Kieran Hearty believes a misplaced work ethic damages results
Ever had a great idea – but not followed it through? The most common excuse is “too busy”, or “not enough time”.
The decision to prioritise work that is more important to you than for the good of the business is a recurring theme that lies at the heart of many workplace problems.
As you follow your upward career trajectory, are you too willing to make personal sacrifices and out-work your competitors? It’s a common, but misplaced virtue, resulting in the accurate perception that many leaders are too task-focused and not strategic enough. A recent Gallup survey concluded that 82 per cent of managers are ‘wrongly appointed’ – this ‘work ethic’ could be why.
If effort and hard graft are the only tools in your management toolbox, then overwhelm, stress and burnout become ingrained in the culture you have created. It’s unhealthy for you, your people, and damaging for results.
Such an intense work focus often comes with an acute inability to see the wood for the trees and articulate clear goals that provide a specific measurable summary of the purpose of the work.
If this is you, I recommend you make three different decisions:
1. Focus on results. Delegate the tasks: Research shows that the value to the business of managers who do not assume proper responsibility for their new role falls dramatically. The manager who fails to do this is being lazy, because they prefer to continue with their old tasks rather than assume their new responsibility.
Required decisions: Make the transition to manager and take full responsibility for the role. Get help in becoming skillful at writing great goals and how to express results in team performance plans. Make the decision to ‘let go’ of day to day work tasks, and ask your team to help you with this.
2. Focus on capability. Coach and develop team members: Recognise that the capability and motivation of individual team members may differ. Your success as a manager is a result of the quality and quantity of their output.
Investing your time in helping each team member become as brilliant at the job as you were is common sense.
Required decisions: Fill your calendar with regular coaching and development conversations with each team member. Develop your capability as a coach and results will follow.
3. Improve productivity overnight. Reduce meetings and email by 50 per cent: Research has show that most of us waste 20 per cent of our time in unnecessary, poorly managed meetings, and another 20 per cent dealing with large volumes of valueless emails.
Required decisions: Learn about email etiquette then rigorously apply it. Commit as a team to reduce the emails you send by 50 per cent, and only read emails two or three times per a day, otherwise it becomes addictive. Learn how to run effective well-structured meetings. Get up and walk to a colleague’s desk for a quick chat rather than send an email or arrange a meeting. Prioritise meetings with team members.
Many people describe their organisations as toxic, with destructive levels of stress being the norm. We’re not machines. We can’t cope with the sheer volume of stuff we bombard each other with.
In the pursuit of sustainable excellence, great results, and healthier workplaces, less becomes more. Most of us already have strong commitment; let’s not get carried away by continuously striving to prove it. It’s simple common sense that’s good for business, and good for you.