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Clearing the Deck for Smoother Sailing 
In the Year Ahead 

By Bob Garrow

The beginning of a new calendar year is a great opportunity to look ahead to “clear the decks” in preparation for a successful year. Organize now and reap the benefits all year long.

Get Everyone On Board: Pirates knew what business they were in and every pirate knew what was expected of him. Do all of your colleagues know your organization’s purpose and how they are expected to contribute to it?

How can you expect the very best from your people unless they fully understand what business you are in, what is expected of each of them and why? Plan now to frequently  clarify and confirm your purpose and expectations with each colleague so as to get everyone on board.

Sharing the Treasures: We pirates found long ago that the more treasures we shared, the more treasures we found. How do you reward performance? Today, adequate compensation is important, but it is not enough. Once people have money, they want more than money. They want to be respected and to have their contributions to the organization recognized. How well do you communicate appreciation to your colleagues? Do they know that you appreciate them? How might you better show appreciation for people’s efforts? Do you demonstrate respect for your colleagues at every opportunity? How can you do better?

Core Competencies: What activities does your organization do best, that provide positive benefits to your customers? What aspects of this work can you do better? If you think that you have no need to improve, someone, probably a new competitor, will prove you wrong. It is only a matter of time.

Your Strategy: The most successful pirates were innovators, appearing when and where least expected to capture ships without fighting. Do your have a strategy that capitalizes on your strengths while negating those of your competitors? Will it enable you to avoid intensive price-based competition?

Past Practices: Review your practices and procedures from the point of view of your customers and employees. What practices no longer work for you? What practices might actually now be detrimental to serving your customers? What practices make life more difficult for your employees?

Relationships: What relationships are no longer contributing to your success? How can you free up the time or energy expended in maintaining such relationships? What relationships are valuable to you? How can you make them more valuable to all other parties involved in them? How else can you strengthen these relationships? What new relationships could contribute to your success? What steps do you need to take to start building those relationships?

Your Colleagues’ Skills: Are you focused on discovering each colleague’s greatest strengths and preferred type of work? Do you understanding how you can best capitalize on these skills and preferences? Are you overly focused on their weaknesses? How productive is that?

Review Your Time Management (80/20 rule): Set aside a few minutes to take a look at how you manage your personal and work habits. Undoubtedly, you are busy, but busy doing what? What activities do you involve yourself in that do not contribute to your highest priorities? Set yourself a goal of finding an additional half an hour every week to devote to your highest priority.

Changing Demographics: Take a ride on the public transit. Stroll through different neighborhoods, visit different stores. Look around you. Are the demographics changing? How will such changes impact on your organization? Are the demographics of your customers changing? If not, are you missing out on new markets? Are the demographics of your employees changing? Should they be?

With a new year dawning will you choose to generate more of what you have had in the past year, or will you raise the bar for your organization. Choose wisely, and in a year from now, you could be looking back on a year of smooth sailing and rich treasures!

Read other articles and learn more about Bob Garrow.

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