Lists… you know that tornado of “To-Do’s” swirling around your head of all the things you need to get done? If you’re in a professional position of leadership… you have a list and that list tends to make us “Busy”. Please remember, “Busy” doesn’t mean “Better” and “Busy” doesn’t mean “Productive”. Also, your people have a list of their own… ignoring this fact as a leader can cause burn-out, bore-out, and damage your Leadership & Work/Life Harmony and theirs! So, what to do?
First, focus on enhancing your personal leadership, leadership skills, and decreasing your anxiety by making a “To-Do List” daily. When you arrive to work, whether that’s arriving to your office or opening your laptop in the comfort or chaos of your own home, be sure to write a list of things you intend to get done today. However, most people will stop there! Be sure to ask yourself, “What would a “Win” be for me/the team today?”. Having an answer to this simple yet powerful question will significantly enhance your purpose, your leadership, and theirs!
This concept sounds simple; however, I can assure you it’s the easiest concept to let slip through the cracks. One day, I had the notebook I keep by my computer (to write my daily lists and notes) by my bathroom sink… don’t ask me why. I was preparing my list for the day and not sure what made me look up, but I did… and saw my Vision and Vision Factors on my bathroom mirror (I keep my vision and 3-5 things that when done consistently makes the vision come true on my bathroom mirror). The alarming thing was… none of my Vision Factors were on the list I just created! I was about to be “Busy” instead of “Better”. I smiled, caught myself, and immediately added my “Wins” to my list!
Now that you have a list… you can decrease the speed of that tornado spinning in your head as you no longer have to actively remember everything throughout your day, you also get to cross off “Wins” not only “Busy Work”, and you get to beat the day instead of the day beating you!
Your People’s List
One of the biggest mistakes made by the even noblest of leaders is not knowing the lists of their people. Leaders tend to ask employees to do things and believe the only thing on that person’s list is what you asked them to do. Completely oblivious that you may have asked them to do three things, but so did Mike, Jen, and Bob from down the hall! Therefore, their list isn’t three things long… it’s twelve things longs + the things they were previously working on that they actually get paid to do. Then… the deathblow comes when you, as the leader, asks the person “Why isn’t the task done yet?”… and they either melt inside themselves feeling less than, overwhelmed, or their head explodes!
One of the 5 words I use to define Leadership is, Protection. As a leader, we must protect our people from themselves and their bad habits with our Vision, Expectations, and Rules. We must also protect our people from US; as a leader can unknowingly burn-out or bore-out Inspired & Motivated Staff. This type of employee may continue to say “Yes”; adding more and more to their list, not wanting to complain, and eventually burn-out and leave or burn-out and become bitter and stay. Both are a problem! They may also Bore-Out as they don’t feel challenged enough or their request to be of greater impact are continuously ignored; perpetuating them boring-out and leaving or boring-out, droning, and staying. Again, both are a problem and an organizational issue of the leader not knowing or respecting the lists of their people! So, what to do?
I often share my Leader’s 1-on-1 Meeting in speaking engagements and trainings for organizations as it’s a monumentally culture-impacting concept for companies and teams; breaking down the powerful bullet points to cover.
- Start with the P.O.W. – What’s been the Positive of the Week! The first time, be sure you go first to provide an example of what and how to share. Feel free to share professional and personal. Then allow them to go!
- Ask, “What would you like to get out of today’s meeting?”
- Mesh your goals for them with the goal they may have shared
- Develop a plan for best ways to move forward; with the expectation to follow-up in the next 1-on-1
- Ask, “What was your biggest takeaway from today’s meeting”
- Be sure to email the points of the 1-on-1 to protect yourself, the organization, and your leadership.
The “Mesh Goal” portion of the 1-on-1 Meetings is a perfect place to ask, “What’s on your list?” or “What does your list of tasks look like currently”. You may be surprised by what you hear! A super long list, a not-enough list, a list that clearly isn’t utilizing their superpower, A list that has everyone else’s tasks on it, etc. What a wonderful opportunity to learn more and team up with your employees to enhance the team, your leadership, and their work/life harmony; addressing individual concerns, team issues, and focusing on solutions rather than burn-out, grouches, and fires!
What If You’re the Employee
As an employee or team member, you have a list… a list of your job duties to get done, extras asked of you by your boss, favors requested by co-workers, etc. Please remember you have options and leadership is a two-way street!
You have the option to suffer in silence; taking on more and more responsibilities until you burn-out. You have the option of not assuming enough responsibility until you bore-out. Most employees in either situation begin to gripe to other co-workers, significant others, friends, and eventually anyone who will listen about their work issues, their boss, and co-workers. This venting makes sense in the moment; however, what you think about all day impacts how you feel, then how you behave, then your actions, and finally your consequences. It’s hard to think and talk negatively about your job every day and love it! So, what to do?
You’re stressed and have taken on too much! Request time to speak with your boss 1-on-1; perhaps scheduling a time to be respectful of their daily list.
Share your list of tasks and your idea of what the top 1-3 priorities are and your plan to address them. Ask what your boss likes about your idea and what they would fine-tune. This not only shares your list with your boss; it also shows your leadership and initiative to problem solve and still ask for guidance. You’ve also accompanied your problem with a suggested solution. Remember, your boss may be unaware of how long your list really is… and it may also show just how valuable you really are!
Another option is to request time with your boss to ask for help prioritizing your list. Share your list and ask for clarification on the “Bigger-Picture” to better organize your list. Too often, employees prioritize tasks based on who gave them the task. The CEO may give a task that’s not relevant for six months; while a co-worker requested a task that helps to make next week’s deadline. The CEO has the title, but not making the deadline costs the company their best client. Requesting the “Bigger-Picture” not only helps you prioritize; it forces your leaders to lead!
The last option, you can continue complaining to whoever will listen and venting inappropriately at work becoming a Negative Nick or Nancy; droning about your job for decades or soon to be out of a job with no positive Letter of Recommendation to help you move forward. Many have done it and I don’t think many would recommend it in retrospect!
You are droning about at your job and believe can do more and are ready to be more! Request time with your boss 1-on-1; perhaps scheduling a time being respectful of their daily list. Share your passion to be of more value to the company/team, “Thank You for making time to meet with me. I wanted to say I enjoy working here and would like to be of more value. I have an idea that may help and would like to know what you like about it or your ideas of how I can do more.” Feel free to make this statement your own, but be sure to thank them for their time, be sure to have done the tasks you are actually paid to do, and be open to brainstorming. Be mindful, what you may want to do may not be what the organization/team needs most right now.
When you have a specific idea of what you’d like to do for the organization/team, share it out of a willingness to add value; not putting down other people, bosses, or departments. If you don’t have an exact idea, express an interest to learn more about various aspects of the organization and ask for more ways to be involved. The best-case scenario is… you get what you asked for! You and your boss may collaborate on an idea. Or, your idea may be rejected. This doesn’t mean they are rejecting you as a person… rather your idea for a possible assortment of reasons! Perhaps your idea doesn’t fit into their current goal or their bigger-picture, the organization is strict in policies, rigid in thinking, struggles to think outside of the box, or your boss is an abusive jerk. Either way, you will eventually know what type of organization you work for and will have a choice to stay or read the writing and begin looking elsewhere. If you choose to stay, it makes no sense to be angry about what you know to be true about the organization. If you choose to leave, it makes no sense to be angry about something you’re leaving!
Here’s a final tip for all employees… you add value by relieving pain! Know where the organization/team is falling short, know your superpower, and how that superpower can best add value to help the issue. Propose your solution and a win-win… what’s the win for them, what’s the win for you, and how soon can it begin? “A Win” for the organization is one less problem to address and increased productivity. Perhaps “A Win” for you is experience to put on your resume, knowing more about the organization, learning a desirable skill, a raise, a promotion, a new title, ect. A friend once told me, “When you raise you value higher than your customer’s stack of money, you’ll always be ok!”. I’ve never forgotten that and it true as an employee, leader, or entrepreneur. Offer a win, share the win for you, agree on a plan, and enjoy the journey!
“One of the biggest mistakes made by the even noblest of leaders is not knowing the lists of their people.” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements, Evolve & Lead Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual), and1-on-1 Growth Sessions! www.youevolvingnow.com