The New Year’s Resolutions for many B2B business leaders often boil down to achieving one goal:
Be more successful with their businesses while spending less time working and having less stress.
Given that most business leaders already work extremely hard and that there is little extra time in anyone’s day, achieving this goal requires more effective use of time. In turn, this requires prioritizing and forcing the business leader to focus on the important and to stop doing or to do less of what he or she has done in the past.
And so, I begin my suggested New Year’s resolutions for the B2B leader with recommendations on what to do less of.
A Little Less
“Be rigorous about what not to do. What you don’t do determines what you can do.” ~ Jim Collins
Reduce the clutter and noise, focusing on the important over the urgent
- Less time spent on E-Mail. Try starting the day working on your important tasks before even opening the E-Mail. Try shutting the E-Mail down for set periods during the work day.
- Less time spent on internet surfing. Surfing the internet can be a huge time suck. Try measuring the amount of time spent on the internet as a way to encourage you to surf less.
- Less time spent on regular reading of newspapers, magazines or trade journals. Skim them or read the headlines. Get the gist. Move on.
- Try to create solid blocks of time for doing work on what is important and resist the urge to check E-Mail or answer the phone during that time.
- Try batching your communication with your team; send out one voice mail message or E-Mail covering five items rather than five different messages or E-Mails each with only one item. Or, likewise, meet with a direct report once and cover all five things at the same time. Either way, your people will come to love you for it.
- In our conversations, interrupting others less forces us to listen to the other person more.
Fewer goals and initiatives
- Try focusing on 3 – 5 goals at most
- Try to reduce the number of initiatives to the important few and focus your (and your team’s) time and attention on these few.
- As Orit Gadiesh and Hugh MacArthur write in their book: Lessons from Private Equity any Company Can Use: “Focusing on the right critical issues – no more, than three to five, in most cases – is crucial to achieving success.”
Less internal activity
- Try to have fewer internal meetings, especially at peer levels.
- Try to require fewer budget re-forecasts, reviews, and reports, especially the 60% of reports that no one reads anyways.
- Try going on fewer non-customer related business trips. Too frequent business trips checking up on operations or visiting with suppliers often waste time.
A Little More
“Do First Things First.” ~ Stephen R. Covey
For the New Year, I suggest that we all spend a little more time on the important: our team, our customers, “sharpening the saw,” and ourselves.
- More time spent “managing by walking around.” Try to get out and talk with your team in informal settings to see what is happening on the front lines and how the employees are doing. Thank them for their work, give them recognition, teach and coach them.
- Try to set up informal “lunch and learn” sessions where you can meet with people further down in the organisation and re-communicate your values and the company’s direction and goals.
More time with customers
- Try to visit with customers more often.
- As the leader of your business, you flatter your customers in a very positive way when you go out and meet with them and thank them for their business.
- While visiting with customers, try to discover other issues or problems they are facing that your company can solve for them.
More time spent broadening your horizon
- Try to network outside your industry with other leaders and find out their issues and challenges.
- Visit with and understand the operations of a customer or related business.
- Use your extra time to read different perspectives that others are not reading; this may include reading different books, following different blogs, or reading what is written with a more international perspective.
More “time outs”
- Try to break from your digital tether and step away from the business.
- Try to stop looking at E-Mail and answering phone calls after 7:00 pm.
- Try to take a whole day off each weekend (a “Sabbath”) to re-charge your juices.
- Try to take that vacation you have been postponing for the last few years.
“Dramatic improvements in outcomes arise not from some big change but from doing numerous, seemingly small things better.” ~ Atul Gawande Better
In implementing these suggested resolutions, think small. Small changes in your behaviour and time allocation will have significant effects on the business and will build momentum.
1. If you stay cooped up in your office, try to get out just twice a week (do first thing in the morning or put it on your schedule if you have to) to walk around and talk to the team.
2. If you never visit with customers, try to visit one a month to thank them for their business and see what you can do to help them further.
3. If you are digitally connected 24/7, to try put down your I-Phone and to not even look at E-Mail or answer a phone call after 7:00 pm and before 7:00 am and one day on the weekend. If you are anything like me, this will be the hardest. But, it will also make you realise how addicted we have all become to the stimulation of instant updates and round-the-clock information.
Since these changes are small, they are doable. While not all-encompassing or earth-shattering, they will be significant, positive steps towards improving your business, improving your life, and achieving your New Year’s Resolution.
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