How to Use Your Attention As a Tool to Drive Better Results

Have you ever heard the saying “What gets measured, gets done?” How about “Inspect what you expect” or even “What you focus on grows”? What all of these sayings have in common is the idea that that whatever you consistently focus your attention on will tend to improve. Whether you want to improve sales, profit, customer satisfaction or some other aspect of your business, the more you focus everyone’s attention on an area needing improvement, the more improvement you will see. There’s employee research starting in the 1920’s and continuing to today that backs this idea up.

It makes sense if you think about it. Let’s say that you and your team set a goal for this year to increase net profit from 5% to 10%. But now that the goal is set, you never pay any attention to it – you never examine why your net profit is lower than you want it to be, you never measure your net profit to see how you’re doing, and you never talk with your team about your net profit. How much do you think your net profit will improve? My experience shows, not much!

On the other hand, if you measure your profit, focus on it regularly with your team and continually look for and implement ways to improve, you will make improvements in a big way.

In fact, one of my clients doubled his profit last year by focusing everyone’s attention on profit improvement every day and in every way.

Focusing everyone’s attention on driving the results that are important to your business is a simple idea, but as simple as this idea is, I don’t see it executed very well in most contracting businesses. There are just too many competing priorities and distractions. And the result of not focusing everyone’s attention on what matters to your business is subpar performance.  

Here are three ideas on how to use your attention systematically as a tool to get better business results:

1.     Focus on a short list of priorities. If you have too many priorities, then you really have no priorities. You’ll spread your energy, time and efforts too thin, and your employees will be confused and lose focus. So, keep everyone focused on a short list of priority goals that you want to accomplish this year.

2.      Measure and discuss results frequently. To get great results, you must measure and track progress toward your goals and share your results with your team regularly. Consider having a monthly all employee meeting to discuss results with everyone in the company and weekly one-on-one meetings with each of your management team members to review last week’s results and this week’s goals and to resolve any challenges that might keep your managers from meeting their goals for the week.

These weekly meetings enable you to systematically spread your attention around and keep your managers focused and accountable for achieving their goals. These meetings also help you identify problems and make adjustments to keep things moving in the right direction.

If you have a sales manager with a sales team or a production manager who oversees their crews, they should have regular weekly meetings or brief daily meetings too, to focus everyone on the results you're trying to achieve. Here is an example of five questions that some of my clients’ production managers have adopted to keep their crew leads focused everyday on driving productivity:

  • What were your man hours yesterday compared to your goal?
  • What did you accomplish yesterday?
  • What is your goal for today?
  • What obstacles do you see that will keep you from reaching that goal?
  • How do you plan to overcome those obstacles?

Similar questions could be developed for a sales manager for their sales team. The key is that asking the same questions daily keeps everyone focused and thinking about how to drive better results.

3.      Reward and celebrate successes. Rewards and recognition are key tools to keep everyone’s attention focused on what matters. Audit your compensation, rewards, recognition, incentives and performance reviews to ensure that all incentives align with your goals. You’ll be surprised how many aren’t! 

Pay attention to this idea!

There’s huge power in focusing everyone’s attention on driving the results that are important to your business. So, take an hour and focus your attention on implementing the ideas that I've laid out here. It will help you and your team produce better business results and simplify your life in the process! Not a bad return on your investment for such a simple change in how you manage!

Bill Silverman, president of SpringBoard Business Coaching, Cherry Hill, NJ, is author of The 5 Critical Success Factor for Running a Great 7-Figure Contracting Business. A regular presenter at National Pavement Expo, he focuses on “contractors with businesses larger than $1 million who want to up their game, become great business owners, and create businesses they’re really proud of.” Reach him at [email protected].