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 productivity and your team’s productivity with the time you do have.
Let’s start with strategy. If I were to sit down across from you and ask you to describe your company’s strategy for success, could you do it? What if I were to sit down with your key leaders individually and ask each person to describe the company’s strategy for success? Would the answers be consistent? When I ask leaders this question, it generally creates a little bit of heartburn.
How about the team members who are intimately involved in the execution of the strategy? Many leaders are surprised to learn that the answers differ greatly. Does it really matter if the team is clear on the strategy and overall company goals? Absolutely. The problem that leaders face 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 strategy and “row” in the same direction.
Don’t Shortcut Planning and Communication
Communication around the end goal and the strategy and even (gasp) tactics to get there are 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 like, “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 and gaining agreement and planning.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Are all the key leaders responsible for communicating the execution of strategy on a regular basis?
- Is this group spending pre-scheduled time on a monthly basis discussing the results and non-negotiable next steps?
- Is there a sense of strong accountability in place with this group and in the organization?
- Is there a tendency to blame other people 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 and new goals are presented (i.e., If we wait long enough, the leadership will move onto another idea and won’t bother with executing on 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 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. When you are in an organization, it is difficult to see when this is happening, so it makes it tricky.
People can appear to be, or can actually 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 tap into this and uncover areas in your organization where untapped potential can be uncovered, 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 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. 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 from high performing top leaders. Many times, our teams 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 really impacting the organization as much as they could. This lack of true productivity can manifest itself 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.
If you are considering your firm’s strategic direction and would like guidance on best practices in facilitating the process and communicating it in an engaging way, please Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. Also, we encourage you to browse our comprehensive programs and services to help you Grow Your Firm.