Being a leader of a small to medium-sized business means that you often wear a lot of hats. And you have a lot of things on your plate. And as a business coach for over twenty five years, I can say that for most business owners productivity and efficiency are not innate skills. They often take years to master, and even longer to translate those behaviors to the rest of your team. But if done correctly, they can absolutely be game changers for your business. So today I want to talk about how a simple shift in the way that you think about productivity and time can help you and your team get more done with less background noise.
Time vs value is a debate that came up often when we saw a big shift to remote workforces and one that I still hear today. If you can’t see Linda in accounting, writing checks and balancing the books, how could you possibly know she is working? And the answer is simple. If the vendors are happy, the lights are still on and your team is getting paid every two weeks you can make the connection that Linda is doing her job and creating value for the business. It doesn’t matter if those tasks take her two hours or eight, as long as she is getting her tasks done satisfactorily and on time. The same is true for you as a manager or business owner. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Do you want to focus on doing something…anything for the better part of eight hours a day? Or do you want to spend a portion of your time focusing on the biggest value items that grow your business? The latter of course.
So, as a leader, how do you translate the idea of a value economy to our staff? Let’s say I’m working with Carla, and I send Carla an email asking for something. An hour goes by; I don’t see it. I sent her another email. “Carla, where is it?” It might even be a low-value thing. So then I get frustrated and sent her a text. “Carla, where is it? I’ve now sent her two emails and a text, all in the course of a little over an hour.
Later I found out that our number one client had a challenge that came up, and Carla had gotten a small team together to solve this challenge for our single biggest client. She was working on a very high-value task, which is what you want your team to do. But my pushing her to be responsive to my email request was not only low value, but was subconsciously telling her that responsiveness is more important than creating real value for the business.
The correct way to handle this would have been to give her some discretion and let her focus on the highest-value work. Which means that she might need to be away from email for an hour or two or even three or four. Of course, she’s still going to have to check to keep in touch with what’s going on, but the way that we value both our time and others plays a huge role in current and future behaviors.
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