Hamilton Making the EXCEPTIONAL Normal Part 1
Author: Dale Furtwengler
Overcoming natural tendencies
One of my clients reduced their billing cycle from 3 weeks to 2 days without adding staff, working overtime or changing their computer system. The first time I used the Making the EXCEPTIONAL Normal system my team was able to eliminate 8,000 hours of overtime while cutting the month end closing cycle from 15 days to 5 days. Salivating yet? In this series of articles, I am going to share with you the simple steps to gaining exceptional performance while increasing employee job satisfaction.
The first step in the process is to help your employees overcome some basic human tendencies. What are those tendencies? First, most employees do not like to set goals for themselves. Why? They are afraid of failing. Unfortunately, they don't realize that their fear of failure is the very thing that will assure the achievement of their goals. So the first thing your going to have to do is get them to set goals for themselves.
The second tendency is to do a poor job of setting priorities. Most employees use three criteria to decide work priorities – boss's request, urgency and what they like to do. Some people say there is a fourth, time availability, but that is just another way of deciding to do what they enjoy. Doubt that? See if this sounds familiar.
It's near the end of the day; you have only half an hour left. You look at the next item on your "to do" list and see that it's going to take longer than half an hour. You look down the list until you find something that you know you can accomplish in the remaining time. Now here's the big question. Be honest; no one else will know your answer. How often do those projects spill over to the next day? More often than you care to admit, right? And, of course, there's no sense in setting it aside until it's complete, right? That same pattern is happening with your employees every day. Why does this happen?
Things that you enjoy seem to take less time. The old adage, "time flies when you're having fun", is true. Subconsciously, your mind underestimates the time needed for tasks you like and overestimates the time for ones you don't. If you want your employees to consistently produce exceptional results help the set better priorities.
What if I told you that in less than 2 hours per week you could teach your entire staff to:
- Set stretch goals for themselves
- Achieve or exceed those goals
- Set priorities on the basis of the value of the work
- Accomplish more that you or they ever dreamed possible
A little skeptical? The results listed at the beginning of this article were accomplished with a time investment of less than 2 hours per week. How is this possible?
The key is to have a weekly staff meeting in which each employee is asked to set his or her goals and priorities for the coming week. In subsequent meetings they will report on their success, again in a group meeting. Let's take a look at why this works.
First, everyone is expected to set goals for themselves. They may not like the idea in the beginning, but it's more palatable because everyone has to do it. Once your employees experience success, their reluctance evaporates and a new habit, goal setting, develops.
Second, while employees may find it easy to delude themselves into choosing tasks they enjoy over more important work, they will rethink priority decisions when asked to announce them in front of their peers. As much as we might like to think that we don't care what others think, it simply isn't true. Peer pressure is one of the greatest allies a leader has. It will make your employees think more carefully about goals and priorities before announcing them.
Finally, peer pressure works to your advantage in subsequent meetings. Your employees won't want to report (in front of their co-workers) that they didn't achieve their goals. Peer pressure alone keeps them focused on their goals during the coming week.
One caveat about peer pressure. Don't try to manipulate it. It works very well on its own. If you try to make it work, your employees will see what you're doing and resist any further efforts to make them more productive. In fact, their productivity may decline.
Copyright © 2000, Dale Furtwengler, all rights reserved
About the Author:
Dale Furtwengler is a professional speaker, internationally-acclaimed author and a business consultant who uses counter-intuitive thinking to help his clients increase profits without adding resources. For more information on how counter-intuitive thinking can work for you visit www.furtwengler.com/theinvaluableleader/.