Have More Time for Your Priorities

Here are three suggestions to significantly reduce demands on your time:

  • Attract, develop, and retain really good people who report to you. This is very highest priority because direct reports who do not perform well cause you to have to step in and work at their level. When you do that, you are also underperforming. Get great people so you can add the highest value.
  • Formulate and articulate a very clear mission or purpose. A mission forces you and your organization to focus on what is important. Say no to things that may be attractive, but aren’t aligned with your purpose.
  • Leaders are under tremendous pressure to do way too many things. It’s a mistake to try to do 20 different things. Instead, choose 1-2 priorities each day and say no to everything else. Move the 1-2 things ahead a mile instead of moving 20 things forward an inch.
Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I provide leaders with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals. I advise and consult with leaders to increase their effectiveness and improve work/life balance. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce sustainable growth and value.
If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for your priorities, contact me. Together, we’ll explore ways to work together.
My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

 

Escaping Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law states that work will expand to fill the time allotted to it. That’s why meetings fill the time scheduled even when the content doesn’t require it.

The senior leader’s challenge with this goes beyond meetings has two dimensions: An organizational challenge and a personal challenge. Organizations have more available initiatives and projects than resources, so they must choose which ones to work on, and which to conscientiously ignore. That is a key part of formulating strategy and operating plans. And it is the senior leader who has the final responsibility of making the decision.

On the personal side, the senior leader always needs more time than is available, so the challenge is both choosing the right things to do and reducing the amount of time needed to do his/her own work. I’ve been successful in helping CEOs and presidents capture 1-2 hours per day to focus more on strategy, spend more time with key customers, or improve their work-life balance. The key is discipline, routines, and developing a capable and efficient organization.

Parkinson’s Law is not universal. You do not have to be bound by it.

Copyright 2017 Bob Legge
___________________________
Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust. He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years. Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .
Contact him at: bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

 

When Self-Improvement Really Begins

I work with CEOs, presidents, and high-level executives to improve their effectiveness. While I have made exceptions, as a rule I won’t take a client who is referred to me for remedial coaching or “last chance” coaching. The reason is simple: The odds of a person making progress are slim or none if he/she doesn’t want to improve, doesn’t see the need and is unwilling to accept objective feedback.

I recently spoke to a group of about a dozen employees in a corporation on increasing personal effectiveness in their various roles. I asked each person in the group to assess eight of their personal skills and abilities are on a scale of 1 (very weak, lots of room to improve) to 10 (outstanding, can’t get much better.) Normally, individuals in groups like this will rate themselves from 4 to 8 on most items. In this group, they all scored themselves from 8 to 10 on every item. What it told me was that either the culture did not allow them to be honest in their assessments, or that they simply are not honest with themselves. If you believe that you are a 9 or a 10 in communication (as an example,) then you’re not being objective. Everyone can improve communication skills.

The first step in self-improvement is to see the need or opportunity to improve. That’s the beginning point. It doesn’t matter if others say improvement is needed; unless the individual sees the need, it’s a non-starter.

P.S. Getting to 9 or 10 on the 1-10 scale is not very important. Continual progress and improvement is.

How to Address Resistance to Accountability (or to any change)

Last week I heard from a teacher in the Boston area in response to my piece about accountability. She said, “Wow! This is what I do every day as a teacher!”

Many managers and executives tell me that their people aren’t ready for accountability, or have a negative response to the word ‘accountability.’ Is that the case in your organization, and if so, why?

Here’s what works when you encounter any sort of resistance to change:

  1. Do not ignore the resistance – it will only build in strength. They’ll think you did not hear them.
  2. Do not force compliance – the resistance will become covert and continue to grow for the same reason as in #1 above.
  3. Do take the time to listen to people who are resisting. Often just the act of showing that they are being heard will significantly reduce resistance.
  4. Do explain why the change is both needed and in their own best interest.
  5. Move ahead with the change, continuing to be open to feedback, and with the resolve to keep it moving forward.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Do You Have An Accountability Absence?

 

A significant challenge for management today is accountability. You must count on people doing what is expected of them, and doing it on time. But despite how important this is, many managers don’t know how to hold people accountable without seeming to be dictatorial. And employees today tend to ascribe negative connotations to the word “accountability.”

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Establishing an accountability-based organization involves two fundamental parts:

  1. Establishing expectations, and
  2. Following through

Both parts are important, and making sure both parts are in place is the responsibility of the manager. If a sound accountability system is agreed to and implemented, most people will respond positively. In fact, high performers like having both responsibility and accountability, and they can feel slighted if others are not being accountable.

When someone is not doing what’s expected, it needs to be addressed. The key is to focus on the difference between the expected performance and the actual performance as well as the poor performer’s behavior, not his/her character traits.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is www.boblegge.com

Why Effective Leaders Don’t Have Cluttered Desks

I used to wonder why it was that when I visit well-respected leaders their desks are clear of clutter. In most cases, there are only one or a few folders on their desks. And although scheduling time with them was often somewhat difficult, they never seemed in a frantic rush to get through the meeting and on to other things.

It turns out that effective leaders are very good at two things:

First, they identify the top few things that they must do that day and disregard all the rest. The next day, they do it again. There is no long to-do list — just 1-3 tasks that they will focus on each day. All the other things are pushed aside and abandoned because they don’t make it to the top.

The second thing they do is tackle one task at a time. They do not multi-task. Because they work at a constant pace, tackling one task, then another, they get better results than the leaders who try to multi-task.

As I tell my clients, move one thing forward a mile instead of many things forward an inch.

When you focus on the one most important task, you can have a clutter-free desk. There is no need for the distraction of heaps of papers or files.

Try it.

What No One Tells You About Learning

 

Learning drives competitive advantage. I

If everyone in your company does pretty much the same work every day, you will standstill and lose your competitive edge. You need everyone to be learning, seizing to new opportunities, improving processes, and taking advantage of new technologies and techniques. Tell them that you expect them to learn new and valuable ways of doing their jobs. Challenge them to be creative, to find improvements, and be experts in your industry – not just in your company.

  • A 1% improvement each day will result in being twice as good in about 70 days.
  • A 1% improvement each week will result in being twice as good in less than 1.5 years.

A caveat: The learning must be applied to things that directly support your business strategy, or innovations that will improve your competitiveness.

Do your employees know that you expect this?

The Executive’s Quick Guide to Coaching Functional Managers

If you listen to the business press, you might come away thinking that developing people is all about culture. The message is something like: ‘leaders don’t grow people, they create the conditions within which people grow’.

No doubt, the conditions/culture are important, but don’t neglect how important it is for you to do one-on-one coaching. Every one of your direct reports manages an area that is important to your business success. Even if you don’t fully understand their work as well as they do, you can still coach them on a range of topics.

One of the most important topics is a thorough understanding of the business strategy and how their functional areas play a key role in its success. This is fundamental to organization alignment.

Another important coaching topic is a whole-business mindset. Each manager sees the business through his/her own functional filter. Don’t let them work in functional isolation. Make sure their objectives support the business, not just their functions.

One of the best ways to jump-start this is through your strategic planning sessions.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Pay Attention to Your Pay Practice

Amazon made news last week by raising all employee pay to a minimum of $15. No doubt this was in part a political move to take pressure off after reports of low pay and difficult working conditions. But it’s also a smart move at a time when unemployment has reached historically low levels and it’s difficult to find people to hire.

I often counsel companies in ways to attract and retain employees, and when doing so I usually assume that pay rates are competitive. However, these days you cannot just assume that pay is competitive – you need to know where your pay practice stands.

Most of all you have to be concerned about keeping your high performers. Having a good boss, good working conditions, and growth opportunities are important, but the specter of more take-home pay is always compelling and the cost of losing good talent is significant.

Those costs include advertising, interviewing, reference checking, the cost of having a vacancy, as well as the costs of training and bringing a new on-board and up-to-speed.

We’ve had a long stretch of very low pay increases and controlling compensation costs. Don’t get complacent about it. Employee engagement and diversity initiatives are important, but pay is fundamental and can always be tempting.

Are you ensuring competitive pay practices?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor on strategy implementation and executive effectiveness to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.

My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Is Your Organization Aligned with Your Strategy?

Make sure your organization is aligned with your strategy. It’s not enough to communicate the strategy.

Two examples:
Example #1: I was called with an urgent need by a gas and electric company to help with change management. The company had a strategic imperative to implement an SAP enterprise-wide resource management (ERP) system, yet the implementation was failing because people refused to use the new system.

I discovered that employees weren’t the problem; it was senior management.

When asked if they should work on the SAP implementation or department objectives, managers would say, “Work on our department objectives. SAP is finance’s program.”

Once I made that clear to the senior team that they were not in alignment, the SAP implementation moved ahead and was completed on time and under budget.

Example #2: A major nationwide broadband company needed it’s customer service reps to improve both solving customer problems on the first time and up-selling additional services.

They conducted an extensive training program for thousands of customer service reps at five major call centers of 250-500 seats and ten other call centers with 100 or more seats each. They put thousands of call center employees through training to to ensure customers were getting their problems solved the first time and offering them more services.

After all the training, the customer service measures showed little change in customer satisfaction or increased sales.

Here’s what employees told me:
“Yes, I know we’re supposed to increase customer satisfaction and cross-sell.”
“Why do you think it’s not happening?”
“Because our pay is determined by ‘handle time’ – the less time we spend with each customer, the more customers we talk to and the more money our incentive pays.”

We changed the incentives and immediately began seeing the desired results.

My point: It’s not enough to have a strategy, you must ensure alignment throughout the organization.