Productivity: Are You Doing What Really Matters?

Sections of this topic

    Do you every feel you’re spinning your wheels? Is there so much to do that when one project gets done there’s at least 10 more waiting for your attention?

    In coaching supervisors and managers on work productivity, I advocate a doing a priority audit. That means taking time to assess a project, which can be as small that takes an hour or two or as big as something that takes a few weeks or months, before diving in. Either way, it’s important to ask the following questions to make sure you’re doing work that matters.

    1. Why are I or we doing this?
    Ever find yourself working on something but you don’t know why? Someone just told you to do this or that? It’s pretty common I think. It’s important to ask yourself (and others): What is this for? Who benefits? How does this help achieve our team, department,or organization goals? Knowing the purpose, the rationale or the “why” will help you be better focused.

    2. What problem am I solving?
    What’s the real problem? What’s happening that is not suppose to happen or what’s not happening that is suppose to happen? Who owns the problem – is it me, my team, my department or someone else? Sometimes you’ll find that you’re working on on what someone else thinks is crucial but is it really? That’s when it’s time to stop and reevaluate what you’re doing.

    3. Is this actually useful?
    Are we making something useful or are we just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Sometimes it’s fine to play a bit and build something that’s cool, but it’s worth asking yourself if it’s useful too. Cool wears off, useful never does.

    4. Are we adding value?
    Adding something is easy, adding value is harder. Is what I’m working on actually making the product or service more valuable for our customers? Can they get more out of it than they did before? There’s a fine line between adding value and just adding more features that few people want.

    5. Is there an easier way?
    There are lots of ways to do things, but for simplicity’s sake let’s say there are two primary ways: The easier way and the harder way. The easier way takes 1 unit of time. The harder way takes 10 units of time. Whenever you’re working on the harder way you should ask yourself is there an easier way? You’ll often find that the easier way is more than good enough for now.

    Supervision Success Tip:

    This is the big question: Is it really worth it? This one should come up all the time. Is what we’re doing really worth it? Is this meeting worth pulling 6 people off their work for an hour? Is it worth pulling an all-nighter tonight or could we just finish it up tomorrow? Is it worth getting all stressed out over a press release from a competitor?

    Now it’s your turn to fill in the blank. Is it really worth__________________________?

    Do you want to develop your Management Smarts?