OK, I know it may not be the most exciting subject¸ but did it catch your attention? Some of you may be thinking that I’m starting a new business, others may be thinking it’s just me being me, and well, perhaps a few of you are intrigued at what may follow.
Let’s first try to understand some context – I’m asking about what many view as an unpleasant task; a task, a means to an end, but a task nonetheless. What distinguishes this task from other tasks? Most tasks have a purpose – for instance going from point A to point B. In this analogy – the purpose is cleaning the toilet.
Now what is the purpose of the task – a clean, sanitary toilet? Is this objective desirable? Is it beneficial to have clean and sanitary toilets? Well, they will be safer, have less opportunity to spread germs, and, given their regular use – sure, it’s beneficial.
So why is the task viewed as undesirable? Let me ask you – do you have tasks in your business that you view as undesirable? Are you less than enthusiastic when you need to do them? Are they tasks which, if performed, will help you achieve certain key business objectives such as increased sales, decreased expenses, more productive employees, or a financially stable retirement plan?
I ask these questions because they highlight how categorizing a task as undesirable can adversely impact our business success. When did you decide to revise the strategies to your business plan? Did you remember to revise your sales objectives to accommodate the increased demand for your products? Did you decide you would not call back one of your customers until you were absolutely, positively certain that you had a perfect answer to their question – wait, were you even sure what the question was?
I work with a number of business owners who have described a number of very desirable objectives for their business. They are continually concerned over their inability to achieve these goals. In each and every instance their inability to achieve these goals relates back to a task or series of tasks that they view as, well, undesirable. They certainly understand the need for the task and, when prompted can even state the specific task. But will they work to fulfill it?
They have successfully created a series of toilets to clean, having decided that the tasks are undesirable even if the objectives are not. So, how are they doing on the results of task avoidance? Well, they are not hitting their goals. Why? Simply put, the goals are not specified, there is no strategy to achieve them, the progress to achieve the goals is not being discussed with employees, expenses are not being monitored, there is little attention paid to quality assurance, customer opinions are not valued, and employees have not been encouraged to provide awesome customer service…
It’s The Process!
Tasks by their very nature are a process, a set of steps. Steven Covey once stated “start with the end in mind.” In this instance what I advise is that you focus on the objective, the end result, and once clarified, to understand the task, steps, and processes that need to be accomplished to get there. The end is usually desirable.
Let’s look at those tasks you do well and enjoy. List them down the right side of a blank sheet of paper (or in the right column of a spreadsheet or table in your smartphone, laptop, or iPad). On the left side of the sheet of paper (or left column) list why you enjoy doing each of those tasks. Do the same process for those undesirable tasks, on another piece of paper.
Which Talents Are Required?
Look at each list and in the space in-between each of the columns, write down a talent that helps you to complete each task you like (pay attention to detail, understanding attitude, relating to others); and for the undesirable tasks, write down a talent that will also help you to complete each task you don’t like (creativity, initiative, problem solving ability). Pretty hi-tech, right?
Now that you have put these tasks in perspective and you know the reason for your task avoidance, think of someone who can help you accomplish that task and objective – an employee, your accountant, financial advisor, management coach, business planner, business attorney, etc. In many instances tasks viewed as unpleasant are unpleasant when you lack the natural talent to accomplish it. In this instance a solution is to rely on professionals who have those talents. Create your plan and strategies to achieve it. Ask others for their input, and work the plan.
How Are You Preparing For 2018?
As we begin the New Year it’s appropriate for us to evaluate where we had several tasks in 2017 that were in the undesirable category. Looking back, we can also understand what we can do better in 2018 to continue our business growth. Tasks are not intended to be desirable or undesirable – they just are. They are part of a process to bring our businesses from point A to point B.
You see, your toilet to clean will result in cleanliness, safety, and good personal hygiene. All good stuff, so decide to clean with enthusiasm, positive thoughts, and, plenty of elbow grease. I am curious, how are you preparing yourself and your company for 2018? Let me know, and please, have a happy and prosperous New Year. And if you want to avoid cleaning your toilet? Hire a professional cleaning service!