Fieldamental #23: Work Smart

WORK SMART. Do your homework and be prepared for all meetings, calls, and appointments.  Be organized and plan your work for maximum efficiency. Solve problems before they happen by anticipating future issues, planning for contingencies, and addressing them in advance.  Think things through.

There is a lot packed into these 4 short sentences!  Overall we do well at this, but there are many ways to improve.  Here are a few thoughts on how we could make progress working smarter.

It can be obvious which people are really prepared for a meeting that you participate in and which ones aren’t prepared.  The people that are prepared tend to make a greater contribution, get more accomplished, and bring up issues that need attention.  The core of this Fieldamental challenges us to prepare for ALL interactions with others, don’t go into a meeting (calls, appointments, etc.) without reviewing the appropriate information, agenda, objectives, and considering what you want to accomplish.  Developing thought provoking questions should also be a part of all meeting preparation.  Really good questions will insure the necessary information is exposed and brings creditability to the person asking the questions.  Don’t wait until the meeting starts to “prepare”.

Another aspect of working smart is to work on the right things.  You need to work on things that are important to you; your goals & objectives, and our overall strategic plan.  Make a plan daily to identify the most important things that need to get done, and make sure to allocate the time and energy to get them accomplished.  Many of us are in positions that require us to respond to “requests” or “assistance” from others.  It is critical that we are responsive (legendary service, set clear expectations), but we must spend time on our priorities as well.  Don’t spend all day, every day reacting to external requests.

Working smart for team members outside of an office environment can mean ensuring you have all of the necessary tools, equipment, information, etc. before you start anything.  Think about what else you may need and have it available.  Don’t start something unless you have everything needed to complete the job.

To really plan ahead, anticipate the future, ask “what if?” and to think things through, you may need to “get away” from your normal work space.  Block off time in your schedule and consider using a conference room, the great room, an empty office or anyplace that will allow you to get away and truly THINK.  For me, it can be hard to concentrate on something when the phone rings, people stop by to chat or I hear that “ping” sound indicating that I just got another e-mail that may need my attention.  Schedule the necessary time and appropriate place to work smart.

Sometimes the best way to plan ahead, anticipate the future, ask “what if?” and thinking things through is best done with other people.  Engage different perspectives, involve multiple team members, and include other functional areas of Field to address complex issues.  We are stronger as a team and typically make better decisions when we collaborate with others.  Work smart as a team.

Another important aspect of working smart is learning from each other.  Share things that work for you with others on the team.  Actively seek input from others; there are many subject matter experts on the Field team willing to assist you if you ask.  There are countless books, seminars, classes, webinars on the topic of working smart; consider participation in something that interests you.  Find ways to learn from others from different companies or in different industries.