How to Focus on Growth Initiatives…..

As a director or senior manager of a company, part of your role must be to define and implement new growth initiatives. However if you are like most of my clients (and me!) you probably never feel like you have enough time to devote to those important projects. Often the activities with the most learning opportunity get squeezed out of your daily routine by project meetings, administrative work, e-mail, and other day-to-day ‘stuff’.

So how do you set time aside to focus on growth initiatives? I would suggest if you think more strategically about the way you tackle the growth projects, you can find the time to work on them and increase your own feeling of success, as well as your value to your company. Here’s a simple process to achieve this:

1: Find the Growth Initiatives

Brainstorm the development opportunities that either currently fall within the scope of your role or could if you asked for them. To come up with possibilities, try these techniques:

  • Think about some of your ambitions that you had for your current position before you started. What did you hope to accomplish?
  • Have a coffee with people in similar positions at a different company, and ask how they invest in learning.
  • Survey the company and note down opportunities for improvement.

2: Identify the Greatest Value

Once you’ve determined what types of development you could pursue you’ll need to decide where to focus. One of the best ways to do this is to look at the potential value created by additional investment for your company . Then, decide on one or two that have the most potential to stretch your skills and have a meaningful impact on your company.

3: Clarify Next Steps

Part of the fun, and challenge, of development initiatives is that you get to define the path to reach your end destination. However if you just have only the occasional couple of hours or less to make meaningful progress, you should always have a clear sense of the next few steps on your initiative. I recommend noting them down in a place you can find later or use such online project tools as Trello. By writing out exactly which actions you need to take to move forward on the ultimate goal, you make it much easier to use spare minutes effectively.

4: Decide on Acceptable Minimums

For both myself and my time coaching clients, I’ve found that it’s too easy to keep moving important, non urgent activities from week-to-week, because even when you have them on your calendar, you know you can put them off without major short-term repercussions. To remedy this situation, “acceptable minimums” really works. Here’s what that means: For the one or two key growth initiatives, decide on the minimum amount of time you want to spend on the related actions each week. For example, you could decide that you spend at least two hours a week moving ahead on a customer service project and one hour a week reading about trends in your industry. Then, either make these blocks of time recurring events or schedule them in each week. (Ideally these blocks of time fall early in the day and early in the week so they don’t fall off the edges of your workday.) Although an hour or two may seem like too short a time to make real progress, you’ll amaze yourself at how much you can get done when you invest your time consistently in these areas. Plus if you have more time certain weeks, you can always do more.

With the right strategies, your daily work can provide consistent opportunities to achieve your growth initiatives .

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