Productivity. We all need it, and we all struggle to bottle it. As busy business leaders in the modern world, we are faced with a barrage of distractions that are calling for our attention. We’re used to hearing about quick ways to get productive and overcome an immediate productivity block. Sometimes, it’s meditation. Sometimes, it’s turning your phone on silent. Other times, it’s learning to say no. But what do you to combat longterm productivity detractors?
Juliet Funt has an answer. As the CEO of WhiteSpace at Work, a training and consulting firm that focuses on productivity, she explains that there are three Cs that are blocking your effectiveness at work. In order to simplify and focus on the most necessary tasks, Juliet says that we need to be aware of three behavioral blind spots that may be affecting you:
Juliet describes this quite simply: “Nobody changes until everyone changes so nobody changes.” So, how do you get people to change when it’s scary? Juliet suggests applying Whitespace’s 50/50 rule. The rule states that anything that bothers you at work is 50% your fault until you ask for what you want. Encouraging your employees to ask for better working conditions, addressing one problem at a time, can help battle conformity. Based on her team’s research, Juliet explains that just one person speaking out against the majority in an organization can reduce conformity by 80%.
It’s intimidating and uncomfortable, but the simple answer to overcoming this productivity block is to be brave and speak up.
We tend to say what is on our mind using any medium that is right in front of us. The reality, however, is that we could be more effective with our communication if we chose the right medium to convey specific information and/or requests. This means that we have to be deliberate in filtering our thoughts so that we choose the right time and place to be heard. Without this, companies waste time and create a lack of focus.
Have you ever sat through a meeting that could have been an email? That’s exactly what this addresses. To combat compulsivity, Juliet suggests organizing communication in terms of the complexity of the message: 2D messages are simple and rely on yes/no answers; 3D messages are more nuanced and require more explanation and discussion. If you start applying this framework, you can choose the right medium when speaking to your coworkers. If you want to ask someone a quick 2D question, you can send a text or email because the exchange will be short. If you want to start a discussion around a 3D question, it may be wiser to use a phone call or meeting to get the answer.
Juliet explains that the reason this saves time is that people can answer you more effectively so you can continue with your work. When you push 2D content into a 3D medium, you waste time. When you push 3D communication in a 2D medium, you miss out better ideas and you risk mishandling the information.
Also known as the inability to delegate, according to Juliet. It’s a pitfall that traps everyone from the new leaders on the block to the seasoned business veterans – we like to feel like we are in control. Instead of leading a team, control ends up looking a lot like too much to do in too little time. Juliet claims that one cure for control is to learn to delegate. A need for control will stifle an organization’s growth in the long run.
Short of telling leaders and employees to work smarter instead of harder, Juliet has an alternative solution to get people delegating. Start by identifying who should be in your first tier delegation list and who should be in the second tier. First-tier people can be trusted to complete tasks with the same attention to detail that you would give, and are able to handle the authority to make the same calls that you would make. Second-tier people may be able to handle some tasks, but you can be more selective with the work that you pass on to them.
Having this list of people that you can turn to will help lower the delegation threshold. When you know you’re handing a task off to someone who can handle it and all that it calls for, it’s easier to let go of control, Juliet explains.
Juliet has so many more interesting tips and tricks to improve your productivity and efficiency on an individual level – these are just the start! If you’re interested in hearing more from her, check out her interview on our podcast and get to know more about Nordic Business Forum 2019 where she will be speaking about “The Strategic Pause”.