Summer Priorities for the Most Successful Executives

May 29th, 2015

Before the summer months distract you, review your priorities. Make sure you’re focusing on matters that get you closer to reaching your goals.

As we head into summer, it is always good to think about what the most successful executives do to keep the momentum going. What do they do differently than the rest? It often leads back to setting priorities. Thus, as we head into the summer months, I thought a few tips might prove useful:

1. Pick 3 overarching priorities – Don’t overwhelm yourself with 10,000 priorities which clearly are not achievable. Instead, take a step back and think about your top 3.

2. Consider urgency – Sounds obvious but everything cannot be urgent. Which potential priorities are the most urgent?

3. Fit with Goals – How do the priorities fit into your company or personal goals? If they are not important to achieving your most important goals, why focus on them?

4. What if you don’t? – What will happen if you don’t do it? It’s interesting when you consider this question. I often find that I might have a task on my list, and I want to “check it off” even if it’s no longer important or just a “C” type priority. Should I work 12-hour days to finish a “C” item?

5. Make downtime a priority – Have you planned in downtime? Do you consider personal time and thinking time a priority? If not, why? No one can successfully focus 24/7 – and why would you try?

6. Start with the A priorities – Sounds obvious but it is easy to get caught up with completing easy or enjoyable “C” priorities.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

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It Begins and Ends with People

May 26th, 2015
people power

The best businesses see their employees as assets and treat them like partners.

I constantly go back to what my HR mentor (Debra Daniels) used to say, “It begins and ends with people.” She was right!

Earlier today, I went to lunch with 3 trusted advisors who work with the same types of clients as I do. One of them told us a story that reminded me of the critical importance of people. Long story short, he worked with a couple that ran a business. The husband believed in command and control type management – suppliers need to be squeezed, people are costs (not assets), etc. Eventually the wife filed for divorce, and the husband happily gave her the business while taking the great investment portfolio they had built. She listened to the people who worked for her, implemented ideas that made sense and was wildly successful. The business grew 10-fold. Not only did she end up with the larger piece of the pie, the people were motivated and energized. Win-win!

In your everyday interactions, think about how you would like to be treated. What would energize you? Treat others that way, and success will follow.

Did you like this article? Continue reading on how to Profit Through People:

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Honor Those Who Served & Take Time for Family

May 25th, 2015

supply chainCertainly on Memorial Day weekend, it is important to honor those who have served and to set aside time to spend with family. It shouldn’t take a special holiday for us to focus on these priorities; however, it certainly is a great reminder. I find that we get so busy in our everyday lives that we overlook some of the most important priorities such as supporting our soldiers, talking with those who have served in the past and even just spending time with our families. I recently went to DC, and there is such great history there that forgetting the importance of Memorial Day would be impossible. What are you doing this weekend?

One tip to implement this week:

You might wonder how focusing on those who have served and spending time with families has anything to do with work success but I see a connection. Those people who are the most well-rounded typically are much more successful – and happy – than those who aren’t. If you have someone who has served in your family, have you called to thank them? Or just to talk? How about volunteering in some way? Even just spending time with family can not only go a long way in making their day but it also can make yours. When you get back to work on Tuesday, you’ll be reinvigorated. If you’ve missed the opportunity this weekend, do it next weekend. It will have all the advantages along with the unexpected element thrown in for good measure!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”


How to Revitalize Projects to Ensure Success

May 21st, 2015
team huddle to revitalize project

Maintain project momentum after a holiday with work team huddles that celebrate achievement, rededicate employees, and review goals.

As we approach Memorial Day weekend, it is imperative to revitalize our projects. After working with countless manufacturers and distributors to elevate business performance, I’ve found that projects are the lifeblood of most organizations as their success or failure impacts customers, profit/loss and or cash flow in almost every client. Thus, making sure there is significant emphasis on their success should be a top priority for success.

Typically, my clients look like a ghost town during the holidays. Everyone is understandably distracted with family and friends. Those working do not feel pressure for rapid progress. Therefore, it is critical to revitalize projects rapidly following downtime. Of course, the holidays provide an obvious need; however, don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is the only timeframe to revitalize a project. The same effect occurs during summer vacations or after a long-term project that completes (such as an ERP system implementation or a merger or acquisition).

People tend to take a step back with a sigh of relief. Of course, most of the time, it is well-deserved; however, rarely if ever is there time available to do this as your competitors will pass you by. Thus, a few keys to success to revitalize your project include: 1) Reenergize the vision with an event. 2) Schedule a cross-functional project review. 3) Follow up on critical timeline tasks.

1. Reenergize the vision with an event: One of the best ways to revitalize your top project is to hold an event or meeting to reenergize it. Make sure top management attends. Re-explain the importance of the project. Discuss the value and impact the project will have on the organization. Find positive progress to encourage. Thank the project team members for their dedication and results. Take time out of the workday to celebrate accomplishments thus far. Last but not least, the project leader should be energetic and excited about the project and rally support for the project. In essence, do a kick-off at the start of every project to energize the team and get everyone at the same starting point.

2. Schedule a cross-functional project review: Now that the project’s importance is clear, it is a perfect time to schedule a cross-functional project review. This type of review will refocus the project team on accomplishments to date, immediate next steps and upcoming critical path milestones. It will also reengage the team members with each other, the project leader, project sponsors, etc. This type of meeting will also allow discussion on potential bottlenecks to address and will include the “right” people to proactively address these concerns.

For example, at one of my middle-market manufacturing clients, we held this type of cross-functional project review in order to breathe life back into the project after a few weeks off. In essence, the meeting refocused efforts on what was important and reminded team members which tasks and communications were essential. It worked like a charm as the team completed the project on-time and under-budget with better results than anticipated.

3. Follow up on critical timeline tasks: Although the critical path timeline is bedrock to success, its importance is often overlooked. The project manager should refocus efforts on critical path follow-up. Understand exactly where progress left off. Follow up with critical path task owners with due dates coming up. Ask for their ideas on how to ensure success. Explore for concerns or potential roadblocks. Projects do not fail because of roadblocks; they fail if the roadblocks are not addressed rapidly. Thus, being proactive to head off as many issues as possible that will affect the critical path will ensure success. Yet something will still make its way in to create chaos for your critical path. Be ready to jump on these issues and tackle them to the ground.

Thank critical path task owners who recently completed their tasks on time. It is important to remember to appreciate your team. Ask them for recommendations to keep the project on track. You’ll be surprised as to how easy success will become!

Since projects are cornerstone to delivering bottom line business results, it is worth revitalizing your core projects at key juncture points such as after the holidays. There is no downside to revitalizing your key projects as it will gain additional traction and focus throughout the organization. On the other hand, if you do not revitalize them, you are likely to have lackluster results and end up in a project turnaround situation. Instead of leaving it to chance, take control of the projects which are key to success immediately.

Continue reading on how to become a Systems Pragmatist:

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Grand Ole Opry & Why Tradition Still Matters

May 20th, 2015

supply chainI attended the Grand Ole Opry last night…..what an amazing Country Music tradition! I love that the Grand Ole Opry is actually a radio show.  Now, in addition to having the radio station featured on the stage, it also includes #Opry. Times evolve but radio still rules in Nashville! They get great sponsors for their radio show. And, it worked as I went to Cracker Barrel this morning solely because the radio advertisements compelled me to give it a go. Country stars from YEARS ago are popular at the Grand Ole Opry, and they sing along with the newest performers. Where else can you go to see that?

Almost every business has some traditions. What are yours? You’d be surprised as to how appealing your traditions can be. Employees are attracted to traditions. In today’s war for talent (as I heard the Skills Gap referred to last week during a keynote), tradition can matter as attracting and retaining employees can put you ahead of the crowd. What are your traditions?

One tip to implement this week:

Do you know what your company’s traditions are? If not, find out. Ask long-term employees. Ask about stories from the old days. There must be something your company stands for. If not, create a tradition. Tie meaning into what you do. How do you create value for your customers? How do you make the world a better place? What is special about your culture?

If you are not in the position to create a tradition for the company, create one for your area or with the people you interact with on a daily basis. I’ve seen the lowest employees on the totem pole create tradition. What would pull people together? Put your creative juices to work and take a step out of your comfort zone to help create tradition. It is highly likely you’ll start enjoying your job just a little bit more!

Looking for more ideas to keep your supply chain connected? Access more tips and resources on my blog. And keep connected by subscribing to my newsletter and email feed of “I’ve Been Thinking…”