This is a great exercise to do with your team. Get them to list all the things that zap their time – things that take longer than they expect on a regular basis, things that they get frustrated about because the time taken to do it doesn’t seem worth it for the outcome, or routine tasks that actually don’t seem to move you forward. Examples will typically include using broken equipment, complicated admin processes, form filling or implementing company policies (things like performance reviews get quoted in big companies). Encourage them to think of everything – even the things they think will never be able to change.
Once you’ve got the full list, pick the few things that would save the most time across the business, then as a group, work through questions like:
· Do we need to do it at all?
· If we don’t do it, what would the business risk be?
· Would it be quicker if one person managed it (rather than trying to speed everyone up)?
· Is there a technology solution?
· Could someone outside the business do it and what impact would that have on our business results?
· If we had to do this in less than half the time how could we manage it?
Do it as a group so that people who are not as close to a topic can challenge and ask the searching questions. Most importantly, keep asking why? If someone quotes a process, rule, law or history at you, just ask ‘why can’t we do it differently?’. Only you, as the leader, can set the expectation that wasting time on unproductive things is not going to be accepted.
Be prepared to make some bold steps. For example, if constantly handling emails from within the business is on the list, make a decision that emails will be used for external people only. Or that only 2 people can ever be on an email list (and please switch off the Reply All button!). It might sound very sweeping, but that is the way to make the change. Remember these are things that do not move the business forward and take time away from important things.
Once you have looked across the business, task everyone with looking at the time takers for them personally and coming up with a plan. And if the time taker is an individual, that still needs to have a plan!
If you can save even a fraction of the time wasted on these things ands put it back into valuable activity (whether that is at work or just going home earlier) you will see the difference quickly – and it is worth any short term pain.
So this week identify the top time waster in your business.