Personal effectiveness, often disguised as time management, appears to be a growing challenge for managers. So much to do and so little time to do it! It is easy to focus all of your attention on others but there are significant gains to be made by being more personally effective.
To be realistic, your own personal effectiveness is a key contributor in terms of what you achieve as a sales manager or leader. The demands on managers and leaders to do more with less is common and in many ways the norm. Yet by taking some simple steps, you can improve your productivity and personal effectiveness dramatically.
What actions can you take to improve your personal effectiveness?
Just like you are expected to ask of/set objectives for your reps, you need to set specific and enhanced ones for yourself, as your supervisors often only set broad objectives. Without SMART objectives, and associated timeline/plan of action, you won’t be able to know your progress. This applies to daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual time-frames, as well every KPA/KPI.
No one gets to where he is going if he does not know where he is going. Setting objectives gives you much better clarity about all that is needed to succeed.
Effective and consistent supervision
It is a grave error to assume execution of your/corporate decisions, plans, programmers and directives will be done, or done as expected without supervision. Your work ethic is not necessarily at the same level as theirs, as it is found that salesmen these days just want to do the minimum.
Do not forget, if you want it done (or done well), you have to supervise it. Often, the only thing you need to do to track performance is asking questions on progress (versus agreed/reasonable timeline), cost, direction, obstacles, etc.
Setting priorities and organising your time
One of the most common complaints you hear these days is that there is not enough time or that time is scarce. Truth is, there is the same amount of time today as there always was. And some would argue that with advances in technology many manual tasks can now be automated. To organise your time, you need to understand:
Your key deliverables. When working with clients, I am surprised how often people in management and leadership roles are uncertain what their key deliverables or results areas are. If this applies to you, make a point of finding out.
Where you spend your time. While it is a bind at times, it is really easy to see where your time is being spent and whether you are focusing on key deliverables.
Have a note-taking material with you always
As much as we do not like to admit, our brain is not as reliable as we want it to. There are too many useful, critical or important facts, data and information (that are usually unrelated) the sales supervisors need to keep. The sure way is to always take notes during any meeting/discussion, whether formal or not.
When you create the habit of taking notes, the bonuses are that you make people (especially customers) feel important. It also gives you some moral and psychological advantage in case of dispute when the other party realises that you were taking note at your meeting!
To do or not to do
Develop the habit of having a “to-do” list. As simple as it seems, a to-do list can add real value to getting things done, provided it is used in the correct way. It is also a useful compass to restart your day after an unplanned meeting, activity or distraction.
A to-do list for each day should be prepared the previous evening before heading for home, looking at what needs or remains to be done. You don’t want to waste precious energy doing low energy tasks at your peak-energy period. To-do list activities should be categorised into four headings:
Urgent and important
Urgent but not important
Not urgent but important
Not urgent and not important
This will help you to prioritise all tasks. In addition, break larger tasks into smaller chunks for completion by a certain date. For example, rather than writing a “complete report”, break the task into time allocated chunks – for instance, “report: two hours”. Achieve your two hours and then stop. In addition, when planning the previous evening, look at what is scheduled for the day in terms of meetings etc. and plan your activities around these pre-scheduled events.
Learn to say no and work out what only you can do
We all have finite time and energy, which limits what we can do effectively. Accepting more and more responsibility will affect your effectiveness and the quality of your output. Learn to say no as you get to your limit.
Recently, a manager who had responsibility for the whole south-east and south-south of Nigeria got two additional states to his territory. Not surprisingly, he started to complain of long travelling time and inadequacy of “float”!
In the same vein, there will be a lot of tasks that you are doing and chances are there will be a few that only you can do. This might be because you are the only person with the experience or qualifications. Go through the list of tasks you do and identify those that only you can do.
Start to delegate
Most people love to hold on to tasks. They might be worried that they will lose their job because they don’t have enough to do. They might be frightened to pass on tasks for fear that someone else will not do as good a job or even that they will do a better job. They might be convincing themselves that they don’t have the time to train someone else. But if you want to improve your personal effectiveness, you must start focusing on your key deliverables and start empowering others. After all, that is the reason you are a manager and leader.
The ultimate measure of a leader is their ability to produce leaders. Good delegation saves you time, develops you people, grooms a successor, and motivates. Poor delegation will cause you frustration, demotivates and confuses the other person. Ultimately, it fails to achieve the task or purpose itself.
Tunde Oyeniran, a Sales/Marketing Strategist, Selling/Sales Management Trainer and Personal Sales Coach is the Lead Consultant, Ekini White Tulip Consulting Limited, Lagos. Feedback Channels 080-2960-6103 (SMS/WhatsApp) /firstname.lastname@example.org or check https://fb.me/EkiniWhiteTulipConsulting