I think about time a lot. It’s the one thing that is truly in limited supply. No matter who we are or what we do, we each have 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. Is there enough time to do everything I need and want to do in the 525,600 minutes I have in a given year? There’s always more to experience in this great world around us. As I look at my goals — both personal and professional — my underlying thought is, “How do I make the most of my time to accomplish what I need or want to do?” We aren’t talking solely about inactivity. It’s the reclaiming of time spent on activities that feel as though they may move us to an accomplishment. It is the excessive talking, lamenting, contemplating, over-planning and over-assessing that keeps us from actually getting things done.
Time Killer: Focusing on Low Performers
Low performers take your time by trying to justify their existence. Instead of a meaningful exchange that adds to the leader’s team investment, naysayers/low performers change the conversation because they know they are under-performing. Discussions take longer dealing with past behaviors that have become trends. Instead of focusing on solutions that advance success, time is wasted by talking in circles. When a backward slide turns into an everyday reality, leaders need to reclaim the chance to accomplish goals and focus attention away from that employee.
Reclaiming Time: Focusing on Top Performers
Leaders regain time spent on top performers. While it may seem like top performers need less of your time, I tend to do the opposite because the value gained is much greater. I’d say 90 percent of my coaching is because they request it. Why? Top performers seek to get better every day and quickly identify a challenge for which they need assistance and feedback. The other 10 percent comes from my observation of things on which they can improve. When I share my insight, I often see immediate results that benefit the entire team and company.
Time Killer: Focusing on Minutiae
Quieting the loudness of the dozens of pieces of minutiae that infiltrate our day is a constant struggle. As our to-do lists grow, the opportunity to lose sight of our core goals exponentially grows. All the little tasks can drain precious time. There are always going to be people who you answer to and tasks that must be completed in support of a larger goal at hand. Everyone should have the same two goals in dealerships with a customer-centric culture: meeting the needs of the customer and growing the dealership. If you maintain the focus on the core items for which your performance will be judged, then your team will flourish.
Reclaiming Time: Prioritize
As simplistic as prioritizing the minutiae sounds, it can be challenging and stressful. Deciding what activities are relevant to your overall goal can help prioritize where your energies need to be every day. Strong leaders consistently reinforce goals that need to be met and how to meet them. I spend 10 minutes every morning creating my list for the day, then another 10 minutes in the evening to reevaluate the same list and look ahead to the next day.
Time Killer: Waiting for the Perfect Tool
Identifying software your team and dealership needs in order to fulfill goals is key. However, waiting for perfection can be a hindrance in trying to achieve the very goals you, as a leader, have set forth. Think about the time spent gathering intel, sitting in demos and assessing the workflow of your dealership. The same study in finding just the right tool can also be a burden to getting things done and moving forward. A great vendor partner will listen to your needs and either find a way to customize a solution for your dealership processes or help create a workflow that will keep your team moving forward in the interim. As your needs and goals evolve or the market changes, your technology should as well.
Reclaiming Time: Review Data, But Don’t Let it Consume You
Don’t fall into the trap of fixating on the reporting and data so much that you lose sight of the actions, or lack thereof, by your team. I like to call it “paralysis by analysis.” We can get so paralyzed scrutinizing the barrage of numbers offered that we forget the one thing that makes those numbers successful — action. It starts with measuring the activities that lead to your goals, which are dependent on the current business climate and assessing the effectiveness of an internal strategy or initiative to help in decision-making. A key point in leadership is always keeping sight of the long-term picture. Shift the amount of time you spend parsing data from 20 different sources and only monitor a handful of reports that specifically target your dealership’s goals and the keys to success for your team.
Reclaiming time for you is a must. While it may feel selfish, prioritizing your time allows you to be a better leader for the people who seek your guidance and direction. Setting boundaries for yourself helps protect the goal of moving your team forward to benefit customers and the business.
Compartmentalizing your energy takes discipline, but once mastered reclaiming your time provides clarity to help you make the changes necessary to produce the boundless results. For more information on other helpful business tips, contact me at the address above.