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IF Everything is a Priority, Nothing is a Priority

If Everything Is A Priority, Nothing Is A Priority
 
If you've ever met me in person, you have likely heard me ask  “What are your greatest challenges?” I am always curious to find out the issues and opportunities that business owners and executives are facing.
 
Interestingly the response I most often hear is the following: “Shawn, I have so many priorities it’s hard to determine what I should be working on at any one time.”

Sound familiar?

The most difficult challenge however is not in managing these multiple priorities, but in ensuring that those priorities you are focused on are those that you should be focused on. If you have so many priorities that you can’t keep track of them, then you need to change the filters you are applying relative to determining what is truly a priority.
 
I thought I would share with you a process I work through with my clients, in the form of three very distinct questions. Let me precursor these by saying that the key to gaining clarity here is to be honest with yourself and ensure your answers are very specific; vague responses don’t provide sufficient evidence to make any real determinations.
 
In order they are:
1.     What are the key areas on which my job performance is measured?
2.     What are the top three responsibilities I hold in the eyes of my superior?
3.     What is the most important thing I can do to support my subordinates?
 
If you are honest and detailed in your response to each of these questions, you can quickly identify and gain clarity around your true priorities.
 
A coaching client of mine was working like mad to manage a team of technicians across Canada. He spent much of his time traveling from province to province, directing, supporting, training and in some cases firing and re-hiring staff. Two years ago he ended the year feeling that he had made significant strides, his boss however felt quite the opposite and as a result his bonus was retracted. My client understandably, was outraged.
 
Then I asked him to spend some time considering the three questions above (which incorporate gaining clarity around what your specific job performance is measured against) and as a result he significantly re-adjusted how his time was invested. I am happy to report that in his most recent performance appraisal his same boss sited him as having “exceeded expectations.” Bring on the bonus!
 
So my point here is that you can't let multiple time pressures, employee demands, or in some cases even customer needs influence your true priorities. Work through the questions above and you will find that you will have considerable clarity relative to how you should invest your time. After all, there is only so many hours in a day.

© Shawn Casemore 2013. All rights reserved.

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