I’m getting angrier by the minute!

Dear Ken Keller,

Maybe I am just having a bad week because I just filed my taxes and I am angry about how much I still have to pay the government on top of what I shelled out.

I am even angrier at myself because here it is, mid-April, and things are not progressing like I want them to this year. We are not hitting our numbers, people seem to just be going through the motions, and I’m getting pretty fed up at this whole thing. —Stephen T.

Dear Stephen,

Peter Drucker was quoted as saying “Your first and foremost job as a leader is to take charge of your own energy and then help orchestrate the energy of those around you.”

I’d say the best thing to do is to take some time off and cool down. The issues you face are not insurmountable. If you are angry and frustrated, your employees can feel it, see it and hear it from you, regardless of whether or not you want them to.

So, take some time off and go someplace. Or, if you prefer, do a “stay-cation” and go visit places near your home that the tourists have on their lists. Do a “pattern interrupt” and rest your brain and let your emotions cool down.

When you get back at work, the first thing you need to do is walk around and see how people are and look to see what they are doing.

Ask them questions but, don’t interrupt and don’t interfere. Don’t offer advice or provide value. Spend your time listening, watching and getting clarity.

Then, get on the phone with your CPA and find out what you could do differently so you don’t get hit with a surprise tax bill next April. Create a plan based on the conversation and stick to it by adding those actions to your calendar (or Outlook).

Third, with a clear mind, ask yourself how the company got off the track so soon. Was it a strategy issue? Tactical mistake? Lack of execution? Lack of systems? Lack of accountability?

Taking these steps is a business autopsy without blame.

Yes, the people involved either did or didn’t do something but the failure most likely took place up the line. That line starts and ends at your door. In between are managers and employees.

The goal is to find the source of the problems and fix them. It is not too late to start your year over and build on what has worked. But you are going to have to change so that people will follow you. Otherwise you will do the same thing and expect a different result which is business insanity.

Dear Ken Keller

I’d like to become more focused, what tools do you recommend? —Julia F.

Dear Julia,

The most useful tool is the daily to do list. Some people prefer to put it together before they leave work for home and others prefer to get it together once they arrive at work. Regardless, it is still a very valuable tool and will help you stay focused on tasks.

I do suggest that at mid-day you revisit the list and reprioritize the list for the second half of your day.

If your company did any type of strategic planning session and you have goals beyond the daily list, you need to keep those longer term goals in front of you so you can monitor your progress towards achieving them.

You should also create your own stop, start and stay list and keep it handy. These are items you wish to stop doing, start doing and stay doing. For example, if you think that weekly staff meetings are working for you, you would have those on your stay doing list.

If you think having one on one meetings with the staff would be valuable, add that to your start doing. And, if you think that your productivity and disposition would improve if you left work at a certain time each day, add “stop working past 6 p.m.” to your stop list.

Hopefully these tools will help in your quest to stay more focused.