What ambitious entrepreneur doesn't want to improve his or her performance? Just like athletes, most driven business owners want nothing more than to bring their A-game to work. However, performance is like health: We often don't pay attention to it until there is a problem. More often than not, we cruise on autopilot and assume great performance will come from just getting the work done.
The problem with this assumption is that performance is no different than most things in business--it requires its own space on the to-do list. If it's analyzed the way broader business goals are, it improves, and day-to-day performance becomes something you can control.
Take Steve, a client of mine who is running his own fast-growing business. Steve will double his head count from 15 to 30 within the next year. He is extremely busy and doing whatever he can to keep the business moving forward. However, Steve has approached his performance by just doing what needs to be done. As a result, he's lost some of his hunger and excitement for his job. What's confusing is that he built the business--he loves the work--so why has his passion waned?
When consulting with Steve, what became clear to me was that he was doing work misaligned with his talent. His talent, which was solving client problems via heavy data analysis and creative solutions, is the company's superpower. However, he was spending more than half of his time doing sales, which was not something that energized him. His energy was being sapped from doing work he didn't enjoy.
The problem is that Steve felt he had to be doing sales. What he needed was a strategic plan to find the right salesperson whom he could trust, and then to reallocate his energy to the work that excited him--in the long run, proving most successful for the company.
Steve is a great example of what I see in countless entrepreneurs who are busy trying to succeed at the expense of their own performance--and ultimately, their company's. With that in mind, here are three secrets to rethinking your own performance, even under the stressful conditions of building and running a thriving business:
1. Understand that your talent matters.
As the leader, you may feel that you are best suited to run all parts of the business, because you have the most skin in the game. The reality is that if those tasks are not aligned with your talent, they will be more exhausting for you and will reduce your energy and increase your stress. Those are performance killers. Find someone to support you in managing the tasks that are not energizing for you.
2. Hire people who are purpose-driven.
One of the reasons entrepreneurs feel they have to do everything is they started the business and are the most passionate about its success. You need to hire people who are as purpose-driven as you are about the company's goals. Make sure you have a mission statement and that it has a personal connection to anyone you hire. That way you are hiring people that are as motivated to succeed as you are.
3. Be conscious of where your time is spent.
Most entrepreneurs perform on autopilot. Instead, spend 10 minutes every week looking at how you spent your time, how exciting the work was, and where your moments of boredom were. Ask yourself these questions--How excited are you? What is your biggest challenge? Are you bored?--and you will start learning how to manage your work to maximize your ability to bring that A-game.
Running a company is no different than playing in the big leagues. Athletes have coaches and constantly assess their performance. Entrepreneurs can benefit from doing the same thing. As the boss, you have more control over where you allocate your energy and time--make sure you're doing the things that take you and your business to the next level.