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Leadership, Management

Try spinning one plate at a time!

Making things happen quickly seems to be a challenge facing more executives as everyone pushes to get more with less.

How quickly can we meet? Is often heard in conversations.

Well it seems that speed is relative!

A client that I worked with  was very keen to progress a piece of work.

Four weeks ago we set up a phone call. I made sure that it was arranged to suit his diary.

Image by Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos

Image by Stuart Miles FreeDigitalPhotos

An hour before the scheduled time I get an email to say that he needs to rearrange as sometime urgent had come up.  I thought fair enough, issues crop up from time to time that need urgent attention.

So off we started again to find a date and time to suit.  Again I shuffled my diary to make the appointment.

Guess what a few days later another email arrives to rearrange the phone call!  Is this a pattern I wondered?

Sure enough the answer was yes.  This saga happens on four occasions in the period.

Then to cap it all on the day of the last appointment I get an email to say that he is running late and will call me as soon as possible.

Well the clear message to me is that this individual either had an acute problem  with time management, or did not see the piece of work that he was so  desperate to progress with me as a priority after all.

In the event the phone call did go ahead, but he had not really had time to think through what he wanted to achieve and we ended up having a faltering discussion almost off the cuff.

Is this really the way to make effective use of time in organisations?

The pressure to fill the diary up with meetings, fiddle with smart phones (often in meetings) and farm emails occupies far too much time for the average employee. It seems that there is no time to think in organisations today.

image by ddpavumba at FreeDigitalphotos.net

image by ddpavumba at FreeDigitalphotos.net

A quick piece of analysis on this chaps email account and the diary revealed a lot about the organisation and its culture, along with the preoccupations of the leader in question.

After this we were able to quickly make progress and as a result he  achieved far more of what he needed to achieve, leaving more time to act.

If managers studied their work and it’s impact they would learn that  in practice much of the time spent in meetings has no productive impact upon meeting customer demand, if anything it is likely to make things worst.

Email trails often reveal the games played in organisations to shuffle responsibility and protect ones back from criticism.

The .cc culture, and check with mentality causes a lot of wasted time.

Time that could be better spent  in the work fixing issues that stop employees from delivering excellent service to customers.

Perhaps If only there were not so many plates spinning managers would have time to do more of the right thing.

I wonder who started all those plates spinning in the first place?  Well managers of course!  What else would they do if they did not have to run around spinning all those plates!

Image by jscreationzs FreeDigital Photos.net

Image by jscreationzs FreeDigital Photos.net

It’s a pity that managers have no time to stop and think about the true impact of their actions in the work.

If they did they would be horrified to find that the outcome of their labours invariably made matters worse!

The lesson is that in practice if you focus upon one plate at a time you will end up spinning more plates in the long run.

Counter intuitive it may be, but try it for yourself.

You would be wise to take a hard look at what clutters your diary and email whilst you are on.

You will be amazed at how much time you can create.

The challenge then is to use the time to study and understand how the current system works, before trying to change it, rather than tinker and make it worse.

Do you know someone that could do with some help to refocus their activities, and deliver better outcomes?

We help individuals and teams to purposefully reflect upon their current challenges, and identify practical and pragmatic ways of getting balance back into the demands upon your life, and delivering positive results in life and work.puzzle-solved2.jpg

Our one to one support will help you to cut through to the nub of your personal, and organisational challenges and help you to facilitate a way forward that will give you: –

  • Clarity around the key business issues that you are facing and a clear plan to tackle them
  • New capabilities, and capacity to meet future challenges 
  • Greater personal job satisfaction
  • Strategies to deal more effectively with difficult people or situations in your working life
  • access to extra capacity and capability to enable you to deliver against your priorities
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About mushroomgrower

Leadership coach, systems thinker, interim manager, organisational development consultant, corporate director. Walker, motorcyclist, lifelong learner. Living in a very beautiful part of Lancashire with my wife and two fantastic young adults who keep me in tune with life.

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