If you are piled on with work, it’s likely that you could benefit from more clarity in 3 areas.
1. Not clear about your ‘business model’
You probably know what the ‘outcome’ is that you want, but you may not be clear about the strategies to get there. In other words, the person who is the boss (whether YOU are the boss in your own business or you report to a boss in an organization) is not clear about the business model.
Business owners come to me and say “I want to earn ___ (fill in the blank, let’s say $250K). When I ask, “What is your business model?,” I often get a blank look. If you are not clear about your business model you will ‘throw spaghetti against the wall’, or try to do anything and everything that will bring in revenue or save on costs. Is your model to have 25 high paying clients at $10K each? Or, 100 people paying you for a $2500 service, or 1000 buying a $250 product. Do you have a justification for your answer based on market research combined with your unique strengths?
If you work in an organization, often strategy is not well thought through at a higher level. Here’s an example of how gaining this kind of clarity can be useful: I coached a senior person at a fashion company where the frontline workers were buried with work and morale was plummeting. My client spearheaded a meeting with the cross functional senior team and worked out a formula to clearly decide which designs they would pursue, and which redesigns, adhoc changes, offshoots, they wouldn’t. Workload at all the junior levels decreased by almost 50% within a month. If you are in an organization, are you aware of a clear strategy that is being implemented, and if not, can you ask your boss to help walk you through it?
2. Not clear about your function or your most highly leveraged activities.
As a business owner, you may be caught in the trap of doing everything yourself, and thinking that you can’t afford someone else to do the things you are not good at. That keeps you in a cycle of trying to do everything and not having time to do the marketing that will help you grow enough to hire a virtual, or in-person, assistant. Can you name the 3 activities that directly earn you the most money, and if so, what you are doing to preserve your time for them?
If you work in an organization, are you clear about what the essential function is that the organization pays you to do. I know, I know – What’s problematic these days is that you are often doing 2-3 people’s jobs. Have you identified what strengths you have that make you invaluable in your current role? Are you making the best use of your strengths, and if not, can you ask about re-sculpting your role, getting needed training, or delegating to people who work for you? What decisions are you empowered to make? Which decision would be the most effective for you to make?
3. Not clear about your priorities
Simply put, you may be doing work that others have created urgency around but is not YOUR priority. Your priority is to fulfill the functions you have identified in points #1 and 2 above, and to do so in the order of their due date and biggest impact to other people.
If you are in an organization and have competing priorities, the work that is due for the person who has firsthand control over your position and bonus has top priority.
4. Not clear about how to handle difficult interpersonal situations, like how to say no or push back on your boss.
You may know that you are being asked to do ‘too much’ by your boss. Or you may be saying yes to other’s demands and not preserving your energy for what you identified in #2 above – because you are not clear on what your own value is.
To push back effectively with a boss or client, you want to get clear on what you can and can’t say. There are 3 legs to any project you are asked to do: Time – Resources – Scope. What you can do is negotiate the terms of any of these. For example, if you are asked to do something very quickly, you can say yes but ask for more resources or to reduce the scope.
Often the issue is your own need to say yes when you mean to say no. That means you are not clear about your own value; you think you have to say yes in order for other people to like you or want to do business with you.
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