Operations: The Skill of Being Reliable
What distinguishes you from the sea of managers in our industry? The answer to this question is not simple — It is an array of skills and character traits that are unique to each individual who is entangled with daily tasks and a full agenda.
What separates the “A Players” from the rest is in the details; one of which is reliability. All managers are striving to maintain a certain level of this skill on a daily basis, without even realizing it. All that the mind sees is a book full of appointments, a poster schedule packed to the brim, or an electronic calendar that seems to scream at you every 10 minutes.
What you don’t see are the people on the other end of that calendar, the people that are directly affected by your actions. As managers, you need to see through that book of appointments and acknowledge the person at the end of each time slot.
When you are able to do this, you see a chance to build your accountability. Every scheduled meeting that you are punctual, you make a deposit into that person’s trust account. Every scheduled event that you are early to and prepared for shows your community of coworkers reliability. This is absolutely crucial in a world of missed appointments and unmet deadlines.
Thankfully, it is one of the few traits that can be taught. The skill of being reliable is broken down into three sections: time management, commitment and execution.
Time management: You have all heard of Steven Covey’s four quadrants of time management (If you haven’t, I encourage you to do a little reading). There are four quadrants:
- Quad one: urgent and important.
- Quad two: not urgent and important.
- Quad three: urgent and not important.
- Quad four: not urgent and not important.
Operating in quadrant two is how you are going to successfully manage your time. When you are planning scheduled events and appointments, plan the time for preparation the week before and the time for travel that day, keeping you in the quadrant of not urgent and important.
Commitment: When you say you are going to complete a task or schedule a meeting, write it down. Even though you may have the “best memory” according to your friends and family, why risk your reliability on it? As my father always told me, “Your word is your bond. Once broken, that bond is extremely difficult to put back together.”
Execution: Punctuality is absolutely necessary to be reliable. You have put in the scheduled hours to prepare, you have allotted the time necessary for travel, now get there early. There are a lot of factors that happen outside of your control and you need to account for the worst of them. If you know that the drive to your destination is going to take you 20 minutes, leave 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Those 10 extra minutes may seem unnecessary, but when your reputation is on the line, every precaution is the right precaution.
Even with all of the proper preparation, accidents happen. When they do, as leaders you must take ownership, without being quick to give excuses. No one is perfect, but in your strive for perfection, you will reach excellence.