19 Jan

Start with 5 minutes

“A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This time of year it is popular to run planning days. These day/s sessions are designed to refocus us on the business after the end-of-year break and to prioritise actions for the new year. They are important discussions whether you are a business of one or a business of thousands; whether you are a start-up or an established organisation. The discussions may look different, depending on your size, industry, culture etc, yet all businesses should conduct some form of planning. And just as important is the ongoing review throughout the year of any actions from these discussions.

If these planning sessions are so important, why is it that many of you probably rolled your eyes or groaned when you read the first paragraph?

It’s because for many of us, the word ‘planning’ conjures images of boring monologues by senior executives, having to analyse data we are not interested in, or feeling frustrated to waste our time coming up with creative ideas that will never be implemented. In the same category of eye-rolling words you may also find ‘strategy’, ‘tactics’, ‘objectives’ and ‘critical success factors’. The outputs these words indicate are not bad – in fact, most companies would struggle to be effective without having the detail these words refer to. Yet these words for some reason do not inspire, energise or motivate many of us. And for some, they actually cause brain shut-down, leading to a sudden and extreme interest in doing anything BUT thinking about the detail behind these words!

There is no easy remedy to such feelings towards ‘planning’ and ‘strategy’ words. To progress in business, you will need to learn about and embrace such words and the actions and outcomes behind them. The purpose of this article is not to give you the run-down on the definitions and processes of business planning. The purpose here is to break it down to a simple starting point that removes eye-rolling, brain-shutdown words and kick-starts you to begin to think about the year ahead. And it comes down to allocating 5 minutes in your day. Starting with 5 minutes can get the ball rolling. Surely you can find 5 minutes?

So give yourself 5 minutes, find a place to sit where you will be undisturbed by others, grab a pen and paper to record your thoughts (we find the old-fashioned, organic way helps keep focus and connection to the work, yet if you must, you can use a digital device!) and complete the  following, inserting the word/s most relevant to you:

  • What I want for <myself/the business/my team> this year is…

Write down whatever comes to mind – you can cluster, prioritise and develop actions later. This is just the first 5 minutes to help you focus your mind on what you want from the year. Of course, what you do with the list after this exercise is incredibly important (topics for another day!) yet for many of us this first step is the hardest – the starting.

Just start with 5 minutes. And not an eye-rolling word in sight!

Happy new year!

engagingPOTENTIAL: training, team development, coaching

Specialising in working with managers to develop extraordinary teams!

© Engaging Potential Pty Ltd


11 Dec

End-of-year reflection

“May your walls know joy, may every room hold laughter, and every window open to great possibility” – Mary Anne Radmacher

With just over a week to go before the Christmas holidays, things might be looking a little hectic around your place of work. We are amazed at how ‘busy’ people are at this time of year – finishing projects, writing reports, tying up loose ends. Sometimes this can be the most stressful time of the year in the office – either we are racing to finish tasks before the holidays, or we are deciding what we can postpone until the New Year. Sometimes all this ‘busy-ness’ is not overly productive.

So a few ideas on finishing the year in a good frame of mind…

1. Prioritise your remaining time. Let’s face it, there’s not much time before you go on leave. If you think you will get everything done on your ‘to do’ list before then, you are kidding yourself and creating more stress.

  • Determine what 3 things are essential for you to do before you go on leave – What will help me achieve my outstanding objectives?; What will provide the best benefit to the business?; What will help my customers/clients the most?
  • Plan these 3 actions (above) into your calendar – How much time will it take to complete each?; When will I do these things?

2. Stop procrastinating! At this time of year it can be easy to get caught up in office festivities or drawn in by the gang who are very happy to wind down and complete minimal work. So although you need to be realistic about what you can achieve, it’s equally important to make sure you do achieve something!

  • Book a meeting room for 2 hours and complete one of your action items away from distractions
  • Come in to the office 1/2 hour early to get a good start before it gets noisy and distracting
  • Stick to your priority list and hold yourself accountable – you’ll feel so much better if you achieve something in this remaining time

3. Take time to reflect. Whether it’s during your performance review with your boss, over coffee with a colleague or just quiet reflection time, it’s important to think about your achievements this year. So often we don’t congratulate ourselves for a job well done and yet it’s very healthy to celebrate true success.

  • What are you most proud of achieving this year?
  • What did you learn along the way?
  • How did you grow as a person/employee/leader this year?

4. Decide on 1 thing you will do to enjoy your break and return to work refreshed in the New Year. Life balance is important – take time out to recharge and do something you love.

  • What will you do to recharge over the holiday season?

Happy end-of-year and happy holidays!

engagingPOTENTIAL: training, team development, coaching

Specialising in working with managers to develop extraordinary teams!

© Engaging Potential Pty Ltd

10 Jan

Is planning really that important?

“A man who does not plan long ahead will find trouble at his door.”Confucius

It is understood that at this time of year most management consultants, executives and CEOs are talking about the importance of planning. It can all get a bit much – what are we planning for and does it really help? And what does it mean to those of us who are not personally responsible for running the organisation?

Taking a step back, let’s look at this from a practical sense that relates to you. Think about the last meeting you ran that went really well – when you left the meeting feeling that you had achieved what you set out to achieve. It might have been a meeting giving feedback to an employee, a cross-functional meeting you were facilitating or a meeting where you had to challenge your boss on something important.How did you feel when you left that meeting? On a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being very high) how satisfied were you with the way you conducted the meeting? What did you do well in the meeting that led to a good discussion or outcome?

Now let’s think about what you did before the meeting – did you by any chance plan how the meeting would flow, plan what you might say, or plan some possible objections that might be raised and how you might handle them? Did you plan what your objective was and what you hoped the outcome might be?

Chances are that the meeting you are thinking of was successful (even if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted) in large part due to the planning you did before hand. Whilst planning will not 100% guarantee success or cover every likely issue that might occur, it will definitely help you feel more prepared, confident and clear-minded. You will be more focussed. You will be more likely to listen to others than if you were planning in your head ‘on the spot’. You will be more in control than if you didn’t plan.

So we acknowledge that when we plan, we generally have more successful interactions with others, especially if there is an issue to discuss or a difficult conversation to be had. If we extrapolate this thinking to longer term business planning, we may start to see some benefits that relate to us. For example, if we are really clear on our objectives for the year, we are more able to map out the steps we need to achieve, more efficient in our use of resources (especially time!) and more likely to feel a sense of satisfaction when we hit our goal. We are less likely to be distracted by tasks that don’t fit with our objectives and less likely to procrastinate because we don’t know the reasons for what we are doing. We are likely to appear to others as being focussed, motivated and productive.

So now you might be saying “that’s all very well, but I have no time to plan!” It’s true, planning does take time – be it for a short-term meeting goal or for a longer term year plan. Yet if we plan in the first place, we are likely to save time later. How many times have you started a task or project, got part way in and then realised you weren’t really sure what the point was or how to actually do something related to the task? By the time you have had a few unsuccessful attempts at whatever it is, you realise that you need to go back to the start, to get more clarity from the boss, to map out timelines or to seek training in a particular area first. This all adds time to the project and may have been avoided if you had spent a few moments planning in advance.

Planning actually saves time compared to not planning! Planning may help you predict issues or find a simpler way, even before you start.

So whether it’s planning for the year, planning for a project, or planning for a meeting, it is worth the effort. You just have to commit to doing the plan in the first place – go on, it’s not that hard and will be worth it in the end!

A few things to think about when you plan at work:

  • What am I wanting to achieve with this year / project / meeting?
  • How does this relate to the company goals for the year?
  • What will be the most important outcomes or outputs?
  • What are the steps (and timeframes for each if applicable) needed to achieve the desired results?
  • What are the resources I may need to achieve results? (people, money, time, tools)
  • What are the possible obstacles I may face and how will I handle them?
  • How do I want myself and others to feel as a result of achieving the objectives of the year / project / meeting?

Once you get into the habit of asking yourself these questions, you will find planning gets easier and often quicker. And if you are not able to answer some of these questions, you will know that you need to ask for help or do some research.

So in the next month when your executive team are talking about planning, don’t switch off – see what they are doing and what they are planning for the business, reflect on how this will impact your job and start your own planning from there. Then keep planning – projects, meetings, discussions, presentations…

Happy new year and happy planning!

engagingPOTENTIAL: training, team development, coaching

Specialising in working with managers to develop extraordinary teams!

© Engaging Potential Pty Ltd

08 Dec

2011 almost here…

 “Good plans shape good decisions. That’s why good planning helps to make elusive dreams come true.” – Unknown

It’s hard to believe, although somewhat necessary to notice – 2011 is almost upon us!

At the end of a long, hard year it’s good to take stock of the year that was and also plan for the next 365 days. So, in this last blog post of 2010, here are some questions for you to ponder as we wind down towards the festive season…

The year that was!

  • What were your achievements in 2010?
  • What did you do well to make these achievements possible?
  • Was there anything you learnt about yourself and your business over the year?
  • What could you have done better?


The year that will be!

  • What do you want to achieve in 2011?
  • Which of your awesome strengths will help you get there?
  • What challenges do you predict and how will you overcome them?
  • Who will help and support you in 2011?

These are just a few questions to help you celebrate your 2010 successes and start the planning for 2011.

Wishing you all a very successful year end and a happy holiday season! Thanks for reading and we’ll be back blogging in 2011.

(engagingPOTENTIAL will still be working with clients throughout December –  just no blogging until January.)

engagingPOTENTIAL: training, team development, coaching

Specialising in working with managers to develop extraordinary teams!

© Engaging Potential Pty Ltd