March 13, 2015

Pick your battles


Every manager has leverage.

Ten pins in the bowling alley and two balls to knock them over. Where to focus your effort for maximum impact? Number One pin, front and centre? Would you ever aim back left?

A failing company I know, with sales dropping 10% year on year, had a chief executive who corrected every spelling mistake in sales reports. While everyone focused on the errors, the important stuff – like pipeline, forecasting, order intake – was ignored.

So there’s no excuse for sloppiness, but in the scheme of things, you need perspective.

Just another tale of what gets measured gets managed – even if it doesn’t matter.

The real story though is of picking the right battles.

Pick your battles

There are always too many. Pick the battles you have to win – selling rather than spelling for example – and turn the high-beams on full. Show your staff where to focus by being loud and proud of where you focus. Deal with the little issues quietly … a word in the ear. Big issues – the battles you have to win – need unwavering and undiluted attention. “This matters most.” Not, “this and this and this and this and this.”

Sweat the small stuff if you have to, but make sure it’s critical small stuff – and never when the big stuff is crashing around your ears.

Skippy strategy: There can only be one Number One priority. Does everyone know what it is?