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5 Awesome Time Management Books to Read

On the Clock! 5 Awesome Time Management Books to Read

As a discipline, time management is all about looking at the way you spend your time, and seeing if you can shuffle tasks around or eliminate tasks altogether so that you might be able to spend your time however you like.

One thing I like to do with my time is read. I read a lot, and I love to read books that teach me something either about myself or about the world. I’ve compiled a few great lists of books here on the blog in the past, such as 10 Books on Business, Entrepreneurship, and Community You Should be Reading, and 25 Must-Read Books for Agency Executives. Now, here are some book recommendations specifically about time management.

1. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Laura Vanderkam

successful_people_before_breakfast

For most of us, mornings are the time of day we dread most. From hitting the snooze button repeatedly to trying to get the family organised and out the door before you go insane, it seems inconceivable that for most successful people, mornings are the most productive time of day.

According to time-management expert Laura Vanderkam, mornings hold the key to unlocking our full potential. In this short book, Laura interviews hundreds of entrepreneurs, politicians, CEOs, and other awesome people about how they use their mornings, and gives you a practical guide for making the most of the sunrise hours. Laura’s style is friendly and anecdotal, and you’ll be able to digest this book and its lessons in a couple of hours.

View What Successful People Do Before Breakfast on Amazon

2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

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This book, published in 1990, has sold more than 10 million copies and is an absolute classic. There’s a reason for that. The advice inside is timeless. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People isn’t a “quick tips” kind of book – Covey’s technique focuses on forcing a paradigm shift in the way you think, a change in perception and interpretation of how the world works.

Habit 1, in particular, is a favourite of mine. Here, Covey discusses being proactive. We are responsible for our own lives, therefore, we possess the initiative we need to make things happen for ourselves. He categorises problems into three categories – direct control, indirect control, and no control, and encourages us to focus on solving those problems that fall into the first category, while not allowing the other problems to affect our behaviour, mood and performance.

Covey’s book looks at time management and productivity in all aspects of your life, and is practically essential reading if you want to solve problems and improve your life.

View 7 Habits of Highly Effective People on Amazon

3. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, David Allen

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David Allen is a veteran management consultant and coach, and in Getting Things Done he shares his methods for stress-free performance and productivity that he’s brought to tens of thousands of people. Allen’s approach is all about how getting organised – if done cleverly – can eliminate the stress of feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff you have to do. Even though all the stuff is exactly the same, with a system in place, much of it becomes autopilot. Allan wants you to free your mind from stressing about all this fluff and focus on what you really want to focus on, whether it’s getting that new business started or finishing that novel.

Popular insights from Getting Things Done include the “do it, delegate it, defer it, drop it” rule for clearing your inbox. Much of this book is focused on the work environment, with tips for keeping projects on track and reassessing goals, but it can be applied to other aspects of your life, as well. The book also includes a handy flowchart of Allan’s system – which can feel a bit convoluted at times with lots of random terms. Hang this chart over your desk to refer to when required. You won’t be sorry.

View Getting Things Done on Amazon.

4. The Four-Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, Tim Ferriss

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“Forget the old concept of retirement,” writes Tim Ferriss in this highly influential book. Instead, Tim outsources most of his business, allowing him to work onto a few hours a week and take “mini-retirements” of a few months, where he travels, learns languages, and writes his books. The 4-Hour Workweek is Tim’s manifesto for his lifestyle, where he teaches you the techniques he uses to outsource his life and eliminate unnecessary tasks to focus on what’s truly important.

Much of the book focuses on how to outsource mundane tasks to virtual assistants for $5 an hour, freeing up your time for whatever you want, and using selective ignorance and a low-information diet to cut down on “unnecessary” work. Tim also has some excellent – and sometimes offbeat – ideas for taming your inbox and negotiating with your boss.

I’m going to be honest here. I actually wasn’t as big a fan of this book as I expected to be. Don’t get me wrong, Tim’s writing style is engaging and he definitely gets you enthused about his concepts, but I found a lot of the advice in this book too difficult to apply in most situations. Also, he is one smug dude, and some of the tips, particularly in the negotiating section, I found a bit amoral.

Really, what Ferriss is trying to do is to get you to assess what’s really important in life, and look at designing your life around that. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a nudge to restructure your thinking and live life in a unique way.

View The 4-Hour Workweek on Amazon.

5. 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More with Less, Richard Koch

8020

Have you ever heard of the phrase “80% of your results come from 20% of your causes”? – 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. 80% of your  Well, this is the book that first introduced that concept, back in 2001. This book is all about helping you achieve more by focusing on that 20%.

The tenets of Koch’s system focus on keeping things simple – complexity often breeds inefficiency. As well as that, celebrate exceptional productivity. Time management isn’t about doing more – it’s about doing the right things at the right time.

View 80/20 Principle on Amazon.

Of course, there are literally hundreds of books out there on improving time management, and you wouldn’t have a lot of time left for other things if you read them all. If you’ve enjoyed one of these books – or another book I haven’t mentioned – then leave a quick review or recommendation in the comments.

6 Skills of Self-Made Millionaires That You Should Be Using, Too

Heed the advice of those who have reaped success. Here are six skills used by self-made millionaires that you should be using and building upon each day.

1. Be able to identify fruitful opportunities.

Carlos Slim Helu, Mexican business magnate and philanthropist, said, “When there is a crisis, that’s when some are interested in getting out, and that’s when we are interested in getting in.”

Learn to identify open doors when they appear, then consider the risks and weigh them against potential benefits. An opportunity can be a great one regardless of whether no one or everyone is rushing to grab it — if no one is, that’s your cue to move forward; if everyone is, that’s your chance to prove you’re better than the rest.

Related: 8 People Just Like You Who Made $1 Million

2. Focus on actions over words.

“Actions speak louder than words,” supposedly, and the late Andrew Carnegie agreed. As his career grew, he said, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

Understand that a shining business plan or investment presentation means little when you don’t demonstrate the ability to carry out your ideas well. Customers and clients want to see flawless application of your company’s core values and mission statement. Keep this formula in mind when seeking out employees, as well. A perfect resume doesn’t necessarily constitute a perfect employee, if that person can’t properly act on his qualifications and intentions.

3. Maintain a clear vision of success.

“Vision is perhaps our greatest strength… it has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries, it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.”

Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-Shing, the richest person in all of Asia, believes in vision as a motivational tool for success. What does success look like to you? If your answer is just “a lot of money,” this may not be the article for you.

Many people envision success as finally seeing their product on store shelves, making up for initial overhead costs, gaining a certain following or changing the community in which they live. In order to stay on track toward fulfilling your goals, it’s important to maintain a clear vision of what that goal is — and what things will look like once it’s achieved.

Related: 5 Words Millionaires Understand Better Than Others

4. Never stop learning.

Entrepreneurs who don’t acknowledge the need to constantly learn new things are denying themselves and their businesses the chance to grow. Even once you achieve some degree of success, understand that those around you (even those who are less successful) know something you don’t.

Listen to what others have to say about their experiences. Learn from their achievements and their mistakes. If you don’t want to base your development on other people, try taking a step back and exploring the areas of entrepreneurship you can still improve upon. Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla Motors, says “that’s the single best piece of advice — constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

5. Get the job done.

This one sounds simple, but you’re likely procrastinating without even knowing it. Those who spend an immense amount of time marketing a business before there’s even a business to advertise are putting off actually building a brand. The same goes for those who spend time attempting to perform Web or graphic design themselves, obsessively organize finances and legal paperwork, and so on.

Even as an entrepreneur, you can’t wear every hat, and it’s often smart to assign tasks that aren’t immediately related to building your business to someone else. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a small team of employees or some remote freelancers if it means you’ll be able to turn your company into everything you dreamed.

“Getting the job done has been the basis for the success my company has achieved,” said Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur, investor and former mayor of New York City.

6. Only hire rock stars.

You can’t exemplify greatness if the people who make up your company aren’t great, too. My brother Matthew and I have always made a point of carefully selecting those we hire on to our teams, even if it takes a little extra time. We like people with a heavy determination to GSD (Get Stuff Done).

Related: The 5 Characteristics of True Entrepreneurs

As we have such grand expectations for our employees, we always make sure to treat them as more than just that. Matthew and I strive to take care of them as we would with family. Matthew and I also allow our employees the flexibility to work from anywhere and provide bonuses from time to time to thank them for their trustworthiness and flexible capability. The extra appreciation certainly goes a long way in enhancing work ethic and promoting remote teamwork.

Life Coaching vs. Business Coaching: Making a Decision

Whether you’re just starting out and struggling to get your start-up off the ground or have been in the business game for years, every business owner can use a helping hand once in a while. Sometimes it’s simply to iron out some process issues and other times it’s an entire overhaul of stagnant systems that are affecting profit.

As a business owner you may have realised that you need advice or some guidance; but which is for you – life coaching or business coaching? While the two types of coaching are similar in that they both seek to make changes to improve certain aspects, the main difference is largely one of emphasis.  A business coach will focus on putting processes in place to change the business, with a focus on profit and sustainability. Life coaching will focus on personal changes on a personal level, for example, to make an owner a better leader or teach them to loosen the reins a little.

So, which type of coaching is for you? Here’s a comparison to help make your decision.

Now that you’ve weighed up your options, you’ve more than likely decided that business coaching would be the best bet to evaluate your business and how it is being run. If this is the case, then ActionCOACH one-on-one coaching is the solution you need.

Spending Too Much Time At Work

Trying to run your business as a one-man show will only put you on the fast track to utter burnout. So if you think being the boss and being in charge are the same thing, it’s no wonder you’re always burning the candle at both ends. Instead, you need to be putting the right people in charge of the right things. But first, you’ll need to figure out what mistakes you are making with your employees.

From a management perspective

When you first kicked-off your business, you had to do just about everything yourself. But now that you’ve got staff to do it for you, you still can’t seem to break the habit of hovering around the office looking for the first signs of disaster and snatching up loose ends before they even have a chance to land on your employees’ desks. This failure to delegate might come partly from needing to be in control at all times, but it could also reflect on your opinion of your staff’s capabilities. If you don’t trust them to get the job done, you need to ask yourself why. Could it be that you don’t feel like they have the necessary knowledge or skills? This is something that can be rectified with training.

At training level

It’s surprising how many companies do not furnish their new staff with a detailed job description, company organogram, systems and processes manual or basic training. This is ground zero; the very foundation that supports efficiency. Without it, even well-managed and happy employees won’t be able to tick all the right boxes. After all, how can you hope to have staff that will one day exceed your expectations when they don’t even know what those are?

In terms of personal life

If your staff have all the necessary information, support and autonomy to do their job to the best of their ability, but still aren’t performing, there may be a work-life balance issue. Employees are people with lives away from their desks and sometimes these personal aspects of their lives can become more demanding for a limited time.

Dealing with an illness, taking care of a restless new-born, a death in the family and even planning for something exciting like a wedding can affect your staff’s ability to concentrate. The quickest way to get this ironed out is to sit down and talk to them. This will give them an opportunity to raise any problems and potential solutions, whether it be a flexi-time schedule, reduced workload or more help. If they don’t have anything to raise, the discussion will at least make them aware that you’ve noticed a dip in their work, so they can start taking steps to rectify the issue on their own.

In general, employees who don’t value or want to grow in their jobs are rare. So if you’re struggling to keep up with the demands of your business, you probably have an issue with more than one employee. It’s up to you to put your business under the microscope and find the cracks that are leaking productivity so you can patch them up, put your business on autopilot and take a well-deserved vacation.

Why business goals need a new age overhaul

Once the uncertain initial phases of business entrepreneurship are over and the new business is running smoothly, it can be tempting to sit back, take a breather, and let the business coast on by itself for a while

However, this is actually the ideal time to begin planning again. The business owner’s initial goal is to get the financial and operational stability of the business established, but that doesn’t mean that goal-setting ends there.

Many entrepreneurs tend to confuse goals with the tasks necessary to achieve them, but goals are so much more. Goals are more ‘higher level’ and should always be based on the entrepreneur’s vision for the future of the business. In other words, goals should be based on the outcomes the business is hoping to achieve, not the outcomes it achieved last year, or the year before that. Defining future performance based on past information is a recipe for disaster.

Business owners need to continuously be on the lookout for new trends and innovations that can drive better business performance. It’s all about shifting goals in response to competition, opportunity and industry activity, rather than getting caught up in a bubble.

Responding to competition is just one such example. It’s a fatal mistake to assume the company’s current market share is guaranteed for life, and to rest on one’s laurels to stay competitive in such fast changing markets. Companies like Kodak and Nokia are known for having dominated their markets comfortably for years, only to be taken down by smaller, more agile start-ups who were quick to shift their business goals in reaction to the realities of the market.

Re-adjusting goals: a few considerations to take into account

There are three main areas to consider when readjusting the goals of a business:

  1. Market participation.

It is essential to comprehensively appraise the needs of the target market. Failure to do so indicates that a business is not servicing its customer base to the best of their abilities, and is therefore leaving a wide gap for competitors to fill. Look at what other players are doing in both complementary and competitive businesses. Business owners must ask themselves which markets they want to participate in, where the opportunities to grow reside, and which new markets they could enter based on current capabilities.

  1. Product

Business owners should take an honest look at their product offering and ask themselves whether they could improve upon it, either through adding or removing products in order to optimise the range. If a product is a slow-mover, it may be time to retire it. If another is doing well, there may be an opportunity to improve it, or to introduce an adjacent product that could replicate its success.

  1. Operations

Achieving goals requires resources, so when a business is going through a period of goal alignment, it is essential to look at whether or not the operational side of a company is able to support its ambitions. A business owner must decide how best to organise an operating strategy in order to free up the resources they need. Will the new venture need new premises? Additional employees? New equipment? All of this and more must be considered.

When an entrepreneur decides that a goal re-alignment is necessary, they are often so embroiled in the day-to-day operations that they can fail to see the wood for the trees – a detrimental shortcoming when plotting a course for their business’s future prosperity. In my experience, there is massive benefit in getting an outsider’s impartial perspective. Sometimes business owners need somebody with a strategic outlook to rattle their cage and make sure they are not getting too comfortable. A consultant or business coach can help an entrepreneur to understand the threats and the opportunities that face the business, and adjust their strategy accordingly.

5 Steps on the Road to Building a Business Dream-Team

The factors and circumstances that turn a group of employees into a dream-team of top performers are far from being an exact science, but these are five steps you can take to make an outcome of excellence much more likely.

Identifying your requirements

Every business undertaking, from developing a new product to launching a new department, must start with a thorough audit and clear understanding of the resources involved. In terms of putting together a high-performance team, those resources manifest in the form of the skills and attributes of each team member. Armed with this knowledge, you can ensure those skills are in place before making any new hires or assigning roles. Taking the time for this crucial step will prevent overprovisioning with unnecessary resources and will keep the team lean, agile and effective. Your potential team members may come from outside of the business, or they may be current employees. Either way, this is an indispensable step in assembling a high-performance team.

Finding the right people

Now that you know what sorts of skills your team will require, the next step is to find out which of your employees fit the bill as potential team members. Consider each employee in relation to those around them and consider how their knowledge and talents may add to the project at hand. Should you find it necessary to take on new hires, be stringent in your interviewing processes to make sure they will make a positive impact on the team as a whole, both in terms of their skill-set and their demeanour.

Establishing strong leadership

Even though work teams can and should be based on equal participation, establishing a team leader is essential to making sure conflicts, miscommunications and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum. A team leader is a point of reference and contact for both the team and management.

Getting them fired up with common goals

Whether internally or externally sourced, a careful briefing and induction period is a great idea if you want your team to hit the ground running. Emphasise the goals for the project and how it will contribute to the overall wellbeing of the business and its employees, and what success will mean for the team itself. Employees have an innate need to feel that their work is achieving something, and that they are being nurtured and developed as individuals. Maintaining enthusiasm and a desire to succeed means that the team bond will be that much stronger, as will each member’s resolve to do their best in whatever role they are assigned.

Throw them in the deep end

It may seem contrary to all the preceding steps, but the most accurate predictor of a team that performs exceptionally well is innovation, and innovation cannot thrive if stringent rules and set-in-stone expectations limit creativity. It is your job to encourage out-of-the-box thinking and calculated risk-taking. You may end up getting some of your best business ideas from team members feeling valued for their contribution and, as a result, going above and beyond the call of duty in their work.

Richard Branson once famously said, “Shape your enterprise around your people”. At the end of the day, only your employees can elevate the team to the point where its performance outstrips the sum of its parts – but it’s your responsibility as a manager or business owner to ensure they have the skills, training, resources and encouragement to make a success of any project they undertake.

How to Keep Your Team Engaged

 

 

You can hire people, you can fire people, and you can tell them what to do. What you can’t do is make them like what they do. Some business leaders are content with having an unhappy team; as long as they do what they are paid to do then the state of their mental health is seen as superfluous. This line of thinking is not only wrong, but it is entirely counterproductive to the continued survival of a business. Gallup has run some excellent pieces that demonstrate the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. In particular they list several additional things that engaged employees bring to the table: motivation, innovation, and a willingness to take on more responsibility within the company. So how can you keep your team engaged?

That level of motivation contrasts greatly with employees who don’t even want to be there. They do their jobs, but they never put in more than the bare minimum of effort. Don’t expect them to ever go outside of what their job description requires, and if there is a chance for them to skip out on work without getting fired, they’ll take it. Obviously, you don’t want to have a team that consists of these people. But without the right knowledge of how to motivate a team, you’ll find yourself unable to inspire your employees to go above and beyond what is required of them.

A great company cannot exist without great employees, and there are steps you can take to mold them into the people you want to have working for you. These tips are proven methods of getting your employees to be engaged in what they do, and anybody can learn to apply them.

1) Keep Your Team Engaged: Be a team, not a dictatorship

Every ship needs a strong captain, but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend every second reminding your employee who’s the boss. Your employees look to you for guidance, but they also want to feel as though you are in tune with everything that is going on. Some managers come off as though they are giving mandates from heaven, or worse, they rattle off long lists of orders because they don’t want to do the work themselves. If you give the directive and then pitch in to reach the goal, you’ll show your employees that they are all part of a team, and they sink or swim together.

2) Keep Your Team Engaged: Give them a chance to shine

It is true that some people are placidly content with being a cog in the wheel. I’m sure you know of at least one person who is sitting in a job they are relatively indifferent to just so they can collect a pension in twenty years. Those that fit that mold will gravitate towards jobs that give few chances to stand out and plenty of job security. For those who want to achieve more, they will never settle for a job pushing pencils all day. These restless employees are always looking for a way to prove to you that they are capable of so much more than low-level work. Denying them this opportunity will either push them to greener pastures, or if they can’t/won’t quit, cause them to become disillusioned with what they do.
If you find somebody who wants to prove themselves, let them. An employee who shows the initiative and drive to better themselves is a person that will bring your business an incredible amount of value. Don’t waste this potential.

3) Keep Your Team Engaged: Don’t take them for granted – show your gratitude

This goes beyond a simple “thank you”, although those two words can have quite a bit of power in themselves. If your employees feel like their contributions are not recognized or rewarded, then they will feel little incentive to go above and beyond in what they do. How you show this gratitude is as important as the action itself, because a perceived token gesture is even more insulting than a lack of a reward at all. Put another way, if somebody comes up with a million-dollar idea and you give them a monogrammed lanyard as a gift, don’t expect that person to stick around. Rewarding achievement is the flip side to punishing failure, and a balance between both is necessary to craft the ideal team.

As intuitive as these three traits seem, you probably know from personal experience that a lot of managers don’t quite know how to implement these strategies effectively. If you find yourself having difficulty reaching your employees, ActionCOACH can help you with that. The people we hire have spent years of their life honing and developing these traits, and their expertise and guidance can help you develop these on your own.

ActionCOACH, the world’s largest business coaching firm, was established and founded in Brisbane, Australia by Brad Sugars in 1993 when the concept of business coaching was still in its infancy. Since franchising the company in 1997, ActionCOACH has grown to more than 1000 business coaching franchises operating in 73 countries. ActionCOACH specializes in coaching small to medium sized businesses as well as executive teams and group coaching. ActionCOACH maintains its growth and strategic alliances by continual development of cutting-edge innovative technology, proven business processes and systems to add value, satisfaction and additional income streams for its franchisees.

Why business goals need a new age overhaul

Once the uncertain initial phases of business entrepreneurship are over and the new business is running smoothly, it can be tempting to sit back, take a breather, and let the business coast on by itself for a while

However, this is actually the ideal time to begin planning again. The business owner’s initial goal is to get the financial and operational stability of the business established, but that doesn’t mean that goal-setting ends there.

Many entrepreneurs tend to confuse goals with the tasks necessary to achieve them, but goals are so much more. Goals are more ‘higher level’ and should always be based on the entrepreneur’s vision for the future of the business. In other words, goals should be based on the outcomes the business is hoping to achieve, not the outcomes it achieved last year, or the year before that. Defining future performance based on past information is a recipe for disaster.

Business owners need to continuously be on the lookout for new trends and innovations that can drive better business performance. It’s all about shifting goals in response to competition, opportunity and industry activity, rather than getting caught up in a bubble.

Responding to competition is just one such example. It’s a fatal mistake to assume the company’s current market share is guaranteed for life, and to rest on one’s laurels to stay competitive in such fast changing markets. Companies like Kodak and Nokia are known for having dominated their markets comfortably for years, only to be taken down by smaller, more agile start-ups who were quick to shift their business goals in reaction to the realities of the market.

Re-adjusting goals: a few considerations to take into account

There are three main areas to consider when readjusting the goals of a business:

  1. Market participation.

It is essential to comprehensively appraise the needs of the target market. Failure to do so indicates that a business is not servicing its customer base to the best of their abilities, and is therefore leaving a wide gap for competitors to fill. Look at what other players are doing in both complementary and competitive businesses. Business owners must ask themselves which markets they want to participate in, where the opportunities to grow reside, and which new markets they could enter based on current capabilities.

  1. Product

Business owners should take an honest look at their product offering and ask themselves whether they could improve upon it, either through adding or removing products in order to optimise the range. If a product is a slow-mover, it may be time to retire it. If another is doing well, there may be an opportunity to improve it, or to introduce an adjacent product that could replicate its success.

  1. Operations

Achieving goals requires resources, so when a business is going through a period of goal alignment, it is essential to look at whether or not the operational side of a company is able to support its ambitions. A business owner must decide how best to organise an operating strategy in order to free up the resources they need. Will the new venture need new premises? Additional employees? New equipment? All of this and more must be considered.

When an entrepreneur decides that a goal re-alignment is necessary, they are often so embroiled in the day-to-day operations that they can fail to see the wood for the trees – a detrimental shortcoming when plotting a course for their business’s future prosperity. In my experience, there is massive benefit in getting an outsider’s impartial perspective. Sometimes business owners need somebody with a strategic outlook to rattle their cage and make sure they are not getting too comfortable. A consultant or business coach can help an entrepreneur to understand the threats and the opportunities that face the business, and adjust their strategy accordingly.

Simple Staff Systems to Save You Time

The simple truth is that most entrepreneurs are not that interested in managing people. They started businesses because they had a good business idea, and that’s where they want to spend their time. Of course, another truth is that no business will be sustainable if its people are not well managed. The good news for business owners is that they can drastically reduce the time they spend managing employees by implementing a few simple solutions:

Adopt the motto: systemize the routine; humanize the exception

Generally, 80% of what goes on in your business can be fitted into some sort of structure, leaving you with 20% that actually needs your management. Of course, you need to understand that when you’re dealing with staff, emotion is always involved.

That’s why systemising staff processes has two major benefits: it saves you time and it means that when routine situations crop up, all you (and your employees) need do is follow the procedures you’ve put in place, which means that you can keep emotion out of it. To use a simple example, if you have a staff leave policy and procedure, you don’t have to individually examine each leave request.

In the odd instance that doesn’t fit into the system you’ve created, you will need to get involved. In these cases (to use the example above, if an employee requires additional leave due to a sudden family tragedy), invest time and energy in managing the situation compassionately and with tact, as required.

Document each position and the requirements for the role

In South Africa, hiring and firing can be a complex and costly process, so it’s important for small business owners to tackle staff appointments smartly. Create a job description for each position in your company that includes the job responsibilities. Ensure you incorporate specific details so that should a new person need to fill the role, he or she will be able to do so with minimum hassle.

For example, if you require your receptionist to answer the phone, include how s/he should do so, and whom the call should be forwarded to (e.g. if it’s a product enquiry, put the call through to the sales team. If it’s a job applicant, ask the person to submit a CV via email). This not only makes it easier for the new employee to settle in quickly, but cuts out the number of questions he or she will have, enables you to understand exactly what the position entails when hiring someone new, and empowers your employee to take decisions. If your receptionist is sick for the day, one of your other employees or a temp will also be able to cope more easily by referencing the job spec, without you having to get too involved.

Implement the systems you develop

It’s easy to develop a system, but it won’t start saving you time unless it’s properly implemented and is fully understood by your staff. For example, you may decide on a weekly meeting for staff report-back and problem-solving, but it hasn’t happened for the last three weeks. Firstly, address why not: were the meetings taking too long or did you forget to announce the meeting? Then combat the reasons: be stricter on meeting times and end when you say you will; put a reminder on your phone to call the meeting, or send out a meeting request. Book the boardroom in advance. Systems will only start to pay off if you ensure that you are committed to them, and if you get your staff on-board.

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