The common idiom “if a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well” comes to mind when thinking of a continuing education program manager’s job. Always striving to do more, do better, and improve the program. A lofty and impressive aspiration, but easier stated than reached.

Adding a few weekly habits to your schedule could make a noticeable difference, especially with what really matters to your staff and your customers. Consider the benefits of these six actions when done on a weekly basis.

Clean Off Your Desktop

Plain and simple, if it is within eyesight, at some point you will spend some amount of time thinking about it. Unless that pile of papers that is due in two weeks needs your attention today, place it out of sight. This is not to say forgot about what is coming up in the future. Next week and the week after are important on their own. But the question is do you want that to compete for your attention today.

I have known people over the years who believe the more they have on their desk, the busier they are perceived to be. Having a huge backlog of work is never a comfortable place to be. But consider these two points. If there are twenty important tasks to get done, and they are each sitting on your desk in front of you at the same time, how distracted would you be trying to concentrate on getting one done with the rest all within view? And secondly, would one of your staff decide not to walk into your office and tell you something very important because they believe you already have enough to do?

Walk Around

There are very few efforts that gain more insight into what is going on around you than walking around. I once worked for a gentleman who wore metal taps on his dress shoes. Being a young employee, and maybe even a little naïve, I once asked him why he wore them. He replied that he always wanted staff to know he was coming. The interpretation I kept to myself was that he did not want to ever walk into an unexpected situation he had to deal with.

Walking about affords you to the opportunity to discover both the good and bad that is happening around you. A staff or even a customer may share a thought or idea with you that may never have been shared otherwise. And it is just not about the people. Getting a view of the buildings, rooms, and even the parking lot that your customers see may help you understand the image your program portrays or even identify an unsafe situation before it becomes an issue.

Update Your Stars and Thorns List

If you have not created one, consider starting a Stars and Thorns List. This list is just a quick reference for you of “what works” (Stars) and “what doesn’t work” (Thorns). Update the list at the end of every week while the week’s events are fresh. Keep it short and on point. Record the highlights; the big ones; the ones that stand out. If you graphed all your success and failures for the week on a bell curve, record those that fall at the tails. Those are the important ones to recall later.

Categorize the entries based on some general topics that make sense to you and help you quickly find relevant entries. Review this list every time you consider a new idea, a new course, or even some new marketing effort. It can be a reminder that may help you make a decision quicker and with some backup to support your decision.

Identify an Under Performing Task

If every staff member, including yourself, tracked every task they perform, the likelihood is very high of identifying tasks that are no longer needed or provide very little return on investment. In other words, if those tasks were no longer performed, the time spent on that activity could be put to a more useful and productive purpose. This may sound like counting pennies to pay a mortgage, but the benefits over time could be large and extremely worthwhile.

Asking staff to track every task they do will not come with a big thank you. That task itself is tedious, and the resulting analysis could be even more arduous. Instead, consider some way for staff to submit tasks that meet some qualifications you set on productivity and outcome. This sets the tone for good input and results that can be analyzed much easier. You may discover an easier way to meet an objective or possibly stop performing the task altogether.

Plan Next Week

Imagine walking into work Monday morning with your week already planned. You need only to review your plans in case some priorities have changed, but you are ready to take on the week within minutes. This is a relatively easy action to accomplish. Late Friday afternoons can often be an ideal time to plan the upcoming week. Your unfinished goals are fresh in your mind, and Friday afternoons are often somewhat of a wind-down time. Taking the time to plan the following week now can reap some benefits after a busy weekend and bring you up to speed fast.

Send an Email to Staff

Close out your week with an email to your staff. You have finished your plan for next week, and your thoughts are positive. This is a great time to share your thoughts on the week that just finished and the week that is coming up. Your staff look to you for direction, and what better way to communicate your positivity than a weekly email that closes out one week and starts the next. Call it a pep talk if you like. Treat it as a thank you at times. Share your Stars and Thorns. Your staff will appreciate the contact, and you have set the tone for the next week.

Author Rick J. Stern

Entrepreneur Rick Stern built Xenegrade Corp with a focus on service to educational organizations. With an MBA from Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester and over 20 years continuing education management, his experience provides valuable insight into the needs, demands, and trends of the continuing education market.

More posts by Rick J. Stern

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