Join Mike Figliuolo for an in-depth discussion in this video Making time a high-priority resource, part of Building High-Performance Teams.
- One of the most critical resources that your teams need are access to you as their leader. And we forget a lot of times that they need that access. We get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations or the meetings that we're attending, or emails and voicemails and we as leaders are not spending our time giving that critical resource to our people to give them the guidance they need. A lot of times, we follow that sequence that I just went through in terms of slotting our work.
We start with the simple things like administration and email and documents, and we end up spending less time on the feedback, the coaching and the development. These are old habits that we learned as individual contributors. Because many of those tasks, like admin, email, project planning, budgeting, those are individual contributor activities. And those are habits that we've built over time. But now as leaders, we need to step into those broader responsibilities of thinking through relationships and problem solving and providing feedback to the members of our teams.
We have to stop managing and start leading. So as you think about the work that you do, let's look at two aspects of that work. First, consider the amount of time that you spend on something, from very little, to a lot. And then, think about the impact that that has on the performance of your team, from very low to very high. Now, I'll bet if you look at your calender, you're spending a lot of time on administration.
And I think we'd all agree that has a pretty low impact on the performance of your team. Next, you probably spend a little bit less time on project planning and budgeting. And it has a slightly bigger impact. All the way up to providing feedback and development and coaching, which could have a very large impact on your people, but we're probably spending very little time on that. What I'll ask you to do as a leader is flip that view, and let's think about how we can spend less time on administration because it's really low-value stuff, and start spending more time on problem solving and generating ideas, and even more time invested in developing our people and coaching them and building relationships with critical stake holders in the organization.
So by reversing that mindset and putting more of our time on the tasks that really matter, your team is going to perform much better than if you're holed up in your office doing email. Allow me to offer an example of this dynamic. There's an executive I work with where I'm his coach and when I first started working with him I asked how many emails do you have in your inbox? The answer was an astounding 11,000 emails.
I'm not making that number up. This guy was consumed with just trying to even read all the emails that were coming in. After we tackled the inbox, we looked at his calender. And we tried to figure out where is all your time going because you're really strained. And we pulled it up and saw most of the meetings on there were update meetings or status meetings. He was involved in a lot of project teams where it wasn't really clear why he was involved and what his contribution was.
So we said we need to change that dynamic and we need to start focusing your time on the places where you're going to have impact which is with the members of your team. So we looked out about five or six weeks and we started slotting time on there in a recurring manner for him to spend time one-on-one with his managers, and then also spend time in team meetings but not for status updates, instead those meetings were directed toward helping the members of his team work more effectively with one another.
And then we made those meetings recurring. So that time was saved and blocked on his calender. After that, as additional meeting requests came in, he was able to slot those meetings around the things that were really important. And when he ran out of space on his calender, the meetings that were less important eventually went away. He actually went back to certain stake holders and said hey I know I'm on your project team and I know I'm in your weekly meeting, but I'm not really seeing the impact that I'm having, so I'd like to stay involved where it can be impactful for me, but I don't think that I should be at the recurring meeting.
Do you agree with that? And you can reach out to me as you need me but I need to step back my time commitment to you. And to a person, every stake holder said I totally understand, you need to spend your time with your team. So over the period of about five or six weeks working with him, we were able to fundamentally shift where he was spending his time. And take him away from the things that were low-value like emails and status meetings and take him to the place where he should be spending his time as a leader, trying to build a high-performing team.
Time with his managers and his direct reports. Time getting his people working together. Time spent thinking through the resources that his people need, and building relationships in the organization to get the resources so his people could be successful. So as you think about where you're allocating your time as a leader, you need to be deliberate in terms of what's my investment of time and what's the return I'm going to get on that time? And hopefully you can see that shift away from those day-to-day activities like email and project meetings, and spending more of your time with the members of your team, helping them develop, helping them grow.
Because that's what's going to enable you to have a broader impact on the organization versus answering a few emails.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Create a compelling vision and mission for your team.
- List the steps to conduct strategic planning activities.
- Identify the resources teams need to succeed.
- Determine the skills leaders need to look for when recruiting high performance teams.
- Explain how to create stretch opportunities for employees.
- Describe the primary components of conflict resolution.
- Build bench strength and succession plans.