By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
I was listening to a colleague talk about a professional goal that she had established for herself but never followed through with it. Over the past five years, she has discussed it with me at least three times with no follow-up. Lack of execution is an issue for many nurse leaders, some of whom are great at planning but lack follow-through. The problem with failing to execute is that we lose credibility when we say we are going to do something but then don’t do it. It can also be a career derailer if you fail to execute goals repeatedly that you are accountable to achieve.
Even if execution is not your go to strength, you can learn to be better at execution. Some key strategies that are recommended include the following:
- Commit to doing fewer things but do them well. Sometimes leaders worry that they will not be perceived as team players if they don’t commit to certain goals. While this may be a valid concern in some organizations, the bigger problem is committing to do too much and then failing to execute.
- Under promise and over deliver. Wise leaders learn that when you do commit to task, give yourself enough time and space to do it. Bringing a project before a due date makes a far bigger impression than missing a deadline. Designing a realistic timeline is critical.
- Break down every project goal into smaller steps. It can be very overwhelming to confront a goal or task if you are always focused on the bigger picture. As an example if you want to become certified as a nurse leader – then start with smaller steps. You might first look at what professional associations give this credential and their requirements. You might then find out the process for application and how testing is done. You might then look at the content of the exam and determine if you need a review course. All of this would take place before you commit yourself to a date and time for the exam.
- Block small increments of time off to do each step of a project. I write many articles. These are often very time consuming undertakings which I would find impossible to do without taking it step by step. I might give myself 45 minutes a day for four days to do a literature review before I ever begin to think about writing. Then I develop an article outline. Each section of the article is a different project step that I block time to do.
- Reward yourself for accomplishing small pieces of a project. Planning incremental rewards for yourself can help move project forward. This might be lunch with a colleague or a manicure. All of us need rewards.
- Don’t begin a new major project if you have fallen behind on a current project. Very often in the middle of a goal or project, we can lose our momentum and our energy wanes. The temptation is move into an exciting new project to regain your momentum. The problem with doing this is that you may never finish the other project. I learned this the hard way in my role as a Professor. I now only work on one grant at a time so I will fully execute it and meet all the expectations.
If there’s something you want to achieve in your life, whether it’s a big professional success, turning around your personal finances, getting in better physical shape, or whatever it may be, a focus on execution can be the difference between success and failure.
© emergingrnleader.com 2018