Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher. If you are like most leaders, you want your team members to succeed, so they gravitate toward helping them. Investing in your team members is extremely important, but there is a greater return when you invest into empowering and educating your team members instead of walking through every single problem and decision.
Leaders must create a culture where people value their own time and the time of their fellow employees. When leaders fail to empower people to make their own decisions and tolerate time-wasting behaviors, they are not only hurting their team member’s productivity but they are also limiting their own effectiveness.
Why is eliminating time-wasters important?
Leaders do not have unlimited time.
It is not reasonable to say “yes” to every request.
Every time we choose to say “yes,” we are saying “no” to something or someone else.
People need to be taught how to make decisions for themselves.
People need to understand how to be concise and to maximize their own productivity.
Q: How has your own productivity been affected by time wasters? What is the maximum amount of time you can lose to time wasters every day and still get all of your work done? How do you currently deal with time wasters?
Strategies for Eliminating Time-Wasting Behaviors
Schedule debriefs and appointments
Having a weekly meeting with each of your team members can give them a specific time and place to bring up issues and discuss their progress.
Make these meetings at the same time every week and have them last the same length of time.
Create an agenda beforehand so you can stay on task
Redirect your team members if they try to stop in and have an impromptu meeting. Help them decide if the issue they want to talk about is truly urgent or if it can wait until their regularly scheduled meeting.
Do not try to solve your team members’ problems for them.
Ask questions like:
What solutions do you think we should consider?
What would you do if I wasn’t here today?
Empowering your team members’ to make sound decisions on their own will increase their creativity, innovation and confidence. Furthermore, it will keep them out of your office.
Make sure you communicate what issues require a phone call or in-person meeting and what issues can be dealt with by email.
Let your team know what your turnaround time for an email or voicemail is and stick to it.
This will help prevent your team from sending a second email or making a second call before you have a chance to reply.
Let people know when they break the rules.
Crack down on people who are unprepared
Being unprepared for a 1-on-1 or team meeting wastes everyone’s time.
If someone is late or unprepared, start without them or stop the meeting.
Be firm on enforcing your guidelines. At first it may be difficult or seem harsh, but it will create a culture where people know what is expected and understand the importance of making the most of everyone’s time.
Q: What is the longest you have waited to respond to an email? What do you think a reasonable turnaround time is? What do you think it means to really be prepared for a meeting? What effects have you seen when a person is unprepared for a meeting? What do you think it says to the team when you allow someone to show up late or unprepared?
Take another look at how you structure your time. Do you have regular office hours? Do you have weekly meetings? Do you set aside time where meetings can be scheduled to discuss emerging issues? The best offense is a good defense, so when you aside time where you know that you can focus on issues that require your attention, you will know that your regular work will not suffer.
What is your current email, text, and voicemail turn around time? Is it consistent? Remember that people will default to the method of communication that gives them the best and fastest response. By being consistent and setting a standard for yourself, you will inspire confidence in those you lead. When the people you lead have confidence in you, they will 1) respect your time and 2) know that you will get back to them in a reasonable amount of time regardless of what communication method they use.
Do you have a regular agenda for your weekly meetings? Take some time over the next week or two to look at your individual meetings and create a basic agenda that you can follow. To keep yourself up to date, have your team members email you with any additions to the agenda at least 24 hours before your meeting so that you have time to review them and get up to speed.