Stop Talking and Start Doing: 5 Ways to Become a Person of Action
People with good intentions make terrible employees. Don’t get me wrong, good intentions are fine but I prefer working with people who get things done. There’s nothing more frustrating to me than to hear someone talk about all the things they are going to do, especially when I know it’s never going to happen.
If you want to be a trusted employee and gain more responsibility, you need to learn how to stop talking and get things done. Organizations are not measured on what they are going to do, they are evaluated on actual performance. As a leader, I’m looking for results not excuses. I need people who can get things done despite the circumstances.
I’m not the only leader who thinks this way. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, agrees with me. In an article called The Three Qualities of People I Most Enjoy Working With, he explains the three qualities he likes to see in employees: Those that dream big, those that know how to have fun, and those that get things done.
Jeff says, “If a goal is truly visionary, it’s going to be confronted by doubters, skeptics, and those threatened by its realization. As a result, there will always be walls put up on the way to achieving the objective. Some of the most capable people I’ve worked with know how to go over, around, or straight through those walls by virtue of their resourcefulness and sheer force of will. In other words, they just get [stuff] done.”
I’ve echoed similar sentiments in an article I wrote called The One Trait Your CEO Wants You to Have. Organizations are looking for persistent people who get things done and deliver results despite the circumstances.
“Action is the foundational key to all success” ~ Pablo Picasso
So how do you become known for being a person of action? Here are five ways:
Under-commit and over-perform. Your word is your bond so be careful what you commit to. As a successful leader once told me, “don’t be a hero on planning day.” Don’t make a bunch of promises you aren’t going to keep. Stick to a few critical commitments and work hard to exceed those targets.
“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned” ~ Peter Marshall
Stop the excuses. Nobody, especially your boss, wants to hear why you missed a deadline or a goal. As Jeff Weiner said, CEO’s are looking for people who will go over, around, or straight through obstacles to get things done. Don’t let challenges prevent you from meeting your promises.
Focus on priorities. It’s easy to get distracted and focus on what is urgent but not important. Avoid this by keeping a list of all the critical objectives you have made a commitment on. Get those things done first before you work on less important tasks.
“The best way to get something done is to begin” ~ unknown
Make daily progress. Getting things done, especially big tasks, requires daily progress. Waiting to the last minute to start a project will only create stress for you, your boss, and the organization. Starting early will also help you assess if there are additional risks to meeting your objective.
Provide early warning. Becoming known as a person of action means controlling the expectations of your boss. If you commit to accomplishing a task by a certain date, just do it. If, however, you run into unforeseen challenges that may impact your ability to accomplish the task on time, it’s critical to let your boss know well before the deadline. This will allow them to assess the impact. Waiting to the last minute to announce you will miss a deadline is one of the worst things you can do for your reputation.
They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So is the road to the unemployment line. Busy leaders are looking for people who will step up and get things done. They don’t have time to hear stories of all the amazing things their employees might do. If you want to become a trusted employee and gain more responsibility, you need to learn how to get things done. Follow these simple tips and become a person of action.
What do you think? Is there some value to having good intentions? Are companies doing a good job rewarding people of action? Is it possible to put your career at risk by being action-oriented in a heavily political culture? Let me know your thoughts.
By Jon Rennie
Co-founder, President & CEO of Peak Demand Inc., a premier manufacturer of transmission and distribution components for electrical utilities and OEMs. Former U.S. Naval Submarine Officer with seven deployments on the USS Tennessee. Submarine and Nuclear Engineer qualified. BS Mechanical Engineering, MBA, and MS in Manufacturing Leadership from Cambridge University in the UK. Leadership blogger at jonsrennie.com.
Photo courtesy of author