How to Work Smarter in an Instant

Before I start a piece of work with a new client, I always ask them the same question. “Imagine that we are sitting here at the end of the project or programme and it’s turned out to been more successful than anybody could ever have imagined. What does that success look like? What is different? What is better?”

You may find it strange but an awful lot of them can’t answer me. They have no measures of success. They haven’t addressed this at all. You’ve probably heard the saying “If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’re there?” Many people don’t seem to apply this in their day to day business life at all.

Take a look at meetings for example. How many times have you attended a company meeting, without any expectations of success? On the odd occasion when I’ve been asked to attend meetings and I’ve given an ‘unconsidered acceptance’ -that’s without considering it’s purpose and what I might want to get out of it , I’ve often found myself thinking in the meeting “why am I here, what are we here to achieve”. It’s hardly a smart way of working is it? Whenever I’ve not been able to give myself a satisfactory answer, I’ve made my excuses and left.

So what am I saying? Simply this. For every task you carry out ask yourself:

• What’s the purpose?
• What are the criteria for success?

You can then judge whether you are achieving your purpose and measures of success (and if not, take action to put things back on track).

Take the selling situation. Break the process down into separate tasks, with the first being to develop sufficient rapport with your prospect to be able to take them to the second stage of the sales process. Often this can be a simple as asking your prospect if they have time to speak to you. I was recently approached in my local supermarket by a sales rep. Her first question was “Did I have a loyalty card?” “Yes”, I said and continued shopping. Had she asked if I had time to speak with her, she may then have been able to take me to the next stage. Unfortunately she didn’t.

Only the other day I received a call from the satellite TV Company. The caller introduced himself and indicated that the purpose of the call was to explain their equipment insurance scheme to me (so far so good). He then asked me what type of programmes I liked and completely threw me. He possibly thought he was developing rapport, but he already had. To have explained their insurance scheme would have been the next logical step. He hadn’t identified his criteria for success for stage 1.