Towards Your Personal Vision

I wrote about the importance of writing your personal vision a short time ago. It is a great read and you should take a quick look at it. You have to have something unique to you.

While having a vision is an important step to take, progress towards it is vital.

Remember, you don’t want to actually reach your vision. You want your vision to always be “in the future”.

Recall the famous quote from Will Rogers, “Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.”

Now, a vision is not the same as a goal. You are likely to have a series of goals on your way to the vision. So, if you decide to become a great delegator, become one. But, you really don’t need to have the goals or milestones in place. Let me explain.

What you need is consist, steady progress along the path to your vision. And, remember, if you are constantly refreshing your vision, you will never get there. It will always be five years in the future. Cool, right?

So, how are you going to know you are making any progress?

Consider this daily exercise.

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  • At the end of every day of your life, ask yourself, “How did I make progress towards my personal vision today?”
  • Write down your answers.
  • Ask yourself another question, “What can I do tomorrow to make progress towards my personal vision?”
  • Write down the steps you intend to take tomorrow.

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Find a journal you can dedicate to this routine. Put nothing else in it. Note, you are not allowing yourself to think of anything that did not allow you to make progress. You may not have made progress. In fact, you may have gone backwards. That is not what we are after with the exercise. If you haven’t made any progress or if you have gone backwards, write nothing down as the answer to, “How did I make progress towards my personal vision today?”

Remember, you will always have an answer to, “What can I do tomorrow to make progress towards my personal vision?”

After a short period of time you will begin to see remarkable progress towards your vision. When you begin to see major progress it’s time to expand your horizons—write a bigger one!

I find the best practice with your vision journal is to follow this discipline.

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  • Write your vision in the first page of the journal
  • Complete the daily exercise above for one month
  • Rewrite your personal journal at the end of the month
  • Go back to the daily exercise

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In summary, a person vision is an extremely powerful tool for your personal growth. However, even more powerful is the daily progress you make towards the goal.

 

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Regards,
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Here’s How To Develop Employees

Perhaps you’ve discovered the last several years to be difficult economically. It could be your business is producing results at a much lower level than it did in the last two years. Maybe last year was your worst one ever.

The economy has been bad, but maybe it’s not the sole cause for your business has difficulties. It could be your employee development program is lacking.

Creating individual development plans for each of your employees is a critical part of an overall staffing plan.

Looking at staffing from the top level view, the major components of individual development are these.

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  • Position descriptions
  • Annual performance evaluations
  • Annual development plans

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The first part, position descriptions, simply means that every position in your company now, a year from now and several years from now should have a detailed description of what the position entails.

Number two, every employee should receive an annual evaluation.

Third, each and every single staff member should have a personal development plan. These plans should be about one year and length.

The step-by-step approach would resemble the following sequence.

The employee would have received a detailed performance evaluation based upon two things. First, the level to which they are fulfilling their assigned responsibilities. Second, the level to which they’re achieving goals.

Assuming you are conducting periodic accountability meetings, you have at a minimum 12 months of goal performance. The employee evaluation would just simply summarize these monthly achievements.

You would have agreed with the employee on a list of items to be developed in the subsequent year.

The annual employee development plan is designed to help the employee with two specific things. One is getting better at their current job responsibilities. In addition, you will have agreed to adjustments in the position description and on new annual goals.

The new goals are designed to help them get better at their current job and position them to get to the next level.

So there you have it. A complete employee developmental plan. Every employee gets a position description. They are all evaluated on their performance against the plan plus the annual goals agreed upon. Then, then are given a detailed developmental plan for the following year.

Their next evaluation would include how they did against the development plan as well.

Then, the cycle continues.

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Wasting A Good Selling Technique

You want to increase your business closing ratio make sure were you use your most effective selling techniques. Certainly, that advice is one you frequently hear. The quotation about putting your best foot forward is one often referred to in this context. In any sales situation you want to always do your best. You always want to use your best ideas and techniques. Giving away samples or making a demo about your product illustrates this point. Most of the time, giving away products and making demonstrations is enjoyable. These concepts are utilized effectively by experienced and successful sales folks. The newest and least experienced sales folks, however, often waste a lot of effort doing these things.

Product samples and product demonstrations or a very powerful selling technique. This is particularly true when you’re trying to sell something complicated or expensive. Other times you have found that giving someone a free sample, or samples, of your product or services is the only way they can really truly experience what it’s all about. Frequently, we find demos and product samples to be a critical part of the overall process.

Not doing it is often a reason for not getting a sale. Maybe no demo was given and no product was ever given away. It might not just be that they were done poorly. Most people want to make sure they use these two methods.

They could be powerful techniques, but timing is important. Timing is critical. Most organizations have some sort of sales funnel or sales process. Not every company knows they have one however.

For our discussion let’s assume a demo is vital. Therefore we’re going to give away products or make a demonstration.

A demonstration or samples of your product or service is frequently very expensive. Selling in general is expensive. A demonstration of products may be one of the most expensive on the list of things done during the selling process. Many employees have to be assembled. Many times products, supplies and other necessities need to be gathered and used during the demonstration.

Because of this high level of expense one does not want to throw a demo away.

A great way to waste a demonstration is to deliver it at the wrong time. You want to have a demonstration be conditional upon a decision. The probability of wasting a demonstration goes way off the if the demonstration is given to early in the selling cycle. Demo should be very close to the end of the cycle.

In summary, it’s very wasteful to conduct a demonstration to early (or even too late). Proper timing is critical. The more experienced a sales rep or more likely the demonstration will be used well. New people tend to abuse the use of demonstrations. A demonstration is typically fun to do. For that reason alone many inexperienced sales reps do them too soon. Veterans tend to do them much better.

That’s what you want. Insist that all of your product giveaways and product demonstrations are given very late in the selling process. You will want to have it be required that demonstrations and product giveaways are reserved for qualified prospects. They should be off limits for unqualified prospective customers.

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Delegation As An Art

Delegating work, responsibility, and authority is difficult for someone running the company because it means letting others make decisions that involve spending “your money”.

However, at a minimum, you should delegate enough authority to get the work done, to allow your managers to take initiative, and to keep the operation moving.

“Let others take care of the details”

That, in a few words, is the meaning of delegating work and responsibility.

Delegation is perhaps the hardest job “chiefs” have to learn. Some never do. They insist on handling many details and work themselves into early graves. Others pay lip service to the idea but actually run a “one-man shop”. They give their managers many responsibilities but little or no authority.

How Much Authority?

Authority is the fuel that makes the machine go when you delegate work and responsibility. It poses a question: To what extent do you allow another person to make decisions that involve spending your company’s money?

At a minimum, you should delegate enough authority:

  1. To get the work done,
  2. To allow key employees to take initiative, and
  3. To keep things going in your absence.

To Whom Do You Delegate?

Delegation of responsibility does not mean that you say to your managers, “Here, you run the shop.” The people to whom you delegate responsibility and authority must be competent in the technical areas for which you hold them accountable. However, technical competence is not enough.

In addition, the person who fills a key management spot in the organization must either be a manager or be capable of becoming one right now. A manager’s primary job is to plan, direct, and coordinate the work of others—and to hold them accountable. They can get better—give them the management skills training you need them to have.

The manager of a department must have enough self-drive to start and keep things moving. A manager should not have to be told, for example, to make sure that employees start work on time.

A key manager should be strong-willed enough to overcome opposition when necessary and should also have enough ego to want to “look good” but not so much that they antagonize other employees.

Spell Out the Delegation

Competent people want to know for what they are being held responsible. Provide a list of specific actions that they could take on their own initiative and a list of actions where permission is required. That is a quality position description in a simple form.

Make sure that departments are coordinated when you spell out the responsibilities and authority of each key manager. Use a management position matrix to spell this out. Thus you reduce the chances of confusion as well as assuring that there is no doubt about who are responsible for specific jobs. Then, the particular key manager can take corrective action before things get out of hand.

Keeping Control

When you manage through others, it is essential that you keep control. You do it by holding a subordinate responsible for his or her actions and checking the results of those actions—accountability.

In controlling your managers, try to strike a balance. You should not get into a key manager’s operation so closely that you stifle him or her nor should you be so far removed that you lose control of things.

You need feedback to keep yourself informed. Reports provide a way to get the right kind of feedback at the right time. You know these. They include vital driver spreadsheets, goals and action step reports, goal scorecards, and other business control documents. They can be daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on how soon you need the information. Each department head can report his or her progress, or the lack of it, in the unit of production that is appropriate for his or her activity; for example, items packed in the shipping room, sales per territory, hours of work per employee—vital drivers—can be measured and controlled—and should.

Periodic strategic execution team meetings are another way to get feedback. At these meetings, department heads can report on their activities, accomplishments, and problems. Install goals and controls throughout the organization. Insist that all managers run their departments with them.

Coaching Your Staff

For you chief, delegation does not end with good control. It involves coaching as well, because management ability is not acquired automatically. You have to teach it.

Just as important, you have to keep your managers informed just as you would be if you were doing their jobs. Part of your job is to see that they get the facts they need for making their decisions.

You should be certain that you convey your thinking when you coach your managers. Sometimes words can be inconsistent with your thoughts. Ask questions to make sure the listener understands your meanings. In other words, delegation can only be effective when you have good communications.

And above all, listen. Many chiefs get so involved in what they are saying or are going to say next, that they do not listen to the other person. In coaching a person so he or she can improve, it is important to tell why you give the instruction. When a person knows the reason, he or she is better able to perform.

Allow the Troops to do the Work

Sometimes you find yourself involved in many operational details even though you do everything that is necessary for delegating responsibility. In spite of defining authority, delegating to competent persons, spelling out the delegation, keeping control, and coaching, you are still burdened with detailed work. Why?

Usually, you have failed to do one vital thing.

“You have refused to stand back and let the wheels turn.”

If you are to make delegation work, you must allow your managers freedom to do things their way. You and the company are in trouble if you try to measure your managers by whether or not they do a particular task exactly as you would do it. They should be judged by their results—not their methods.

No two persons react exactly the same in every situation. Be prepared to see some—probably most—action taken differently from the way in which you would do it even though your policies are well defined. Of course, if a subordinate strays too far from policy, you need to bring him or her back into line. You cannot afford second-guessing.

You should also keep in mind that when a chief second-guesses managers, you risk destroying their self-confidence. If the manager does not run his or her department to your satisfaction and if his or her department to your satisfaction and if his or her shortcomings cannot be overcome, then replace that person. But when results prove his or her effectiveness, it is good practice to avoid picking at each move he or she makes.

Should You Be Flexible?

Most of us do not approach our everyday lives through the prism of setting goals and operating with a daily plan or pattern. In fact, it’s much more likely we will deal with things as they come up.

While this is not an entirely bad idea—having a sufficient level of skill that we can cope with just about anything that comes our way. Many times, this is simply being so skillful at something we can accomplish our daily tasks smoothly and nearly effortlessly. This technique can allow us to be highly productive and useful. But, it’s not the most optimal approach to take and here’s why.

Everything we deal with on a day-to-day basis is not of equal importance. When you think back on, let’s say yesterday, it’s likely you filled your entire day with activity. You were very busy. Several things you did end up being the most important critical or vital. Most of the rest merely filled the time. When you take the approach of dealing with things as they occur you allow yourself to have your activities dictated by others. That is not optimal.

Here’s a few illustrations of what I mean:

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  • An e-mail arrives and you open it, read it and reply back to the sender.
  • A phone call comes in and you do not recognize the number, but you answer it. Listen to what’s being said to you, respond, listen, respond and so forth.
  • Someone arrives at your office door and walks in and engages you in conversation.
  • A colleague sends you a text and requests your assistance with the customer.
  • And, this continues randomly throughout the dat.

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In each of these instances, you have allowed yourself to be distracted from what you were currently doing and redirected. It’s of course very possible that one of those activities could have been extremely important. But, the random way they have entered your consciousness was entirely out of your control. It very possible several vital activities did not get completed because of the interruptions.

An alternative technique would have been to approach your day with a “goal oriented” attitude. Had you had that frame of mind, these four transactions would’ve taken place in an entirely different manner. How? Suppose you had determined to set a new “goal” you were going to manage your time in a more effective manner.

The process would look something like this.

At the end of each day you would review the results you’ve had and decide the most critical things you must do tomorrow. Next, you would have divided the next day into segments. Maybe you’ll decided that every thing on your critical list must be completed prior to dealing with anything resembling the shortlist above. Perhaps you decided to spend a solid block (let’s say two hours) dealing with the critical items. Then perhaps an hour to answer e-mail, take and place phone calls, open to your office door and turn on your cell phone.

What you will find if you adopt an approach like this is you will become much more effective. As an added bonus, others will respect and appreciate the fact you are getting the most important things done on a daily basis.

While this is not intended to be a prescription for you to follow, it was intended to give you something to ponder.