What Will You Stop Doing? (Part 2)

May 25, 2011 -- Sal Silvester

In a recent blog post I stated that the number 1 reason why senior leadership teams aren't more strategically focused is....

"There isn't enough time."

And, you'll know your team isn't strategically focused if you spend the majority of your time doing what I call the "Round Robin" - where you go around the conference room table and everyone gives an update about their area that almost no one else cares about.

So, if lack of time is the major contributing factor to your team not being more strategic - how do you deal with it?  After all, you can't add more things to your already overloaded plate.

The real question to answer is - what will you STOP doing?

Here's a simple model to help you determine where you are spending your time and what to stop doing. I found this concept outlined in The Accidental Sales Manager and made some modifications.

The model below outlines 4 levels of tasks or activities you may be involved in as a manager.

Level 1 activities are "Non Management Tasks" and include things like:

  • Maintain status as top “doer”
  • Handle detailed work that is similar or the same as your team members
  • Responsible for big parts of projects
  • Solving team members’ problems

Level 2 activities are "Other Management Tasks" and include things like:

  • Project support
  • Project task management
  • Monitor project status
  • Conduct project meetings
  • Firefighting
  • Handle customer complaints
  • Communicate with management

Level 3 activities are "People and Team Development Tasks" and include things like:

  • Staffing
  • Training
  • Coaching
  • Recognition
  • Communication
  • Mentoring
  • Recruiting

Level 4 activities are Strategic "Planning and Thinking Tasks" and include things like:

  • Strategic planning
  • Cost analysis
  • Profit management
  • Defining goals for the organization
  • Managing consistency across the teams
  • Prepare budgets
  • Focusing resources on the right tasks
  • Creating a collective road map
  • Continuous improvement
  • Looking ahead

Level 1 tasks tend to be things that you were good at prior to being promoted into a management position. The trap is getting caught up in these tasks instead of what you should be doing as a manager.

Level 2 items are generally "urgent." They are the firefighting that you do on a day-to-day basis, and, while they are often necessary, they don't expand or duplicate your abilities.

Levels 3 and 4 are where effective leaders spend most of their time because this is where they are able to make the most impact. These are the type of activities that multiply their affect on an organization.

So, the question every leader should ask is - what will I stop doing?

Do you want to stop spending so much time at Levels 1 and 2 and more at Levels 3 and 4?

If so, then schedule that time at the beginning of your week. Otherwise those urgent tasks from Levels 1 and 2 will fill in the void.

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