In this issue:
Every year, I write a tips letter for you, instead of suggesting you try resolutions. Maybe you can incorporate one of these tips to make your 2015 more effective.
Tip #1: Create time for your thinking work.
You have meetings. You have email. You have voicemail, text messages, and more interruptions than I can imagine. You are also supposed to think, in order to work. How can you do that?
Block time in your calendar for you to think.
Making time might not be easy for you, so here are some suggestions:
- Decline every meeting that doesn't have an agenda.
- Turn off your electronic devices when it's time to think. You don't have to answer every email when it arrives. No, you don't.
- Check if you require a meeting for that issue or concern. Maybe you can solve the problem with a quick call.
All the interruptions remove your ability to focus. Instead, decide which work is important and do that first. Eliminate interruptions, whether they are devices or meetings.
Tip #2: Reduce your meeting time.
I see meetings as a huge time waster in organizations. How can you reduce your meeting time?
- If you own the meeting, make sure you send agendas beforehand and send minutes afterward. That will help people focus on what they have to do in the meeting. You won't have people wondering, “Why are we here?”
- Consider starting the meeting at 5 minutes after the hour and end it at 45-55 minutes before the hour. You know that people need coffee and a bio break from their previous meeting. Give them the opportunity to take those breaks before you start your meeting. If you shorten your meeting timebox, you might be able to eliminate the randomness and tangents that arise in many meetings. You might not be able to manage a 40-minute meeting. I bet you can live with a 50-minute meeting. When you let people leave early, they arrive on time for their next meeting, too.
- Maintain your meeting's action item list or a kanban board of all the action items in a public place. Encourage people to move their work to done when they complete it.
- If you don't have a problem to solve, cancel the meeting.
Tip #3: Connect with the humans in your organization.
You may be quite busy because you don't know who you can delegate work to, and you are doing too much. Do you have to solve the problems you take?
You don't need to do everything yourself.
- Have lunch with people on your team. With any luck, you have a cafeteria or break room. Have lunch with the people in that public area.
- Conduct 20-minute one-on-one meetings with employees or team members biweekly (or weekly), when it's convenient for them. Don't interrupt their day with a one-on-one. If you are a manager, you can ask, “What new responsibility would you like to take?” as part of the career development piece of the one-on-one. If you aren't a manager, ask yourself, “What do I want to do, and how does that add value to the organization?” Now, talk to your peers.
- Build relationships across the organization before you need them. Have lunch or coffee (yes, it's a one-on-one) with your peers. Maybe as peers, you can develop new and innovative solutions to your challenges that don't require a long meeting.
If you liked these tips, you can learn even more in The Influential Agile Leader. Gil Broza and I create an environment where you will find it safe to learn. We teach experientially, so you have a chance to practice and reflect on what you learn. Please join us at The Influential Agile Leader. We have early bird rates for California and London only until Dec 31, 2014.
I have two webinars in January:
* Why Project Management is Broken and 3 Ways to Fix It, January 15, 2015.
▪ 7 Tips for Improving Your Geographically Distributed Team, Jan 27, 2015.
Are you new to the Pragmatic Manager newsletter? See previous issues.
Do you need a friendly ear and some sound advice? See my coaching page for my packaged and customizable coaching services.
See my workshops page for my workshops.
© 2014 Johanna Rothman
Tags: collaboration, innovation, leadership, management, meetings, New Years tip, one-on-one