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Management Hack: Grow Fire

Management Hack: Grow Fire

If you’re a supervisor or executive in your company, you also must play the role of farmer. It’s your job to cultivate and grow crops that will yield the next series of leaders and top performers. So, with that as the backdrop, I say to you: grow fire.

Grow Fire

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Find the most passionate of your employees and give them extra care and attention, because though they might occasionally crowd the other plants with their quirks, their passion is what will ignite and move the company forward. Your fire crops are the kinds of people you want to cultivate into leaders that you can send into situations in your stead, and let them handle the task. Accept all responsibility for any problems they cause, but give all praise to them.

Managers and supervisors can sometimes feel worry that by giving their subordinates the spotlight on certain activities that it will somehow reflect negatively on their own perceived value to the organization. If my employee gets all the praise and spotlight, they’ll think nothing of me.

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I disagree. I think that by growing out incredible talent within your ranks, their success comes back as a hallmark of what a great manager and developer of talent you truly are. It’s such a powerful message, to tell an employee, “You’ve got what it takes. Go ahead and run with this. I trust you.” When you mean it, and when they truly have the ability, it’s a powerful moment.

Giving your passionate and capable employees the ball to run with also tells the rest of the team that if they work hard and do more than just the required effort, they have a shot at something bigger than their current role. It’s far more motivating than free coffee out of the vending machines, or blue jean Fridays. And it’s also giving something back to the company.

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Plan Tomorrow Today

You already know who the “fire” is on your team. The minute you understood the concept, you plugged in her name while considering this. Are you already working with this perspective in mind? Here are some tips to growing your fire.

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  • Share the end results requirements- Your talented leader-to-be has passion. Now, share the perspective from which you’re making your decisions. Not the “how to,” but the “what we need for a win” type information. Tell him, “It might seem like we’re pushing Engineering too hard, but if we make this deadline, we’ll get a $400,000 bonus to the contract.” Give your fire a sense of the dimensions from which you make decisions.
  • Share boundaries- Letting an employee run with a project doesn’t mean throwing her to the wild and letting her figure it all out. Show the edges of the game board, the known hazards, the things that traditionally will cause an issue. And then let your talented star navigate the course.
  • Announce and Coronate- Make sure more than you and your special employee know of this granting of extra power. Not in any weird way, and certainly not in a dynamic that will alienate or dishearten the remaining team members (“Yumiko’s really a star performer, so she’s going to handle the case. The rest of you would do well to learn by her.” — That would be the worst message ever to give.) But be sure everyone knows Yumiko’s working on your authority and that she can count on your support and hopefully the support of the entire team.
  • Stay attentive for “switchers”- Occasionally, a passionate up-and-comer is really a despot waiting to happen, someone who waits politely for power before using it to strike out and execute his own agenda. Watch for this, and when you observe it (be certain before you act), pull the person aside as quickly as possible and assess together. Give feedback. Search for motivations different than your original assessment. And if necessary, revoke the opportunity for the time being. Just like prison, never take away hope for a better chance, but be clear that the actions you observed weren’t appropriate for the kind of leader you’re looking to cultivate.
  • Broadcast success, shield failures- Give your freshly grown fire all the sunlight you can when she blazes a new trail to success for the team. Make sure your boss knows who your new superhero is. Give your peers an earful of her praise. Praising others often rubs off a little on you, too. It shows that you’re a gracious and appreciative person, and folks want that kind of energy around them.

    Now, the flipside. You know this. You’ve read it a million times. It’s one of the biggest lessons to learn, because often it seems almost natural to want to pile on criticism to someone who’s run afoul of expectations. But resist the urge. Stand up for their efforts and say that you imagine only better things to come. In private, take what steps are necessary. If he’s really botched things up, explain all the ramifications of his actions. Not, “You really messed up,” but, “By missing that deadline, we lost the bonus, we will have to spend more money on overtime and contractors to make up, and everything will slip downstream as well.” We always target the actions and their ramifications, not the person’s character.

Good Farmers

There are good managers in companies, bright managers who really contribute to the success of an organization. You’re one of those, right? But imagine just how much more effective you’d appear to an organization if, alongside your own considerable talents, you were producing these fire crops of talented leaders, who would in turn become future managers and leaders of greatness within the organization. Do I want a stand-alone great manager, or one who’s giving me growth for the future. All things equal, if I were in charge, I’d want the one growing fire.

–Chris Brogan is a regular writer for Lifehack.org. He grows content networks at GrasshopperFactory.com.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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