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Creating a strong business personal foundation

Learn how habits and standards we live by influence our effectiveness at work.

Habits and standards we live by influence our effectiveness at work. The original Personal Foundation® checklist was developed by Coach U and is designed as a yardstick against which you measure your actions and values. To extend the Personal Foundation into the business world, I've created the simple checklist below. For each question you answer "yes" to, give yourself a point. If the question does not relate to you, give yourself a "yes."

Business Personal Foundation Checklist

1. I only attend meetings that have a clear agenda and expected outcome

2. I only attend conference calls where I am an active participant

3. All of my time & expense reporting is caught up and my corporate credit card bills are paid.

4. I delegate all tasks that are better performed by an assistant, colleague or subordinate

5. I have a 3-year career plan

6. I have a 1-year continuing professional education and training plan in place

7. I plan to take at least one course in the next 12 months that increases my life skills (e.g. communication skills, presentation skills, etc.)

8. I do not check voice mail or email on weekends, vacations or holidays

9. I ask for help every day

10. I respond to emails and voice mails within 1 business day

11. I never send an angry email or voice mail

12. I backup critical data on my computer at least once a month

13. I subscribe to at least two professional journals in my field

14. I am a member of at least one professional organization or group in my field

15. I keep my desk, office or work area clean and have nothing on my desk when I leave for the day

16. I update my voice mail greeting every day stating my whereabouts and how to get help immediately if I don't answer the phone

17. I am free to be open in my communication with my manager, peers and subordinates

18. I consistently take little breaks from my work several times a day to refocus my thinking

19. I complete all of my assignments on time and, where appropriate, within budget

20. I do complete work and always deliver more than what was asked of me. I consistently under-promise and over-deliver.

21. I consistently give back to my organization, firm or company by volunteering for task forces, writing articles, doing research, etc.

22. As a manager, I spend time every week talking 1 on 1 with at least one of my team members every day

23. My to-do list has nothing on it that was there 3 days ago

24. I take all vacation and floating holidays I have earned every year

25. I mentor or coach others at work

How did you score?

More than 20 points,; excellent! You're off to a great start, now let's work on the remaining few items to get that perfect score (yes, it's possible.

15-19 points; good! Lots to do, but manageable. Let's prioritize, set goals and reassess next week (yes, next week).

Less than 15 points; no problem! I'm willing to bet you can increase your score in just one week.

Assessment statements split naturally into two categories: Personal and Interaction statements. Personal statements are those where the action is mine and the impact is only on me. Interaction statements are those which involve others, either as part of the action, or as a consequence.

Personal Statements

Questions 3, 5, 6, 7, 12 – 16, 18 – 20, 23 and 24 are all personal statements. They form the basic foundation for creating an inner sense of order and accomplishment. When you can answer "yes" to the personal statements, you've cleared the deck and created space for productivity.

Don't minimize things like "I don't check voice mails or emails on vacation." Granting yourself the privilege and freedom to enjoy your leisure time pays big dividends back at work. It also grants your colleagues and subordinates the same right, doubling the productivity improvement.

Interaction Statements

Questions 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, 11, 17, 21, 22 and 25 are all interaction statements. Taking action against these statements has a positive affect on your organization, customers, colleagues and others. When you can answer "yes" to the interaction statements, you give something of yourself to others.

Statements like "I delegate all tasks that are better performed by an assistant, colleague or subordinate" may at first seem selfish and not at all giving. But read it again carefully. It doesn't say, for example, "I delegate things I should do but don't want to." Effective delegation empowers those you delegate to as long as you don't constantly inspect what you've delegated.


Building a solid Business Personal Foundation is all about opening up room for creativity, productivity and effectiveness. Is there really anything stopping you from scoring a perfect 25 on this assessment?

About the Author

Paul Scherer is a personal coach, a professional musician and past president of a consulting firm. He was the former Director of IBM Global Services' ERP practices and has over 20 years' experience in the IT industry. He is a graduate of CoachU, and coaches individuals to help them realize their goals, both professionally and personally. He is also a professional musician, composer and performer and has sold over 10,000 copies of his CDs.

To subscribe to an email version of this series, to comment on this or other articles in this series, or for information about coaching, please contact Paul Scherer at For more information on Paul Scherer's coaching practice please visit

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