From the moment you pull into your office parking lot in the morning, until the moment you finally leave for home in the evening, your day is packed with a barrage of urgent demands. Your job as CEO is to lead the company, navigating it through the obstacles and challenges toward a higher level of success. However, it’s so easy for that essential daily task to be eclipsed by countless “I-need-this-now” requests coming at you from staff, customers, and vendors.
I have five powerful mindset shifts that can help you cut through the clutter and refocus on the most important tasks. These mindset shifts are new ways of thinking about key components of your business – from your own work to the purpose and processes in some of your departments.
Mindset Shift #1: Stop Managing Your Time… Master It
Every year, countless time management gurus sell millions of books telling you how to manage your time. But time management only gets you so far and you’ll often remain at the mercy of “the tyranny of the urgent.” Time mastery, however, puts you in control of your schedule.
- Block out your time daily on paper. (It may seem old-fashioned but the act of writing it out forces you to think about it rather than simply reacting to what is already on your schedule).
- Prioritize your interruptions. When someone wants to interrupt you, have them indicate the level of importance of that interruption. In my business, my staff know to rank the interruption as a level 1, 3, or 5. If I receive a text that says, “What’s up for the weekend? (1)” I know it’s just a light conversation that can wait until I’m ready. If I get a knock at my door and a manager says, “We have a level 5 situation here,” I know to drop everything and deal with it.
Mindset Shift #2: Everything Is Service
Marketing? Sales? Customer Service? Stop creating silos that separate these parts of your business. They’re all service. Every single piece of marketing, every single interaction from order to delivery, every business card and invoice and free pen – it’s all service. When your prospective customers drive past your billboard, are you serving them?
- Build a framework for service. List out the step-by-step process that a customer would go through from the moment they first encounter your marketing, all the way to the moment that they pay your staff for the product or service. List every step in between. Then figure out how you can generously serve your client at that point. (And don’t forget to measure each step).
- Be proactive. Don’t wait for your customers to call you when they need to hire you (and don’t just call customers when you want to sell something). If there’s a big rainstorm in the forecast, give your customers a call and warn them that it’s coming and advise them to stay safe and dry. It may sound crazy to some but my customers love it when my company does it.
Mindset Shift #3: Always Be Hiring
Most companies hire to fill gaps in staffing or to address a shortfall that is created by growth. This is a reactive approach. It’s also highly time consuming because whenever a new hire is required, an ad is created and resumes are collected and interviews are conducted. Here’s what to do instead:
- Adopt a policy that you’re always hiring, and collect resumes all the time. This gives you the potential to collect more resumes and find better staff (rather than reviewing only those who happen to be looking for a job when you need to hire).
- Hire more staff than you need. Many companies hire to address a shortfall but this leaves your staff repeatedly burdened and it slows growth. If you hire just a couple more employees than you think you need, it forces you to push for growth faster, because you already have the capacity. (Bonus: It also ensures that customers receive seamless service even when one of your staff is out of the office).
Mindset Shift #4: Solicit Feedback Regularly And Act On It
Want to discover the fastest path to happier customers, more productive staff, higher sales, and higher profitability? Ask for feedback and then act on it. Some companies already have a basic customer feedback system in place, and occasionally companies have an annual employee feedback system in place. Rarely do these provide meaningful feedback and even more rarely does anyone act on it.
- Make it a regular practice to ask your customers, employees, and even your vendors about the interaction they have with you. Use an automated process when appropriate because respondents will often answer more honestly if they’re not talking to another human.
- Regularly review feedback with your executives. Don’t delegate this essential piece. Reviewing feedback at this level helps you to see patterns that might be missed if a single department reviewed only the feedback pertaining to them.
Mindset Shift #5: Predict The Future
With a barrage of demands pressing in on you daily, it’s hard to lead the way you should. But as CEO, others are looking to you to navigate the company through obstacles and opportunities to a higher level of success. The way to navigate the company is to accurately predict the future.
- Schedule time regularly to think about the future. Although your schedule might not seem like it would allow this activity, this activity is one of the most important parts of your job so taking even an hour or two a week to give serious thought to the next year, five years, ten years, 25 years (and so on) could be the most value hour or two that you spend each week.
- Don’t just think about your company’s future. Broaden your thinking and predict your industry’s future. Try to anticipate changes in the industry so your business can mitigate the risks and maximize the opportunities more effectively.
Your role as CEO is clear but performing your role against the tide of urgent demands can be nearly impossible. That’s why these five mindset shifts are so crucial to you and to your business – by changing your thinking in these five areas, you can take control of your business, get answers to the key questions, gain clarity on the big issues, and discover the path to transformative growth in your organization.
By Mike Agugliaro is author of The Secrets of Business Mastery, and entrepreneur and founder of ServiceKey, a business coaching service for national service business owners. For more information about Mike, his book, or his coaching services, visit secretsofbusinessmastery.com.