July 2, 2018 - TAB Corporate

CEOs Save Time by Learning to Say “No”

Learn to Say No!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many times in a day do people approach you or your gatekeeper with a request, suggestion or some other time-consuming appeal? Like many other business leaders, your first inclination may be to say, “OK,” or “Yes, I’ll look into that.” You want to help others or find ways to move a process along with your input.

But the reality is, by rarely or never saying, “No,” you waste a significant amount of your precious (and finite) time. When you “prioritize [another] person’s needs over your own,” says psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, “you’ll find your productivity will suffer and resentment will mount.”

Saying “no” comes naturally to some, but if it’s an issue that continues to interrupt your daily work pattern—and negatively impacts your company’s efficiency—here are tips to get more comfortable with this answer.

Be polite, but firm. Rather than agreeing to a request, let the other person know what they’re asking for just isn’t possible at this (or, maybe, any other) time.

Don’t make excuses or give the impression you’ll get to it “soon.” Instead, politely but firmly say, “I’m sorry, but my schedule is full and I can’t assist you with this request.” If possible, direct them to someone else who may be able to help.

Provide context for your answer. People who ask for your assistance may think twice the next time if you provide a fuller explanation as to why “no” is now your default answer.

Business leader Kathy Bloomgarden advises CEOs to “take a step back and provide your rationale in the context of the company’s goals and priorities” as well as its relation to the market in general. “Leverage each discussion as an opportunity to strengthen the vision of where the whole team is going” and what’s needed to get there.

Say “no” to ideas that don’t fit your company’s strategic plan. People inside and beyond your company walls are likely bombarding you all the time with “great” ideas about how to improve business and acquire new customers.

Some ideas may be worth pursuing—in which case, the best response is to direct the person towards someone else in the company who’s better positioned to explore the idea further. At the same time, if you foresee that pursuing that idea might take time and resources your business can’t afford, it’s best to say no at the outset (with a brief explanation as to why). It all comes down to whether the next great idea genuinely fits within the parameters of where you see the business going in the coming months and years.

Be prepared to say “no” to a client. Of course, a client is the last person to whom you want to use “no” as an answer. But there may come a time when what they want from your company simply doesn’t fit with your existing resources or strategic objectives. Or they may ask for some sort of “exclusive arrangement” by which you can’t reach out to other prospective clients.

In such cases, it’s usually best to turn down the request in a forthright, respectful manner. Alternatively, notes financial adviser Andrew Schrage, you can “restate the problem” and “focus on the things you are able to do, rather than the ones you aren’t.” This way, it’s possible to say “no” to the client and yet retain their loyalty and gratitude.

Saying “no” doesn’t have to entail negative or unpleasant associations. It can pave the way towards greater efficiency (for the CEO) and motivation to take action on their own (on the part of senior executives and employees). It reinforces the idea that the CEO or business leader must prioritize their time in pursuit of strategic growth.

Want more great ideas on how to manage your time? Gain instant access to a video explaining “The 15 Golden Rules of Time Management.”

 

 

 

Save Time with Fewer (and More Productive) Meetings

 

For most companies, there’s no way around having meetings as a way to conduct day-to-day business. At the same time, it’s hard to find any CEO or business owner who doesn’t experience frustration at having to participate in so many meetings, or who feels stymied by the lack of concrete results that come from these meetings.

The problem becomes even more deplorable when you think about the time lost in this particular activity. Whether it involves a small group of your senior executive team or a company-wide gathering, there’s just no excuse for taking up precious minutes or hours and having little to show for it.

Here are tips for maximizing the value of the meetings you request and/or participate in. (First hint: Reduce the number of meetings you take part in on a regular basis.)

Be sure there’s an agenda. Just because a once-a-week meeting pops up on your calendar doesn’t mean you should attend if nothing pressing is being addressed. Ask the person organizing the event to provide a meeting agenda beforehand, complete with any materials needed to review in advance and a time-limit attached to each agenda item. This way, you can determine whether or not your presence is absolutely necessary.

Don’t invite anyone who doesn’t need to attend. When individuals attend with no real stake in the matter at hand, a significant amount of time can be squandered when these people choose to weigh in at length. Meeting organizers should invite only those people who can provide helpful input and move the process forward.

Appoint a timekeeper. How often does a meeting participant share his or her input at such length that a 30-minute meeting drags on for another half-hour or longer? It’s understandable. People want to share their insights and knowledge (or, sometimes, a simple opinion), but allowing them to speak indefinitely eats up time better used elsewhere. One simple solution is appointing a meeting participant to act as timekeeper. This person pays close attention to the time specified for each agenda item; when that time expires, his or her job is to politely cut off conversation (offering alternative options for further discussion) and keep things moving forward.

Explore different types of meetings. There’s no law stating that every meeting must take place in the company’s conference room. Look at different venues for a meeting setting, such as a brisk walk outside. “Not only will a bit of fresh air and sunshine wake up colleagues and get the blood flowing, but it will also stimulate creative thinking,” notes Small Business Trends.

Determine a “no device in meetings” rule. By now, it’s a fact of life that employees (and executives) are closely attached to their mobile devices. But allowing the use of devices in a meeting only encourages participants to become distracted and not contribute to the topics under discussion. Establish guidelines under which it’s permissible (or not) to text, check emails or otherwise look at devices during a meeting. A three-minute break to check for messages during a long meeting might be a viable solution.

As you establish new policies or guidelines for conducting meetings in your organization, outline your proposals in a way that clearly is advantageous to all involved. “The key is to frame your advocacy not as purely self-interested (“I don’t have time for this nonsense”), but instead as a manifestation of your commitment to the company and your shared mission,” states Harvard Business Review. For most people, “that’s a hard message to resist.”

Want to learn more about the effective use of your time? Sign up for this free webinar presented by time-management expert Steve Davies, “Using a To Don’t List to Manage Time.”