What were these people doing? Scores of people, often in groups, chatting, passed the office. Then silence. Until the next herd would be on its way. An hour or two later, the same groups of people would make their way back in the opposite direction. All day long.
What was going on?
I had a coaching assignment for the leadership team of a large corporation. The individual coaching sessions took place in an office at their central training & development center in Bangkok. The employees passing this office attended all sorts of meetings. Observing the migration over a couple of days was bizarre.
Curiously I asked the managers before starting the coaching: “You seem to have a lot of meetings in this company. Are the meetings effective?” An unanimous “no” was the answer, usually accompanied by a sheepish smile or a deep sigh.
Almost all my executive coaching clients complain that their valuable time is eaten up by two insatiable demons: unnecessary meetings and unnecessary emails. “With back to back meetings all day long, there is hardly time to do the real work,” they admit. “At the end of normal working day I feel I haven’t accomplished much – although I have been busy for 12 hours!”
“Managers these days feel they haven’t accomplished much by the end of the working day – although they have been ‘busy’ for 12 hours or more.”
To be clear: meetings can be essential for organizations to make critical decisions, align people, or shape the future. Emails can be a powerful communication tool that places traditional mail into Stone Age. Emphasis in the previous paragraph is on “unnecessary”.
What a relief when I turned from a corporate manager into a self-employed executive coach! From one day to another I did not have to attend daily meetings anymore. My mailbox was not flooded with emails of questionable content. An amazing difference. I suddenly had… time!
And that was weird. Because now I had no more excuses for just another unproductive day at the office but my own ineffectiveness…
How much time and potential do you waste? What would you do if you were suddenly not invited to meetings in which you could spend hours and hours everyday? What would you do if you couldn’t keep yourself busy just reading and responding emails?
Become more productive in the office right away by following three simple steps:
1) Identify the real priorities by asking yourself critically: “Why does the company pay me this humongous salary?” There is someone somewhere who expects a return on investment on your salary. Focus on the big picture and the critical priorities first thing in the morning every day.
2) Before you invite for a meeting or before you write an email, ask yourself: “what will the ROI of this activity be?” If there is none, don’t invite, don’t write.
3) When others invite you for a meeting, challenge them and ask how this meeting will help accomplish the company’s mission and make the vision come true. If it doesn’t, say a “positive no” as Dr. Alexander Paufler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz Thailand, puts it and keep yourself and others from wasting valuable time.
“Learn to say a ‘positive no’ to utilize your creative energy only for what you really think is important. Otherwise you are another good example for what some humorist said: ‘The thing about the rat race is, even if you win you are still a rat.’ In order to avoid this, practice to say ‘no’ with confidence and we find out that it’s okay not to please everyone who is requesting time.” -Dr. Alexander Paufler, “Creativity Gym for Innovative Leaders”, The Nation Media Group, 2013
As you realize how much time you have wasted in the past, it may be embarrassing when initially you don’t know what to do with your newly gained time. It’s a learning experience. Soon you will be so much more productive again, and I promise you’ll love it!
Please share your experience with me!
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Pittaya, Senior Manager, Bangkok, Thailand