The 3 Things Great Managers AND Employees Do ~ Consistently

When it all comes down to it, great managers get results.  How do you get results?  It’s not planning, it’s not charisma, it’s not even passion.  All of those things are great but useless without these 3 things.

If you are not doing these 3 things, and doing them well, you are probably going nowhere fast.  That’s a strong statement, let’s see if you disagree… comments welcome!

1. Prioritize

If you just do whatever you think of, you are going to get behind.  You MUST prioritize those things you KNOW will get results above those things you THINK will get results.  And even those things you just think will get results, prioritize those too, to the ones you think will be most likely to get the results.

PRO TIP – Every morning, get on an exercise bike and open or  (2 good online tools). Prioritize tasks to ones you think are most important to get results.

2. Draft Quickly

 If you aren’t getting things done quickly, you’ll never even get through all the important things, let alone to those things you think will get results.  The best managers and employees create drafts of stuff (whatever it is) very quickly.  Then, they refine the draft later up until the point where the quality meets expectations, then stop.  They don’t over-engineer, over-design, or over-think their work: it’s done it’s done.  Ship it.  This is a key to shipping, get to a draft and see if it’s good enough.  Ship when it is.

PRO TIP – Writer’s block?  Just write it in super simple plain English.  That usually reads better anyways.  Remember, emails should be 2 or 3 sentences MAX!  I like to send emails of 4 or 5 WORDS when I can.

3. Delegate / Get Help Fast

Overloaded managers need to learn this trick: find someone you trust and ask them to “own” part of your project.   This is not asking for group-work, this is asking them to “own it” and get it done.  I’ve blogged a lot about ownership, and for good reason… it’s been a key to my personal success for years.  Not having it, but giving it out!

Not a manager?  This applies to you too.  Delegate ownership of your work if you are overloaded.  Even better, ASK FOR HELP FAST!  If you are blocked, even 1% blocked, asking for help to get unblocked will keep you moving, make your boss happy, and more importantly, teach you something that will probably prevent you from getting blocked again in the future.

PRO TIP – Develop skills that help you get unblocked.  For example, learn how to Draft Quickly!  Also, learn how to “make a simple website“.

Harlan T. Beverly, PhD on a Business Trip to Mexico

3 Planning Techniques to Save your Job: Agile, Scrum, and Kanban

If you don’t know about Agile, Scrum, and Kanban, this short write-up should help get you on your way… and could change your life and save your job.

I’ve broken this into three parts, Part 1 and 2 are here… Part 3 is coming soon (my colleague Lucina is helping me with it).

Part 1: Learn why Waterfall Planning (the kind you do every day for yourself and at your work) is BROKEN!

Part 2: Learn why Agile and Kanban can save your job… and make you more money… and frankly, live a less stressful, more fulfilling life (and career).  This presentation even shows you how to implement a personal Kanban to keep your life in order: with a real example from my favorite Kanban tool which is

Part 3: Learn about Scrum, and why it may be even better than Kanban (depending on your situation)… and exactly how to do it at your company!

*** COMING SOON: Lucina is putting this together ***

How do you know what to work on? Engineering your Priorities

Do you find yourself often overwhelmed with the many, many things you have to do?  How do you choose what to put energy into?  How can you compare what is the more important thing, when the activities seem so diverse?  How do you justify not doing one thing and doing another instead?  This is where an engineering brain can help a marketer.  Engineers have this figured out: I bring you Engineering Prioritization.

Here is how an Engineer (myself) prioritizes, and how I apply it to Marketing work now:

  1. Calculate the estimated amount of time it will take to finish any given task or project.
  2. Calculate the expected financial contribution (savings or revenue) for completing the task/project.
  3. Use a “rough” discounted cash-flow model to estimate the impact in today’s dollars.
    1. Here is a rough way to do Present Value calculation, for an engineer.
    2. Present Value = Future Value – $2,500 * Num_Weeks
    3. If task/project is less than 1-Week, PV=FV
  4. What task will make the biggest impact for the least amount of effort? (highest Present Value)
  5. DO THAT!  If you need a break, do something that takes just a few minutes.
  6. Break long projects into 45min-2hr tasks;;; do those!
It sounds simple, but do you actually try to calculate the PV of your tasks?
Yes. I do.  
AND, You’d be shocked at how many tasks I’m assigned generate PV=0.
AND, You’d be shocked at how few of those tasks I ever do!
The 1 thing in marketing that can sometimes screw this up is research/data gathering/analysis….
to calculate a PV of these kinds of tasks, you must consider WHAT key variable are you looking for, such that if found, you could make an influence and thereby increase profits or save costs (thereby yielding a positive PV)… then I just cut that by 50%.. it’s seems like it’s usually a  50/50 effort to find data you need to make a good decision anyway.
So; get out there. calculate the potential PV of your work;and SKIP things that don’t add value.

Extroverts, plan your Introvert time. Introverts, plan your Extrovert time.

Seth Godin (and many other business authors) agree, growth comes from “stretching” your discomfort.  DO the uncomfortable and you will grow.  Don’t want to grow?  Stop reading blogs for goodness sakes!  Want to grow, here are some tips for HOW to Stretch and Exercise your “discomfort zone”.  (Extroverts and Introverts both)

Extroverts (like myself) prefer to think “outside their head”.  We like to draw on white-boards, engage in debate, and generally “talk & interact” with people.  The problem is this: if all you do is extroversion, you miss out on deep thinking, attention to detail, and most of all quiet focus.  For an extrovert, it is “uncomfortable” to have quiet, work alone, or focus on details.

Planning your introversion and “forcing yourself” to spend time alone, focusing on details, is the best way to stretch that uncomfortable muscle.  It will grow from there (or at least you will minimize the effects of lacking introversion).

  • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something introverted.  
  • (fix bugs, add comments to code, handle accounting, submit expense reports, research competition, develop formalized strategy/documentation)… 
  • most important do it ALONE, and make sure you force yourself to do it for the whole 1-hour block.
  • Because you set an “end-time” for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
  • I find the best time for me to do it is 1st thing in the morning, and then again right before I leave work.
Introverts (like my wife) prefer to think “inside their head”.  They prefer to work alone, to think deeply on problems, and to focus on details.  In many cases, they fear (and are VERY uncomfortable) engaging “with people”.
Planning your extroversion is even more important!  Unlike extroverts, you have to make plans that involve other people.  Here are the tips:
  • Each day, plan out 2 x 1-hour blocks where you will DO something extroverted (WITH others).  
  • (brainstorming session, lunch hour, happy hour, coffee, phone call)… 
  • most important do it WITH someone.. preferably NOT someone you know really well.
  • Because you set an “end-time” for the discomfort to end, you will find it less dis-comfortable to do it (just for 1 hour).
  • Lunch hour and happy hour are the best times.
  • THE ADAGE: NEVER EAT LUNCH ALONE comes to mind… that can be one of your hours!
    • just invite people you are connected with on LinkedIn or Facebook to lunch… be sure to say “dutch, just to catch up”.
  • GO to those events you hate (the happy hours, etc.)… but just spend 1-hour there… for the whole hour set yourself a goal:
    • talk to x people
    • pass out x business cards
    • whatever
  • Then…. next time, try to improve on the target #!
    • You may find it turns into quite a “game”.. or you may continue to hate it… but at least…
  • You are out there!