I have a few tips I would like to share today.

1. I never have a meeting with my direct reports unless they have a paper notepad and pen with them. (I prefer paper to electronic devices. When I need to review my direct reports’ notes, I won’t see things I’m not supposed to see. Sometimes if the information is critical, I insist they bring a recording device.) The first step in ensuring good work gets done is to be certain instructions are received, documented and understood. After my meetings, I ask my direct reports to recount what they have heard so we’re on the same page.

Every morning and evening, I receive a one page list of the tasks my direct reports are working on, by email. No matter where I am in the world, I get those two emails daily. The task lists contain status updates on each task and delivery dates.

During staff reviews, the task lists provide an objective way to assess who delivers as at when due and as such, should be given more responsibility.

As managers, I think we should not only insist on work being done, we should also insist that it is well done and delivered on time. For instance, if you hire someone to develop reports and the reports are consistently error-ridden; then the work is not being done. At best, it’s being half-done. That is cheating and stealing; especially if at the end of the month, the individual’s salary is fully paid. Life has a way of catching up with employees who “steal” from their employers by getting full pay for half work.

2. Networking should always begin before a conference and not only take place during events. One of the best conferences I have attended is Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. Before the event, attendees were added to a closed LinkedIn group. Since it was a technical event, having access to people’s professional profiles was more advantageous than having access to their social profiles, hence LinkedIn was used and not Facebook.

I witnessed some interesting things in the LinkedIn group. People started making connections weeks to the event. Someone asked if anyone could split the cost of a hotel room and become room mates. All of a sudden, others started pairing up. I did, and ended up staying with and networking with someone I wouldn’t have ordinarily met. Someone else suggested that since most of us would be staying near the conference venue, we should have dinner the night before. Each person would pay for what they ate. He shared a Google sheet and asked people to put their names on it if they were interested. After each group of 10, a fresh group would begin on the sheet and the first name in each group would automatically be the host and choose a restaurant for his/her group, around the conference venue. That’s how I ended up going to dinner with and meeting great people before the conference began.

There were other industry based networking initiatives planned by the organisers but one theme ran through – the best conferences never assume everyone’s an extrovert and so they deliberately engineer networking opportunities. They understand that if introverts leave the event unfulfilled, they won’t come for the next one.

3. You should make a deliberate effort to learn new things within and outside your industry. It’s easy to get so bogged down with daily operations that you fail to grow intellectually. Innovation and creativity are essential to business growth. You can’t afford to sacrifice them on the altar of operations. Read industry magazines/journals, search for internships in other industries or do short courses if you can’t afford to be away from the office for too long.

I remember attending Nigeria Leadership Initiative’s 3-day Associate class. It was an intellectual feast of political & economics ideas. I was one of two brand experts in the room so I got to interact with people from around the world who were experts on finance, public policy, health care, education and so on. You don’t attend that kind of event and return without a fresh perspective on your business. I eventually went on to serve on the institution’s Board and enjoyed the deeper experience of learning how NGOs tick.

The moral is, immerse yourself in new ideas every now and then. You never know what you’ll pick up.

Don't be so bogged down with operations that you fail to grow intellectually. Click To Tweet Managers, never sacrifice innovation & creativity on the altar of operations. Click To Tweet