Stockholders, board members, and senior executives ask managers each year to do more with less. Those who become more productive and creative will prevail over their competition. For millions of managers, the challenge to improve efficiency and results is paramount.
Done poorly, efforts to do more with less can result in employee and management burnout, apathy, and dissatisfaction. Workers feel dumped on and manipulated. It does not have to be this way, however. Highly effective managers improve results, efficiency, and satisfaction. How do they do this?
They focus like a laser beam.
The ability to focus gives today’s managers a significant edge over peers who let stacks, people, and projects consume them (anyone seen the movie Brazil?).
What is FOCUS? Here are the elements that go into being focused:
The target is clear and compelling
Activities and thoughts converge on a central theme or goal
Concentrating attention and energy
Spending time optimally for goal attainment – the best possible use of time
Interruptions do not get in the way
Focusing like a laser beam is the highest level of focus. Managers who focus like a laser beam are in the productivity zone, experience flow, and can cut through the mucky muck (my term for corporate stupidness).
One comment on interruptions: I like the way Covey describes types of interruptions in his CD program called Focus. Covey says that interruptions can be classified into three categories:
Necessary and vital – handle these now, solve systemic problems that cause these interruptions where possible
Necessary and untimely – handle these at the right time, say no or not now
Unnecessary and untimely – don’t waste your time on these if you need to focus, say no
Covey and I agree that the ability to “say no,” is a critical management skill that will enable focus and success.
In addition to being focused as an individual, managers can catapult their results by helping teams focus like a laser beam. Here’s how:
Visualize and communicate what focusing like a laser beam means and looks like
Determine where the team focuses well and tackle challenge areas
Create an environment that enables and reinforces focus – applaud people when they say “no!”
Make tough decisions about time and encourage others to do so as well
Create and use tools that help you and your team focus
Take the initiative to improve organizational focus
To win in this difficult business climate, managers need to ensure that their teams and processes are focused — focused like a laser beam — on creating opportunities and delivering results.