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Research Triangle Business Advisors

June 2016 Newsletter


Many executives and managers, even CEOs and business owners wait for the yearly performance evaluation to identify areas they need to improve. However, we should be considering changes on our own – before we are told.  Consider holding yourself accountable, improving your skills, setting goals and regularly testing your progress toward achieving those goals. This month I will share ways you can improve your effectiveness toward achieving your personal goals.



  Bob De Contreras





Ways to Improve Your Effectiveness

What follows are 20 actions you can take to improve your control, enhance your performance, and achieve your personal goals.                  

1) Avoid Distractions - Focus

Focus is a fundamental quality of productive people. Our brains are wired to work best when we focus on a single task. Stay focused and strive to complete one task before starting another.

2) Understand Your Manager’s Responsibilities

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes. Think about the big picture from their perspective and also look at goals from their perspective. One of the most effective strategies is to empathize and discover what they personally need from you. That’s not business needs, it’s personal needs. Ask questions, “What are you looking for from me?” or “what do you need from me to help you be personally successful?” 

3) Ask Questions to Become More Effective

Constantly challenge yourself by asking, “Is there a more effective way to achieve the same results?” Brainstorm to determine if you are working as efficiently as possible. Work with peers and your team to find better ways. Always believe that things can be improved.

4) Recognize and Support Your Team and Peers

Help others excel, express gratitude, and give credit where credit is due. You’ll be surprised how much encouragement and motivation a simple, “Great job!” or “Thanks” provides. By doing this, your team is bound to grow and achieve more together.

5) Organize & Prioritize

Start each day by deciding the top three things you need to focus on that day to achieve your goals. These three things might be different every day. Identify the top three projects that need to be completed – give them your attention. Ensure your to-do’s are manageable, add value, and benefit your firm. Make lists, so you don’t forget anything.

6) Minimize Multitasking

The constant interruptions drive many managers crazy. Then these interruptions add to the work the managers are already doing on multiple projects. It’s no wonder why we don’t complete things on-time or constantly have to reschedule. Now add to that, answering phone calls, responding to email, and team members or peers showing-up in your doorway. The reality is that the quality of your work is compromised. Multitasking simply slows you down, increases stress levels, and causes mistakes. The ability to multitask is a good thing; to work in multitasking mode all day is a bad thing. Find ways to do unitasking (one thing at a time) instead.

7) Manage Interruptions

For the team members or peers who show-up in your doorway, here’s a trick to manage the interruptions. Keep a stack of post-it-notes or index cards nearby. On the top of each one, write down a person’s name that may interrupt you during the day. Then when something comes up that you need to talk to a person about, simply jot it down on their list. The next time they stop in and ask, “Do you have a minute?” say yes, and also talk about the things you’ve jotted down on your list for them. This way, rather than being interrupted three times a day by one person, you can cut it down to one interruption and cover three topics. 

Alternatively, schedule a slot of time each day for interruptions.  Publish the time and let the team and peers know when you are available for discussions.

8) Listen – Especially When You Ask Questions

Listening is vital to effective communication. Many managers don’t listen well and then make assumptions about what was said.  Sadly, the assumptions are usually not correct. While the other person is talking, don’t be thinking about your next question or be analyzing what they are saying. Because, while you do that they are talking and you are not listening. Fully present listening skills lead to increased productivity with fewer mistakes, innovative growth, and higher client satisfaction rates.

9) Update Goals Regularly

Strive to be in alignment with your manager’s goals at all times. Ask questions if you are not 100 percent sure of your responsibilities. Schedule time quarterly to re-evaluate manager and firm goals, how your responsibilities fulfill those goals, and how you can better partner with your manager and team members to reach each goal.

10) Beware of Blind Spots

Blind spots are areas we are unaware of about ourselves and may cause good intentions to be perceived in a negative way. Blind spots can hold you back and prevent professional development. To identify blind spots you must be willing to look at yourself honestly, ask others for feedback, and be willing to make changes. Reach out to your peers and ask how you are perceived; you may discover behaviors that hinder your influence as well as strengths you’re not aware of. View feedback as an asset rather than a judgement; which will allow you to make adjustments to align your reputation with who you want it to be.

11) Meet or Exceed Your Goals

Most of us can answer the question, “What have you accomplished?” The question we should be able to answer (but usually don’t) is, “What goals did you accomplish and which did you not accomplish?”  What you didn’t accomplish is actually more important than what you did accomplish.  Understanding what we didn’t accomplish is how we learn where we can improve and in the process help your team and the firm do better.

12) Celebrate Milestone Completion Success

The road to completing a big project may seem overwhelming. Don’t let that stop you from taking time to celebrate interim achievement. Break large projects into blocks of sub-tasks and set individual success metrics to keep your team’s morale and energy levels high. Record team progress, reward the team, and redirect team actions as required to meet milestones.

13) Practice Integrity

Avoid self-promotion and taking credit for the work of others. Encourage team members, give them public credit for their accomplishments and hold a high level of respect for their unique skills and contributions to success. Talk to team members about their mistakes or shortcomings in private discussions. Speak only the truth.

14) Get a Mentor/Be a Mentor

Enhance your skills with a mentor. A mentor can offer new insight, perspective, and wisdom. Working with a mentor will stretch your thinking and supply you with a stream of self-development ideas related to your unique skills and talent. Don’t forget that you can gain experience by mentoring someone else and facilitate your own professional growth which will position you as an asset to your firm.

15) Research – Make a Plan

Take time to research. Don’t take the time of other team members or peers. Do your homework before taking on a new task. Consider the impact on other existing and potential projects/tasks. Use your research to be better prepared to present strategies and alternatives to reach each goal.

16) Think About Your Career

Don’t forget to think about your personal goals.  Where do you see yourself in 1 year, 5 years, or even 10 years? What will be the same? What will be different? Make a simple map of your path to your future.  Update the map often – at a minimum every time there is a course correction in your career plan.

17) Simplify Something

Often we do things because “that’s the way we’ve always done it” even if it’s complicated or messy. Find something each week to simplify or automate a difficult system or process, daily tasks, or email. Your efficiency will increase by keeping things simple.

 18) Know Your Competition

Know and observe your competition. Identify what they’re doing right and use it as a learning opportunity to implement something in your team or at your firm. Competition exists outside (industry competition) your firm and inside (your peers) your firm.

 19) Read Articles Regularly

Read at least one personal development or industry related article each day. Start a journal to record your notes, identify what you learned, and determine how you can apply your findings personally or in the workplace. Share your information with others, which will help you improve your learning.

20) Get Yourself “Down-Time”

Personal time is an important ingredient to professional development. Without it, stress and burn out levels increase, productivity declines and we make more mistakes. Schedule time on your work calendar to be away from the office for hobbies (wood working, golf), reading, relaxation and re-energizing. Maintain a healthy work-life balance.

21) Be Passionate – The String Tying 1 – 20 Together

Passion is one of the most important drivers of success. If you don’t love what you do, it’s difficult to put your best effort forward and perform to the best of your ability. Ensure your values are reflected and respected in your personal and professional life so that you see true meaning in all that you do. Have the highest level of integrity and enjoy your work.


Cary | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | Greensboro | North Carolina
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