“When you’re up to your neck in alligators you forget the original plan was to drain the swamp” This is a phrase I’ve heard myself saying so many times when working with clients. It seems to sum up the challenge that many senior managers are facing in today’s fast paced organisations – too busy ‘doing the doing’ to be able to stand back and focus on developing a solid plan for growth and development or to avert a potential crisis. Invariably, the ‘alligators’ take the form of ‘busyness’ – the endless rounds of meetings for meetings sake, or the need to fill the ether with ‘communication’ or just responding to the ever increasing demands of projects, events or ‘initiatives’ that require your ‘expert input’. Everyone else’s priorities become yours. Sound familiar? Having worked with a number of clients in this situation, the solution is much like wanting to lose weight, get fit or any other of the things we put at the top of our ‘to do’ list and then allow lesser, more pressing activities to overtake our good intentions. Helping them break the cycle, feel more motivated and add real value usually involves the following key steps:
- Name the swamp – In other words, admit to the issue. What is it that you really should be focusing on but just don’t seem to be able to get to? The communication strategy you know you need to work on, the development plan for your team, the channel audit you’ve been planning to do but just haven’t got around to? Name your particular swamp and say it out loud! Drag it from the bottom to the top of your ‘to do’ list – admit you can’t ignore it any longer – now is the time to do something about it.
- Fast forward to the future – think about what life would look like if you did manage to drain the swamp. How would the organisation be better off, how would your teams or peers benefit, how would you feel? Isn’t that one thing going to deliver a better outcome than all of the alligators put together?
- Be clear what the price is you’re paying for not tackling the swamp – potential risk, demotivated or frustrated teams, exhausting days followed by sleepless nights?
- Put an hour in your diary every week with the CEO – you don’t actually have to meet with them but guard that time as though you were actually going to sit down with a senior manager or boss to discuss your plan – keep focused on the swamp not the alligators
- Find your support buddy – This is probably the most important step. Just like wanting to lose weight, run a marathon, learn to play an instrument you can try to go it alone but invariably you get better, faster results when you find a trainer, a coach or someone who can support you to achieve your goals. They are the ones who ensure you keep the ‘busyness’ at bay, forcing you to prioritise the time in your diary, working with you to achieve the best possible outcome, providing you with the encouragement to keep focused when those ‘alligators’ start snapping around you again.
If you’re interested in talking to a seasoned ‘swamp drainer’ call us on 07971 074945 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org