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biggest problems with getting goals accomplished is confusing activity with results. Consider the example of the employee who gets into the office before everyone else—and who stays after everyone else goes home at night—but never seems to get anything done. While the employee is busy working, he or she is working on the wrong things. The activity trap, is very easy for you and your employees to fall into (and much harder to get out of).
Achieving your goals is your job. Your boss can coach and support you, but you’re the one who has to concentrate on achieving your goals. This means taking charge of your work life by controlling your own schedule. Believe us: If you don’t control your schedule, someone else will control your schedule for you.
Here are some tips to ensure that you and your employees stay out of the activity trap:
• Do your first priority first. It’s tempting to work on the easy stuff first and save the tough stuff for last. And with people dropping
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into your office just to chat or to unload their problems on you, concentrating on your first priority is a constant challenge. If you don’t do your first priority first, however, you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself in the activity trap, which means that you’ll find the same priorities on your list of tasks day after day, week after week, and month after month. This is not a plan for accomplishing your goals. Keep your eye on the prize by doing first things first.
• Get organized. To be effective in business, you’ve got to get organized and manage your time effectively. When you’re organized, you can spend less time trying to figure out what you should be doing and more time doing what you should be doing.
• Just say no! When you’re a manager, your employees are guaranteed to constantly try to make their problems your problems. This is bad for a couple of reasons: It distracts you from focusing on solving your own problems, and if you solve your employees’ problems for them, they’ll never learn the problem-solving skills that they need to progress in their careers and within the organization. Before taking on someone else’s problem, ask yourself, “How does this help me achieve my goals?” Focus on your own goals, and refuse to let others make their problems your own.
MAKING GOALS HAPPEN
Whether you are a manager or employee, you have the power to make your goals happen by controlling or influencing people and events around you on a daily basis. Generally, power is a positive thing, but it can be a negative thing when abused. Manipulation, exploitation, and coercion are all examples of power gone bad, and they have no place in the modern workplace.
Use the positive power within you to your advantage by tapping into it to help achieve your organization’s goals. Every employee has five primary sources of power in an organization, and he or she has
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specific strengths and weaknesses related to these sources. Consider your own personal strengths and weaknesses as you review the five sources of power that follow:
1. Personal power: This is the power that comes from within your character, and it includes your passion for greatness, the strength of your convictions, your ability to communicate and inspire, your personal charisma, and your leadership skills.
2. Relationship power: Your day-to-day interactions with others at work contribute to the relationship power that you wield on the job. Common sources of relationship power include close friendships with top executives, partners, or owners; people who owe you favors; and coworkers who provide you with information and insights that you would normally not get through your formal business relationships.
3. Knowledge power: Knowledge power is the specific expertise and knowledge that you have gained during the course of your career as well as the knowledge you acquire as a result of training or the pursuit of academic degrees such as an MBA.
4. Task power: Task power is the power that comes from the job or process that you perform at work. As you have undoubtedly witnessed on many occasions, people can facilitate or impede the efforts of their coworkers and others through the application of task power. For example, when you submit a claim for payment to your insurance company and months pass with no action, you are on the receiving end of task power.
5. Position power: Position power refers to your rank or title in the organization and is a function of the authority that you wield to command human and financial resources. As a manager, your position power is relatively high in the organization. But, remember that the best leaders seldom rely on position power to get things done today—they instead use their own charisma, knowledge, and relationships to convince others to get things done.
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Be aware of the sources of your power in your life, and use your power in a positive way to help you and your employees accomplish the goals of your organization. If you’re stronger in some areas than others, be sure to work on improving your weak points while leveraging the areas where your power is strong. And remember: A little power can go a long way. Try not to overdo it.