Blog: Mindset Priorities ─ Phase 1 The Need for Proper Priorities 

Mindset: the proper mix of perception, perspective and priority 

Anyone running a successful company of any size needs to have a proper mindset. Mindset may come from education, but it comes mostly from experience. An entrepreneur running a company for the first time may develop the proper mindset with no previous experience but establishing priorities on a continual basis needs an understanding of the priorities to make things happen. All the planning in the world will fail without priorities. I have seen new CEO’s at a very beginning company stumble by not prioritizing their time. There is so much to do in a start-up therefore it is wrong to concentrate on the easy or enjoyable tasks. That is why discipline is needed to go along with the priorities.

So, how can the mindset be developed without experience? The answer is from coaches, mentors and advisors that come in all forms and even potential investors. I have worked with students at universities that has an entrepreneurial curriculum. This is set up for students who have an entrepreneurial spirit to go through the program. There are lead mentors for every team and there are numerous resources available from the University including friends willing to help on a part-time basis with students. This allows the Lead mentors to call upon successful entrepreneur’s, people in the market and a wide range of experience to fit the basic fits for students.

These helpers include financial consultants as well as people experienced in the specific teams’ markets.

The first stage is to validate the concept/product and the customer interest, especially if they will be willing to pay. But before facing investors for capital needed beyond friends and family a broader mindset should be developed.

Priorities
The poor setting of priorities is one of the most common and serious problems in poorly performing companies. This is also the weakest point in poor mangers: they do not know how to set and communicate their priorities well. When a manager's staff is not performing to expectations, it is because they have their own set of priorities that are not the same as management. The best boss I ever had used to sit patiently and listen to my goals and priorities and look for mismatches.

Whenever, in my mentoring activities, when I have been asked to work with a client's struggling staff, I could often find that the boss's priorities weren't clear. Priorities should be written down whenever possible, and the manager must take the time to make sure they are understood. In fact, it is a good idea to have employees' feedback and have them state that they understand the priorities and to make sure the employees' priorities are consistent with management's priorities. It is so easy to mix up the priorities as stated with what we would like them to be.

For example, I once asked a CEO who used to be a client of mine what his top priority was, and he replied that his absolute, number one priority was to hire a national sales manager. I then asked him, “Why, if it really was his top priority, weren’t candidates lined up outside his door waiting to be interviewed?”  Further research disclosed that he had not even talked to the search firm he hired in two weeks. In this case, I believe the reason for the lack of follow up was he enjoyed playing the acting head of sales.

In the final analysis, the manager who makes everything work is the manager who establishes priorities that fit everything together. Setting, reviewing and reordering priorities when necessary are the most important responsibility of "the person in charge." Priorities should be monitored constantly to ensure that they are consistent with the company's evolving goals and objectives.

In several of the troubling companies I worked with there was a big gap between what the management wanted to do and what was happening.  It was my job to analyze what was the reason for the gap.  Interesting enough I found the management knew what needed to be done but couldn’t pull it off.  The majority of the time, he related to poor priority setting.