Doing More With Less

Doing More With Less
(or Managing Time When There Isn’t Enough of It)

The chronic condition we observe in corporate America today is the “overload” factor experienced by all levels and all types of people. It seems that the work keeps coming, the staff keeps downsizing and the management still expects the same turnaround and quality as always. People feel frustrated, demoralized, depressed and angry that they leave each day feeling more behind in the work then when they walked in that same morning.

What’s an employee to do? The Collaborative has a proprietary program we teach to corporations—employees and managers—to help learn skills and techniques to manage time and workload more effectively. We’ll share some of the salient points of the training in this newsletter.

First step is the need to understand “Yours, Mine and Ours”. What are the corporate priorities, what are the departmental priorities and what are the personal priorities of the employee—and how do they all mesh? Examining priorities and seeing where there is overlap or missing pieces is imperative. This step alone can open the eyes of both management and their staff to see where there is a “disconnect”. So many times management thinks everything is clear and they are fully communicating, but somehow the message gets mangled by the time it gets to the employees.

Second step, coach the managers to support and convey the priorities on an ongoing basis. Employees can learn the priorities and keep them in sight, but management must learn ways to continue to reinforce the priorities that have been set. Shifting priorities are very unsettling for employees and make them feel like they are constantly swimming upstream, with no end in sight.

Lastly, be aware of the “Ziegarnik Effect” on people. Ziegarnik was a Russian psychologist in the 1920’s who wanted to understand what things were most stressful to an individual. He found that unfinished tasks were remembered by the mind much more than finished ones. When the list of unfinished tasks grows and grows, an individual can’t help but become stressed, depressed and overwhelmed. They lose the ability to be productive and successful on a day-to-day basis. It’s key to have employees assigned tasks that can be completed so that they feel as if they are contributing something meaningful to the firm.

Shrinking time and increasing tasks can make a person feel there is no way out. There is a way out—it takes discipline, training, reinforcement and empowerment and in the end a firm has happy, successful, contributing employees.