It’s a tough gig, being the boss.
You’re tasked with translating business strategy into business tactics and squeezing the best possible result you can out of each quarter.
You’re responsible for balancing budgets in a constantly changing business environment, a feat which can feel crossing a tightrope over a chasm on a unicycle – and the wind’s getting gusty.
And on top of all that, you’re responsible for developing people, which some people think is the trickiest job of them all.
Feedback in the “too hard” basket
A senior manager I worked with said he stopped doing one-on-ones with his staff members because they became too much work for too little result. What’s more, the greater the effort the senior manager put in to developing his team, the more his team behaved as if their career progression was his job, not theirs.
The truth is, there are a million things your boss would like to say to you, but doesn’t bother to anymore because it’s all too hard.
Here are five reasons your boss is keeping mum, and how employees who really do want feedback can overcome them.
What’s even more important than reviewing bad decisions after the fact, and analysing what went wrong? After all, hindsight is 20/20, right?
It’s wise to take stock when things don’t go our way, when a project fails, when a goal isn’t reached. And when we do look back, we often find things we could have done differently. Smart project management methodologies make this a part of their approach by ensuring that there is a final phase after implementation that allows for review and project learnings.
Tactics versus strategy
Often these reviews are about tactics. They’re about specific things done, specific choices made, that you would make differently next time.
But why was the decision wrong in the first place? When you’re talking tactics, specific approaches you took on that specific project, then the value of the review becomes quite narrow, because unless you’re going through a similar project again, you may never need to use those same tactics again.
How you make your decisions – in other words, your decision-making strategy – comes into every project you do, every task you take on, no matter what tactics you decide on.
Here are three questions to ask yourself at decision-making time so you can spend less time reviewing, and more time celebrating your success .
What secret power does Wonder Woman have that you already have, too?
Motivational speaker and peak performance coach Tony Robbins has been saying for years that we have so much more control over how we feel than we realise. He teaches people to hold their bodies “as if” they are totally confident – shoulders back, head high, standing tall. He even throws in a few fist pumps for good measure. The theory: moving your body “as if” you are confident will make you confident.
Science has now proven that Robbins had it right. You can increase confidence and power by simply tweaking your posture.
Specifically, you can “Power Pose.”
The science of Power Posing
Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy and her fellow researchers studied the impact of body posture on our confidence levels. They had subjects assume a particular posture for just two minutes, and then they measured the subjects’ levels of testosterone (associated with dominance and power) and cortisol (associated with stress). The subjects also underwent a behavioural test to measure their level of risk tolerance.
The result: how you position your body significantly impacts your body chemistry, how you feel, and how you behave.
Cuddy and her research partners called the postures that increase feelings of power “Power Poses.”
Here’s how it seems to go. You try really hard, I mean really hard, and you just do okay. Or maybe you even do really well. But you never seem to reach that level of Extraordinary that appears to be reserved for the chosen few. As you get more and more frustrated you start to tell yourself, “I just haven’t got what it takes.”
But the truth is you DO have what it takes. You’re just not using it effectively. While those who’ve achieved Extraordinary have been zooming forward, you’ve been driving with the handbrake on.
It’s time to become aware of the biggest thing that keeps that handbrake on, that gets between you and the Extraordinary results you’re looking for.
So what exactly is it that we do to sabotage Extraordinary?
We decide Extraordinary isn’t available to us
The key reason we don’t reach Extraordinary is because we make a decision, often without even realising it. We decide that we are not, and will never be, Extraordinary. This decision reflects a lack of self-belief that, if not addressed, will always be a barrier to Extraordinary. The truth is that Extraordinary is available to anyone who wants it, is willing to learn what it takes, and is willing to do what it takes. People aren’t born Extraordinary. We choose it.
Are you constantly busy, but feel like you’re not getting anywhere? Wishing you were getting more results, faster?
Ask anyone at the end of a quarter if they met their goals, and unless those goals are imposed on them via sales targets, most people won’t have an answer. It might be because they never set goals in the first place, or alternatively they did set the goals, but lost track of them a long time ago.
And if foregoing results isn’t bad enough, recognising your progress is one of the main ingredients in the recipe for fulfilment, so a lack of planning stops you from cooking up a big batch of happy.
Leaders, it’s time to get practical.
It’s time to plan.
First give up the excuses
If you’ve been avoiding planning, I hear you. I used to trot out all the excuses, too. I don’t have time to plan. Situations are changing so fast that my plan will be out of date before I finish it. And my personal favourite (which still gets airtime on occasion): I like winging it.
But my excuses existed because I hadn’t discovered a way of planning that works.
I hadn’t discovered 90-day plans.
Here’s how to write a 4-page 90-day plan that simultaneously pulls you into the future while providing you a weekly plan you can rely on to get you there, one day at a time. (Due to popular demand, we’ve created worksheets to make this process even easier for you. You can still do this process on 4 blank pages, or you can now download our worksheet and print it out as a template.)
Have you tried the traditional time management tips and techniques, but still find yourself lacking the focus you need to do the best job you can?
Lord Chesterfield famously said, “Take care of the minutes and the hours will take care of themselves.”
Here are six less-known, less-employed ways to get more from your minutes and sharpen your focus.
Play a game of “Who Am I?”
When I’m exercising and I can’t seem to do that next push-up, step-up or squat, I picture a super-motivating Arnold Schwarzenegger video (watch it here) where he is straining to do one more bench press, and then another, in order to be the best. It sounds hokey, but I pretend I’m Arnie and I somehow seem to find that extra bit of strength I didn’t think I had.
Let’s face it, you have to be a dozen different people during the day, maybe more, and swapping between roles means jumping between different ways of thinking. Does this task need you to be a prolific writer? A no-excuses disciplinarian? An organiser extraordinaire? Figure out who you need to be and channel that personality type for short spurts in order to get there faster.