We turn our focus to productivity for this first episode of March. Many of the leaders who listen to this show are already productive themselves, but find themselves looking for ways to lead others to be more productive. In this episode, I'll share some ideas and strategies for helping others find their productive sweet spot.
A few problems:
In the traditional paradigm of management, individuals waited for a manager to determine their work for them and assign duties. While organizations still rely on this old paradigm, people are increasingly being asked to step into a leadership role at every level of the organization. Some people are comfortable with this, but many are not ready for the demanding productivity that this requires.
If that wasn't challenging enough, we are now all being overwhelmed with tons more information that we ever were before. Email, instant messages, conference calls, and text messages fill our days. Plus, we are asking everyone to do more with fewer resources. No wonder so many people struggle with productivity.
Suggestions on how to coach others for productivity:
First, take time to understand what they are currently doing. I like to ask, “How are you making decisions about where to spend your time?” If people don't know how to answer that question (or the answer doesn't make sense) then that is the place to start. Next, I want to find out, “What obstacles are getting in your way of being productive?” so we can discuss how they will begin to overcome those obstacles.
To the extent possible, I also try to coach people to focus on 3-5 weekly priorities. It's easy to get bogged down in being reactive to everything. If people walk into a week with a plan for what they will accomplish, they can proactively plan for success and adapt as things change. I like to ask, “What's most important for you to accomplish this week to move forward on your goals?”
I find success when I plan about two thirds of my week and allow the remaining time for unexpected things that come up. I strongly suggest helping people see the benefit of being on one central calendar. Be sure to watch out for people who try to micromanage every minute of their week. They won't be responsive to others that way and will drive themselves crazy the minute something doesn't go according to plan.
Suggest that people block time for email and turn off all those alerts, icons, and badges that will interrupt them and take them off task. Also, get people using a realistic task list each day, a suggestion from David Allen in Getting Things Done.
Did you notice the new show name? We dropped the word “skills” and now have a web domain that's lots easier to remember. Find this and all future episodes and show notes at CoachingforLeaders.com