When it comes to leading your team, there are a thousand opportunities to guide your team to growth and development, and subsequently a thousand opportunities to lead them astray. And while one meeting won't change their lives, it will open up a dialogue about where they stand within the company, and how they can best create value within the business. Because when it comes down to it, the most effective way to get your team on the right track is to start with one conversation.
Before I share an example of a conversation that I had with someone on my own team, I want to preface that story by defining productivity in a way that makes sense for your business. It's easy for a team member to take on a lot of work. They can have a to-do list that is 10 pages long, and manage to finish it all by the end of the day. They can pump out a thousand reports, take a hundred phone calls, and type up dozens of emails and spreadsheets and still be unproductive. Because if it doesn't create value for your business, it doesn't really count. You want to define productivity as a person's ability to create real value for your business.
The Difference Between "How Do I Get It All Done?" and "How Do I Get What Matters Most Done Well?"
I had a person who worked with us in the marketing field, and she was so good at getting it all done. And while this is a great skill to have, I knew that we could do better. So I sat down with her and had a conversation that helped her change her course. I acknowledged that while she was great at pumping out a lot of work, I would rather see her do 25 or 30 percent less, focusing her time on the tasks and projects that had the most value for the business. It was a struggle for her at first, because she had been inculcated in the world of "get it all done." When she started putting more of her best time in those fewer things that matter, she was able to actually create more value for the organization and ended up less stressed in the long run. Did it take a little bit of adjustment to make the change? Absolutely. But was it worth having that initial conversation? Absolutely.
Another question I often get is: "OK, David, but what constitutes value? How do I share that with my team?" If the person is in sales or marketing, that is usually a pretty straightforward measurement. Does it bring in revenue? But if someone is in customer service or human resources, the lines become a bit blurred. So you want to sit down and look at their job description and decide what value they bring to the table. For example, let's take someone in a call center. Someone in a call center is there to answer the phone as quickly as possible and help out customers or clients. But if it is done incorrectly, they may irritate customers one after the other as they rush them off the phone. Which doesn't bring any value to your business. The real value is to help a customer in such a way that the customer is going to stay and spend money with your business and happily refer other people. So, if you look at things in that context, call center employees may create more value by taking fewer calls throughout the day with a higher level of customer satisfaction.