Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

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Page 200 of 207

THE EDUCATED RETAILERS' GUIDE (continued from p. 72) more I'd get mad at myself, the more energy I was wasting, the less I got done, the more I would overcommit to compensate … and so on. Suffice it to say, that cycle was not much fun. A couple of techniques that have helped to turn the tide and improve my relationship with myself and with time are: (a) Don't commit to things you aren't going to do; (b) Learn to say no; and (c) Hold others—courteously and considerately—to their commitments. 9. Avoid the Time Wasters The 19th century French philosopher Louis de Bonald once wrote: "There are people who do not know how to waste their time all by themselves. They are the scourge of active people." His statement most certainly rings true today. I hardly think the "time wasters" he wrote about are malicious—they just have a high affinity for unproductive action, seemingly unending and irrelevant conversa- tion, or piling on the pleasantries. It may sound mean, but learning to steer clear of the time wasters in life can be one of the biggest time gains you'll ever make—though sometimes you have to be strategic about it. Setting a second appoint- It may sound mean, but learning to successfully steer clear of the time wasters in life can be one of the biggest time gains you'll ever make. ment to follow hard on the heels of the one you set up with the time waster can work wonders. Learning to move effectively past them with a pleasant, "Hi! How's it going? Gotta get to a meeting!" works well too. If you find yourself cornered, and nearly unable to escape, that's usually a spot for a sudden, "Oh wow! I just remembered something I need to do for a guest/client/ customer." The truth is, given the complex- ity of life and the large volumes of clients we (fortunately) have, I can pretty much certainly make that statement come true. There's rarely a moment where I can't think of something I should do for a customer. And no one will ever argue with you that you shouldn't take care of a client. 10. Put It in Writing How many times have you left a meeting feeling relieved that it was over only to realize later that you don't know what you or anyone else has commit- ted to doing? How many times have you been to a meet- ing where you spent a good 60 percent of your time trying to remember what you all agreed to at the last meeting? It's not hard to understand why this happens. Humans are … human. We forget. We misunderstand. We make mistakes. I'm not talking about documenting every single com- 178 ❘ SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE ❘ specialtyfood.com ment you make—only about conversations that conclude with some sort of action being determined. While this will seem overly formal for many people, the failure to confirm in writing is the cause of countless problems, and an enormous drain on the national use of time. Taking time to confirm the details of your conversation in writing later over email or in whatever form works for you can contribute huge time gains to your week. If everyone was on the same page, fabu- lous—it took two minutes to make sure. In the more likely situation where there were two somewhat (or significantly) different interpretations of your interaction, isn't it better to discover the discrepancy the next day rather than work down diverging paths for three weeks before uncovering the error? Think of how much time and energy you can save, how must stress you avoid. Two minutes of awkwardness over two hours or two weeks or more of ineffectiveness. I'll take that trade any time. Even if it's done verbally it does help to confirm. Years ago, we had one very effec- tive manager who ended every conversation with one of her staff by saying, "OK, tell me again: What are you going to do?" It's not my style, but it was hers and she sure made it work well. Confusion in communica- tion was almost never an issue in her area. Which, I'm sure, added up to better use of time, a better place to work, and better results all the way around. |SFM| Ari Weinzweig is co-owner of Zingerman's Delicatessen in Ann Arbor, Mich., and author of Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 2: A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to Being a Better Leader. For more information, visit zingtrain.com.

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