Money Morning Staff Reports
You've been given the task of heading an organization that's just suffered a layoff. Setting organizational goals is important. But it's also important to manage yourself. Here are some key tips to remember about managing yourself – even as you help others navigate a very tough time:
- Go for the Goal: Managers know how important it is to have clear, measurable and attainable goals for their organization – but they sometimes forget to do the same for themselves. Establish personal goals that will feed into your objectives for the organization. Make sure to write them down (some experts say goals don't be come "real" until they are "written"). Prioritize your goals. Mark them off as you attain them – and allow yourself to experience a deserved feeling of accomplishment or achievement. And make sure to create new goals as you cross off the old ones – or as new problems or objectives come to light.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: More communication is better than less, especially during a period of intense uncertainty. Make sure you let your direct reports know what's expected of them. And take the time to keep your supervisors or bosses informed. They'll appreciate it and will begin to look at you as an integral part of the organization.
- Treat Your Time Like the Scarce Resource That it Actually is: Spend time on the tasks that matter, and avoid getting bogged down on those that don't. Keep the "80/20 Rule" (also known as the "Pareto Principle"), which in its simplest form says that only about 20% of your work is related to essential or vital parts of the business, meaning that 80% of your tasks are trivial. Focus on the "essential few" and your odds of success will skyrocket.
- Don't Be Afraid to Delegate: People want to be helpful. That's a surprising realization for many managers, but it's also a powerful epiphany to have. Ask the right way, make it clear it's an offer to be included, and you'll be both surprised and thrilled at the effort your request to "help out" will generate. That's especially true during periods of uncertainty – instead of sitting around and worrying, most employees would much rather be busy, productive and contributing to the turnaround effort.
- Handle Paperwork Only Once: Whenever possible, follow this rule and you'll eliminate clutter, will become more organized, and will end procrastination as a problem. MeadWestvaco Corp. (NYSE: MWV), maker of the popular personal planners, recommends having an assistant in charge of screening your mail. Whatever does hit your desk should then be acted upon immediately, kept in a reference file on your desk if it's related to a crucial project, or filed away – but with a "discard date" that tells you when it can be tossed, thereby trimming desktop and file-cabinet clutter.
- Minimize Interruptions/Maximize Productivity: It's almost a subset of Lesson No. 3, but interruptions are all too often related more to the "80%" than they are the "20%." The average employee is interrupted an average of 48 times a day – or about once every nine minutes. It's worse for managers. If the interruption is related to the "vital few," whenever possible, handle it immediately, and be done with it (this also tends to contain the damage from a problem if its resolved quickly). If it's unnecessary, delay, stop or avoid it entirely. If it's somewhat important, but is inconvenient or untimely, schedule it for later or delegate it to someone who's more directly involved.
- Take Care of Yourself: No one can do this but you. To make the best decisions, to operate at peak efficiency, and to be the best resource for the organization that you can be, you need to be healthy. Make sure to eat well, get rest, and exercise. Take the time to go for a walk at least once a day – even if it's only around the building – so long as it gets you out from behind your desk. Use the time to think, or to walk around and be seen as the "leader" (not just the manager) that you're striving to be in this turnaround situation.
News and Related Story Links:
The Pareto Principle.
- Money Morning Career Survival Series (Installment I):
The Four Secrets to Career Success in a Jobless Recovery.
- Money Morning News Analysis:
Is the U.S. Economy Headed for a Jobless Recovery?