Business leaders often get caught in the weeds within their business and may lose sight of the big picture. Leaders juggle many different items/crisis a day and they should examine each crisis on three steps. 1) Fix the problem, 2) Find out how the problem became a problem, and 3) Make sure that problem never happens again. This management tip has been passed down from many different sources, but still holds true in running a business.
Here are just a few tips to assist you “define the problem.”
- Make your calendar your best friend. As soon as you book an appointment or meeting, also book a date to prepare for it and make a to-do list for the appointment. Take time and prepare for the appointment or meeting.
- Don’t waste precious time sweating over the small things out of your control. There will be items that “pop up” in which you have little or no control over. When that happens, go with the flow and don’t fight it, just work through them and get it over with.
- Manage the function, not the paperwork. Remember that your job is to manage a specific function within the company, whatever that may be. There might be a lot of paperwork that goes with the job, but don't let that distract you from your real responsibility.
- Get out of your office. Make yourself more approachable and walk around your organization. You find out what is really happening and will get information first hand from your staff.
- Delegate out the easy stuff. Right now, there are people within your organization that will be more than happy to handle the small easy items that will eat up your time if you do them. Focus on the hard stuff.
- Don't get caught up in “looking good.” Appearances can be deceiving. Don't try to act big. Don’t exclude rank and file employees. And don't think you know it all. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest. Getting out of your office will assist with this.
- Learn from the mistakes of others. Benjamin Franklin believed you should learn from the mistakes other made, so you don’t do them.
- Open your ears and close your mouth. You have two ears and one mouth, so you should be listening twice as long or more than talking. Listen to what your associates, your employees, your suppliers, your customers say, they all have something of value that will assist you. Listen to the people around you. You will never learn what it is if you drown them out by talking all the time. Shut up and learn.
- Practice what you preach. To lead, you have to lead by example. Don't go on an office spending spree for yourself and then tell your people to watch their expenses. Walk your talk.
- Know your numbers. Always be looking at your financial statements to know how your company is preforming which will avoid those, “I should have looked at the financial more.”