Eliminating the Whirlwind & Increasing Productivity
Many people harp on the all-too-disorderly whirlwind way of doing business these days. Today, even when we leave the office, we’re always accessible, we’re in constant contact with others and typically, we’re expected to be “on” all the time. If we don’t respond to an email or a text within a certain amount of minutes not hours, we know we’ll get a call. And well, we have to answer that (even in the evenings or on the weekends or vacations) because if we don’t… it’s going to look like we’re not hard workers. So, where do we draw the line? And what does all of this have to do with managing others? A LOT.
4 Considerations to Move from Whirlwind to Productivity
As a manager, even though you have a million things on your plate, it is your responsibility to know and understand what’s occupying your team’s time. (No, this does not give you an excuse to micromanage.) Here are four considerations that may help.
- First and foremost, you can’t truly help your team if you don’t have a clue what’s consuming their calendars. As a manager, one of your responsibilities is to remove obstacles and barriers – and an easy way to do this is to “trim the fat” off your team’s schedule. Identify the meetings that can be eliminated, take tasks that you ought to tackle, and shift things around that make sense. Talk to your team members individually. Do a series of team planning meetings. Clarify roles, goals and expectations. Discuss ways to avoid redundancies, delegate where you can and use team activities to get some things done. Track how as a team you are spending time. (see this assessment by HBR) Ask, what can we learn? These kinds of conversations with your team alleviates the pressure build up and often generates creative ways to be more effective.
- Secondly, your ability to recognize team members for their contributions greatly depends on your awareness of the details. One of the main employee frustrations described in engagement surveys is that managers don’t know or recognize them for the hard work they do. So, get enough information to award and affirm your team regularly. See this for more ideas recognition-employees crave recognition.
- Third, if you don’t know, they’ll know. Case in point: have you (in your personal experience) ever received an email from a boss (late at night or on the weekend) that asks something of you, something so significant, that you leave your inbox thinking… do they even know what’s on my plate right now? (This post is also not an excuse for employees to gripe or be idle.) Sometimes managers don’t even know the whirlwind of their teams: deadlines, priorities and stressors that their reports are facing, and so they don’t consider the competing factors – they just consider what’s convenient. So, do your best to balance your latest priorities with your team’s current challenges. So, take the time to engage your team on an on-going basis. Be involved and accessible.
- Finally, remember to coach all employees one on one regularly. This will help you focus them and you on priorities. You will also gain a dialogue with good coaching that’s invaluable for generating input and ideas that lead to better employee engagement. In addition, you will improve performance because of the clarity of expectations. But also, you will know what is happening with your team and how well it is happening. This puts you in a better position to proactively deal with problems. See this brief training video: 5 Superstar Coaching Steps.
All in all, it’s important to keep a gauge on how overwhelmed your team is feeling. If you don’t have any idea what’s keeping them busy, you can’t help them make the most of their time. And that’s the point: it all comes down to productivity. By considering the above and taking the appropriate action steps, you are helping your team members increase their performance, which inevitably will translate into more success for them and you! As summary, think of this quote by Golda Meir, “I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”
For accelerated individual online leadership training that will trample the workplace whirlwind, go here: RCI Online Leadership Training.