One day, a senior executive shared a best practice with me: turn “make work” into “make it work for you” activities. In other words, add value to the onerous.
Here’s how to do it.
Itemize what you do. Do an assessment to identify how your people are really spending their time. They may be working hard, but are they doing what the team needs them to do? How much time are they spending on processes—and which processes? Sometimes we are so busy with tasks that we lose sight of the big picture.
Minimize what does not add value. We create elaborate systems that become convoluted and require so much energy to maintain that they are value detractors. Challenge employees to simplify their own jobs. Sometimes three status reports can become one. Another simple step is to reduce the number of “cc” emails you generate and receive.
Evaluate progress. After you have itemized and minimized, take a hard look at what you have done. Are you saving time and resources? In doing so, are you making it easier for people to do their jobs? And, ultimately, are employees contributing more value to the organization? These are tough questions that deserve thoughtful answers. Be prepared to make revisions.
The key is to act with the big picture in mind. If you want to have real impact, you need to act on your ideas. Your idea, which you will translate into an initiative or a project, must contain three elements before you proceed:
First, your idea must complement the strategic direction of your company. If you work at an engineering company, your initiative should complement the engineering services your company provides. That is, do not propose buying a restaurant or opening a spa. Those might be fun to do, but they do not complement engineering.
Second, your idea must have a strong business case. What you want to do must add value to the company; that is, it must do one or more of the following: increase revenue, reduce costs, improve quality or improve customer satisfaction. Business case rules!
Third, your idea must be blessed by your boss, or at least by someone higher up. Many bosses will welcome your initiative as long as you involve them in the process and, of course, share credit with them. Also, once your boss is on board, you can lobby for the support of more senior people. That is, do not go around your boss; go with your boss.
Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation by John Baldoni. Copyright 2013, John Baldoni. Published by AMACOM. For more information, visit www.amacombooks.org