Make Today Your Own

Every day is unique. Although we can’t control everything that affects our day, we can impact how we approach it. Here are the three perspectives that drive me each day.

1. There is always more to do than time allows. We do not have unlimited time, so we must make the best of the minutes and hours we are given.

2. There is always some time needed to disconnect and recharge. I have a habit of disconnecting on the weekend. I stay away from work email, and I rarely do any type of work on Sunday. For me, it makes a big difference in my effectiveness throughout the week. I have had periods in my life where I worked non-stop, day after day. Recharging helps us keep perspective. If you continually work tactical actions, you will potentially lose sight of strategy.

3. Being effective with your time is also work. We like to think we are efficient. But I have found that if we rely on systems and our own tricks to be more productive, then possibly we become stuck in a routine that is temporarily effective. If we pause to evaluate all the resources we have available and adjust to take full advantage of an ever changing environment, we have the ability to become more effective.

These are three perspectives that help me stay positive and engaged every day. What attitudes help you stay at the top of your game?

Do You Struggle Working for Your Boss?

We have all probably worked for good bosses and bad bosses. Working for a good boss is easy, while working for a bad boss makes each day a struggle. How can you improve your environment if you find yourself in this situation? I recommend reflecting on these key points.

1. What does my boss need from me? First off, he or she needs you to complete your assigned tasks on time and manage your assigned responsibilities. Beyond that, he or she is normally looking for loyalty, openness, tolerance, and focus. These are traits that a boss typically doesn’t ask for directly, but will appreciate when employees embrace.

2. What do I need from my boss? The basics are clear communication and guidance on assigned tasks. If we receive the basics, we are more productive when we receive support and feedback. This take more time on your boss’s agenda, so you may have to take the initiative. Schedule weekly time to get feedback, and ask for the support you need. Your boss may want to provide it, but may never allocate his time.

If you are struggling, reflect on the difference experiences you have had with different bosses. In your current role, what is missing? What is in your control to change? What action will help today?

Does Your Team Have an Edge?

John Maxwell has said, “The difference between two equally talented teams is leadership.” Does your team leadership provide the edge your team needs? A successful team needs to put in the work, and it also needs talent and tools. But without leadership, its achievements are limited.

What does great leadership look like for a team? Leaders help develop the talents their team possesses. Leaders enable quick learning, and effectively utilizes knowledge from both wins and losses. Team members are empowered, and develop a sense of responsibility for the results.

I have been on teams where I have had to provide the leadership foundation. I have also been on teams that struggled with a lack of leadership. But what I find interesting is that as a member of a great team, you sometimes don’t recognize fully the contribution of the leader. Leadership in some environments can be subtle, but yet required.

Leadership is simply the ability to influence the outcome. Learn to build positive influence in all types of environments and you will give your team an edge.

If you are the leader of a team, are you providing the right environment to give your team the edge? What will you do differently starting this week to advance your team?

Strategy or Tactic?

Is it possible to confuse strategy and tactics? Yes! I have encountered it numerous times in my career. Both strategy and tactics lead to the achievement of a goal, but they are different. Let’s look at an example.

Strategy: Become a world class manufacturing facility through reducing waste and developing the skills of the workforce.

Tactic: Implement lean tools to achieve the strategy.

Tactics need to shift to fit the situation, but the strategy is the overriding guide. On the surface this appears simple, but in practice is sometimes overlooked. In lean manufacturing, some groups may be so enamored with learning a lean tool that they believe implementation of the tool is the strategy. In some cases, they may even believe copying the tool exactly as they learned it is the only solution.

The lesson I learned from my Toyota trainer is that we should never copy a tool. We must first think, then learn, then implement a solution that fits our situation. Never copy without understanding. His favorite question was, “What is the purpose?”

Tactics change and shift depending on many factors. Strategy should be an anchor for the team. A vision that will keep people linked to a goal as they face their daily challenges.

Where have you become too attached to a tactic and need to revisit your strategy? Is your strategy driving your tactics or the reverse?