I am often caught by surprise with the power of a simple phrase. I started working for my grandfather as a teenager.He was an independent interior painting and wallpaper contractor and we met each morning for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and started work by 7:30. This was a very different schedule than most of my friends and I was usually sleepy and crabby at that early hour. I still remember how he would greet me, “he who hoots with the owls at night can’t soar with the eagles in the morning.”
As a teen I just groaned when grandpa, with great delight and cheer, repeated his message but it did help me get to bed earlier and more importantly it has helped me change my behavior to this day. I am a night owl but to be successful at work and as a triathlete in training I need to get to bed so I can soar early each morning!
“Work your plan” is also a simple, but powerful, statement that leaders can use to build accountability into change efforts. All organizations are facing complex challenges that create a myriad of day to day distractions for each of us. Working with the people on your team to create a clear work plan for a change effort makes it much easier to focus on the actual behaviors that will lead to successful change.
There are many templates and examples of work plans but three key pieces to include are:
- What – a clear description of the task, activity or behavior
- When – what is the deadline or timeline
- Who – what individual or groups must take action
A clear work plan will provide milestones and allow individuals to track their own progress and the overall progress of the change. Having a plan to work builds individual and organizational accountabilty.