Team & Outsourcing

4 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Are Too Busy

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Systems & How-Tos, Team & Outsourcing | 3 Comments

“Help me Tina! I’m too busy and something needs to change…”

Young overworked business woman sleeping on floorYou are right – it does. Being too busy isn’t sustainable and doesn’t serve you or your clients. The good news? It’s fixable, so grab your to-do list and ask yourself the following questions.

Question 1: Does this really need to be done? (If yes, now or later?)

We often have things on our to-do lists that either:

  1. don’t need to be done at all – they are ideas, maybes or “wouldn’t it be nice ifs”. They are things we are thinking about, but that we haven’t actually made a firm decision on yet. Ideas are not to-dos – create a separate idea list and get those things off your to-do list!
  2. don’t need to be done now – if you aren’t strategic about planning ahead, then as a default everything on your to-do list feels like it needs to be done NOW. Work through each item and ask yourself – when does this really need to be done? Could it be put off until next week? Maybe even next month? Take your list and put realistic due dates beside each item.

You should be left with a list of things that are actually do in the next week or so – and a list of things that aren’t due yet (or are ideas and are no longer on the list!)

Question 2: Do I need to be the one to do this?

If you are anything like I was for years, as a default you feel like you must do everything. You are good at what you do. You are used to being the one to get it all done, but now things are starting to fall behind and slip through the cracks.

Run through your list again and ask yourself – could someone else do this for me? Be aware of the following when you answer:

  • “Well yes, someone else could do this for me but it’s only me so I have to” If you don’t have anyone working with you right now this could be true, and you also have the power to change. Growth dictates that you will need to hire help at some point – when you do it is up to you.
  • “But no one can do it as well as me – so I have to be the one to do it” This is a dangerous spot to get stuck in, because as long as you believe it to be true, it is… and it could be the thing sucks the life right out of you. Yes, you may be the best at doing something but that doesn’t mean you can’t train another person to be as good as you (or at least close enough 😉 or find someone who does it already and bring them on board.

The goal here is simple – identify the things that others could do for you. It doesn’t mean you have to hire a bunch of people tomorrow, but at the very least you can look to give more to the people you have already and plan ahead for getting more support (which becomes a light at the end of the busy tunnel!)

This second question can be a doozy as it brings up all kinds of stuff for many of us – it can have our inner control freak kicking and screaming! I highly recommend getting the support of a coach or OBM to help you here if you go through your list and still have your name beside every task. An outside eye can often see what you can’t.

Question 3: How can I create more space?

At this point you should have a realistic list of what needs to be done in the next week or so. Now you want to ensure you have the space and time to get it done. Here are two of my favorite tips:

  • Plan ahead –book the time in your schedule to get stuff done. You might book in specific tasks, or you might book in time for types of tasks (ie: writing time, client time).
  • Set boundaries – distraction is the death of productivity. Be it team, clients, family or social media – every time you get distracted it takes you off track, and for many people it happens all day long! Close your door. Turn off your phone and email. Let people know when you aren’t available and when you are. And get really good at saying no (because they will test your boundaries!)

Question 4: Do I need to renegotiate any deadlines?

If you are truly in over your head and can’t get everything done, then you need to revise your deadlines. I get that this sucks and you may hate having to do it, but it’s better for you to own up to something ahead of time vs. having people get upset with you because they are waiting/asking. To simply say to someone “Hey, I got in over my head here and that’s on me. I won’t be able to get X to you until next Monday and wanted to let you know.” Yes, you might need to make concessions for being late if this affects their timelines.

Even if they are frustrated, people will respect you for stepping up and being real with what is going on – and quite often they are OK with adjusted timelines if they know ahead of time.

The beauty of these 4 questions is that you can use them over and again. Every time you find yourself too busy work through this process, and ideally overtime you won’t need to anymore.

Let me know how it goes k?

The Top 3 Reasons Why You Are Too Busy

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

Many of my clients come to me because they are too busy.

They are working too many hours.
They spend most of their time putting out fires and trying to keep up with everything.
They are having to say no to opportunities because there literally isn’t anymore time to do more work.
Their family members are mad at them for working too much.
They are tired, frustrated and demotivated because they can’t see a way to change it.

Before you can make a change it’s important to first recognize this simple truth.

Being too busy is the result of our choices, it’s not the cause of our problems.

It’s easy to think that being too busy is the problem, but it’s actually the symptom of the underlying causes that need to change. The good news? It’s fixable! The bad news? We are the only ones who can fix it. 😉

The first step to fixing it is understanding the top 3 reasons why business owners are too busy.

1) Saying yes more than you say no

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20% of our efforts lead to 80% of our results. This also means that 80% of our efforts contribute to only 20% of our results.

In other words, we may be spending up to 80% of our time on things that don’t really matter. Ouch!

essentialismThis happens when we default to saying yes to everything that comes our way. Yes to every new project. Every new client. Every new idea.

Every time we say yes to something there is less of us to go around. We end up making small progress in many areas, vs. measurable  progress where it matters the most.

Greg McKeown summarizes this beautifully in his book Essentialism.

“Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone [and everything], you can make your highest contirbution towards the things that really matter.”

2) Still seeing yourself as doer vs. leader

For the first 10 years of my business it was just me. I was a soloprenuer working 1-1 with my clients was able to handle all the work on my own. 2009 was the year that I shifted to a leveraged business model and began to focus on growth. It was the year my business officially became bigger than me and I quickly started to feel the pressure of getting it all done.

The simple truth was that there was more work to do, and I could no longer handle it all on my own. Something had to change, and it started with redefining my role.

All activities in business can be categorized into doing, managing or leading. The more time & energy you spend in doing, the less time you have for managing and leading.

Doing is a habit. If you are anything like I was, you are simply used to being the doer because you’ve done it for so long. You may take pride in the fact that you are a doer and can ‘get it all done’! If you continue to identify as the ‘doer’ you will always be too busy, for the simple fact that you won’t be willing to let it go.

3) Not building a strong foundation of team & systems

You’ve embraced your role as leader and are ready to let go of the doing – great! Next step is to bring in the right people to do the work and build a strong foundation of systems for everyone to work from.

It’s not rocket science to say that you need to hire a team – I’m sure you’ve heard it before! And yet many people struggle here when they don’t know who they need, where to find them and how to lead them to success.

Most of us aren’t naturals – finding, hiring and leading a team is a learned skill. If you are committed to getting out of the ‘too busy’ cycle you need to be willing to invest in your own leadership skills & development. You need to be willing to invest in hiring great people who can help you take your business to where you want to be.

If you are too busy I invite you to explore these 3 areas and let me know which of them you are going to work on next. I assure you that even small changes in any of these 3 areas can make a measurable difference.

Here’s to your freedom!

Are you a starter, finisher or maintainer?

By | CEO Tips, General Biz, Team & Outsourcing | 6 Comments

Originally posted on Feb. 25th 2016.

When I used to do corporate recruiting back in the day, one of the questions we always asked people was:

“Are you a starter, finisher or maintainer?”

I love this question and have continued to use it in my business – with team & clients. It’s important to understand this distinction for ourselves, as well as for the people we work with.

A starter likes to get the ball rolling – you are a visionary. You see the world through a lens of opportunity and how things can be changed for the better. You are passionate and driven by your ideas – nothing gives you more pleasure than a great (new) idea and the possibility it creates.

A finisher likes to get stuff done – you love to plug into someone else’s ideas and help bring them to life. You naturally see what it will take to accomplish a goal – the steps, resources and timeline – and don’t feel satisfied until measurable progress is being made.

A maintainer likes to keep the engine running – you are driven by stability – chaos, messes and surprises drive you crazy! You have an eye for detail and a heart of service, knowing that a strong foundation is what keeps the vision (ideas) alive. You are satisfied when everything is running as it should, on a daily basis, with excellence.

Which one do you identify with the most?

Could be more than one – I’m both a starter & a finisher, but I am NOT a maintainer.

I am great at coming up with big ideas – solving big problems – and I love to bring them to life. (My business is built on programs we’ve created to solve big problems – Certified Online Business Manager and CEO Business School to name our biggies)

Once the programs are created and serving where they are meant to serve, then I start to disengage. Once the creation is live my natural inclination is to move onto the next thing.

This is who I am but I fought this for YEARS! I thought that I should want to keep focused on the same thing – I created it, this is my baby, how could I possibly be ready to move on? (Or dare I say, bored!) I beat myself up because I thought something was wrong with me.

It’s only in recent years I’ve come to accept that I’m not a maintainer, and because of this I need strong maintainers on my team. Because of this I have structured my business to allow my starter/finisher nature to play while building on the success of past creations <– this took me a LONG time to figure out.

How can your team compliment your nature? If you are a starter you need strong finishers around you (our OBMs are GREAT at this). If you are a finisher you need to connect with powerful starters. If you are a maintainer you are needed to keep the success engine running!

Know yourself. Honor yourself. Let go of what isn’t true for you. That is where real success is found.

The 3 Key Elements of a Strong, Trusted Team (without all 3 it falls apart!)

By | Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

I’ve had a handful of conversations lately with business owners who are struggling – they have a team of people working with them and it’s going “OK”, but they aren’t sure if it’s actually working or not? They are starting to question if they have the right people in place?

I recorded a NEW video for you today re: the 3 Key Elements of a Strong, Trusted Team. If you are missing any one of these elements you (and your team!) will struggle.

Day 13 – Let them do what you hired them for

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

LeeIacocca21 Days of Leadership

In our Certified Online Business Manager training we teach our OBMs that their job isn’t to serve the business owner (their client) – their job is to serve the business.

What does this mean?

When a business is at the stage of growth where they need to hire an OBM it means that the business needs to be run differently.

The business is usually in chaos mode – no structure, no plans, not enough people to do the work that needs to be done. Lots of stuff going on and everyone scrambling to keep up (and usually not doing a very good job).

A business owner will hire an OBM when they are tired of the chaos. When they know that they need structure. They need the right team. They need to start planning ahead.

But what quite often happens is they resist the very thing that they hired the OBM to help them with.

They resist laying out a plan because they prefer to ‘go with the flow.’ They resist structure because it not how they prefer to work. They resist hiring the right people because they wish they didn’t have to spend the money or don’t understand the amount of work that actually needs to be done.

Put simply – their personal preferences/fears are getting in the way of the OBM doing their job and serving the business.

When you find yourself resisting changes on your growth path it’s important to ask yourself:

“Am I making this decision based on what I DON’T want, or based on what the business needs?”

A leader recognizes that the team is there to serve the business, and not to serve you as an individual.

And there are times when what the business needs will not be what you want.

It’s your job as a leader to know the difference, and to allow those around you to do what needs to be done.

I’m gathering together a group of women for my new LEAD Mastermind – where we are going to explore this and the other facets of leadership. Message me if you are curious to learn more.

#21daysofleadership #day13 #letthemdotheirjob #LEADMastermind

Day 12 – You can’t motivate anyone

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

21 Days of Leadership

Simon Sinek said it best in his book Start With Why

“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”

Makes sense right? We would all love to have a team of motivated people! And yet I know this isn’t true for many business owners.

There are two reasons why business owners struggle to find motivated people.

First, you don’t believe that they exist. Or that you will be able to find them.

I was talking with a business owner yesterday about hiring and he said “I want to hire rock stars but most of the people out there aren’t at the level I’m looking for.”

He’s right. Not everyone is going to be a rock star. Not everyone is going to be motivated.

How do you attract the best people? Be the best leader. Believe that there are great people out there and do everything you can to create an opportunity that will attract the best.

Second, you don’t know how to lead them.

Motivation needs to be met by inspiration. And if you aren’t a great leader you won’t be able to inspire great people. And then they will leave.

Motivated people need to be met by great leaders.

Hiring a motivated person doesn’t mean you get to wash your hands of them, setting them off on their own to ‘take care of things’ without your input. It doesn’t mean you have a team that leaves you alone so you can just do what you want to do.

That’s abdication – not leadership.

Be real with yourself. How strong of a leader are you right now? Where do you need to develop your leadership skills so that you can attract and keep the best people?

Work on yourself to become a rock star leader and you will naturally start to find rock star people.

I’m gathering together a group of women for my new LEAD Mastermind – where we are going to explore this and the other facets of leadership. Message me if you are curious to learn more.

Simon Sinek

#21daysofleadership #day12 #stoptryingtomotivate #LEADMastermind

How to lead a virtual team (part 1)

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | 2 Comments

My entire team is virtually based – everyone is a contractor (a business owner themselves) who has other clients, and we rarely see each other face-to-face. They are the best team in the biz imo – bringing the best of who they are every day and supporting my business as though it was the only one they worked for.

So what’s my secret? How you lead a virtual team of contractors/freelancers is not the same as leading a team of employees. In today’s new video I share with you one very simple – and yet not obvious! – shift that you can make today in how you lead your virtual team.

Day 11 – Delegate your Distractions

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

Busy21 Days of Leadership

Ask someone how they are doing and chances are you will hear some variation of:

“I’m so busy!”

Perhaps you’ve said it yourself lately?

We live in a world where busy has become the norm. We wear busy as a badge of honor – unconsciously confusing our busyness with being productive.

Yes, we have a lot on our plates but the truth is if you are “too busy” you aren’t leading. You are reacting.

One of the first exercises I do with my clients is creating a YES list – essentially their CEO role description. For most everyone their YES list includes activities that are growing their business, serving their clients and leading their team.

The idea of the YES list is simple – if you are doing things that aren’t on your YES list they are distractions to your success.

I’m curious to know how much of your time is spent outside of these things? Make a list of these things and ask yourself:

Is this necessary to the growth of my business?

If I was to stop doing it how would that affect the business?

Look to delegate those things that serve the growth of the business. Look to delete or delay those that don’t.

Your time is your most precious asset as a leader – and it’s up to you to use it wisely.

I’m gathering together a group of women for my new LEAD Mastermind – where we are going to explore this and the other facets of leadership. Message me if you are curious to learn more.

#21daysofleadership #day11 #delegateyourdistractions #LEADMastermind

Day 10 – Stop fixing their problems

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

Teach a Man to Fish21 Days of Leadership

What do you do when a team member comes to you with a problem? Do you:

a) give them the answer/ solution
b) jump in to fix it yourself (cause it would be quicker that way)
c) ask them what they recommend to solve it?

Many of us – myself included – are fixers. When someone comes to us with a problem our inclination is to jump in to fix it or give the answer.

This may solve the problem in the moment, but there is a long term impact to using this approach.

Being the fixer creates a culture of dependency. Every time you solve their problems you are (subconsciously) teaching them that they can’t do it on their own. You are teaching them that they have to come to you for the ‘right’ answer.

And then you start to feel frustrated that they can’t seem to figure things out on their own and always have to come to you for the answer.

As a leader it is up to you to create a culture where your team brings solutions and not problems.

Next time a team member comes to you with a problem coach them to find their own answer. You can start by simply asking them “what do you recommend we do to fix this?”

If they are used to you giving them the answer or jumping in to fix it this might catch them off guard. And it might take some time for them to come up with solutions, for the simple fact that they aren’t used to being asked!

Exercise patience while you are empowering them to learn to think for themselves. It may take some time but the long term impact will be well worth the investment.

An empowered team is one who rises to the occasion because you, as the leader, have created the space for them to do so.

I’m gathering together a group of women for my new LEAD Mastermind – where we are going to explore this and the other facets of leadership. Message me if you are curious to learn more.

#21daysofleadership #day10 #empowerdontfix #LEADMastermind

Day 9 – You get what you inspect, not what you expect

By | CEO Tips, Leadership, Team & Outsourcing | No Comments

What you Allow21 Days of Leadership

“Tina, I’m feeling frustrated that my team isn’t getting stuff done when they said they would.”

I hear a variation of this from business owners at least once a week, and I get it – when stuff isn’t getting done it can be downright annoying!

There are a few reasons why this may be happening, but one of the most common that I see – and the easiest to fix! – is that you aren’t holding them accountable.

It is one thing to ask someone to do something, but if you don’t hold them accountable then it leaves the request as an open loop. Which means the work may or may not get done, especially when that person is juggling multiple priorities and multiple clients (as many virtual support professionals are).

The easiest way to hold someone accountable? Ask them about it.

You get what you inspect – what you ask about – and not just what you expect. Or as I like to say (somewhat tongue in cheek), the squeaky wheel gets the grease. 😉

Agree on a deadline. Remind them of that deadline (via your weekly team meetings and automating reminders in your virtual office/ project management tool) and ask them about the status of the task the day BEFORE it’s due. If they don’t get the work done have them own the reason why and come to you with a solution and/or new timeline.

It’s human nature to want to do great work. No one wants to be the person to show up and not have their work done. And yet, most of us need a loving reminder of what is coming up and when it’s due. We need to know that someone is waiting on us and that the work we do matters.

Yes, I get that you may wish you never had to ask questions and follow up with your team. That you could just hand them a task and they would just get everything done without you having to check in at all. That falls more into the realm of abdication vs. delegation.

A leader embraces that it is part of their job to create a culture of accountability. To create a team where people own up to what did and didn’t get done, and why.

And the beauty is – once you create a culture of accountability you won’t have to ask so much. It’s a good thing.

I’m gathering together a group of women for my new LEAD Mastermind – where we are going to explore this and the other facets of leadership. Message me if you are curious to learn more.

#21daysofleadership #day9 #inspectdontexpect #LEADMastermind