Tag Archives: Initiative

How Do You Manage Multiple Priorities? Six Suggestions

Situation: A company has developed a number of initiatives and priorities which are important to the success of the company. All of the initiatives are daunting.  What do they need to do to get all of these accomplished? How do you manage multiple priorities?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start with corporate level objectives and set these independently from your initiatives. Pick your top corporate goals and objectives – financial, performance, and so on. Once this is in place, rate your initiatives in terms of how they help to meet your company objectives.
  • Create an initiative list. Measure the upside and risk for each initiative. Based on the results of your analysis classify each initiative: critical, important, or nice to have. This, plus alignment between initiatives your corporate objectives will indicate which initiatives are most critical to company success.
  • Every company needs long and short term goals. Use these to align and prioritize initiatives. Only and your team you can tell what is important and importance is a matter of your strategic focus and objectives.
  • They key to accomplishing multiple objectives is focus. Focus on your top 2-3 initiatives first – if you can reasonably handle this many. Once these are accomplished, focus on the next 2-3, and so forth.
  • Look at your competitors – where are the opportunities in the marketplace. How will your initiatives make you more competitive?
  • What does your leadership development plan look like? If you plan to add new leadership, include in your thinking a transition plan to new leadership, taking into account your multi-year timeline.

Who Do You Serve – The Customer or The Company? Six Thoughts

Situation: A company’s motto is that they serve the customer first. As an unintended consequence company projects get lower priority and action than customer projects. Frequently, the CEO finds that company projects are only half completed. What have you done to make company initiatives a priority? Who do you serve – the customer or the company?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • This is a great question. Clearly serving the customer has to be top priority. However, you also have to complete company projects, particularly those which are critical to company function or which will enhance your ability to serve your customers.
  • Define the company as a customer for important projects. Call this “billable hours” to the company and credit them as such on these projects. Accompany this with employee training on how to prioritize “company” versus “customer” projects when priorities conflict. It may take time to work through this, and for the message to sink in.
  • Add completion of company initiatives to the company kudos list. LInk company award eligibility to completion of company initiatives. For mission critical projects, grant double credit for completion of company projects. Adjustment of incentives will help to get the message across.
  • In employee communications, include updates on company projects along with customer projects and give equal or greater emphasis as appropriate.
  • Have you defined your “ideal customer”?
    • Include internal customers within your definition of ideal customers.
    • This will help to clarify and prioritize opportunities and shift the mindset.
  • For mission critical projects hire additional personnel or contractors.

How Do You Prioritize Demands on Your Time? Six Points

Situation: A CEO is involved in a number of outside Boards and organizations, both because this involvement helps the company, and for personal reasons. Recent changes in family demands are now prompting reconsideration of this level of involvement. How do you prioritize demands on your time?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • List all of your priorities – both business and personal – and the amount of time that they require on a weekly or monthly basis. For non-family activities, rate each in terms of importance both to your organization, and to your heart.
  • Decide how many outside Boards or organizations you are willing to participate in and how many hours of the week or month you are willing to allocate to this.
  • Reduce your involvement in outside boards and organizations so that you get the time commitment down to what you are willing to allocate. Thereafter, to maintain control of your time. If you add a new commitment, drop an existing commitment.
  • Where you have commitments that are important to the company, but lower priority in terms of your own passion, delegate representation to good people within your company. This both maintains company presence and enhances their professional growth.
  • Where you want to terminate involvement let the organization know of your plans in advance, and negotiate a phase out schedule and timeline. They will appreciate your working with them.
  • Consider putting someone between you and your calendar to communicate with those making new requests for your time. This person can say no more easily than you can.

How Do You Make Time for Initiatives? Four Approaches

Situation: A company is enjoying a good year and is busy both adding new business and serving current clients. However, the CEO finds that when business is good he doesn’t have time to focus on all of his initiatives. This frustrates him. How do you make time for initiatives?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • How extensive is your To-Do List? If you have two or three major, time consuming initiatives, and a host of small tasks, prioritize both categories. Focus on what you can do given the time you have available. Put lower priority on the smaller tasks, and delegate as much as you can, or put them off until things slow down. This will help deal with your frustrations.
  • Block out time for yourself.
    • Do this early in the day, before you have lots of distractions on your desk.
    • Allocate 1-2 hours early in the morning, and get to work a little later. Let you staff know that you are not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency, but that they will have your full attention when you get to the office.
  • Plan you initiatives, segment them into smaller pieces, and schedule them.
    • Use Mindmapping to segment them, or a piece of software like MindManager to assist your thinking.
    • Among the segmented pieces, look for opportunities to delegate to free up your time and involve staff in the initiative.
  • Develop a Task List in Feature/Deliverables terms with a broad timeframe.
    • Prioritize and build into your Quarterly and Annual plans.
    • Again, look for opportunities to delegate.

How Do You Take a Guilt-Free Vacation? Seven Suggestions

Situation: A CEO has not taken a vacation for years due to focus on the company. He knows that he needs a vacation and wants to take one. However, he feels guilty taking time off. How do you take a guilt-free vacation?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • For your general health, you need to take time off to refresh and recharge!
  • Think of the vacation as your CEO Test – have you created a team that can perform in your absence?
    • You may be amazed at the initiative that some will take given the freedom to do so. As a corollary, initiative is accompanied by risk and your employees may make some bad choices. Be patient. Congratulate them for taking initiative and coach to improve choices.
    • Stay out of touch. Don’t call in daily and see what happens. If and when you do call in, don’t solve challenges that come up – let your people solve the challenges. Keep a few notes. On your return see where you need to adjust procedures to allow employees to make independent decisions.
    • More than one CEO has found that taking 3-4 week vacations each year has had very positive results. The company actually performs more efficiently and with more energy upon their return than it did when they left!
  • To ensure that you take a vacation, schedule it in advance. Let everyone know that you are going to take it and Just Do It!
  • If you can’t take the time to plan a vacation, have your spouse or a loved one plan the vacation.
  • If you need to feel in touch during your vacation, take your laptop. You may never even use it, but it will be there as a security blanket. Once you are on vacation, let family and personal priorities rightly take precedence over your need to stay in touch.

Key Words: Vacation, Company, Focus, Guilt, Health, Refresh, Recharge, Initiative, Patience, Coach, Problems, Valuation, Performance, Planning, Priorities, Family, Stress, Support

Are Your Employees Living the Company’s Values? Four Recommendations

Situation: A tenet of the Company is that all decisions are made consistent with Company Values. However, some of my managers are asking for guidance on how to do this. How have other CEOs encouraged managers to make decisions consistent with company values?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Create cross-functional teams to address initiatives, solve problems and develop new processes consistent with company values.
    • This builds understanding other departments’ perspectives, and awareness of the impact of decisions on the company as a whole.
    • It builds awareness of company values and fights unhealthy competition between functions.
  • One company created an employee task force to encourage living company values. Their solution includes:
    • Review the company’s values and consider revising how they are stated for easy learning.
    • Involve employees in discussions of company values and how they are applied in their departments.
    • Create a cross-functional employee task force to address inter-departmental conflicts and to suggest solutions in line with company values.
    • Expect everyone to know the company’s values, and occasionally test them.
  • Build a vision of what the company looks like as an expression of its values.
    • Make living this vision part of your role.
    • Include living company values as a formal responsibility of managers.
    • Reward initiatives that build company values into company efforts.
    • Regularly review with your mangers their execution of company values.
  • Create “SMART” objectives around implementation of company values, and hold individuals accountable for achieving their objectives.

Key Words: Company Values, Decisions, Employee Involvement, Initiative, Vision, Role, Objectives, Accountability