With all of the advice that I provide on developgreatmanagers.com, whether it be about productivity, managing your email, or managing your manager – nothing is more important than ensuring you get stuff done. And not just the stuff that you are supposed to do, but the things that will make you stand out.

What you will learn…

  1. What it means to get things done
  2. Why it matters
  3. How delivering can make you stand out

Get Stuff Done

We all get stuff done. We put in place plans. We work hard. And we accomplish tasks. But is that enough? If you want to be a cog in the wheel, then yes. But if you want to exceed expectations and be viewed as someone that makes things happen, the answer is likely no.

As a manager, you have a team that is responsible for delivering value to the company. That might be providing support to your customers, developing software, making sales, or packaging and shipping products. In all of these cases, there is a clear measure of productivity or delivery. The support person might have to handle a certain number of calls each day. The salesperson might have a quota to achieve each quarter.

You will, of course, be measured against these to determine if you are executing successfully. The more you do, the better you will be rewarded. But this is just table stakes. You need to think about how you can do more. You need to not only achieve or exceed the measures that you are accountable for, but you need to look more broadly at other things that you can do to go above and beyond. By doing this, you will be recognized as someone that gets stuff done.

Why Get Stuff Done Matters

When I think about business today as compared to the past, one of the biggest differences is the pace of change. I recently read a great quote from Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year (2018).

The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.

To keep up, companies are having to constantly evolve. What made them successful in the past will likely not make them successful in the future.

Example: Printing Company

A good friend of mine works for a printing company where he is primarily focused on selling printing capabilities to customers. When he started, the industry was going digital, drivng down the demand for printing.

To addres this, he needed to continue selling to his existing csutomers, but had to find a new niche where demand existed that aligned to the capabilities of his company. He found one in ballots and related election material. He tested the waters by selling his companies unique capabilities to one county. It turned out to be a huge success. He has since pivoted the company  to make printing of ballots and related material the largest segment of their business.

But how long will that last? There is a good chance that in the next 5-10 years voting will go electronic. Then what? He and his company need to be preparing themselves for the inevitable change and pivot again in order to continue to be successful.

The way companies evolve is through their people. They need leaders to define and drive the changes that are required and managers to execute.  If you want to grow to become one of these leaders – you need to think differently. You need to do your job, but you also need to look for ways to do more. To demonstrate that you have the desire and capacity to go above and beyond. As you begin to operate this way, you will be presented with new opportunities that will help evolve the company and accelerate your career.

How to Get Stuff Done in Your Job

We have talked about why it is important to get things done – now let’s talk about how. There are four key steps to delivering on your current responsibilities while giving you the ability to take on more.

  1. Free up your time
  2. Ensure that your team can operate effectively and efficiently
  3. Determine the right opportunities to go after
  4. Deliver on those opportunities

Free Up Your Time

To get more stuff done, you will have to make the time. To do that, you will need to make sure that you are as efficient as possible, and that you are working on the right things. I have covered much of this in the following posts.

Rethink How to Prioritize

Limit Time Spent – Avoid Parkinson’s Law

Become Way More Productive

Stop the Email Madness

As your time begins to free up, you have to be very careful. It will be easy to take on additional tasks related to the existing work that you and your team do. As long as you are going to meet or exceed expectations, don’t do this – you will need the time!

Ensure that Your Team can Operate Effectively and Efficiently

You have now freed up some of your own time. It is time to look at your team. You need them to operate as effectively, efficiently, and as autonomously as possible. To do that, you should focus on three things.

  1. Roles and Responsibilities – be very clear on who is responsible for what and communicate broadly.
  2. Process – make sure that everyone is aware of and trained on the processes that are required for the team to be successful.
  3. Measurement and Visibility – ensure that there is a way to measure and track progress.

This may sound obvious, but often times the manager feels like they need to be at every meeting – monitoring progress and making adjustments as needed. This can certainly work, but will not allow you to do other things. What you need to do instead is ensure the right people are in the right roles, the correct processes in place, and that you have enough visibility to monitor what is happening and engage only when required.

You should expect to spend extra time helping the team put all of this in place. Meet to clarify roles and responsibilities, review processes, and agree on how progress will be reported. The time that you spend upfront will pay off in the future.

Make sure that you have goals in place for your team that will help drive their accountability and autonomy. Here is a blog post that should help.

Make An Impact – How Goals Can Help

Determine the Right Opportunities to Go After

You (and possibly your team) now have some time available. It is critical that you choose how you spend this time wisely. Here are the criteria that I recommend you use to decide which opportunity to go after.

  • It Matters – to your management and the company.
  • It is Forward-Looking – such that it will help prepare the organization or company to be successful in the future.
  • You Have the Right Skills – in order to be successful.
  • It is the Right Size and Scope – to fit them into the capacity that you have and to complete them reasonably quickly.

If you have the luxury of lots more than one opportunity, list them out and compare against the criteria listed above. Remember, it is about getting stuff done, so err on the side of quick wins that will visibly demonstrate that you are someone that really gets it and can deliver.

Deliver on Those Opportunities

And now that you have the time and have selected the right opportunities, the rest is pretty straightforward. The only thing that is worth noting is how you communicate up your management chain what you are doing and then what you have accomplished.

The way you do this is situational. Depending on what you do and the kind of manager you have will dictate the approach. My recommendation is to undersell and over-deliver. Let them know that you are meeting or exceeding your goals and that you plan to spend just a bit of time in a new area. If they respond positively, give them more of an idea of what you can accomplish (get them a bit excited). If they respond more negatively, questioning why you are doing it, then downplay what you hope to accomplish. Make it sound like a small thing that you just want to learn more about.

Then in either case, as you make progress, share what you have done. Temper the enthusiasm based on their response. Fight the urge to oversell, but keep going. In most cases, even the unenthusiastic manager will start to come along as they see what you are able to accomplish.

Bring it All Together

In order to grow into a leader, you need to demonstrate that you have the capacity to do more. That you are someone that the organization can depend on to get stuff done. The only way to do this is to make the time, ensure that your team can execute effectively and autonomously so that you can go after more forward-looking opportunities – and deliver on them!

Now go do it!

See Also

I included a number of recommended posts above. Here they are again.

Rethink How to Prioritize

Limit Time Spent – Avoid Parkinson’s Law

Become Way More Productive

Stop the Email Madness

Make An Impact – How Goals Can Help

Categories: Leadership


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