Business Planning, Clarity, Strategy

The three simple steps to help your business be more productive in 2020

A new year, a new decade – so much possibility! 2019 was a year of hard work for many of us. But what do you define as hard work?

Hard work is not always something you can see, and it’s not always a physical effort. The most powerful form of hard work is thinking clearly.

Designing a winning strategy may not look very active but make no mistake: it is very hard work. Strategy often beats sweat.
– James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

The key to your business success in 2020 will all come down to your ability to carve out time to think, develop a plan for how you want the year to go, and make it happen.

In my experience, the most common phrase used by business leaders is “I’m too busy, I just don’t have time”. From my observations, a leaders day can quickly become filled with tasks that could be handled by someone else. But due to a lack of planning and confidence to delegate, they don’t have time to focus on the ‘big rocks’ that will help their business perform successfully.

The three steps that will help you do more in less time and reclaim your days and weeks to make your business more productive are….

Step 1 – get alignment.

Spending time with the key people in the business to create alignment and determine the most critical areas of focus for the next 12 months is vital. You can complete this task in as little as a couple of hours.

With many of my clients, I’ve facilitated workshops with great success to look at internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats of the business.

With this more holistic view of the business, it’s easy to determine where to focus attention and energy to support the business to perform better in the future.

Step 2 – create accountability.

With the clarity to focus on the goals your business wants to achieve comes greater accountability. Without it the buck gets passed, progress stalls and momentum comes to a grinding halt. It can be frustrating when you feel like things are in a holding pattern, not moving forward; it doesn’t have to be that way!

A model I’ve used with several clients is the RAPID model for decision making. What it does is create clarity over who should perform what role in terms of turning decisions into action.

The five areas used to create clarity are: 

  1. Who should recommend information relating to the decision?

  2. Who needs to agree with the decision?

  3. Who should perform the task based on skills and abilities?

  4. Who should provide input due to key knowledge or experience?

  5. Who is the one person who should decide on the solution?

By using this framework, it creates a system of reference people can use to get things done objectively – that’s important. It’s great for teams of all sizes. It also acts as an excellent way for business leaders to delegate tasks knowing there is a process for people to follow to make things happen.

Step 3 – drive action.

The pain of inaction stings longer than the pain of incorrect action.
– James Clear, author of Atomic Habits

When it comes to getting things done, four villains can sabotage progress. The four villains is a concept introduced by author Alison Hill in her book Stand Out – a real-world guide to get clear, find purpose and become the boss of busy.

  1. Perfectionism – I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that in business, perfection can be a killer of profits. The good old 80/20 rule that applies universally to most things can help overcome this. As a leader, you can improve your team to become more productive by asking them to bring solutions to you once they are 80% done and you can provide the final touches or feedback to get it across the line faster.

  2. Procrastination – everyone has been there and knows it’s a killer when it comes to productivity. Often this happens if people are unsure or lacking confidence about what to do next. Asking the question ‘what’s the next step I need to take here?’ can help focus efforts towards action.

  3. People-pleasing – it’s great to help others, but when it means you fall behind on your tasks often due to people-pleasing, maybe you might need to consider creating some boundaries or strategies for making sure you get the mix right

  4. Pessimism – living in a fast-paced world full of uncertainty can make it challenging to see through the fog of busy to focus on what’s possible. Asking questions like ‘how can we make this happen?’ creates the right focus to shift into action.

Ultimately, the real success of a business leader comes down to mastering two worlds – building relationships and achieving business results. There is an art and a science to it, by applying the three steps discussed the year ahead promises to be one of more success, less stress, increased productivity and richer experiences for you, your people and your customers.

Our business performance blueprint program helps business leaders have a clear focus, more confidence in their leadership team and more accountability in the front line to show up and perform productively. Get in touch to find out more.