?

“You must either modify your dreams or magnify your skills.” - Jim Rohn

Identify your knowledge and skills gaps. Avoid focusing on the areas you’re already comfortable in, select the areas you really are NOT comfortable in because they’re likely to be the ones where you’ll benefit from learning! If you’ve never written a marketing plan you probably need to learn some marketing. If you’ve never created or studied your management accounts (or know what they are), you need to improve your financial knowledge.

Create a Personal Learning Log

A learning log is just a simple list. Keep it in a spreadsheet or written in the back page of your diary - whatever works for you. Make a list of topics you and your business would benefit from you learning about. Ask for recommendations of specific books and of training courses that would help you progress in each area. Then get specific about which books you’ll read and courses you’ll attend, and attach some dates.

Each time you complete a learning task - finish a book, attend a course, watch a training video… write the date, title, and key thing you gained into your learning log. You might want to add an estimate of the time you invested. Each year it’s good to invest 10-20% of your working hours in learning, so about 10-25 days per year. Some professional associations require their members to undertake a specific number of days of CPD (Continuing Professional Development) every year.

Think about it: if you were about to go for major surgery, would you rather be operated on by the surgeon who learnt enough back in medical school ten years ago, or the one who spends twenty days every year attending courses and reading journals to learn the latest theories and techniques? Would your clients prefer to have your business as their provider, or one that invests in continuing professional development? If you’re not gaining new knowledge, your existing knowledge is getting stale and dated. And if your suppliers aren’t investing this way, you might want to consider changing supplier! Ask them the question.

When you have employees, ensure that they maintain and show you a learning log. Set them goals for the areas they could improve to benefit themselves and your business. It’s not all about going on courses, employees can learn a lot from reading books, from each other and from you. The key is to identify those areas of need - the knowledge and skills gaps - and work on them.

“Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.” - Jim Rohn

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By: Rob Pickering

Create a ‘Stop-Doing’ List

As you identify more and more things you need to do, you soon run out of time. At some point you need to stop doing some things so that you can do other things instead. What would you add to your ‘stop-doing’ list? We’re continually have ideas that we want to accomplish and our normal reaction is the add them to our list of things to do. I regularly hear the remark “I seem to finish the day with more things on my list to do than I had at the start!”. Read my blog entitled “The 3D Rule” for more help on this, but there’s another practice that helps create more time. 

Once a month or once a quarter sit down and spend 30 minutes writing a Stop-Doing list. You can’t just keep adding more and more things to the list of what you need to do every month. Start by analysing what you do. If you struggle with that, focus on working out what you do by studying a few of your days with a time-tracking sheet. Contact me if you’d like a free template, but basically it’s just a sheet listing the hours of your day broken down into 15 or 30 minute intervals.

Print it and put it on your desk. Set a reminder on your computer or phone to beep hourly and record what you’ve worked on (or been interrupted by!). But be warned - you’re very likely to feel disappointed and annoyed with the result! But don’t worry, it’s all part of the learning process. As an aside, one thing often amuses me when I ask clients to do this exercise: They cheat! Yes, they omit things and change the duration of activities. A phone call that turned into an hour’s chat gets written down as 15 minutes. The hour and a quarter for lunch is written down as an hour. Then time on more virtuous things like planning or calling prospects is extended.

If you wonder how I can know this... it’s because I’ve found myself doing all of these when I was first asked to complete one! When I ask clients, they admit it. None of us really likes admitting that at times we can be rubbish with our time. It’s probably worthy of a blog on its own. Anyway, make an honest time log when you do this, because otherwise there’s not much point. It can also help to keep a sheet handy for one week or one month - without time divisions - to record all the main activities that you do regularly.

Most people start out telling me this is pointless because they know what they do, but then they’re surprised by the length of the list. You need to do this to create your Stop-Doing list. Once you have a list of what you’re doing on a regular basis, you should go through it and identify some of them that you’re going to stop doing. Be ruthless! You might be able to delegate some things, but on the whole it’s better to completely stop doing a few things. Think about each task in terms of how much you’re earning by doing it, or how much you’re saving, and think too about how much you enjoy it? Dump the ones that score the lowest. Because you know what? You wouldn’t be getting everything done anyway, so it’s better to choose the least worthy tasks to drop.

Be proactive about your Stop-Doing list. Every time you identify something new to do, add another item to your Stop-Doing list to make room for it.  

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By: Rob Pickering

Develop Sales Skills to Increase Profit

Hands up everyone who’s involved in selling? Yes, it’s that old trick question. You and every person in a business are involved in selling. Anyone who isn’t clear about their role in selling is possibly sabotaging sales! Think about when you deal with someone in an organisation. When you visit an office and speak to the receptionist, a poor attitude will make you less likely to do business. A good attitude and an awareness of what they can do to make you WANT to do business makes a difference.

A delivery driver with a bad customer attitude is creating a risk that the client will go elsewhere. Conversely a delivery driver that’s aware of his sales role will look for opportunities and report back to their organisation when they see one. I could continue with every role in a business. Everyone can help generate sales and retain customers longer - or they can do the opposite. Everyone is in a sales role whether they realise it or not. So I have three questions for you to ask yourself:

  1. Are you sure that everyone in your team is aware of their sales role, knows what to do, and is doing it?
  2. When was the last time you sent all of your staff on a sales training workshop, or got someone in to train them, or even bought them a book and suggested they read it?
  3. When was the last time you recognised a non-sales person (a role without “sales” in the job title) for their contribution to your sales?

A good response at this point is “Great ideas, I’ll get right on to it. What do you recommend we do?”. The responses I usually get fall into the categories of Blame, Excuses and Denial, including:

  • “Sales training is too expensive!” - Hold on... the point of sales training is so that staff are trained and will generate a higher level of sales. If your staff were trained, how much extra do you think you could gain over the course of 12 months? Is that greater than the cost of the training? If it is... the sales training is better than free! If you’re unsure - ask a sales trainer to give a guarantee!
  • “My staff don’t like selling” - I find it worrying when people don’t like selling, because this means your own staff don’t believe that people should buy your products or services! They don’t think they’re worth the money! If they honestly believe that a customer would be better off having your product or service than the amount of money it costs - they’d be eager to sell. Guess what? They need some sales training.
  • “They don’t have time to be selling” - then create time, even if that means recruiting more staff. Anyone that has or could have contact with customers is a valuable selling resource that you need to maximise. Often they don’t have to spend a lot of extra time, just do things in the appropriate way.
  • “There’s no point, they wouldn’t bother” - You’re right. Leave it to your competitors who will know how to motivate their staff.

Don’t forget the sales team Far too many organisations employ sales people and assume that they’ll automatically get better and do their jobs to the maximum by simply doing it every day. Last week I was told “John’s my best salesman, he’s got 12 years’ experience”. I asked whether that was 12 useful years of experience, or simply one day’s experience repeated 2880 times over 12 years? The point is, without time to reflect and learn a repeated experience does not necessarily lead to better performance. On the contrary, it often leads to sloppiness, boredom and poor results. Even high-performing sales people need motivation and training. Investing in sales training is one of the best returns on investment available. How much will you invest in sales training this year?    

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By: Rob Pickering

How to Have the Best Ideas

I’m going to share with you one of the biggest secrets to success! Actually it’s one of the few things I learnt at school that’s been of significant value in business. You can apply this principle in many areas, but I’ll discuss it here in terms of marketing.

I’m forever having people ask me “What do you think of this idea?”. For example, “I’m planning to send a mailshot to 5000 names on a mailing list - what do you think?”. My rather sarcastic answer is usually “This is by far the best idea you’ve told me in the past five minutes”. The point is - having ideas is easy. Having good ideas is harder. But all I’m interested in is the BEST ideas. How on earth can you know if something is the best idea if you only look at one idea?

If you just take away one thing from reading this, here it is: Always create a minimum of three alternatives, compare the pros and cons, and choose the best one. I can guarantee that whatever you do will be much more successful when you pick the best of three. 

Often in a business there is more than one product or service available for sale. As you start planning some marketing, start by determining which product or service you aim to focus on selling. Ideally this is going to be one that represents the best all-round opportunity for the business, for example - good profit margin, low hassle, easy to sell, short sales cycle, available now. Often people dive in, randomly pick a product or service, and start working on marketing it. It could be that the marketing is successful and sales are made, but how much more profit could have been made by working on selling the item that’s twice as profitable? Think strategically. Consider different products and services and think about the pros and cons of focusing on increasing the sales of each one. Not just in the short term, but in the long-term. Which one, if sold in bigger volumes this month, is going to lead to even greater sales if it or of something else later? If you focus on selling more razors, will it automatically lead to selling more razor blades for the coming year? If you sell more printers this month, will it lead to sales of more ink and paper in the coming year? If you offer free mobile phones this month, will it lead to increased airtime sales in the coming year? But again, choose three good alternatives and pick the best of three, not just the first one that springs to mind. At school and college I studied design technology - basically how to identify a problem and design the best solution to it. The method I was taught was as follows:

  1. Think of one way to solve the problem and work through a design for how that solution would work.
  2. Set aside the first idea and start all over again! This second solution must use a completely different approach to the first.
  3. Set aside the second idea and start all over again. This time, the solution can be completely new again or can include good aspects of the first and second combined with new thinking.

The third solution was always much better than the first. But you know, once I’d worked on that first one, I was convinced it was a great idea and didn’t want to set it aside and start again! The discipline to create and review three alternatives is critical. Only when you look from different angles do you see the flaws in the first. Once you’ve decided which product or service to focus on marketing, next create three alternatives for how you’re going to market it. Look at the pros and cons of each one, ultimately calculating the ROI (Return On Investment) for each one. Only then should you go with the method that is calculated to be the best one. So next time someone comes to you with an idea and asks “What do you think, is this a good idea?”. Ask the killer question - “What are the alternatives and what makes this the best one?”.

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Outsource: Maximise your hourly earnings

What is your time worth per hour? Unless you’re in a business charging per hour, this might seem hard to know or even irrelevant. But even if you do charge an hourly rate, chances are that not all your hours are billable. If you focus on using more of your time to earning a higher rate per hour, your business will be more profitable - or you’ll be able to work less hours - whichever is more important to you. income = hourly rate x billed hours  

Most business owners are busy running the business and don’t bill per hour, and don’t consider how much their time is worth per hour. You should! If you like being the person who opens the mail, just be aware that you’re doing a job that should probably pay minimum wage and you’re reducing your profits by doing that. So what kind of things could you do that are most valuable? If you went looking for and found a new top-ten customer, how much will they be worth over the next few years? How many hours of work would that take and how much per hour does that work out to be? You could also look at the value of time recruiting a new member of staff, training staff to be as good (and valuable) as you, working on better marketing, and so on. Most business owners I encounter agree that these are all incredibly high-value activities... but then tell me they don’t have time to do them!

It takes a while to really get the connection - the higher the value of the work that the business owner does, the more profitable the company. I know it can appear difficult to find time for high-value activities that don’t have someone pressuring you to do them. So here’s a good approach I’ve found very successful. Look at what you regularly spend time on each week or month and make a list, for example:

  • Answering the phone
  • Doing quotes
  • Making sales calls
  • Bookkeeping
  • Marketing
  • Staff issues
  • Purchasing
  • Shipping
  • Customer support...etc

Next to each activity, write what you think would be the hourly rate of pay for someone who could do that work. Now here’s the interesting part: If the hourly rate is less than you can be worth when doing your most valuable work... employ someone to do the lower-paid work. “But I can’t afford to employ someone” I hear you saying. This is the point, and this is what keeps most business owners struggling. If you choose to do work that’s worth minimum wage, that’s the wage you’re choosing for yourself. You have to pay someone else to do the lower value work so that you can do the more valuable work and earn more money for the business. Please, don’t look at all the reasons why this is “not possible”. Instead, focus on just one question: What would we need to do to make this work? It’s surprising how many hours you can gain even without taking on an employee. Modern technology has made it easier to outsource. You can outsource your bookkeeping easily. If you don’t want to lose control, use one of the cloud-based accounting software packages so that you and your bookkeeper continually can see and work with your accounts. There are lots of brilliant Virtual PAs around who can often do things more efficiently than you’re doing them!

Take action. Make a list today, identify one thing that you can outsource and ask your coach or other trusted advisor to recommend someone to give the work to. Don’t do work with a lower hourly rate than you could be doing.

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Finish today by planning tomorrow...

At the end of every day make it a habit to plan tomorrow. Most people don’t plan their time at all and many of those that do, start the day by writing their “to-do” list. It’s actually much better to do it at the end of the day when it’s all still fresh in your mind, so it takes less time to think of what has to be done tomorrow. Ideally keep a list during the day so that tomorrow’s list is mostly done anyway. Do you ever find it hard to ‘switch off’ from thinking about work when you get home in the evenings? It’s very common. We worry about things and think “must remember, must remember” and it turns into a worry! By reserving fifteen minutes at the end of the day to plan tomorrow, you get it all written and off your conscious mind. Those things that otherwise become a nagging worry that you daren’t forget about suddenly become OK - it’s already written down. 

Another thing that happens is that your subconscious mind automatically gets to work on the tasks you’ve written down for tomorrow. This may sound a little odd if you’re new to the study of the subconscious! But just give it a go. When you start work the next day, everything just feels a bit easier and ideas spring to mind more readily. There’s a certain motivational feeling that’s created by sitting down at your desk and already knowing what you need to do for the day. Sure, the plan may need to change during the day, we all know that ‘shift happens’ and we need to accommodate. But at least you’re just dealing with changes, the plan as a whole is there. If you manage a team of people, make it standard practice that no one leaves without first writing their plan for tomorrow. Have them leave it on top of the desk so that you, and everyone else, can see that everyone is organised. Don’t believe this is possible? I know offices where it happens, and it works. The staff there consider it entirely normal and don’t have to be forced - they know the advantages and like the culture it creates. Go and create a great culture in your company today.  

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The Four Stages of Delegation

Why don’t we delegate more? The reasons I often hear are:

  • “I tried it, and it didn’t work…”
  • “It takes longer to delegate than to just do it myself…”
  • “They just don’t listen so they do it the wrong way…”
  • “If I want something doing, I’m better off doing it myself…”

…and so on. The good news is that delegation is quite straightforward and ef fective if you understand that it’s all about a process and developing trust. Yes, it takes time, but the time invested will pay you back many times over and you’ll develop a great team too. 

Stage 1: Do this task, this way, and show me before you issue it

Stage 2: Here’s the task, tell me your recommendation, do it, show me afterwards

Stage 3: Here’s the objective, work out the best way to do it, tell me when it’s done

Stage 4: When you see an issue, deal with it as you think best, report routinely

At stage 1 you have no confidence that the person you’re going to delegate to understands the task or knows how you’d want it done, so you need to be very prescriptive. You explain the task and say how it should be done, and ask to see the finished result before it’s implemented. If the result at the end of a stage 1 delegation is how you want it, and you’re confident they can do it again, you’re ready to move to stage 2. But until then you’re going to continue being very prescriptive and leaving very little room for error, and you’ll catch any errors before they really matter.

At Stage 2 you’re checking that they will go and do the task the way you want it done. “The task is this… what are the steps you would go through to complete this task?”. If they confidently get it right, they’ve learnt, so demonstrate some trust and let them go and do it and show you after it’s completed. And say that if they feel unsure, come and ask for guidance. But if they keep coming back, tell them you really want them to achieve this without checking and get them to have a go. It’s important to build their confidence.

At stage 3 you hand over an objective (the outcome you want, which might entail several smaller tasks) and ask them to work out how best to achieve it and tell you when it’s done. Again, encourage them initially to seek further guidance if they feel unsure of what you’d want. When they consistently do things the way you want several times, tell them clearly that you’re confident you’re doing things the way you want (well done!) and they’re ready for the final stage.

Stage 4 is where you stand back and watch things happen, stepping in only if the situation changes, or if you see problems occurring. Only step back to stage 3 if you really need to. If you follow the process, you WILL reach stage 4 with most people. Never take back a task once delegated! Unless, that is, you want to forever do all the work for the staff you’re paying! Yes, mistakes will sometimes happen! When they do, it’s probably because you failed to describe the task sufficiently well, or failed to mention something about how you like it done. Or maybe you tried to jump past one or more steps - don’t. Delegation is the key to your business running efficiently. Start working toward Stage 4 today!  

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Work harder on yourself...

“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.”-  Jim Rohn INCREASE YOUR CAPABILITY & YOUR VALUE Do you work hard at your job? Most people do. A lot of people work incredibly hard and long hours. However, working hard in a job is being like the little hamster running round in its wheel, working hard but getting nowhere at all by any real measure. Early in my career I was fortunate to have a wise manager ask me “How good do you want to be in business?”. My answer was “Good”. OK, I wasn’t great with words back then! He pointed out to me that to be better than average I would need to work at my own learning and development. Which is what I’ve done ever since. 

If someone works a thirty-five hour week that’s 1,645 hours each year. But if they pay little attention to personal development then they could end up at the same level, worth only the same pay, as the previous year. Some companies push training on their employees which will help some of them, but as a business owner you have to take care of yourself. Just 10% of the time learning would be 164 hours a year, or about half an hour a day. These days as a Business Coach I invest a day every week on my own development; it’s an investment. Occasionally it will be a whole day but usually it’s a series of planned hours. On average I read a business book every week. It’s easy to find excuses not to do this. “I don’t have the time!”. OK, get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later and gain 7 extra hours per week. It’s all about discipline. FEEL MOTIVATED The more you do, the more you feel like doing. You recognise that you’re making progress and look at things differently, with more drive and enthusiasm. Push yourself - the hardest step is the first one. BE COMMITTED It’s important to set yourself goals. I hear many people talk without commitment, with vague intentions that I know won’t happen unless they get a push. My clients know I’ll stop them in their tracks if they use the language of non-commitment. The banned words “try”, “hope”, “want”, “wish”… all indicate lip-service rather than true commitment. “I’m going to try and find a training course sometime this year” is a typical example. What I hear is “going to” means a vague intention; “try” means have a go at it, but maybe it won’t happen; “sometime this year” again means deferring any action. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it and fool yourself. Make real commitments. “I’m going to identify a training course today and book it to attend before the end of next month”. No get-outs, no ‘try”, no “hope to”… just do it. Now! Make a commitment to spend some time every week on your own personal development. If this seems hard in your schedule, start with finding just one hour per week. It’s a start and will make a difference. But I recommend daily or every other day so that the progress is more noticeable and consequently you’ll feel more motivated. If you struggle, think about when you feel most motivated - a walk, listening to music, whatever it takes - put yourself in the right frame of mind and do it. WHAT SHOULD I DO? There are many things you can do, so do what works for you and motivates you. If you don’t like reading books, try audio books on an iPod, especially if you have long journeys. If you can’t get to seminars then try ‘webinars’ where you can attend online. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Read Books or listen to audio books
  • Think where you’d like to be in 5 year, and what it would take
  • Attend a seminar or workshop - there are good free ones available
  • Join a relevant trade association
  • Read magazines/journals related to your business
  • Contact like-minded professionals and suggest a meeting
  • Get out of your comfort zone: Identify an opportunity to present or teach
  • Surround yourself with positive influences
  • You-tube is an increasingly good resource - search a topic of interest
  • Search the web in your field of interest and follow key people - or publish yourself!

What are you doing for your personal development, or to develop your staff? Leave a comment and let me and other readers know.  

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