How to ‘Waste Time’ and Get Ahead

Photograph by Altrendo Images

Let’s face it: While the basic tenets of business management are important, following conventional wisdom is not always smart. Problems that appear to be straightforward often transform into complex puzzles that require creative thinking and nontraditional approaches if you want to achieve the best solutions. Here are five out-of-the-box tips that will get you thinking about business in a new way.

The Case for Wasting Time
In today’s busy world, executives are more likely to have lunch at their desk than with a colleague or a client. Relationships require trust, however, and your willingness to “waste time” with them shows your support. If this leads to trust, they will be more open to your ideas. In addition, face-to-face contact allows you to uncover opportunities and concerns you may otherwise have missed.

Visiting the Other Person’s Office
Many executives feel it is in their interest to have all meetings in their office because it saves time and makes them look powerful. Visiting the other individual’s office, however, has a number of advantages. First, like visiting someone’s home, it gives you insights about what is important to her or him. Second, it indicates you value the individual and are supportive, which may again make the person more comfortable with your ideas. Third, once you believe the meeting is over, it is easier to break away by leaving rather than by asking the other person to leave.

Acting Tough
Sometimes the only way to develop credibility is to know when to say no and stick with it. At times, though, acting tough with others is not smart—especially if the objective you are fighting to achieve is not sufficiently important to the organization. As a top Teamster official once told me: “When I am yelling threats at you, its usually because I have little leverage and I am putting on a show for my members. It’s when I quietly explain my position that you better be listening, because I think I have the upper hand.“

Hard Workers
At the operations level in business, being the hardest worker may be a key to great success, but when a company is considering whom to promote to the next level, the top brass usually finds it more valuable to have an individual who is insightful about people and possesses leadership, creativity and strategic planning skills. In fact, once you get to the top, being the hardest worker can be a detriment if it means having less time to provide strategy and leadership, develop talent, and foster creativity.

Anticipating Change
Regardless of how successful, profitable or specialized your product or service may be, change, if not anticipated will threaten your existence. Never believe the phrase “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”  Those of us who remember the Encyclopedia Britannica and the IBM Selectric typewriter, know that nothing is secure forever. So, instead of resisting change, always think about how you can remain competitive and/or adapt to the new reality.

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