Here at The ONE Thing, we’ve heard a lot from our readers about struggling to get their ONE Thing done at work. And we hear you. Sometimes it can be really difficult to keep up a mission of priority when it seems like the people we rely on aren’t doing the same.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We just have to take a close look at our strategy and make changes where needed.
In our eyes, tackling this problem begins with a simple question:
Are your coworkers preventing you from doing your ONE Thing?
If the answer is no…
Then feel free to keep chugging along.
Their lack of understanding or cooperation with The One Thing’s principles doesn’t affect you. However, if you want to gain a few tips on what it might look like if they did—read further.
If the answer is yes…
Then we have to look for some buy-in.
Set Honest Expectations and Standards
First, ask yourself,
does my team even know what I’m trying to achieve?
Oftentimes the problems with living our ONE Thing come from a lack of communication with the people in our lives about what that means.
One of the best tools you can use to help alleviate some problems with disruptive coworkers is to go through an Honest Expectations exercise. We use this exercise to establish our preferences for workplace behavior. It can also be a good exercise to run through and gain buy-in with team members about the principles surrounding the book.
We ask questions like:
- How honest do you like others to be with you?
- How do you best handle conflict?
- How do people win with me?
- How do people lose with me?
These expectations are a great way to put everything out there in front of your team members. It opens up the door to collaboration and understanding. If we give our team members a common language to draw from, then they’ll know what it means when you tell them “no”, begin a “time block”, or are focusing on your priority.
More than that, this is also an opportunity to set standards for all parties involved.
When we set standards, everyone is elevated. When we don’t have standards, everyone sinks to the lowest common denominator.
That’s because applying standards keeps us accountable to ourselves. In other words, it helps us know when we are living up to our potential and when we’re falling short. It creates boundaries for us to live and work in.
There are many books out there written by very successful people about the standards they live by. Ray Dalio’s Principles and Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor just to name a couple. The ONE Thing, however, is different because it understands that standards are principles put into action.
Our 20%- the priorities that we work to knock down, day after day, dictate what our standards should be. If our 20% entails complete silence so you can write that important memo, we need to find a place in time where we can attain that silence. Therefore, our standards that we communicate to our teammates will entail some silence for you to get your 20% completed.
Create Win-Win Situations
A team working through their ONE Things is way more productive than just any single person could ever be. When we’re a part of a team, no one lives and works in a silo. Our actions impact the actions of those we work with, and their actions impact ours. When trying to live out the book on a team, it’s always a best practice to identify win-win situations with your team members.
Come from a place of curiosity: ask them what their work would look like if you were your most productive? How would it influence them? What would they be able to accomplish in turn?
Not everyone works the same way, but when everyone is allowed to work in a way that maximizes their efforts, everyone wins. Run through Goal Setting to the Now with your team and identify common goals. Put your time into context for them—it’s valuable not only to you, but for them as well.
Find What You’re Responsible For
The great thing about The ONE Thing is that we can not only measure our own output, roadblocks, and areas that need improvement, but we can also measure the things that derail us. However, that can be hard to do when the finger should be pointed at ourselves instead of someone else.
When we lose our focus, are interrupted, and fail to live out our priority, we have to take responsibility, too. What are the things we’re doing that are allowing others to take our time away from us?
Often, this comes in the form of an inability to say “no”. In our office, this word has a different connotation than in most. Here, it means “not right now” or “how can you figure out a new way to do this so that it doesn’t involve me?” “No” is not a put-down, but rather a communication tool that tells our coworkers that we are currently taking care of our 20% and we cannot help them with theirs at the moment.
In the book, we don’t spend a lot of time talking about the everyday tasks we need to do—and do well—that aren’t necessarily a part of our ONE Thing, but need to be completed in order for us to be able to go after our ONE Thing. It’s easy to confuse needing to work on these tasks as red herrings, but in truth, they’re in alignment.
For instance, our authors, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan spend time coaching real estate agents on how to build big businesses. For many real estate agents, their ONE Thing is lead generating. The action by which they do that manifests itself in many forms including door knocking and cold calling. In order for an agent to time block cold calling for an hour or two a day, she will need to figure out a way to put together a bank of contacts from which she can work from. This action—putting together a list of numbers—isn’t her ONE Thing, but it does directly impact whether she can do her ONE Thing for the day. Putting together this list (or hiring someone to put it together for her) is one of the smaller dominoes that leads up to the bigger domino that is her ONE Thing.
Recognize what actions are the small dominoes that enable you to get your ONE Thing done.
Identify a Better Environment
We can’t always change other people, but we can change our environment. In the end, it is only up to us to make our goals happen.
There are instances when our goals simply do not align with the goals of our team. Instead of trying to change the team as a whole, we should find a better environment that supports those goals. It’s not always a scenario of them being right or you being wrong, but more commonly, a problem of misalignment. Gain clarity on what matters most and consider what you need in order to give it your undivided attention.
In the book, we talk about the importance of a bunker—a place that has all of the things you will need to get your best work done.
A bunker isn’t about finding a storage closet in your office and hunkering down for the day—although if it works for you, then great!—it’s about fortifying your work space so you can be your most productive.
First, you have to find your bunker. All this really has to be is a territory where your coworkers know is yours. If that is your desk, then great. If you can book a conference room in your office, that will do as well. If you need to hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign, then be all means, do it!
Once you find your bunker, store provisions. Make sure you have snacks, water, coffee, pens, paper, a computer charger, and anything else you may be tempted to leave your bunker to get. Over time, you will figure out exactly what that looks like for you.
Next, sweep for mines. Discard, move or stow away anything that may distract you. That means your phone goes on silent and in a desk drawer.
Finally, enlist support. If you don’t have buy-in from the people around you, you won’t be as off-the-grid as you may want to be. Talk to whomever may be looking for you during your bunkering and explain what you are doing and when you will be back. If you set expectations, people will be less nervous about your whereabouts or anxious about when they will be able to get your input again. Thank them by delivering your best work, and soon enough, no one will question your bunkering.
We are compiling stories about The ONE Thing in action at work. If you have a story or would like to share your experience with using The ONE Thing at work, please find us on Facebook and drop us a line!