Energy Management Part II: Prioritizing Your Best Output / 2-12-2014

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In our first article, we discussed eight contributors to our energy that might influence how focused we are during the workday and in the process impact perhaps how we practice time management.  I addressed the reality of having some daily periods of time where we might have more or less energy and why it would be wise to schedule some tasks, whenever possible, that best fit that level of energy. 

One additional point worth hitting strong is that time management -- that is, our effort to schedule our work day -- is often done in such a way that we maximize our eight to 10 hours.  It’s not uncommon to find contractors who are “booked” from 6:30 a.m. until after 6:30 p.m. without any real break between meetings, follow-ups, phone calls etc.  While we are all busy creatures by nature, there is no way any one field leader can be scheduled “to the max” and exert the same level of energy at every scheduled event.

So herein lies our reason for this topic.  Energy, that precious resource that “we own,” is ours to protect, to better utilize and to leverage so that we can position our best effort to achieve the best results.

Last week we examined the first two “contributors”:

  • Energy “ups and downs” during the work day
  • Impact made on performance by rest breaks, including lunch

These first two contributors require a clear recognition of how we perform during the day.  They also can assist us to better observe how effective we are at certain times of the day, and what we can do to increase the energy and focus when performing work during our “not so high” energy times.  I provided several suggestions on how to improve both contributors so be sure to read this first installment of this series.

This week we address how the next two contributors:

  • Attitude and enthusiasm as contributors to focus
  • Clarity of the day’s mission and recognizing weekly goals

impact our work efforts, and how to transition them in such a way that we are performing at a higher level of energy and focus with greater attention to needed details.

Attitude and Enthusiasm as Contributors to Focus

The stories are endless of individuals who possessed an incredibly positive attitude and enthusiasm and how they overcame cancer, endured the hardships of war or captivity or rebounded from a catastrophic injury.  Just a reflection on the survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing leaves me extremely humbled at the attitudes and enthusiasm for life that the living victims, some with one or more missing limbs, are now attacking life.  Instead of giving in to self-pity and giving up on life, they have leveraged their attitudes to be assertive, aggressive and achievers of good and positive things in their lives.

The same personal attitude and tireless enthusiasm that propelled those Boston Marathon participants from victims to victors can do the same for you and me when we are planning our daily and weekly schedules.  The impact made by our attitude and enthusiasm, if we let it, can be a great energy booster for our performance and results. 

Let’s incorporate a few lessons from past winners with great attitudes and enthusiasm into our own Energy Management.

  • Count your daily blessings for health and opportunities for being in the greatest industry to make a living
  • Focus on what you “can” accomplish; less on what you “cannot” accomplish
  • Schedule  “no brainer” type work during periods of lower energy periods of time
  • Schedule the more challenging tasks, calls and meetings during your higher energy periods
  • Practice regularly your people skills; learn to appreciate people for who they are…not for who they are not!
  • Create some fun experiences during stressful times; a joke here, some ice cream in the middle of winter there etc.
  • Make it normal procedure to visit others before they embark on a challenging or problematic effort and look to raise their hopes
  • Follow-up with your workers just after they’ve completed a very difficult task or project and take some learning lessons from their feedback
  • Create some decompression activities periodically by allowing your people some fun competition like bowling, paint balling, fishing etc.
  • Consciously consider putting on the right “mask” if you’re going into a difficult time period when your energy is lower; admittedly, learn to act like an Academy Award winner
  • Be realistic about how to schedule your actual days but recognize that a little “more” tends to keep you focused and leaning into the wind
  • Realize those scheduled meetings or tasks that you really enjoy the most and don’t let them take up more time than is really needed (you might be shortening time needed on less enjoyable people or efforts)
  • Don’t let the lower energy or poor attitude of another individual rain on your parade; determine to model a winner’s attitude and love for challenges in the good times and bad

There is no doubt what a consistently positive attitude and love for life in general do to lift your personal efforts – and also lift the same in others.  Your most effective behavior and results will not always be fun but you can really bring greater management of your time and results by engaging your attitude and enthusiasm, allowing them to recharge your focus and attention to detail.

Clarity of the Day’s Mission and Recognizing Weekly Goals

One sure sign of poor performance and poor management of one’s time is when there is little-to-no idea of what the vision is for the day or what is needed to achieve by week’s end.  Without clarity of what today needs to produce, what my mission is today and even how that fits into the goals (written or implied), a leader will struggle trying to push that boulder of mediocrity up the mountain.

Energy Management might actually begin first with having a clear picture of what the mission is for the day.  Having such clarity about the excitement awaiting the contractor can almost catapult one from the bed and into the truck to make the day happen.  

Just as significant is the impact made on attitude, actions, teamwork, improvement and an endless list of other benefits, when goals are clearly…

IDENTIFIED, WRITTEN, AND POSTED!!! 

Did you get the emphasis?

Study after study has repeatedly demonstrated that when humans, individually or as a group of people, are challenged with achieving goals, a transformation to an “all for one and one for all” effort propels performance results.  Yet, many contractors continue to NOT implement this easiest of leadership efforts when trying to motivate and schedule their workers’ day.

OK then, let’s consider a few ways to turn Mission Clarity and Goal Development into great boosters for better Energy Management.

  • Meet every morning with your workers to discuss the day’s “big picture”
  • Include in “big picture” discussions should who is doing what, why, how and who else might be engaged
  • Clearly present what productivity must be achieved…today!
  • Identify weekly goals so everyone understands what needs to be accomplished by Friday
  • Identify Friday “end points,” then record them with clear measurements, i.e. 600 cubic yards of concrete poured; 5,000 gallons of sealant applied, 150 sheets of “rock” placed etc.
  • Place recorded goals “loudly” at the shop or in the yard where every employee can easily see the goals
  • Post “daily results” to confirm how work is – or is not -- progressing
  • Include in morning “huddle” with workers what adjustments might be made to position the team to “win” that day’s goals
  • Conduct a brief afternoon “huddle” to gain the team’s thoughts on that day’s effort and what is needed for the next day to be successful
  • Recognizing the energy levels of your workers, make unannounced visits to work sites when critical production is needed…even during low energy output times
  • Provide your workers a little verbal encouragement (maybe even pass out some candy bars!) just before workers are entering a traditional slow down in energy

We cannot always schedule work only when our workers are “feeling it.”  That’s why it is important to know our worker’s “daily rhythms” and to do our best to move them through such lower energy periods quickly, sometimes diverting their attention through motivational words or a quick cup of coffee or can of Surge. Ha! 

In my own leadership experience over the past 30-plus years I can assure you that setting goals and working hard to maintain a positive attitude contribute to better management of my own energy, and those whom I led.  There is no secret elixir for maintaining perfect energy at the highest levels for eight to 10 hours a day.  However, there are strategies we can employ that can certainly raise our energy, thus gaining us greater performance and results.

As you move to gain greater control of your own energy and assist the same with your workers, be aware of the power of goals, attitude, clear mission and having a contagious and positive enthusiasm for life.  As contractors and construction leaders we have the privilege that few others have in life: We can actually impact the lives of those who work under our lead.

Let your love for construction, and for others, be spread throughout your company and watch the management of time take on a whole new and better result!

Oh, How I Love This Industry!

Brad Humphrey  

© 2014 Brad Humphrey, Pinnacle Development Group/The Contractor’s Best Friend™

 

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