Over the last 25 years I have helped thousands of business owners grow and scale their companies. And one of the biggest deciding factors on the rate of growth has to do with a business owners (and their staff) ability to focus on the bigger picture tasks that create the most value for the company. In the past I have addressed how to create a quarterly action plan and set aside focus days to help this process. But for some business owners, they still struggle with getting all the things on their to-do list accomplished, and they find that their staff may also struggle with similar issues.
And in the majority of cases, it all boils down to a few key factors that are preventing your company from growing and reaching its full potential.
Meetings are for creating value, not playing politics, covering your backside, or simply because "that's how we've always done things." If the meeting doesn't create value, don't hold the meeting. You'll reap an instant savings from the freed-up staff time for them to do other, more valuable work. Meetings are a great place to brainstorm ideas, reach a key decision, gain full buy-in from your staff, or coordinate execution. But if you have too many meetings it can make it difficult for you and your team members to do the high value work in the first place. So, choose your meetings strategically and always go in with a clear cut agenda of items you want to cover during your time together.
2. Not Making Focus Time a Priority
Once a week schedule yourself a recurring weekly appointment for a 3-4 hour block of "Focus Time." We'll call this day your "Focus Day" (even though you're really only blocking off a 3-4 hour block during that one day.) From 8-12 (or whatever time works for you) turn your phone off, shut down your email program, and focus on just one or two high value activities that will make the most difference in your company. And make your focus time a priority. Don't schedule meetings, phone calls or other tasks during this time.
And once you have the hang of it, encourage your employees to do the same. I have a print out of my team members chosen focus times, and I make it a priority to not call, email or schedule meetings during that time to give them the opportunity to really focus and do their best work.
3. Not Being Clear on Deadlines and Deliverables
This last item is one that goes hand and hand with a well thought out action plan. If done correctly your team should start each quarter with a clear cut idea of what they need to focus on for the quarter and when certain milestones should be met. But if you fail to nail down this criteria it can lead to confusion and decrease in productivity.
Let's say that in the coming quarter, you want to redesign your onboarding process for new clients. That's a great focus area, but it's not enough to say, "We'd like to have the new process developed by the end of the quarter." That's too vague. And your team members will either end up not meeting your expectations or will end up scrambling to finish phantom deliverables at the last minute because they weren't prepared. So the best way to get everyone on the same page is be clear on deadline beforehand so that everyone can focus on reaching the end goal.