Three Questions to Improve Performance

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN: Time to start thinking about improvements we’d like to make in the year to come. If you’re like most people, the chances are that you want to become more productive and more successful overall. The Stop-Keep-Start method is a fantastic way to cut to the chase and see rapid change in results. Story by Samantha McLean.

KNOWING YOU’D like to be a more productive, dynamic person and actually accomplishing that are two different things altogether. That’s where it helps to have a tried, true and simple method in your corner working for you.

The Stop-Keep-Start Method is a proven process that has helped thousands of people become more productive. It’s an excellent way to ask for useful feedback from your manager, and a great tool for self- assessment as well. Let’s take a closer look at what’s involved and discuss the ways you can put it to work for you.

Also sometimes called the SKS Method for short, Stop-Keep-Start is a simple way to decide what parts of your life are serving your ability to be productive, what parts aren’t and what should be added to the mix for best results. You begin by asking yourself three sets of questions in order:

  1. What do I need to stop doing because it’s hindering my progress?
  2. What should I keep doing because it’s really working for me?
  3. What do I need to start doing in order to reach my goals?

This method was first conceived by Brigham Young University professor Phil Daniels. It’s notable for being reassuring and action-oriented. It’s also prized for being a quick way to get organised and spring into forward motion, as well as asking for feedback from others which can help you self- assess and determine which way to go next.

When you ask for feedback, or think about the feedback you’ve received from others in the past, consider whether or not there are any common threads. Have people consistently told you that you need to stop keeping to yourself so much? Are there things that are not dollar-productive that you could drop? Feedback you hear again and again tends to contain at least a small grain of truth, especially when it comes to tendencies that don’t serve you.

Take a moment to consider seriously what kinds of opportunities you could create by working on certain tendencies or behaviours. Ask yourself how stopping the not-so-good stuff will help your professional life – or your personal life, for that matter – evolve for the better. Don’t be afraid to ask others for clarification as to why they made certain suggestions as well.

All of us have things we’re already absolutely nailing and we should keep doing those things. However, we need to become fully aware of what they are. Consider what clients, colleagues, friends and family members consistently tell you they appreciate about you. What can you do to continue nurturing these behaviours and building on them in the future? What skills can you work on to take advantage of these natural tendencies you clearly have?

It’s also important to consider whether you’ve ever been surprised by anything people have consistently complimented you on. Ask yourself why you were surprised. Are there ways you could continue to build upon these unique strengths?

Last but not least, assess what behaviours and mindsets both you and other people feel you could stand to add to your overall repertoire. Consider what skills, information or additional training you might need in order to be successful at adding these traits and behaviours. If you don’t fully understand why a given person may have mentioned something in particular, ask them to clarify.
It’s also important to assess whether the suggestions that might be most beneficial frighten you at
all. Is there a particular reason why you may not have explored these possibilities for yourself at
some point? Consider how you can overcome your apprehension to get past those fears. Stop putting productivity off! Get started today. There’s no time like the present.

Once you successfully use Stop-Keep- Start to assess and consider possibilities for future  change, it’s time to get active as far as the practicalities involved. When you consider the suggestions from all three lists, do you see common threads? How can you leverage your existing skills to help you develop new ones and continue to evolve both personally and professionally?

SKS is a simple exercise to be sure, but it’s also effective. You too can join the multitudes it’s already helped. Have a think about how you can get started today.

To give you some examples we asked hockingstuart’s top performers what they were going to stop-keep-start doing in 2015.

Winner of hockingstuart Agent of the Year

HelenYanSTOP I found that a lot of quality time can be lost in administrative work or doing menial tasks myself, such as letterbox drops. While these are necessary facets of the business, it’s not productive for me to be doing them. They don’t help me improve my customer service and hence don’t assist with driving referrals to the business.

KEEP In 2014 the majority of my business came from referrals, which are increasingly important in real estate. I’ve found the biggest driver for referrals to me personally has been my strong commitment to customer service. Assisting clients with all aspects of the sales process and being available to help them outside of normal business hours (such as showing them the local area, helping them set up in the neighbourhood, enrol their kids in local schools, and so on) has proved to be a point of difference for me.

START I’m going to find ways to reduce my unproductive activities and spend more time doing dollar-productive work. For me, that’s time with customers, whether it’s speaking to them on the phone or having face-to-face meetings. I believe that real estate is more about service than sales. If you provide the right level of service, the clients will sell you and the houses sell themselves.

Winner of REIV Award for Corporate Promotion and Communications

Nigel-O'NeilSTOP 2015 is the year to stop worrying about things I can’t control. As a CEO I can control my communication, staff management and business and recruitment strategies. But there are so many market variables in real estate which are simply out of our hands.

KEEP Running a successful business requires a sharp mind. This year, I created positive habits in my life to keep the mind and body fit – this helped me maintain effectiveness throughout the year.

START Customer service is the key to any successful service- based industry, and effective communication is a huge part of this. We plan to work with our offices to develop processes to assist them with databasing, perfecting their listing and OFI presentation skills and going ‘back to basics’ on client liaison to ensure these relationships are really strong.

Winner, hockingstuart Agency of the Year

MarkZammitSTOP This year we’ll cut back on direct marketing. Most of our business comes either through existing clients, word of mouth, or our solid brand reputation – we’ll focus our energy where it’s most effective.

KEEP Last year we undertook an analysis of both our sales and PM divisions. For sales, we looked at the origin of our business leads. We also analysed our rent roll, assessing what each client is worth to the business. It took four months but allowed us to understand exactly what is and isn’t profitable, and why. This led to numerous successful negotiations of new contracts without losing a single client. We plan to continue similar analyses in 2015 to help us reflect accurately on our business processes.

START We’ve just employed an experienced business development manager, and believe that’s the right path for us for growing our business. You can never underestimate the power of having an additional perspective to shake things up.

Show More

Samantha McLean

Samantha McLean is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of Elite Agent and Host of the Elevate Podcast.