Three Hot Tips for Really Cool Managers

As we enter the second month of the new year, you may be beginning to question whether or not your goals for 2012 will ever really be achieved; already certain obstacles seem insurmountable. During the last week or so, a collection of ideas have floated across my desk, which will be helpful to those of us who are determined to experience success this year - whatever that may mean for each of us individually.

Tip #1: Embrace failure as an opportunity to learn. I think we can learn from success too, but failure definitely helps identify areas in which we need to grow - it's a to-be-learned punch list. It's a gift; an opportunity. Earlier I had read about a company that offered bonuses for failure. Then this week, I saw an article about a private girl's school that was going to sponsor "failure week." This will be an opportunity for students to acknowledge their mistakes without fear of punishment and identify areas for further study, research and action that will prevent a mistake from happening again. Remember, if you're skiing and not falling you are not becoming a better skier.

Tip#2: Support new ideas. Just for once, encourage people to try new things. Try not to respond skeptically. Avoid using language which places an obstacle in the way of trying new ideas. Words like: It's too late; nothing can be done about that; you can't fight city hall; you might as well give up; we cant afford that; what's the use; we tried that before; you don't understand; that will never work for the kind of kids we have. Imagine how much better the world, or your organization might be if the suggested new approach would actually work and then commit to supporting that effort.

Tip #3: Don't manage time, manage activities. You can't manage time; there is only so much of it in a day and it moves along at the same relentless pace regardless of what we do. We only have so much time in a day, in a year, or in our lifetime. We have no idea what the future holds; only the past is known.

At the beginning or at the end of the day, take a sheet of paper and write down the various things that you would like to get done during the coming day. Assign a letter of the alphabet to each task. A= tasks that will negatively impact the well-being of your organization or your family if you don't get them done. B= tasks that would be nice to get done in the coming day, but they can readily be done later in the week. C= tasks that would be nice to complete but no clear consequence if you don't get them done. D= tasks that you can delegate to others. Within each category there may be some tasks that are more important than others - do them first and don't go to the B list before you have finished the A list.

Avoid doing things simply because you feel like doing them; do what will make a difference. Then you can go home feeling like you have really accomplished something.