Simon Erskine Locke, Founder & CEO, CommunicationsMatch
I was recently speaking with a former corporate communications colleague who told me that it had taken a year to complete a communications strategy for an internal client.
Now a year is a very long time, but the reality for agencies and corporate communicators is that getting projects moving often takes far longer than most of us would probably admit to.
Agencies often blame clients and client blame agencies for delays. I know – I’ve been on both sides of the table.
What’s the issue?
In part, talking about a project or strategy is the easy bit. In the rush of life, most of us are not always as good as we’d like to be at getting things done (Who is?).
When asked by a client why it may be taking so long to get something delivered, I’d hazard a guess that most will say, we’re too busy, rather than, I’m really not managing my time or priorities well enough to complete projects in a timely manner.
But that’s too easy an answer. As is: Follow my tips and you’ll be more organized, get all projects done on time, and become the CEO of the company one day.
We live in the real world. We are not machines that can easily be reprogramed. But, we can improve and we can do better.
The bottom line is we need to understand ourselves, what it takes to get things done and implement strategies that help us be more effective. The most productive of us have our tricks and techniques. I was on a webinar with founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, Shonali Burke, and one of her key takeaways was taking 15 minutes a day to implement a disciplined approach to listening.
Goal Driven Change
The starting point for improvement is purpose or goal. This may be generated internally or externally, i.e. I want to ensure that I share communications programs with clients within reasonable deadlines, or my boss or client told me I’d better start delivering projects in a more timely manner. Without motivation, nothing happens.
Becoming more effective requires an understanding of your core personality. If you know you are a procrastinator and/or easily distracted, you will need to recognize this and figure out ways to keep on track. Likewise, people may be so focused, that you miss seeing the bigger picture of what’s going on around you. This can lead you to obsess on the details but miss deadlines in the pursuit of perfection. There are tools to help you understand your personality, but in my experience, the best one is to ask people for honest, direct and critical feedback.
Do a Personal SWOT Analysis to Identify Opportunities to Improve
Understanding what you can do better will allow you to identify areas you need to work on and allow you to develop strategies for your personality type. For some, simple steps, like keeping an ongoing list of to-dos in an app, a note posted to your computer screen or calendar tool to remind you of deadlines can be highly-effective. Others may need the structure of one of the many professional time management programs to be more efficient. The key thing, is to do research, try things out and decide what works best for you. You will then own it.
Take the Path Less Traveled – Doing Takes Work Not Excuses
Every now and again, we may have to remind ourselves that getting things done is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. It’s about pushing ourselves harder when we’re tempted to stop. It’s about doing more research or writing the next pages of a presentation when others are heading to the bar. As Ken Jacobs of Jacobs of Jacobs Executive Coaching shared with me, saying you are trying to get things done, doesn’t work either. As with exercise, we cannot allow ourselves to make excuses. It’s the easy way out.
Knowing When You Cannot Squeeze More Out of the Toothpaste Tube
We all have limits and face tough choices -between work and family for example. Time is limited, so it is our most precious commodity. In Japan, there’s a term, Karoshi, death through overwork. So when it comes to getting things done, working harder is not necessarily the answer. Working smarter always is. While developing strategies that help you get things done is one approach, it is also important to take advantage of resources available to you to work more efficiently or asking for them when you know you are at your limit.
Communicators in agencies and companies face the same challenges when it comes to getting things done in a timely manner. It’s a common reason why relationships get strained. Talk is easy. Doing is hard.
This isn’t a criticism, it’s a reality. Recognizing this is the starting point for getting more done. By understanding our personalities, strengths and weaknesses we can implement steps to make us more effective.
There are a number of professional development experts listed on CommunicationsMatch. It you are looking to take your own performance to the next level of that of your team, reach out to people like Shonali Burke (The Social PR Virtuoso®/Shonali Burke Consulting), Deirdre Breakenridge (PR Expanded), Gini Dietrich (Spin Sucks/Arment Dietrich), Ken Jacobs (Jacobs Executive Coaching) and Ryan Murray (Five Disciplines of Marketing) who are listed on CommunicationsMatch to discuss coaching and training programs to help you get where you want to go.
As Socrates said ““The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” For what you don’t know, it’s smart to learn from others.