Excited to be presenting at the upcoming. "Soar to New Heights" District 68 Toastmasters Spring 2014 Conference! It is an honor to be invited to speak alongside my good friend Steve Maurer and 2007 World Champion of Public Speaking Vikas Jhingran! In delivering one of my keynote presentations "Leadership in ACTION," I hope to learn as much myself as hopefully the audience does! For more information or to register to attend, Click Here. See you there!
Have you ever heard the expression,
“time is money?” Chances are you have, and that you have an interpretation on
what it means. Businessmen and women have used the term in relation to their
time being valuable, as to not waste it.
What if I gave you $1,440 dollars a
day for the rest of your life to spend or invest however you chose? Would that
make a significant impact on your life? How would you spend it? We know that
the U.S. Dollar is simply one form of currency in the world today, of which
there are many. Currency is not real money as in gold or silver, but a legal
representation of it; its value tied to the worth bestowed upon it by the
financial system. In other words, it is a only a measured unit of worth.
Now what if I told you that you are given 1,440 units of currency daily
to spend on whatever you wish? You are given the currency of time. There are 60 minutes in an hour
and 24 hours in every day, so by my math you have 1,440 minutes every day.
The question is, how are you
spending and investing your time? Each person on this planet is given the same 1,440
time-units to spend a day. They cannot be saved, only invested or wasted. Now
each of us has to spend some of our time-units everyday on things like sleep,
eating, commuting, work, etc. just like paying routine bills. Yet we all know
that there are plenty of time-units left over that are used indiscriminately.
Again, at the end of every day the
units expire, so they must be exchanged for a usable benefit or spent on a
harmful liability. I will use the example of one hour:
·60 time-units = an hour at the gym to improve your
·60 time-units = an hour with the family to improve
·60 time-units = an hour studying a new course or
developing a business plan to improve your future.
·60 time-units = an hour watching TV.
·60 time-units = an hour doing nothing (beyond
times for rest).
·60 time-units = an hour arguing with your spouse.
What are you spending your time
on? It’s really up to you. You’ve also heard the ancient proverb, “you reap
what you sow.” The soil is impartial: plant value, reap value; plant junk, reap
junk. Your time-units are no different; what you spend them on they will
impartially give you without question. Just like the clerk at the convenience
store who doesn’t care if you spend your five dollars on candy, gas, or coffee;
he simply takes your money and gives you what you ask for. What are you asking
for in trade for your time? Spend it today and everyday on something that
matters; something that you will look at years later with investor’s delight,
not buyers remorse.
Remember, you can
always go out in the market place and get more money, but you can never get
are times when we have one big project at a time, and we attack it singularly
with fervor and then move on to the next one. This works great when there
aren’t major competing demands, but what about when there are three or five big
projects due at the same time? You cannot attack each one at a time, for you
will inevitably run out of time prior to their completion. Additionally, if the
stress of managing multiple projects at once is not managed, you will do poorly
on all of them. As the first tool, I highly suggest the teambuilding principle from last week, yet if you do not have
subordinates or work alone, the tool I hand you is one of time management.
The approach is simple: at a
minimum, work one hour a day on each
project. Depending on the size of the projects and the proximity to the
deadlines, you may need to adjust as you see fit, but the principle remains the
same; how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you eat three elephants? One bite at a time from
This principle can be effectively utilized
by event planners, project managers, students studying, or even stay-at-home
parents. Obviously it works best when you start the project(s) early, but you
can adjust your time increments of focused energy to suit your needs; just as
long as you are doing some of each project every day. Let’s look at an example:
is a young office manager who has been asked to complete a major industry study
by the end of month, finish the quarterly report by the end of next week, and
finish his project management professional (PMP) certification by the end of
the quarter. He is married, a father of two, and manages 11 employees. He is
30% complete on his PMP certification, has three employees who are well versed
with accounting and finance data, and just took on two interns for the summer.
Mike is only 30% complete on his PMP certification, it will be his biggest
project regardless of the further deadline so he should potentially devote two
hours daily to study. The three employees who can crunch financial numbers well
can be assembled in a team to assist with the quarterly budget, and Mike can
easily monitor and assist for one hour a day. Finally, the two interns can be
tasked with research and data collection for the industry study under the
supervision of a more senior employee, leaving Mike to simply ensure the team
is prepared (see the teambuilding
principle lesson) and proofread the final draft.
Who wins in this example? Everyone.
Mike is home after normal work hours to enjoy his family, experiences less
stress and fatigue, looks like a rock star to his boss, and grows in his
leadership experience. The three “numbers” employees seem to enjoy the
opportunity to help with something they are good at and feel valued. The
interns get a real project to work on besides shredding paper and getting
coffee. Finally, the boss is happy because the workforce is engaged and quality
products are turned in, at worst, on time.
Ready to give it a shot? Here are some tips to get started:
·Evaluate the deadlines and initially rank them
·Evaluate the size of the conflicting projects
·Evaluate the complexity of the projects and the
Finally, consider the following tips:
·The more complex the project, the more time
needed, or, the more people needed to assist.
·The shorter the deadline, the greater the amount
of focus required.
·If you have less help, allot more time for
·More is not always better; look to build the
appropriate team size for efficiency and span of control.
·Don’t let simultaneous projects get away from
you; regularly monitor your progress.
Now you are ready to be the
project master. You will be fully capable of accomplishing single projects
without neglecting other duties. You will be able to manage simultaneous projects
without feeling overwhelmed. Your boss will love you and your subordinates will
want to model you! Now get out there and don’t forget your fork; it takes a lot
of small bites to eat three elephants at a time.
Have you ever felt the crushing
weight of over tasking from your boss, or experienced the problem of disengaged
employees? So have I. The overwhelming feeling of pressure from above, paired
with a perceived lack of support from below can cause the lower to mid-level
manager to focus mainly on survival and not on thriving.
However, one of the greatest tools
I was taught from my superior officers was the mastery of team creation. In
short, get the right mix of your employees working almost autonomously with
clear direction on a given project, and it will be done before you know it.
Imagine the possibility of
effectively handling MORE responsibility (making your boss happy) while
actually doing LESS busywork (making you happy) all while providing INCREASED
fulfillment and professional development for your people (making them happy).
“How is this possible? You may
think, “Won’t this make me look like a task-master overlord or a slacker
supervisor?” Not if you follow the prescribed steps below. Teambuilding isn’t
about passing the buck or over tasking your employees. By following these 3 steps to effective teambuilding, you
will get more done with less on your plate. Are you ready to
·Assemble the right players
·Give them a clear task, the
required resources, and a deadline
·Check in periodically, but
I know you may be initially
tempted not to relinquish projects to your people. After all, the task was
given to you; it is yours to manage and complete. To strategically give it to
your people is risky. What if they
mess it up? What will your boss think? Well, the alternative is just as scary:
You do everything yourself, get burned out, your people are bored, they never
grow, and the whole thing goes down in flames. Remember, any perceived risk involved
can be effectively mitigated down to
an acceptable level using the expounded strategies below:
1.) When you assemble
the team, ensure you have the following:
diverse group of competencies required to complete the mission
diverse group of personalities to ensure fresh perspectives
healthy mix of experienced and inexperienced players to promote future personnel
growth while ensuring delivery of a quality product
2.) Ensure the task
for the team to accomplish is crystal clear:
on what the desired outcome is
on when the deadline is and when certain phases are due
on what the required resources are and where they can be found
on who on the team is responsible for which portion
on their ability to check in with you as needed for help
3.) Check in as needed,
but allow for some autonomy
micromanage; this conveys lack of confidence in them
you start to gauge their abilities, check in less to build their confidence in
you have created a reliable team, it can function almost autonomously from
project to project
You may be asking yourself, “Does
this really work?” And I answer wholeheartedly, “Yes!” I have used this
principle numerous times and the results are fantastic. Most of the time, after
getting the team moving, I check in on predetermined dates to assess the
progress, modify or clarify as needed, and review the final product. What would
have taken me days or weeks to complete (if I fell into the pressure of having
to do it all myself) I was able to only spend hours on in total. Let’s look at
an example of how this works, just in case you are not entirely convinced:
Kristen is the supervisor of the
environmental compliance division of a marine engineering firm. The COO has
tasked her with completing a multi-phase environmental impact report and presentation
for a major client. Being relatively new to the firm, she instinctively knows
the value of her senior engineering staff and quickly looks to them for help.
Knowing that they will probably not want to do much legwork, she secures their
knowledge and supplements the team with two recent college graduates who were
hired onto her staff.
After assembling the team at the
initial meeting, she informs them of the details, sets the deadline for one
week prior to the actual deadline (giving her a chance to review the final
product), gives them the required resources, and assigns roles. She pairs each
new employee with a senior engineer to combine seasoned technical expertise
with raw processing power. Kristen then checks in once a week until the project
is complete. The COO is impressed with the final product, the senior engineers
respect her management finesse, and the new hires are grateful for the
Finally, what’s the reward for your
teambuilding efforts? You get more
done with less on your plate. Your team
gets more chances to shine, a greater sense of empowerment, and valuable project
management experience. Your boss gets
an increased number or quality products being completed by a more capable,
engaged workforce; and you made it
happen! You really do get more done as a team.