Power through the routine…

Careful planning means attention to details and anticipating outcomes

routine planning

I recently vacationed in North Carolina’s beautiful Outer Banks.  It was my third time to Hatteras, a small village on the south end of the island.  The local economy largely depends on tourists who hire fishing boats, eat in restaurants and rent houses and hotel rooms.

A few days into my vacation, the whole of Hatteras island fell victim to a power outage.   The idyllic setting turned quickly; without power everyday life could not continue.  People were looking for restaurants that had thought ahead and had bought generators.  Boats couldn’t get gas and the food stores were packed.

The cause of this mayhem was a severed transmission line that ran near a new bridge being constructed from the mainland to Hatteras island.  The construction company inadvertently drove a steel casing through 3 power transmission lines.  This ultimately caused a mandatory evacuation of all visitors to the island.

So, what happened?  Surely this wasn’t the first bridge built by this construction company.  One mistake in a routine process caused all this chaos!  Was it lack communication? Complacency?  Bad preparation?

Many times in my career I’ve heard people trivialize meetings with clients as a routine part of their business.  They rationalize by saying something to the effect of it’s only a “check in” or they’ve been clients for years.  Well, I’m sure the construction company has built bridges many times before, and this was also routine work.  As result, we end up not preparing as well as we should for our meetings that we deem routine.

What are the potential ramifications for actions or lack of action? Those items that are routine for you might not be for others.  How many internal meetings do you have where attendees don’t really prepare because it’s a standing meeting?  The meeting becomes a huge waste of everyone’s time.

Here are six ways to up the “routine” game:

  1. Don’t take your client relationships for granted.  Prepare for your meetings with clients as if you are fighting for their business.  Your competition is. Complacency will ruin your relationship.
  2. Don’t let yourself get distracted by internal issues.  It’s easy to lose focus.  That lack of focus can be felt by your clients. They don’t care about your issues.
  3. Be proactive and try to anticipate what can go wrong.  Hmm, construction and power lines – do I need to say more?
  4. Engage your team.  Know where their blind spots are and work on them.  They are a reflection on you and the Firm. No single person is bigger than the Franchise!  Don’t let inadequate training harm your reputation.
  5. If it’s an internal meeting, remember your peers are judging you!  Bring your “A” game to every meeting.  Come prepared.  Be a leader.  You’re building your brand!  Have others take part in the meeting to break the routine.
  6. Don’t overlook the small details.  They will trip you up eventually.  Sloppiness is difficult to overcome.  Know where the power lines are buried so you don’t hit them.

There is no excuse for not being prepared.  Take the necessary steps to make sure that you’re not lulled into complacency just because something is routine.  We can get careless and lose our focus.  Treat each meeting as if it’s meaningful to the attendees.  If not, then reconsider why you’re having the meeting in the first place.

We all make mistakes but many are avoidable.  Don’t power down your own career….