The Indistractable Manager

Phone calls, emails, knocks on the door… all contribute to those days when you feel busy, but achieve nothing. GGA’s Patrick DeLozier outlines some tactics aimed at eliminating those fruitlessly busy days from your calendar.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a hollow sense of fulfillment at the end of a tiring day. Fulfilling in that you’ve been busy and active, hollow in that you’re no nearer to completing any of the tasks you set out to.

The first thing to make clear is, it’s a common problem. It affects us all. And while some of these days are inevitable, throughout my 18 years in the private club industry I made a conscious effort to develop methods of mitigating their impact and focusing on productive outputs.

Winning the day

It all starts before you even set foot in the workplace.

Develop a routine that gets your mind organized and focused from the get-go. For me, it was a morning swim, followed by reading several newspapers and social media news briefs that helped put me in an optimal productive state. So whether it’s a workout, meditation, yoga, or simply a coffee, find what works for you and stick to it.

When it comes to the working day itself, I found it particularly helpful to break this into three stages:

  • Up-brief – a first-thing review, to focus and plan of your tasks for the day
  • Midday check-in – an opportunity to measure task completion, to assess or reassess priorities
  • Debrief – end of day review, to look at what has been accomplished and what needs to be addressed the following day

For the up-brief, tasks should be specific, achievable, and aligned towards set objectives, prioritizing what you need to achieve and by when. Try to avoid tasks which veer away from your objectives or can be easily completed by another member of your team. Delegating tasks can often test your sense of trust and judgement in other team members, but is critical when it comes to staying focused on what’s important (and befitting of the Club Manager role).

During the day, make time to measure where things stand. If a task due for completion is in doubt, can you call in additional resource? If team members have become distracted by inane endeavors, is there time to pull them back and refocus their attention where it should be?

Finally, don’t allow the day to go by without assessing what has been accomplished during a debrief session. This is your opportunity to not only review your own achievements, but reward team members for a job well done and completed on time. They should also understand how this has helped (or is helping) towards the overarching objectives of the Club, as this will encourage their buy-in to the bigger picture.

Conversely, you will also need to confront incomplete tasks or missed deadlines. This is where balance and accountability come in, as you need to address these without demotivating your team.

Though some may find these stages overbearing, consistent monitoring and clear communication will allow team members to stay on task and focused for success. Ultimately, accountability will combat procrastination and instill a goal-oriented culture at your club.

Working smart 

Aside from external distractions, what can you do as a manager to work smarter? Here’s what I learned from nearly two decades at the sharp end of club management:

  • Do not try to take on everything on your own. Trust your team to assist you in your success.
  • Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. And then provide them with feedback, support, and recognition for a job well done.
  • Block off time in your calendar where you will not be interrupted. Sometimes an hour per week off-site (such as a coffee shop) will allow you to complete a certain task or get some much-needed headspace.
  • Temper your access to your cell phone or tablet. This will help you to avoid unnecessary calls, texts, and social media, allowing you to make headway with tasks requiring the utmost focus.
  • Be disciplined. Don’t put off tasks just because they are more challenging to you. They will fester, induce stress, and only become harder to overcome in the long run.

There are so many simple ideas out there that can help you overcome distractions, and they can be very effective. But if you can isolate a structure which is focused, holds everyone to account, and is married to your club mission, you can unlock something greater: a productive culture. A culture driven by goals, achievement and success. And that is something that no one wants to get in the way of.