WHO HAS SPARE TIME AND WHAT TO DO WITH IT

GUEST BLOG BY: BEV WILLS

Added value. The Holy Grail. The ability to be worth more than you cost the business and having the opportunity and intent to deliver that added value for your company. The correct relationship between efficiency and effectiveness. In these difficult economic times, the ability to add value is going to be vital.

It is almost always linked to the ability to think about and understand what you do and what are the most important things you do, so that they get done as a priority. Questioning whether some of the things you do should cease, change or be done in a different way is also a significant part of the process.

Over the years I have often said to people in my teams “if you don’t know more about your job than I do, we are both in trouble!!” The problem is that very few people are allowed or encouraged to set aside thinking time. Especially at entry level positions, the focus is on delivery of tangible operations that can easily be measured.

That means that no matter how efficient they are, if they have no work to do that is exactly what happens – nothing! Time wasted. So, what to do?

Here are three things that can done. To begin with, the top priority is to make sure that all work that can be delegated is delegated – freeing leaders up to think more about strategy and the future. In my experience, the further into the future the leaders are working on, then the stronger position the company is in.

If they are dealing with today, they are simply firefighting and tomorrow will be only as good as today – at best! As I have told many leaders “no matter how big your hose, if all you do is put out fires all day, you are simply a fireman!”

The second option is training. What training can they do to learn new skills to make them more valuable in the future? Thanks to the Internet and the flexibility it brings, this has never been easier to organise and monitor. This is a win/win for the company and the individual.

Finally, every person should have a scheduled amount of time where they discuss things in their team. What is wrong and what could be done better. Again, in my experience, most leaders don’t realise how much people really know about what is going on. It is a neglected resource in so many businesses.

Some time ago I was Vice President and CFO in a printing company in South Florida. Most days I was in the facility I would make the time to walk around, observing and talking to people about what was happening. If you do it often enough you quickly pick up the vibe of how things are going. I strongly recommend it.

One day a girl who worked in the bindery, who I often talked to, came up to me and said “I know I am only a bindery worker but…” I held up my hand. “Stop!” I said. “We all have different jobs to do, but if you weren’t vital, you wouldn’t be here. Now, let’s start again.” (The bindery was where the printed paper was loaded on the machines for either stapling or gluing, depending on which method was to be used. It was a low, entry level job.)  

She then went through a process that they did and questioned why they did it that way and not the way she thought was better. It was gold dust! I went straight into the foreman’s office and told him what she had said. “Yeah, we could do that.” He said. “No” I replied, “we are doing that, starting now.”

She saved the company a lot of time, I made sure she got all the credit and recognition and when she opened her next pay packet she got a very nice surprise!

Whether you want to achieve more with the same number of people or the same with less, your ability to maximise your company’s potential will be largely influenced by getting the most out of all your workforce. Efficiently doing the wrong things doesn’t help, whereas efficiently doing the right things helps a lot.

Making sure your team are committed and bought in to your purpose, will have a decisive influence on the business. Whilst most of the ‘thinking time’ should reside with senior staff, everybody in the company should have a role in shaping the future.