Pay the same attention to the productivity of leaders as you do to the frontline and you will create a powerful Return on Investment. The hourly cost of leaders is far greater; consequently addressing the gap between productive and nonproductive actions provides the highest potential return.
Leaders face pressure to be all things to all people and are tempted to spend time on low payoff activities. They can often achieve better outputs from each hour.
Ensure leaders identify their highest and lowest payoff activities.
Many leaders spend 80% of their time on the lowest payoffs. Shifting time to the highest payoffs and executing those activities at the beginning of the day pushes the lowest priorities later or simply drops them from the day.
- Have leaders create daily protected time to work without interruption on planned goals and actions.
- Minimize electronic interruptions, checking messages twice a day and blocking social media except at scheduled times.
- Group necessary interruptions, perhaps having people come in twice a day with a written list. Provide thoughtful, immediate responses and avoid putting them off to another time.
Take time to think.
Put your feet up on your desk and think about specific questions and challenges. Formulate your best answers. Make brief bullet notes of your solutions and the reasoning behind it.
Ensure meetings are focused, efficient and necessary.
- Use phone chats, concise memos, and emails for one-issue communications.
- Employ video conferencing to minimize long distance travel when it is easy to share and discuss information.
- Set strict time limits so everyone knows that they need to be succinct.
- Define the purpose of the meeting in the form of an ultimate question to be answered.
- Create a clear agenda using interim questions representing milestones to answering the final question.
- Provide bullet points of background information prior to the meeting.
- Limit presentations to no more than 50% of meeting time.
When each of your leaders shift as little of 10% of their time from lowest payoff activities to highest, a very high ROI is achieved. Everyone enjoys the satisfaction of making a greater contribution to the organization. Leadership is stronger and clearer. The organization moves forcefully toward its mission and reaps rewards for doing its job more effectively.