When you are struggling yourself or with your teams to get everything done, it can be very hard to get out of that situation. We usually tend to start working harder and more hours to get things done and of our plates. And guess what… It seldom works….

Why? Because things are a bit more complex then we see at a first glance. We overlook things we can use or change to get back into a bit more relaxed situation.

Just one example: I once coached an IT manager on the brink of a burn out. Besides a few things that happened in his personal life, his work was ‘killing him’. BTW, if you notice that people around start using these kind of words, please pay attention to them! Their unconscious is giving strong warning signals!

Also the case with this Manager… He was really going downhill.
We started the conversation and I started to deep dive. We discovered that due to ‘badly’ completed reorganizations in the past he still was doing two jobs. He still had to perform tasks of a previous function and department, and his loyalty to the company and users made him keep doing them.

However he couldn’t do them as he used to, which frustrated him and the involved parties. And also they limited him to focus on his current responsibilities. Which again frustrated him and the involved parties. As you might recognize: A recipe for ‘success’!

So we added one more task to his plate, but a very essential one, it had top-priority.
‘Find out how to stop or hand-over the “old tasks”, and do so!’’

Doing that initiated two amazing changes!

  • First of all it freed up time in his daily activities to focus on his real responsibilities and on his team(s). His team and other people around him felt he was “with them” again.
  • He felt he was able to get grip on things again. That he was able to steer his activities, and actually discuss these. He became a stronger manager.

How can you do the same?

Of course you can contact me and we can have a chat and deep dive into your personal situation. Feel free to contact me for that!

But you can also start with asking two ‘easy questions’, to yourself of to your team.

The two questions to ask, are:

  • Am I doing the right things? (Are we doing the right things?)
  • Am I doing the things right? (Are we doing the things right?)

And again: Ask yourself or ask your team.

The funny thing is, that there will always be an answer… Something for you to start looking into.

For the first question. ‘Am I doing the right things?’,

what are the thing you are doing and maybe shouldn’t. Or… What is something that you should be doing and currently aren’t.
For the first category, consider:

  • Do they contribute to the ‘purpose’ of the team/product?
  • Am I doing things that aren’t our primary accountability or responsibility?
  • Do they add value to the product or user?
  • Is it something I am doing just temporary?
  • Did I agree to help out someone else?

Just remember: You have a main responsibility as a manager, with your team(s) or systems. Anything that doesn’t contribute to that should always be open for discussion to re-prioritize or stop, in case you can’t fulfill your primary responsibilities. Choices need to be made…

For the second category, consider:

  • What is hurting your service the most?
  • What is the biggest opportunity to improve something?

What additional (improvement) activity could benefit you the most?

For the second question “Am I doing the things right?” Consider:

  • Do I do them flawless, or are they leading to rework?
  • Do I do things effective (first time right)?
  • Do I lose time / energy / money doing them
  • Can I do them even more efficient? (Lean processing, pull vs push, optimized delivery workflow)
  • Do I get a lot of questions on my service or deliverables? (Leading to unplanned work)
  • Do I meet expectations or SLA’s?

You need to have the basics in order. To deliver the things you need to deliver in the right quality.
This will reduce to number of incidents and questions to you(r team). That will enable you to spend even more time to make things more efficient.

And that will give you more time to do some additional “right things” to add value to your users and organization.

Three bonus tips/quick wins, to get you going:

  • Stop doing things which don’t belong to you
  • Stop doing things that don’t add value to your product/users (unless they are essential ‘compliancy’ things)
  • “Never pass a defect”. Of course we make errors, but try to stop them before handing them over in the delivery chain. (They will come back to you later, at a moment that’s never convenient ?)

Have fun and Optimize Now!

To your success!

Photo by Zhang Kaiyv on Unsplash