Every email you get in your inbox seems to be flagged with that little red exclamation mark these days: “HIGH IMPORTANCE”.
Once you see that notification pop up in your Outlook, you immediately take a look at it…only to find that’s it’s really not that important. Of course, what we think is important is all relative. What seems important to someone else might not be to you. However, just because it isn’t urgent to you doesn’t make it any less stressful. You’re being pulled in all different directions and being told that everything thrown on your plate is urgent. How do you manage?
It’s difficult to find a balance between your priorities and the priorities of the people you work with. Since what you do affects other people’s work, it’s important to manage according to other people’s needs as well. But on the same note, it’s your time and you have to get your work done as well.
Define your sense of urgency
Before you throw yourself in a tailspin, take a deep breath. No, not everything is urgent and just because someone says it is, doesn’t mean that it is – even your boss. Instead of trying to do everything at once, go back to the tried and true method: prioritize. Ask yourself these questions:
- How many people does this task affect?
- It is holding up anyone’s work?
- Does it affect the bottom line?
- When is the “drop dead” deadline?
When you consider the answers to all these questions, you may come to find that something isn’t really as urgent as someone makes it out to be.
Keep your calm
Whatever you are doing, always remember to keep your calm. After all, you are only one person. You can only do so much. Try your best and do as much as you can. When you have a lot of things thrown in your direction, it can certainly get stressful. But stressing out will only make things more difficult.
Lastly, remember to set expectations. If you can get something done immediately, great. But if not, let others know. Chances are you both can work something out to make everyone happy.
Sometimes, it’s hard enough to motivate yourself. So what if you need to motivate a team?
If you’re a people manager and have a team to develop, learning to motivate them effectively can be challenging. Even though your goals are the same, everyone’s approach is different. As a leader, you have to somehow find a cohesive strategy to guiding your team in the right direction, without leaving anyone behind. Motivating other people is very different from motivating yourself. When it comes to you, you know exactly what you need to do and what you need to improve on. When its come to others, it’s much more challenging simply because you can’t get into their head. Everyone works differently and as a manager, it’s your job to figure that out to the best of your ability.
If you are managing a team, here are 4 tips to motivating them and in turn maximizing your productivity:
Remember to give credit and recognition.
There is the common misconception that employees are motivated solely by money. While that is true to a certain extent, employees are driven by much more than just the dollar. Yes, a job is a job but at the same time, you spend over 40 hours a week doing it. Employees like to feel like they are making a difference and that their work is valued. That’s why it’s so important to publicly give credit and recognition when it is deserved.
Ask what you can do for them.
Employees always expect their managers to ask something of them. While your team supports you, it should be a two way relationship. How can you support your team? Ask your employees routinely how you can make their jobs easier and more efficient. You’d be surprised how much you can affect their motivation and productivity just by changing a few things here and there. Also think about the long term and understand each employee’s goals. Invest time in your employees and you will get a lot back.
Keep an open door policy.
If your office door is shut all the time or if you hardly ever answer your phone, you are doing something wrong. When it comes to your employees, you need to make sure that you are available to help. That doesn’t mean you need to be on call 24/7. But at least provide help when help is needed.
Have a little fun.
Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Get to know the people you work with outside of work. Many employers don’t put any significance on company culture but it truly makes an impact. Afterall, a happier workplace makes for happier employees.
You’re always told to think outside of the box. Easier said than done. Being able to think creatively and problem solve isn’t something that’s taught in school. While those skills come naturally to some, for most people, they are skills that are honed and perfected through constant trial and error. Being a creative thinker can help you in many ways, particularly as an entrepreneur. It allows you to think of ways to give yourself a competitive edge, while operating the most efficiently and productively.
If you believe that you’re not a creative thinker, you’re wrong. Everyone is. With a little practice, thinking outside of the box will become second nature.
Here are 4 ways you can become a better creative thinker:
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone.
A lot of people don’t think creatively because they don’t give themselves the opportunity to. Instead of sticking to what you already know, step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. When you challenge yourself, you also challenge your mind. Putting yourself in new situations will force you to think differently.
Create The Right Environment.
Sometimes, we don’t think to our full potential because of the environment we’re in. If you have a lot of distractions all around you, you’re not going to be able to come up with big ideas. Create an environment that is conducive to creativity. Remove clutter and anything else that might distract you. Surround yourself with things that make you happy and help you think.
Meet New People.
You’ve probably met at least one person in your life that has made you change the way you think. You need more of those people. While you might not necessarily agree with every single person, meeting and understanding new people will help you look at situations from other perspectives. Sometimes, you’re so focused on your own way of thinking that you might not realize that another method is better.
Forget About The Money.
Often times, what holds us back from trying to make a crazy idea come true is money. So to get started, forget about the money. Think big. Come up with the best and craziest idea possible. You might not be able to fund it but from there, you can tailor and tweak it. Don’t limit your creativity just because you don’t think it’s realistic.
As an entrepreneur or a small business owner, there comes a time when you need help. Finding and attracting the right talent can be difficult for any business — especially for a small business. How do you compete with the ‘big guys’? While it may seem impossible to build a team when you don’t have a lot of offer yet, it’s not. That’s because talent, especially the great kind, values more than just compensation or benefits.
Great talent puts an emphasis on passion for the job, which I’m sure most entrepreneurs can relate to. After all, that’s the reason why you took the leap.
If you’re a small business owner trying to expand your team, here are a few tips on how to attract great talent to your business:
Create an attractive culture.
One of the great things about small businesses or start-ups is the culture. Unlike big companies that are political in nature, small businesses can actually be fun to work for. There’s no giant employee handbook to memorize or red tape to get through. Rather, small businesses can create a culture that is inviting and fosters creativity. Show potential employees that they’re not just another head sitting in a cubicle. They’ll have the opportunity to work closely with and learn from people who are just as talented as they are. In other words, create a culture that great talent wants to be a part of.
Give what them a 9-to-5 can’t.
Sure, there may be some long hours when working for a small business. But at least you can provide employees with the flexibility of creating their own schedule. As an employee, there’s nothing worse than sitting at a desk, counting down the minutes until 5 o’clock. Allowing employees to dictate their own hours shows them that you value them for their work, not their time.
Share your passion.
For larger companies, it’s hard to really inspire the workforce. However, as an entrepreneur and a small business owner, you have the ability to do that. Since you will be working much more closely with your team, share your passion with them. Obviously, your business is your passion and the realization of your business is a dream come true. So make them believe in what you believe in. Show potential employees that they’ll be part of something big. They’re not just another name on a payroll. Rather, they will given the opportunity to challenge themselves and make an impact.
Why should you network? That’s a question many entrepreneurs ask. The better question is: why shouldn’t you network? While hard work is important to career advancement, networking is just as important. That especially holds true for entrepreneurs.
For anyone trying to advance in their career or start their own business, getting to know the right people can be the difference between success and failure. Sometimes, it’s not about what you know, but who the know. The larger your network is, the more opportunities you can come across. No matter what you’ve already achieved, networking never stops. Here’s why:
Your business is constantly evolving and so should your network.
No matter what your job or career is, the industry that you work in is always evolving, growing, and changing. That means the people you knew yesterday are not necessarily the people you need to know today. You want to make sure you are mingling with the top influencers and ‘movers and shakers’ in your field, which means you have to continuously network to keep yourself up to speed and in the mix.
You never know who you might meet.
You should always put yourself out there and network because you never know who you might meet. Surprisingly, you might meet the person who can take your career to the next level and inspire you to do greater things when you least expect it. Or you might meet the person who shapes your career path down the road. It’s difficult to predict where you will be 5 or 10 years down the road so it’s important to start building relationships today. Network with anyone that you can, even with people whose work doesn’t directly correlate to your field. Opportunities can be found in many different places, it’s up to you to find them.
You might just learn something new.
Yes, part of the reason why we network is to get to know the right people so that we can get our foot in the door. But another, more important, reason why we should network is to learn something new. Especially for people who are just starting out, you don’t know everything. The best way to learn how to do something is to learn from first hand experience. Networking allows you to meet all kind of professionals and learn about business from their perspective. Whether or not you choose to go down the same path is up to you but you’ll be a lot more wiser just by having a conversation with someone new.