Maximize your time, energy & effectiveness with these simple strategies.
MOST EXECUTIVES have three or more direct reports and at least one personal/executive assistant as well as a number of board members and strategic partners. And we could all benefit from maximizing our time and becoming more effective. Communication is a giant key to it all—in fact, communication and delegation with those who work closest with you is an executive High-Leverage Activity (HLA).
Over the last twenty-five years, I’ve researched, constructed and published 27 books on communication and presentation effectiveness. My most popular title is Life Is a Series of Presentations, which is endorsed by Shark Tank. The title itself says it all.
Using this concept as a core, my team and I have developed a powerful methodology called Presentation Mastery™. Inside our methodology is a special tool called the Presentation Universe—a matrix in which you list all the presentation opportunities in your daily life, both personal and professional. For your convenience, there is a partially filled-in sample Presentation Universe matrix to help you quickly think through your daily world of presentations on pages 62-63.
Time is valuable to you, as it is to any busy executive. That’s why I preach/teach about time management every chance I get. When I’m speaking to a group and ask how many hours are in a week, only one in 20 knows the answer. There are 168 hours in a week. We have to sleep 56, and we take around 12 for maintenance—so that leaves basically 100 hours (50 for personal and 50 for professional). How we invest those hours will determine the life we build for ourselves.
Becoming a More Effective Leader
I believe communication (and often delegation) to direct reports can easily be divided into seven major buckets. Glance at the matrix and expand your thinking as you look at the recommended actions in the far-right column. Carefully read the rest of this article to glean even more details to see how you may make better use your time and impact results by upping your communication game.
The matrix includes a place for you to rate yourself on each of the presentation opportunities. To make you aware of how well you are doing currently in each of these communication vehicles, rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, on your preparation (P); your delivery (D); and your follow-up (F).
For example, how well do you prepare for the huddles with your team? You would put that number under the P on number one. Let’s say you prepare better than most, so you would put a nine there. If you’re pretty effective in your delivery, you might put an eight under the D. If you’re weak on follow-up, let’s say you rate yourself a three under the F. When you average these out, your overall rating would be a 6.7.
Notice that in the last column of the matrix I’ve suggested three best practices for each communication vehicle, which gives you 21 ideas you can use as an executive to be more effective in your communication and delegation.
Now let’s take a little deeper look at those seven buckets:
1 / Huddles with your direct reports
A huddle is a short gathering—in most cases less than fifteen minutes—with one or more of your direct reports. Huddles can be daily, weekly or even ad hoc. They can be one-on-one or in a group, and they can be in person, on the web or a combination. Becoming exceptional at executing these 15-minute power meetings gives both you and your team a big win. They not only keep everyone on the same page as far as what tasks are delegated to whom and the status of your projects; they also provide great opportunities for brainstorming and synergizing.
2 / Staff Meetings
Staff meetings are usually held with one or more of your direct reports. In most cases, they are held on a weekly basis, but they could be ad hoc. There’s generally a protocol for creating the agenda so you can be efficient at holding the meeting. You or a team member will need to define your objectives before you prepare the agenda. And remember: your objectives trump the agenda.
3 / All-Hands-on Meetings
You hold an all-hands-on meeting when you and often your direct reports are communicating to your entire organization (as in a state-of-the-union scenario). These meetings are often scheduled annually. I recommend holding them quarterly. In these presentation opportunities, your direct reports can be in the audience or part of the delivery. You’ll probably want to cover things like where the organization stands currently so people feel connected; where you’re going (it’s always better to promote the clarity of your vision); and what is new or what’s coming down the pike. Inspire your team. Excite them. Share a cool, relatable video. You could also list things you’re asking everyone in the organization to do to improve so you can all win more.
4 / Video Messaging
You would use video messaging when you want to record a message that could be anywhere from a couple of minutes to ten minutes long to touch base with your direct reports and/or your assistants. These can be transmitted in the form of Marco Polo-type apps, selfie videos or in some cases a more formally recorded message. Video messaging is often a blind spot for executives. Direct reports love to be in the know. It’s a great tool for when people aren’t in the same time zone or can’t be in the same staff or all-hands-on meeting simultaneously. I will occasionally have one direct report record me as I’m sharing with him/her and then send it to the others. Both time efficiency and clarity are what we’re after.
5 / One-on-Ones
These are opportunities for you to communicate directly and more effectively with your assistants and direct reports. In a one-on-one meeting, you sit down with the person directly or over the phone or even via Zoom, on an as-needed basis and go over what’s been accomplished; what needs to be accomplished; what the roadblocks are; and what actions need to be taken. As you’re working together from the same side of the line of scrimmage, you can use a whiteboard when feasible to draw out your plan of action. Then you can take a picture of the board with your phone and text it to anyone else who can benefit from the information, providing a level of clarity almost as if they had attended the meeting.
6 / Strategy Meetings
A strategy meeting could (and probably should) be held with your direct reports at least once a month, so you can manage the effectiveness of your results (KPIs). Some executives have their strategy meetings quarterly or even offsite annually. With the rapid pace of changes taking place in our world, I recommend you schedule these meetings more often. Having a powerful facilitator can often make a giant difference in outcomes, especially when combined with live on-screen note-taking.
7 / Board-Related Meetings
This could be the actual board meeting itself, or it could be preparation for or even a run-through of the board meeting. The purpose is to make sure everyone is on the same page and communicating effectively. Be sure to compliment those who are efficiently carrying out the tasks you’ve delegated, so they and others will want to do more of it. A blind spot I see executives make here is not setting up their people and allowing them to shine. When they win, you win more.
I hope this article has provided you a thought-provoking perspective on how to be more effective with your time and delegation, specifically with your direct reports and including your executive or personal assistants.
Tony Jeary—The RESULTS Guy™— is a renowned strategist, executive coach and keynote speaker who changes people’s thinking. He and his team uniquely facilitate planning sessions in his one-of-a-kind RESULTS Center to help direct selling executives learn, grow, evolve and thrive.
From the July 2022 issue of Direct Selling News magazine.