Many of us aspire to personally be as productive and effective as possible. We read articles and blogs (including some of mine – How to Be 10X More Effective…) and take classes to learn how to get more done in less time.
Unfortunately, as leaders, this goal of personal productivity is the wrong goal to pursue. Our goal needs to be:
How Can Our Overall Team Be More Productive and More Effective?
In helping make our teams more effective, we need to give them more time to do their jobs. This means eliminating as much as possible all the distractions, noise, irrelevancies, and trivialities that cloud the mind and waste the time of our team members.
To eliminate all these superfluous time-wasters and give hours back to our team, we, the leaders of the team, need to realize our guilt in wasting precious hours each and every day:
- We schedule too many meetings
- We interrupt our team to get answers to non-important questions
- We share too much irrelevant information
- We overwhelm with too many goals and activities
Business in the U.S. continues to see a slowdown in productivity. I would contend that much of America’s poor productivity can be blamed on us as leaders. As leaders of companies, teams, and work groups, we simply do not let our teams have the time to do their jobs.
So, how can we create time for our companies and our teams?
Limit Work to the Truly Important
- Reduce the number of initiatives to the important few.
- Clearly prioritize all the work assigned to our teams so that they know its relative importance.
- De-prioritize and allow quickly completed “OK” work on non-essential but required initiatives.
- Eliminate nearly all group meetings and conference calls, scheduling them only when necessary (and when the agenda is full).
- Instead, schedule one on one meetings that focus on and discuss only what is relevant to the other individual.
- Filter communication. This means reducing group communication and the simple forwarding of E-Mails. Instead, share specific and relevant communication only with those individuals that really need to know. Most employees are drowning in too much communication and too much noise nearly all of which is irrelevant, distracting, and time-wasting.
Don’t Interrupt Their Day
- Reduce the constant phone calls and E-Mails to the team by bundling calls and E-Mails (Hint: Not everything is urgent).
- Rather than sending five E-Mails on one subject, wait and send one E-Mail on all five subjects.
- If we need to discuss a complex issue, we can schedule a quick phone call to talk about the issues at a time mutually convenient.
- Respect their productive time. If a team member’s door is closed, we need to respect it and not barge in with questions. If a direct report has a schedule where one part of the day is most crucial, we need to respect it and not disturb them during that time.
- To ensure that our communication with our direct reports is effective without interrupting their day, we should require a 20 – 30 minute weekly update meeting or phone call (with an agenda shared ahead of time). This allows both to collect together all the talking points that might have come up during the week and discuss and address all at one time.
- Establish a protocol for when something is truly urgent and our direct reports need to step out of a meeting to speak with us. For me, I would call (and if no response), hang up, then call again, then text.
- When calling, leave a detailed voice message that specifies the urgency of the request. This prevents team members from interrupting a meeting or sales call to get back to us for a trivial matter.
- Try sending an audio message on a text. This works great when we want to communicate something that just takes too long to write in an E-Mail, and we do not want to interrupt them for a phone conversation.
- As a leader, our team is equivalent to our customers. As such, we need to respond to them quickly when they give us a request or ask for an approval. Otherwise, they may be sitting around wasting time by waiting on us before they can proceed.
- In short, we can never ever be the roadblock that prevents our teams from getting their work done.
Give Our Teams Authority
- By giving our teams the authority to do more and make more decisions (without checking in with us), we can eliminate most of the back and forth time-wasting as they try to get our insights and approvals for minor issues.
Require That Our Leaders Create Time for Their Teams
- Likewise, our direct reports and other leaders need to follow these same rules and create more time for their teams to get their work done.
If we follow these guidelines, we will make our teams more productive and effective. In the end, this will make us and our companies more productive and effective.
So, let’s go out and create time for our teams!!