Strategy is something that is traditionally left to the C-Suite or other executives. This is a podcast for those who are early in their career or are not interested in leadership positions, so you may think that strategy isn’t important for you to understand. But – you are the CEO of your career, so you do need to understand it. And, one of the things that you should think about is whether or not your company has a strategy that will make it viable in the long run.
What I want to do in this episode is give you another criterion to consider about whether the job you have or are looking at taking in the future is a good fit for you – it is called the inflection point.
The inflection point is a point in the future where the fundamentals of the business are going to change.
Meaning, everything the current business is built on becomes obsolete and a whole new set of rules apply.
A good strategy will
You want to work for a company that gets this.
In addition, you, as an employee, should be able to recognize and accept change that may come if your company is in the middle of executing a strategy to change the fundamentals of the business. Prepare yourself for changes that may come by assessing:
Stakeholder analysis is a good tool to have in your tool belt because it can be used to solve a lot of different problems. Stakeholder analysis is the process of identifying your stakeholders and analyzing them to understand their unique position.
The value of this tool is that it walks you through the process of identifying your stakeholders and their positions in order to make informed decisions. It helps you open your eyes to the different actors in the play and forces you to think about each one as a separate, unique person.
Who are stakeholders?
For any given situation, stakeholders are anyone who has a vested interest, or a stake, in your process.
When you want to get something done, you need to have your stakeholders onboard. In order to do that, you need to understand who they are and how you can best influence them. To do that, you should understand:
If you’d like to get a free Stakeholder Analysis Map, you can sign up for our newsletter, and we’ll give you access to it, and all of our other tools.
Getting ready to leave for a vacation, and coming back to work after vacation are usually very stressful. Sometimes you feel like you need a vacation after your vacation just to catch up. In this episode, we cover some tips for how to productively manage the time leading up to your vacation and the day you return from vacation.
The process starts 2 weeks before your schedule vacation:
1. Add an out of office notification to your signature. This is going to alert people to the fact that you are going to be out. It will nudge them to take action on something that they might need before you leave.
2. Review your calendar for the time you are away. Make a list of any deliverables that you need to prepare during your absence.
3. Block time on your calendar over the next 2 weeks to prepare everything on your list. For example, if you have a meeting where you are responsible for preparing and presenting a slide, you would block time on your calendar to both prepare the slide and make arrangements for someone else to present the slide at the meeting. Learn more about Time Blocking from Episode 10.
4. Block an Inservice Day, or half day for the day before you leave and the day your return. An inservice day is when you block your calendar as if you are out of the office, but you are actually working. It gives you the time and space you need to catch up because people think you are still out.
5. If you have the type of job where someone will be covering for you while you are out of office, block time on the calendar for a meeting with them to manage the transition. You should block time for before you leave and when you return.
One week before you leave, you will start to:
1. Say no to any new request that comes your way – don’t take on more work when you know you have a hard stop in advance of your vacation.
2. Be extra diligent about your priorities. You are going to go into hyper-vigilant mode. If it isn’t absolutely necessary, it can wait.
Some other tips:
Sometimes, when you aren’t being as productive as you want to be, it is hard to put your finger on the reason. Here are some tips that might help you identify what may be holding you back:
What should you not be doing?
Over time, we become progressively less productive because we let a bunch of things that have become unproductive take over our time. It was probably serving a purpose when you started doing it, but over time, it lost its value and you’ve just kept doing it because you’ve always done it.
Consider what you are doing that is no longer necessary and stop doing it.
Are you following your priorities?
What are the highest priorities in your life? We call this your North Star List. If you want to be productive, you need to ensure that you are only doing things that support your priorities. As a matter of fact, we’ve even done an episode just about this topic: The Foundation of Productivity is Priorities.
Recognize that mindset can impact your productivity. Have you ever said this:
I can’t get everything done, there just isn’t enough time.
This is a mindset issue. When I catch myself saying this, I change my words to:
I don’t need to get everything done, just the next thing.
Take away the power that the thought has over you.
Become aware of the mindset that is impacting your productivity.
Productivity is a way of life – not a set of hacks.
You can be a productive member of society and not actually be very productive.
In this episode, we are going to focus on the type of productivity that, when you get to the end of your day you know that you worked on the most important things.
But, for those of you who are looking for a productivity hack, let me tell you mine: being crystal clear on my priorities.
When you know what your priorities are, you are more productive because you spend your time on things that support your priorities. You don’t spend your time on things that don’t support your priorities.
In addition to knowing your priorities, you also have to learn to prioritize your priorities. Sometimes, work is the most important priority. Sometimes, its family. The priorities are always changing, and you need to consciously think about which of your priorities are taking the spotlight.
North Start List episode
Status Quo Bias is the tendency to stick with the status quo even when presented with a better option involving change.
Inertia is real! We all fall victim to it. The lack of motivation to make a change because what you are doing is working fine is natural.
When there isn’t an issue with the way things are working today, you don’t even think about how it could work better.
It takes action to break the status quo. But, first, you must recognize the need to take action.
There are processes in every company or organization that are a victim of status quo bias.
“we’ve always done it that way”
In the agile development methodology, there is a concept called the ‘retrospective’, sometimes called lessons learned. It is a process that serves to look at the activities of the last several weeks (called a sprint) and determine what worked well and what didn’t work well.
At it’s core, the concept is designed to challenge status quo bias.
The question is— within your process, what can be defined as a sprint?
How can you build in a process at the end of each sprint to challenge the status quo?
Ask yourself what worked and what didn't for each sprint. Then look for something that you can do differently to improve the process. At the next sprint, you’ll review again and find out if your change lead to improvement.
We all have a list of goals longer than the amount of time we have to be able to accomplish them. This can be overwhelming and even discouraging.
In this episode, we are going to cover 4 tips that can help you make sense of your goals.
Someday Maybe List
A list of all of the ideas that you have but that you can’t get to immediately.
· Keep one list for work and a separate one for the rest of your life. When you change jobs, the one for your work can just be tossed.
· At least once per year, review the list to remove anything that you’ve already accomplished or that isn’t relevant anymore. In addition, determine if there is anything on the Someday/Maybe List that should be moved to your current projects list.
Get Clear About Your Priorities
Create a North Start List. What are the areas of your life that you must fulfill?
· Family obligations
· Work obligations
· Community obligations
· Personal obligations
Every goal you undertake needs to tie back to your North Start List.
Review Episode 1: North Star List
Understand What Type of Goal it is
“Why” Goals: Goals where you need motivation to keep you moving toward your goal
· Longer term
· Future oriented
For example: I want to lose weight so that I have more energy to play with the grandkids.
“What” Goals: Goals that are more concrete, difficult, or complex
· Detail oriented
· Shorter in duration
· Happening in the near future
For example: I am going to eat 3 vegetables today.
Know When to Give Up
Finding the balance between persistence and knowing when to give up is not easy. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to help you determine if you’ve reached the point where it may make sense to give up on a goal:
1. Is it a good use of your time? Given the limited amount of we all have, is this something that you should continue to invest your time in?
2. Is it costing you too much? Money, relationships, or some other opportunity cost. When you got into this goal, did you realize how much it would cost you? If you had know, would you have made the same decision to pursue the goal?
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We all multi-task. It is a vital part of the world we live in. What we need to become better at is learning how to determine when the multi-tasking that we are doing has become unproductive.
Productive multi-tasking is when the completion of two competing tasks don’t require your focus. For example, listening to a podcast while working out. You can do both without detriment to either. Generally, you do not need to focus on the treadmill in order to walk on it. That leaves your focus on the content of the podcast.
Unproductive multi-tasking is when the completion of two different tasks at the same time results in one or both of the tasks suffering. Answering email while on a conference call is an example. When you are focused on answering email, you aren’t listening to the conference call. Both things – reading and listening – require focus.
Examine your multitasking habits. Which ones are not serving you well?
Intuition: the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
In business, it is more standard to rely on analysis than intuition.
Intuition is a skill that can be built. You can learn to adjust your behavior to a set of cues in a manner that is more successful. As a matter of fact, there is even a term for it: Recognition Primed Decision.
A situation generates clues. You recognize a pattern in those clues and activate action scripts that affect the situation.
In order to build your intuition at work. You can improve your intuition by learning this process:
1. Identify the decisions that are part of your job.
· What makes those decisions difficult
· What are common errors
· How does someone with more experience than you make decisions
2. Practice making decisions in context
· Think back to a situation you were in—what were the cues you picked up on and what did you miss?
3. Practice with a co-worker who was in the situation with you to see what they picked up on that you didn’t
4. Analyze your decision steps to identify what you would do differently next time
We’ve all had a failure at work. It is inevitable, so the most productive thing you can do is to have a set of tools to draw from when you are faced with the fall-out, which we will outline here:
Look at the failure as a learning opportunity
Although it doesn’t take the failure away, if you can reframe it in your mind, you can more easily move past it.
What did you learn from this failure that you can benefit from in the future?
Look at what behaviors DID succeed
Identifying what behaviors worked within the failure can help point you to areas of strength.
Understanding the areas where you are strong will help reinforce those behaviors in the future.
Don’t feel like you have to be good at everything
Failure may be an indication that you need to move on to something else. Is this area something you really need to succeed at?
Put the failure into perspective
Think about failures from the past. With hindsight, are they as bad as you thought they were at the time?
Rank the failure from 0 to 100 where 100 is nuclear holocaust.
Remember that other people are caught up in their own lives
Worrying about what others think about your failure is usually a waste of time because other people probably don’t even notice what you’ve done.
Those that do are likely close to you. In that case, project the failure onto them. What you your reaction be if they had been the one who failed?
What can you do to create a positive outcome?
I teach people how to thrive at work. Let's connect on LinkedIn
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