Secrets to Success

Deborah Cole Micek

Team leaders need
to take time to work
on big picture

Do you ever find yourself frustrated at the end of the day by the overwhelming amount of work that did not get done?

The list of projects you have gets longer and longer, while the project-completed list seems to shrink. You feel defeated, as though you are being swallowed up in the ocean of things to do. Maybe you're like so many people out there in the sea of things to do, desperately trying to push forward, losing stamina or burning out, feeling as though you're about to be swallowed up by a giant wave.

One of my coaching clients, Ellen, approached me with this challenge a year ago. She was the director of finance for a large bank on the mainland. She supervised 15 loan officers working out of four different banks.

Every day, Ellen would arrive to work at 8:30 a.m. She'd review her task list and begin her day. Like clockwork, she faced the same dilemma. The clock read 11 a.m. before she was able to start the first item on her task list. Working diligently for the next 60 minutes, and it was time for lunch as she realized half of the day was gone.

Why did this consistently occur? Ellen was dealing with the needs of everyone in the corporation before she sat down at her desk.

As you are reading this, you might be thinking, "What's wrong with that? Isn't that her job, to address the needs of her team?"

This is where the dilemma begins, because it is also Ellen's job to manage her time. Her responsibility is to facilitate the needs of the team while accomplishing the goals of the company.

I am not encouraging anyone to ignore team members. But what happens if the director is unable to produce, strategize and develop the action plan to drive the team closer to their vision?

What happens to the vision when the director becomes inundated with the day-to-day priorities instead of rowing forward toward the destination?

Coaching corner

Here are six practical tips Ellen started using that dramatically changed the amount she accomplished over the past year.

1. Start yesterday!

Spend the last 15 minutes of the day to schedule what needs to be accomplished the following day in order to meet your weekly goals. Schedule specific time for each project.

2. Let your team know specific times when you will be available.

Instead of an "open door policy," I recommend an "open schedule policy." This will subtly teach your team to be observant of your time as well as their own.

3. Coach your team to identify urgencies and eliminate unnecessary interruptions.

Everything is NOT an urgent priority. Coach others to understand what is an urgent priority that requires your attention. Empower your team to take care of important tasks so they are not dependent on you.

4. Evaluate where you spend your time in order to save time in the future.

Perhaps you have three appointments scheduled for tomorrow. You don't think you have time to confirm those appointments. But what are the negative consequences if you don't confirm these appointments?

5. Always have a "back-up" schedule:

If your appointments fall through, organize and prioritize what you will do during that time.

6. Stick to the plan.

Unless something comes up that presents a need to change your priorities, stay on task. Have the reputation that you are someone who does what you say you are going to do.

Use these secrets to success that the top achievers use any time you need to manage your priorities effectively.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

John-Paul Micek is a small-business strategist
and chief operating officer at RPM Success Group.
Reach him at
or toll-free at (888) 334-8151.

Deborah Cole Micek, chief executive officer
of RPM Success Group, is a business success coach
and life strategist. Reach her at
or (888) 334-8151.


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