By Jeff Fortney
"So, are you in the house?" This was the rhetorical last line of a seminar I attended in the 1980s. Although most took it to be an announcement that we could leave after two days, it made me pause because I wasn't sure that I was in the house.
In the 1980s, my employer believed in the benefits of training and found the best bang for the company's buck was training seminars on a number of topics. This particular seminar was for managers of all types. The purpose was to provide techniques and steps that can be taken to recognize and increase the productivity of employees at risk. The first day focused on identifying signs of those not fully invested in their work; the second day covered steps to take to help them gain or regain their commitment to their efforts.
The premise was simple. Employees who were "in the house" were producing at their peak performance level. They enjoyed their work, looked for ways to better their company and saw satisfaction in a job well done. They were less worried about punching a clock than producing quality results.
No one is in the house at all times. You could be just outside the house, motivated but not at peak level. You could be in the yard, getting the work done but not driven to do more. You could be down the street punching a clock and putting in minimal effort. Those in the last group are doing a job, not working a career, and are likely ready to move on.
When that question was asked during the seminar, many in the room paused. It made me consider that the lessons taught could be applied to managers, as well. How do you keep people in the house when you aren't there, too? Begin by recognizing the following signs that you are outside of the house:
It takes only one of these to move you toward the door. Two, and you are outside of the house. It's impossible to get others back in the house if you aren't present yourself. Your productivity suffers as well.
I have found one technique consistently gets me back into the house. I tell myself that all I have to do is take control. This has nothing to do with usurping power I don't have; it entails using the power I do have ‒ my actions. The first challenge is to identify the actions you control.
Start by listing things to do that you know will make you successful. These should be actions that have led to your success previously and can further your efforts to reach your future goals. For example:
There are many other examples, but remember they must drive you to your goals and you must have 100 percent control over them. They cannot depend upon another person or department. They also need to be specific, not vague, and they don't necessarily need to be done every day.
Once your action list is complete, break them down based on three buckets. Results for these actions will:
Prioritize each action in the first two buckets to be done daily, weekly or when needed. Make the most critical actions daily. For example, speaking to five prospects would be a daily task; sending a newsletter could be done as needed.
The next step is the key to taking control. Book the daily and weekly actions from buckets one and two on your calendar. Do not let anything supersede these scheduled actions. Respect your time by controlling it.
Additionally, choose at least one action from bucket number three that can fit within your schedule and not interfere with your other actions. This can be a daily action (like going to the gym) or a nonspecific action (like reading a book).
These need to be included in your week but must not lead you out of the house. These are mental breaks to recharge, not distractions.
Finally, execute the plan. Take control of what will get you back in the house, make you more productive and improve your outlook. In the end, isn't that the key?
Jeff Fortney is Vice President, ISO Channel Management with Clearent LLC. He has more than 17 years' experience in the payments industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-618-7340. To learn about how Clearent can help you grow faster and go further, visit www.clearent.com.
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