With everything going on today and the new normal of things not being every day, we wanted to revisit some tips for productivity and profitability. Communication with your team is more important now than ever. It is critical for continuity, planning, and navigating the waters at this time to get your people together virtually and continue your strategic discussions.
Time does not equal productivity. Our time is limited. But does our productivity have to be? I don’t think it does. Let’s take a quick look at how you can power up your and your team’s productivity with the time you have.
Let’s start with strategy. If I were to ask you to describe your company’s process for success, could you do it? What if I were to interview your key leaders individually and ask each person to represent the company’s strategy for success? Would the answers be consistent? When I ask leaders this question, it generally creates a little heartburn.
How about the team members intimately involved in the Execution of the strategy? Many leaders are surprised to learn that the answers differ significantly. Does it matter if the team is evident in the design and overall company goals? Absolutely. Leaders’ problem with effectively communicating company strategy lies in finding the time and creating the communication strategy. Wildly successful teams work towards the same goal with a unified approach and “row” in the same direction.
Don’t Shortcut Planning and Communication
Communication around the end goal, strategy, and even (gasp) tactics to get there are essential. I frequently hear from business leaders that their time is limited. Thus it isn’t easy to set aside the time to plan. They say things like, “Execution is key. We have a plan, and writing it down is ineffective.” I’m afraid I have to disagree. Time is limited, so spend it wisely. Spend the appropriate amount of time thinking and gaining agreement and planning.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Are all the key leaders responsible for communicating the Execution of strategy regularly?
- Is this group spending weekly time discussing the results and non-negotiable next steps?
- Is a sense of solid accountability in place with this group and the organization?
- Is there a tendency to blame others when things go wrong in the organization?
- Do you agree with the following statement: the organization does not suffer from the feeling of “this too shall pass” when new ideas are shared? New goals are presented (i.e., If we wait long enough, the leadership will move on to another idea and won’t bother executing this one).
- Do our leaders have a reputation for always utilizing their time effectively?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, an opportunity likely exists 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.
Get the Team Rowing in the Same Direction
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 as the team. When you are in a boat, you can physically see someone not rowing in the right direction or with the appropriate amount of energy. When you are in an organization, it is difficult to know when this is happening, making it tricky.
People can appear to be or can be, busy in their roles without actually being very productive. We often assume workers are performing in the best, most efficient way possible because we believe that, as professionals, most people do this. This is not always the case, as busy does not equal productive. Suppose you can tap into this and uncover areas in your organization where untapped potential can be found. In that case, you will not only be contributing to the overall organization, but you will be contributing to the success and satisfaction of the individuals as well. Most people come to work to contribute; we 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 get the expected results. This takes more communication than you might think. Scheduling strategy sessions and regular check-ins so you can learn employees’ perspectives and hear about possible challenges and solutions, as well as have them learn from you, is a best practice for high-performing top leaders. Our teams often have breakthrough ideas and perspectives that add tremendous value to our operations when we give them a voice. When we do not make the time to do this, the team can continue working feverishly on the tasks at hand without impacting the organization as much as possible. This lack of actual productivity can manifest in several ways, such as unmet goals; lackluster business results; inability to take advantage of opportunities; or a quality control or client service disaster.
Take the time to think about the goals, work with the leadership team to brainstorm the strategies, and assign the development of the 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. Everyone can get excited about that.