Tag Archives: objectives

Managing Myself: Productivity v. Learning

Design Mascot Computer SalesI’ve always been an advocate of measuring productivity. When I worked in the corporate world, I ordered my days to meet the objectives my boss set for me. I influenced the setting of my objectives, but once we had agreement, I worked toward achieving them.

Now that I am self-employed, I still keep track of my activities each week and set goals for the year and for the week ahead. I break large projects up into phases and manageable pieces. I try to balance work on immediate tasks and the next steps in long-term projects.

I chafe when other people interfere with my plans to work productively. It’s easy to let family and friends and co-workers order my days for me. Their goals are not my goals, and when our goals conflict (as they inevitably will), one or both of us must compromise. If I don’t keep a laser eye on my own plans, if I don’t build in flexibility to address the necessary give-and-take of life, then I will not accomplish what I want. So I try to be flexible, yet focused.

Given my desire for productivity, I was intrigued to see an article in Inc.com a couple weeks ago by Michael Simmons of Empact titled “Average People Are Productive, Successful People Are Learners.” Because, of course, I consider myself successful, not average.

According to the article, learning is the ultimate productivity.

“The paradigm we should all consider for productivity is learning. As opposed to productivity hacks—as I said, there’s only so much in your day you can optimize—learning is an exponential process with no cap. What do I mean by this? The results of learning are twofold: better decisions and breakthrough ideas. This can give results that are 1,000x better, not just 2x better.”

What does it take to be a learner? Mr. Simmons’s article stresses the importance of reading. He suggests spending seven hours a week (one hour a day) reading—which translates, he says, to about a book every week.

That’s a good goal. I can measure that. I can build it into my personal objectives.

I do read. Mostly, I read for enjoyment, but I also read a lot of professional books and periodicals and online newsletters on human resources, dispute resolution, legal topics, business strategy, and the craft of writing. I probably spend close to an hour a day on these professional development activities every day, though I haven’t measured it daily.

Based on Mr. Simmons’s recommendation, I will try to be more mindful of how I read to learn. I will think about what I want to learn and focus more of my reading on these topics.

And I will seek out and measure other opportunities to learn—people with whom I can discuss topics I want to know more about, places I can go to see and hear and touch new experiences. In short, I will invest in myself and plan that investment into my productivity goals.

What do you do to be a learner?


Filed under Leadership, Management, Philosophy

Assess Yourself as a Manager As You Assess Your Employees

MP900341467I’ve written previous posts on performance management. For example, this post on setting performance objectives for the year. Did you follow my advice?

If so, you should be in decent shape for writing your performance reviews now.

I’ve also written about how important performance management is to an organization’s success, and how poorly managers do it. So, assess your own performance as a manager at the same time you assess your employees.

  • Have you worked to improve as a manager?
  • What techniques and tools have worked for you?
  • What do you still have trouble with?

If you still have room for improvement (and which of us does not?), there’s another year ahead of us. Perhaps in 2014, you can

That way, you will retain your good employees, and your organization will be more productive.

Best wishes for a successful 2014!

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Filed under Employee Engagement, Human Resources, Management, Workplace

‘Tis the Season for Setting Performance Objectives

Daily OrganizerMany organizations require annual performance reviews either in December or January. These reviews are both a look back at employees performance during the past year and an opportunity to set goals for the year to come.

Too Late for 2012

If you are like most managers and employees, you’ve only given a little thought to those objectives set for 2012. Maybe you had a mid-year review, but probably not much more discussion than that through the course of the year.

What do you do now? I can’t offer much advice to fix the past. Go look at your email and hard-copy files, and see if you can piece together what you and your staff accomplished in 2012. Write it up as best you can.

Take Accountability in 2013

How do you do better in 2013? I can offer some advice here.

I’m out of the corporate world now, but as an independent consultant I find myself setting and tracking goals more now than when I had a boss and a staff. Why? Because it’s all up to me.

So my advice is that in 2013, you act as if your performance is all up to you. Because it is.

          1.       Set your own objectives

Offer your own goals, rather than wait for your boss to set them for you. Then negotiate, till you both agree what is reasonable to accomplish through the year.

If you can’t agree, then suggest that the goals should be discussed and revised quarterly. This is a good idea, even if you and your boss are on the same page regarding what needs to be done.

Do the same thing with your staff – set dates or project milestones for reviewing objectives. None of us can see a whole year ahead.

          2.       Review your objectives regularly

Then review your objectives regularly through the year. This is critical.

I’ve used several methods of reminding myself to review my objectives, depending on their scope and specificity.

When I worked in the corporate world, I put a repeating to-do item on my schedule for each objective – a reminder every week or two to ask myself what I’ve done on that objective and what I need to do in the next week or two. That insures that I at least think about each project regularly.

I also kept to-do items for “things to discuss with my boss” and “things to discuss with each staff member.” That way, I stayed prepared for staff meetings and could keep those meetings focused on objectives.

Since I’ve become self-employed, I have the opportunity to keep a journal every day. Every two weeks I do a re-cap of what I’ve accomplished during those two weeks and set goals for the following two weeks. Quarterly, I do a major re-cap, and re-assess my annual goals.

Develop a system that works for you.  Don’t let performance review season be something you dread. Take charge of your own performance.

What systems have you used to take accountability for your performance?


Filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management, Workplace