The Australian Small Business Blog

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Working Smarter, Not Harder

The idea of working smarter not harder is a mantra most businesses owners understand even if they don’t actually follow it. Small Business owners often believe that big organisations have this nailed. However, after an interesting time in politics this week, you can see that our prime minister has not got this nailed.

I don’t care what your politics are, no-one would disagree our prime minister works extremely hard. He also has a hard earned reputation as a micro-manager and a control freak. He appears very busy, but is he affective?

When you run a business as big as the country, you can’t do it on your own. However, the way it is currently run, all decisions are being made by Mr Rudd and his office. His ministers are being over-ruled and the advice of their departments ignored. Now the peasants are revolting!

How long can he expect them to work the way he does if he doesn’t value their input and expertise. Where this will end is the staff (the public servants) will go through the motions, doing just enough to keep their jobs, knowing that he will in the end change whatever they suggest and do it his way. Why would you put in extra effort if it is not valued and recognised. Note, in small business ‘staff’ also applies to your contractors and suppliers.

When a business owner, or even Mr Rudd, have a bad week like this, their response is usually to resolve to work harder. This ultimately ends up driving away their staff and destroying themselves. Do you really believe becoming more productive at being ineffective will improve your business? Does any of this resonate for your business?

So what should Mr Rudd do? Well he could learn how to work smarter by attending my

Get Your Business Into Gear This Financial Year – Business Owners Retreat

although I don’t think there will be enough seating for his retinue. Alternatively, here are a few steps he should take:

1. Step Back! Review where you are going so you can prioritise. Otherwise you will spend your time reacting to every event that could be handled by others. You will become a firefighter, rather than leaving your staff to fight the fires so you have more time to look at ways to stop them starting in the first place. By fighting them yourself, you will have implicitly told your staff that you don’t trust them, and think they are incompetent. If you really believe that is true, replace them, although most times, the fault lies with you.

2. Share your vision with your staff and align their personal goals with your business objectives. Remember, they will not be as driven as you because you get most of the recognition and rewards. Wherever possible share these with your staff. Don’t hog the limelight.

3. Clearly define their roles, responsibilities and authority and let them do their jobs. You can’t control everything. If you continually intervene, your staff will believe that this is not their role, no matter what you say and you will always have to do their jobs for them.

4. Manage your business by reports. This gives you time to work on strategy. You can use the reports to monitor performance.

5. Regularly review your progress and when the facts change, don’t be afraid to review your objectives. (Unfortunately this rarely happens in politics as they tend to lock themselves into ideological, as opposed rational positions. Don’t let this happen to you as a business owner.)

It is often easier to see what others are doing wrong and the impact that it has on them. Learn from them and if you want help working smarter, please find our more about my Business Owners Retreat, and how 2 business owners Doubled their business in a year!

May Your Business Be As You Plan It!

Dr Greg Chapman

Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.

Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success.

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Dr. Greg Chapman is also the author of
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