Two months in, and well ensconced into the New Year, how many of your best intentions to turn over a new leaf and perform better at work have you honoured? Is there a disconnect between your ambition and your performance?
One of the most common obstacles to peak performance is lack of clarity about your role, putting your energy into low-value activities because you are unclear of where your work can have a real impact. If you are interested in working smarter and not harder at achieving peak performance, read on and discover four action points that will make a significant difference if you apply them.
Clarify your role; what do you need to deliver?
“The things that matter most, must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least.” Goethe
Most of us who have a job description, have a respectable few pages of tasks and responsibilities that is viewed at the beginning of the role and then dusted off again just before an appraisal.
There will never be enough time to focus on everything outlined in your job description – let’s face it, most of these are ‘catch all’ documents that place no emphasis on priority areas for any given time. But often, key areas where performance is essential above other designated tasks on your job description are not obvious. This is a classic ’deal breaker’ in reaching peak performance levels at work.
Capitalise on high-value tasks
Pareto’s well known 80-20 rule applied to work performance means just 20 percent of our tasks (job description) is responsible for 80 percent of our results. So 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do.
To improve performance, focus on the 20 percent that of tasks that are most important and will give you the highest return. If you are not sure about which parts are more important, discuss this with your boss and your colleagues. Find out the key result areas; they are usually tasks that feed into the wider company vision and targets, so make sure you know what they are and how they apply to your role.
“Our work is the presentation of our capabilities. Spend your time on trivial tasks, and you’ll produce trivial results.” Simmons-Lewis
Resist the temptation to clear up small things first, or busy yourself with low value trivial tasks that contribute very little results and can normally be delegated. You won’t get noticed or promoted for the things nobody recognises. Putting your best efforts into these can sap your energy because you’ll spend the day with a deep sense of foreboding about the big tasks that you haven’t got started.
Set clear goals
“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” Francis Bacon
The next step is to develop clear goals around your 20 percent high value tasks, and align them as closely as possible with your personal career goals.
As you make plans to be more discriminating in your quest to improve your performance and benefit the company’s bottom line; make these improvements work harder for you on an individual level. Think about the personal goals you hope to achieve in your current role and career path. What will you contribute and learn? What do you want to experience? What will give you energy? What results are you looking for?
Use these answers to help you create win-win solutions for how to approach your choice of high value projects and activities. Then ask yourself:
- What one career accomplishment would have the greatest impact on my work life?
- How can this benefit my current high value tasks?
Get out of your comfort zone find a challenge
To stay motivated and productive, focus on putting your energy into high-value tasks that you enjoy and are effective in. Find more opportunities to get out of your comfort zone; put yourself forward for activities that stretch you and get your head above the parapet. For example, volunteer to work on project that will achieve significant results for the company while developing your desired skills and experience. There are rich learning and networking opportunities to be gained from working in a project team of new people from different professional backgrounds.
And remember: “The man who does not take pride in his own performance performs nothing in which to take pride.” Thomas J. Watson
RECAP: ACTION POINTS
- Look at your job description and work out your 20 percent high-value tasks
- Make a list of key goals, activities and projects which are in the top 20 percent of tasks that could represent 80 percent of results
- Set clear goals to spend more time working in these few areas, and less time on lower value tasks. Ask yourself:
- What are my highest value activities? What will make the biggest contribution to my company?
- What can I and only I do, that if do well will make a real difference? (something that you can’t delegate that would make a real difference)
- What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
Professional coach, Suzanne Simmons-Lewis helps her clients clarify and achieve their true purpose and ambitions in their careers and businesses, drawing out their unique talents. She inspires supports and challenges clients in their journey to making their long-held dreams an exciting reality. www.suzannesimmonslewis.com