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How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make

How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make

In some cases, employees within a company start out at the bottom and work their way up over time. In other cases, people are hired directly into management. Whatever the experience has been for you, opportunities are to be had along the way. As the below infographic will show, there are different levels to each individual’s abilities. Below I will explain the moments of opportunity that you have as an individual to grab hold of along the way and how you can be a leader no matter what level you find yourself in today.

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    Level 1 Highly Capable Individual

    This is where the molding of an individual happens in the workplace.

    Level 2 Contributing Team Member

    Once you have time to begin feeling comfortable in level one, then you can begin contributing more to your team. This is where the buy-in to the company’s vision takes place, and you can not only improve yourself, but you can begin to show others what you have learned.

    Level 3 Competent Manager

    After a contributing team member spends time honing in and crafting their knowledge and expertise, it won’t be long until this individual will be looked at for advancement. Have your work be so excellent that it speaks for itself and moves you higher into a position of authority.

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    Level 4 Effective Leader

    The main difference between a leader and a manager is that a leader leads people while a manager manages things. I don’t know about you, but influencing people sounds like it has a lot more impact than managing things. Don’t settle for being a manager, but focus on how becoming a leader will set you apart from the crowd.

    Level 5 Executive

    When you find yourself at this level you are usually very knowledgeable, have a sense of ownership with your company, are invested in the people that work for you, are self-motivated, and are very driven to expand your company to places that it has never been before.

    Of course, the above example is the natural progression of someone who is in a company over a period of time who works their way up the company ladder. But again, the main point to take from leadership here is that no matter what level you are in as described by the infographic, you can be a leader. Leadership is a daily choice that each one of us makes. A common misconception is that leadership is a title and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    Leadership is a mindset that an individual has to influence others in either a negative or a positive manner.

    In contrast, each of us face a few key points along our leadership journey to either exceed expectations or fail miserably in. While in some things it is okay to fail because we get the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, there are a few areas in which there really is no room for error. It could be the rise or fall of a company’s existence.

    Listed below are some of the most common mistakes that leaders make and how you as a leader can avoid them:

    1. Denial

    This is key point number one because it’s usually black or white on this subject and not much gray area. Leaders are either okay with confrontation or they aren’t. They either want to deal with the issues that they need to or they shy away from them, hoping somehow they deal with themselves. The situations that I am describing happen most often when leaders like to avoid confrontation.

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    So, can leaders learn to face problems head on even if they aren’t wired for confrontation? Absolutely. Leaders who are in the “trenches” on a daily basis need to see the issues at hand that are causing real problems. When leaders see first hand the magnitude of why something needs to be done immediately to solve a problem, they will begin to realize why confrontation is a must, even if they aren’t a confrontational person.

    Leaders can avoid denial by not only being available to see that what is happening within the company, but aware, self-motivated, and passionate about what they are doing.

    When passion is lacking from a leader, they are not the only ones that are affected. Company employees feel the brunt of a leader’s inability in their day-to-day work environment.

    2. Keeping all the power

    When responsibility isn’t given away to others, it does two things. First, it will cause quick burnout in the lives of leaders. Second, it makes others feel useless. A lack of teamwork and communication ensues.

    You can avoid this by developing trust with your team.

    Trusting others by delegating necessary tasks and empowering others to make decisions is a step in the right direction. Delegation should always be a top priority when possible to maintain focus on your top daily plans. Leaders, begin to mentor others instead of keeping all of the responsibility to yourselves.

    Create a team mentality in your endeavors. When people feel they can add value, it creates a feel of ownership that cannot be replaced.

    3. Lack of vision

    To avoid a lack of vision, you need to have the right vision. You first need to know the “Why.”

    As a leader, you not only need to know the WHY behind why you are doing what you do, but you have to communicate it to those around you. Do you do what you do because of your customers? Because of your staff? Because you want to be your best? Because it is fun? Whatever your reason is, it needs to be contagious. Once you have the idea behind the why, you need to write out a mission statement. Let this be your motivation. Let this be the motivation of those around you. You will need to look at it on those days you just don’t feel like it, so keep it handy.

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    Once this step is taken care of, it is time to make a few plans. First, make a five year plan. Where do you want to be in five years? Dream big. Now, work backwards. What is a realistic plan for three years from now to get you to that five year plan? More importantly, what do you need to be doing this year, this quarter, this month, this week, and today to get there. What is your plan for this year to get you to your wildest dreams? This is yet another piece of important information that you need to keep in front of you to drive you through those times that you feel that mediocrity is okay.

    It is important to know that those feelings of mediocrity, but it is even more important to know how to push through these moments.

    If you do what I have mentioned previously, you will avoid the downfall of taking everything as it comes instead of planning. It is easy to find yourself here, if not careful. When your schedule fills up because items weren’t taken care of, unnecessary stress is soon to follow. Avoid this stress that doesn’t have to happen by planning ahead, making a clear plan, and communicating it to your team. This is another step that will make your life easier as a leader and will help your team stay motivated and committed.

    4. Creativity is not a priority

    Thinking outside the box is necessary for any kind of growth to happen. It is more important than ever for continuous momentum so that growth is top-of-mind for leaders, both personally and in the business world. There is more competition than ever before and other important factors that will either help or hurt you in your journey.

    Avoid a lack of creativity by facing your fears and stepping out.

    Trying new things is a necessity in the creativity process. Don’t be afraid to step out and push others to reach inside themselves to find the most potential. Learn that it is okay to make creative mistakes along the way to find greatness and to become a better leader.

    5. Not looking at the people on your team

    Maybe you are doing all the right things, but haven’t looked at the team you are leading. Don’t get comfortable where things are when you could be increasing your reach to even more than where it is right now.

    Avoid becoming stale by always having a fresh perspective on the state of your team.

    Do you have the best people on the team? If you do, then great. They may just not be in the right spot. Team chemistry is too important to overlook. Is your team cohesive in their pursuits? If not, it may be time to look for other teammates.

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    Are the wrong people on the bus or are they just not in the right seat?

    6. Personal relationships with your team isn’t important

    People will want to do more for you when they like you rather than when they are afraid of you or just don’t know what to say to you.

    Relationships are key to having a flow of communication. Trust comes through strong relationships, and that is when people will be able to open up and add even more value than they are right now. Go out of your way to create one-on-one time with each individual on your team to further engage on a personal level. Doing this will open dialogue both in your personal and professional environment.

    Avoid connection problems with others by creating strong relationships through genuinely wanting to know other people on a friendship level rather than just a surface, business level.

    Ask yourself,

    Who am I leading, helping, and inspiring?

    If leadership is influence, then you need to know who you are leading.

    Through this one question you can begin to really grasp the magnitude of your reach as a leader.

    Yes, being a leader is an incredibly important role that deserves your attention. But, even if you see that you possess one, a few, or even all of these traits, it isn’t too late to switch your leadership style and begin making less leadership mistakes. Begin using these six laid out steps to improve your leadership level and become a better leader starting today.

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    How To Avoid The Most Common Mistakes Leaders Make

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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