By Angie Grissom
Time does not equal productivity. Our time is limited, but does our productivity have to be? I don’t think so. Here’s how you can power up your productivity and that of your team with the time you have.
Let’s start with strategy. If I were to ask you to describe your company’s strategy for success, could you do it? What if I were to ask each of your key leaders to describe the company’s strategy for success? Would the answers be consistent? When I ask leaders these questions, it generally creates some heartburn.
How about the team members who are intimately involved in the execution of the strategy? Many leaders are surprised to learn that their answers differ greatly. Does it really matter if the team is clear on the strategy and overall company goals? I think it absolutely does. The problem that leaders face with effectively communicating company strategy lies in finding the time and creating the communication strategy. Wildly successful teams work toward the same goal with a unified strategy and row in the same direction.
Communication around the end goal and the strategy and even tactics to get there is essential. I frequently hear from business leaders that their time is limited, thus, it is difficult to set aside the time to plan. They say things such as, “Execution is key. We have a plan in our heads and writing it down is ineffective.” I disagree. Time is limited, so spend it wisely. Spend the appropriate amount of time thinking, gaining agreement and planning.
Here are a few questions to consider.
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, there is likely an opportunity for you to improve your team’s effectiveness. Once you have an agreed upon strategy, follow-through is next on the agenda. Check-ins increase productivity. Being “busy” does not.
Any one person, department or functional team who is not informed and completely sold on the overarching goal will slow the team down because they aren’t rowing in the same direction with the team. When you are in a boat, you can physically see when someone is not rowing in the right direction or with the appropriate amount of energy. In an organization, it is difficult to see when this is happening, so it is tricky.
People can appear to be or actually can be busy in their roles without actually being very productive. Many times we assume workers are performing in the best, most efficient way possible because we assume, as professionals, most people do this. This is not always the case, as busy does not equal productive. If you can determine areas in your organization where untapped potential can be uncovered, you will not only be contributing to the overall organization, you will be contributing to the success and satisfaction of the individuals, as well. Most people come to work with a goal to contribute; we just need to find methods to help them do so in the best way.
As a leader, it is your job to help direct the team members so they are getting the results that are expected of them. This takes more communication than you might think. High-performing top leaders schedule strategy sessions and regular check-ins so you can learn employees’ perspectives and hear about possible challenges and solutions, as well as have employees learn from them. Many times, teams have breakthrough ideas and perspectives that add tremendous value to operations when they have a voice. When you do not make the time to do this, the team can continue working feverishly on the tasks at hand without really impacting the organization as much as they could. This lack of true productivity can manifest itself through unmet goals, lackluster business results, ill-equipped state to take advantage of opportunities and quality control or customer service disaster.
Take the time to think about the goals, work with the leadership team to brainstorm strategies and assign the development of tactics to the responsible parties. In this process, you not only benefit from increased clarity but also from learning from the team and helping them to improve their productivity in their roles, which translates to an improvement in profitability. And that’s something everyone can get excited about.