During the workday, we often find ourselves doing a myriad of tasks, from taking part in meetings, talking on the telephone, dealing with clients and helping co-workers. However, many times, we find ourselves performing tasks that are not our responsibility and have no impact on what our supervisors will hold us accountable for. When we perform tasks that have no benefit for us or fail to help us carry out our responsibilities, we are ineffective.
To be effective at work, we must ask ourselves what, specifically, were we hired to do. Brian Tracy calls these our key areas of responsibility (KAR). In short, by taking care of our key areas of responsibility, we earn our pay. No one else is responsible for them; if we don’t do them, they remain undone. Failure in these areas reflects on us, no one else.
Five to seven key areas of responsibility usually define an employment position. A manager’s key areas, for example, may include planning, organizing, hiring, supervising, reporting, delegating, and measuring. We would hope the manager’s training resulted in a competence that allows the successful completion of these tasks. The manager’s supervisor will judge the manager’s effectiveness by these key areas. Unfortunately, the general rule is that one’s weakest key area places a limit on the extent that one can use the other areas.
To be as effective as possible, a manager should create a program of improvement to develop their expertise in their key areas, specifically in their weakest one. Here is a suggested plan:
- Identify your key areas of responsibility – After drafting these, discuss them with your supervisor and co-workers. There should be agreement on the areas. If your profession uses a specialized form or rubric in evaluations, consult this as well.
- Grade yourself in each area on a scale from one to ten – Find your weakest area. This is the area that will create drag on the others.
- Create a plan to strengthen the weakest area – This is the hardest to do because it is human nature to avoid that which we find difficult. Those are the areas in which we find ourselves procrastinating. However, it is competence in these areas that allows one to use their other areas to their fullest extent.
Focus on and develop your key areas of responsibilities to be effective. While doing so, one gains another benefit. When one is skillful in the important areas, one’s feelings of self-confidence will soar. There is nothing like feeling unstoppable when doing what one loves to do.