Improving the effectiveness of work is the biggest strategic challenge leaders face in a rapidly changing competitive work environment
Cancel Ineffective Meetings
Meetings are the real productivity challenge in organisations. We have too many and we have the wrong kinds of meetings. Break the hour long paradigm. Focus on quick interactions and the value of each minute of meeting time.
Every hour not in a meeting is hours of preparation, meeting and follow-up time that can be reused for actual work. Fewer meetings means fewer long powerpoint documents that need to be prepared, circulated by email and then filed away (nobody really reads all of them anyway).
Stop Collective Decision Making
If your organisational design is right, somebody is responsible for every decision being made. That doesn’t mean that they have to make it alone but they are responsible for the process reaching an outcome. Make sure that decisions are not constrained by group decision making processes and the ambiguity that they create. Whatever you do, do not try to make collective decisions by email.
Hold people to account to make decisions; to gather the facts through research and experimentation; and to have conducted the right level of engagement. Too much time is wasted when many decisions have to be made collectively. Consultation is advisable. Collective decision making is not. If a decision is truly hard, authorise someone to experiment instead. If you must, put time limits on decisions to ensure that they can’t be dragged out by the debate, vetos and other confusion of collective processes. If you can’t trust people to make decisions, then get better people or change your processes to eliminate the decisions entirely.
Pick up the phone
A quick phone call will always beat a message for time, urgency and clarity of communication. With all the voicemail, phone and videoconference options available, there is no excuse for not making a quick call and saving everyone the back and forth of emails or other messages. If you can’t think how you would say what you want to say in a phone call, then seriously question why you would say it in an email. The accountability of having the other person on the line cuts out a lot of the snarkiness and silly self-preservation that we see in an email. Nobody should ever be bcc’d on a phonecall.
Work Out Loud
Purposefully sharing work in progress helps drive collaboration in your organisation. Collaboration will dramatically improve the effectiveness of work. Transparency of the work underway will help identify duplication, eliminate waste, maximise reuse and foster learning. Drawing out expertise and surfacing feedback is one of the fastest ways to drive the effectiveness of your work. Working out loud helps surface the networks that are most effective to your work. You may even discover more effective organisational designs and processes as you start to see the real work of the organisation be surfaced.
Experiment. Change. Learn.
Create a culture of continuous experimentation in better ways of working. Encourage people to challenge each other and traditions to find better ways. Coach and support people through their efforts to experiment, to change the culture of work and to learn the ever changing new approaches. Keep what works and stop doing what is ineffective. Leaders who guide a process of change to long term value will ensure that your organisation is continuously improving and not just chasing the technology fads. An employee experience or workplace technologies team can provide important governance to this process of experimentation but they cannot replace the creative potential of your entire network of employees.