Through the quiet times
had a conversation this week with a leader who, when I asked how work was going, said things were “unusually quiet which is concerning”. It reminded me of the pressure many leaders face when trying to keep their people busy during quiet times. It’s not unlike the pressure we feel when it’s crazy-busy and we don’t have time to come up for air – only when we’re all busy, we get more done.
When it’s quiet, everything slows down, what takes 10 minutes to complete when you’re busy can take several hours when you have time to kill. The inefficiency cost this has on a business can add up quickly. Not to mention the morale of the team who are struggling to get motivated and pay little attention to working any harder than necessary.
So, what can leaders do to keep their people busy when their business is not? Here is just one suggestion that you might like to consider. It will get your team focused on the future and motivate them to be more proactive with their time. To start…
- Get everyone together in a room with post-it notes and brainstorm all the opportunities to improve the business or meet objectives for the year ahead.
- Once the opportunities are captured plot them out on an Eisenhower matrix.
What is that you ask? Well, Dwight Eisenhower was an American Army general and statesman who served as the 34th President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. The matrix was created to assist him in deciding what to focus on each day based on its urgency and its importance.
So, without overthinking it, decide which quadrant the opportunities captured fit into, based on how important they are and how urgent.
- Once the opportunities are plotted, it’s time to start allocating them to individuals or groups. First, allocate the tasks in the ‘High importance/High urgency’ quadrant.
- Then, move to the ‘High importance/Low urgency’ quadrant and allocate these tasks where possible. You might find that tasks in this quadrant will need your guidance and input so make sure you make time for this in your own calendar – they’re important.
- Next, move to the ‘Low importance/High urgency’ tasks. These can generally be worked on in between the other tasks and will give some variety to your teams workload.
- Once your tasks are allocated, put realistic yet ambitious timeframes around the tasks to give your team that much needed sense of urgency.
The tasks you’ve captured in the final quadrant ‘Low importance/Low urgency’ should be deleted for obvious reasons. Your staff can spend weeks in this quadrant, keeping really busy, but it’s not a good investment and will never pay for itself.
This exercise doesn’t need to be complicated or long-winded. It can be run in a few hours and then you can get back to working through your own priorities while your team are busy setting your business up for success!
Need help? Give me a call.
Shelley Flett is a passionate leader with a keen focus on creating efficient and sustainable team environments through adaptable leadership. She is a Leadership Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, Mentor and Speaker who ignites vision and purpose in those she works with.
If you’d like to know more about her latest program for leaders of leaders please drop her an email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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