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Business Owner Gut Check: 3 Ways You Are Pissing Off Your Employees (And what to do about it)

An international study by the Center for Creative Leadership titled, Always On, Never Done?, which surveyed professionals, executives and managers in the U.S. and 36 other countries found that the average respondent works a whopping 72 hours or more a week.

And who do you think they blame for the stress and overload from their working days that average 13.5 hours long? They blame you the business owner!

When I first read the study I was sure that your employees and my team would blame technology and the “always on” world we live in. Turns out I was wrong. Your team (and mine) blame the company for wasting hours of their time each day.

The study grouped the complaints into the following three categories:

1. “Herding Cats”. A catchall category showing how you company makes it hard to align everyone on the same goals, in a coherent leadership process. They can’t stand having too many people involved in the decision making (90%), management constantly changing the goals and focus they are asking their teams to work on (74%), and the way your company hasn’t given them clear priorities they can trust (63%). (Is your organization guilty of any of these?)

2. “Poor Processes”. This category busted you (and me) for too many unnecessary emails flying back and forth in our companies (96%), stupid meetings that aren’t needed (87%), and important meeting that are just poorly run (90%). (I found my company guilty of all three of these, how about you?)

3. “Inadequate Infrastructure”. This final category of ways they are blaming you for wasting so much of their time and robbing them of their ability to produce faster includes outdated and slow technology (e.g. computers, networks, software, etc.) (84%)

Gut Check Time

How does your organization fair on the above categories? Statistically, the odds are pretty grim. Take a moment and write down how your company would fair on each of the above three categories on a scale of 1-5 (with 1 being your staff is ready to revolt because of the hours of time you waste due to that category of cause, and a 5 being they feel your company is lean and efficient in that area.)

What insights immediately jump out at you?

6 Immediate Fixes to Implement to Improve the Situation

1. Immediately implement the “1-Page Quarterly Plan of Action” technique every 90 days in your organization. This will be a key step to giving your team a clear picture of your company’s top three focus areas each quarter, and improve your odds of holding true to these focus areas as you complete a rolling series of 90 day sprints.

2. Implement the “1-2-3” system of email subject lines. This won’t cure your overfull inbox, but it will make a real and meaningful dent in saving 30 minutes a day of inbox time.

3. Conduct a “standing meeting audit”. Review every standing meeting that your team participates in. Are these recurring meetings still relevant? Could you reduce the number of people participating and just circulate notes after to the people who no longer have to attend? Could you shorten the meeting from an hour to 30 minutes? How about to 20 minutes? Could you reduce the frequency of these meetings? Slash out as many of the wasted employee hours as you can out of these meetings.

4. Run your meetings for results by following the five meeting best practices.

5. Stop being so cheap. Upgrade your team’s computers; invest in a faster internet connection or wifi router system; upgrade your key technology tools. If you can shave even 10 minutes a day out of each employee’s time, many simple technology upgrades pay for themselves in 6 months or less.

6. Have an adult conversation with your team. Share your “aha”, ask them their perspective about things at your company. Ask them if they are willing to help to chip away at the problem to make everyone’s lives and the company better. Involve them in these solutions (and ask them to add their own.)

I hope that this article shook you up and prompts you into action. Your greatest capital asset is your team, so let’s all stop doing the things that wastefully wear them down and just piss them off.