When do you do your best work?
 
Have you ever thought about the circumstances that propel you to do your best?
 
I thought about this. If you defined the factors that bring out your best, you might be able to harness those things that drive you and those you supervise to do great work.
 
These drive me to do my best work:
 
1. The work is important to someone else—they need me to come through.
2. There is a nearly impossible time deadline. (all “nighters”)
3. I am not exactly sure of how to do all the necessary parts (learning required)
4. I will be a part of the end product rather than just someone handing off a part and never knowing how “it came out”.
5. There’s a “perk” at the end. (bonus, a new project, a chance to do something bigger, an opportunity to present an idea, a promotion, recognition)
 
Do these strike a chord with you? I suspect my driving forces are common to most managers. You may have one I didn’t think of. If so, I’d like to hear yours.
 
Here’s the kicker. If we include these ingredients when assigning a task, we might get better results. If you can build a simple paragraph of items 1-5 to be added to an assignment, you might see improved work.
 
Example: Dave,
Our customer service people need to improve the way they process repairs. This is hurting our reputation. I’d like to see some changes made in this area by the end of the month. (1, 2) This is of particular importance to me though I am not certain of exactly what changes need to be made. (1, 3) I’d like you to handle this for me. (4) If you can cut the call backs from angry customers and reduce the turn-around time for repairs, I’ll provide $2500 for perks for the customer service team (use as you see fit)—and I’ll set you up with a limo, dinner and theater tickets. Let me know if you’re willing to take this on.  —Chris
 
I also think we can “self-impose” these parameters to impel ourselves to get that dreaded (put off) project done. Try telling yourself, “This matters to Joe, I need to get it done by the end of the week. It will get me some recognition for doing it. And, if I try some new things, I’ll learn something new from this.”
 
I have some projects that I’m going complete this week!
 
Chris Reich, Author of TeachU’s Business Talk Blog