You Are Busy... But Are You Productive?
As a manager of a search firm you do all the right things to manage your staff. You hire intelligently, train effectively, and demand accountability of everyone except the most important person, yourself. In the over twenty five years of industry experience the most common mistake made by most owners is allowing themselves to think they are being productive, while never measuring their own effectiveness.

Holding your search consultants accountable is the easy part. You demand they plan their next day the night before. You know how much daily phone time they should have? The number of job orders, interviews, sales calls, and send-outs they should have each week to meet their performance criteria. The evaluation is simple, they either accomplish those key metrics or they don't. However, in your case, whether you are a billing manager or not, your key metrics extended beyond the basic functions of the business to complex financial concerns and softer, less tangible, employee and client related issues.

The simple array of elements that an owner needs to be aware of and manage can easily lull one into mistaking activity with productivity. You know how it goes, as soon as you settle into your desk the first fire drill takes place. As the day unfolds, one client facing fire drill is replaced by an employee personal crisis, to an issue with your bank, and so on. How many times have you started a week with grand plans of all the things you were going to accomplish, only to find yourself Friday afternoon acknowledging that none of your intentions were completed? If you answered that such an event never happens to you, then you are not being honest with yourself and you might as well stop reading. If you are nodding in acknowledgement that this happens far too often, congratulations you are like everyone else. However, you have the opportunity to change the situation by asking yourself these three simple questions:

Question 1: You expect your staff to "plan and schedule" a balanced day, then execute flawlessly. However, how much "inspection of what you expect" do you really do?

Question 2: There are at least eight (8) different ways to communicate to your staff, how many of them do you currently use regularly and effectively?

Question 3: This is the tough one. As a manager, you know that the success of your search consultant is directly connected to their ability to plan and execute the schedule of their day. As an expert in management coaching, I would argue the same goes for you as an owner of a search firm. So here is the tough question, "How much of your day is scheduled with what you feel are vital activities that will translate into future gains over a sustained period of time?"

Lee Iacocca once said, "If you want to make good use of your time, you've got to know what's most important and then give it all you've got." In the past five years that I have been acting as an executive coach for dozens of successful search business owners, the one constant is the ongoing struggle to limit the amount of time spent on unimportant issues. An initial task that I advise my clients to do is to make a daily plan and schedule for themselves and stick to it. As Lee Iacocca implies in his quote, without focus to your day you can easily find yourself very busy, but that doesn't mean you are very productive. You manage your staff's key metrics, who is measuring yours? If you are not, then you need to be, or at least utilize a consultant or coach to help you do so. Success is achieved through focus, and focus is achieved through planning and discipline.