Come close, because here’s a dirty little secret of life: it’s really all about time management and the time management activities or “strategies” you put in play.
See, most people in companies focus a lot on the quantity of work they’re doing. This is natural, because work confuses and confounds many of us, and quantity is tied to “something I can control.” That, in turn, makes you feel more relevant. Work is deeply tied to self-worth for many, and increased relevance leads to increased self-worth. That’s good.
But it’s also bad: an over-focus on quantity of work leads to confusion around “busy” vs. “productive.” This leads to “Temple of Busy” workplaces, where everyone is constantly slammed … but no one is really productive. That would be a dichotomy, and it costs companies billions of dollars.
So what do effective time management activities have to do with this? Quite a bit.
Time management activities and effective selling
If you want to keep the lights on in an organization, you need to sell. Sell, sell, sell, baby! It drives revenue. But how do you know which sales reps are the best? One B2B company wanted to find out.
I actually found that link within this article called “What If Companies Managed People As Carefully As They Manage Money?” (I’ve literally been blogging about that question for years now.) The alternate title of this article could be “It’s Not Your Business Model, You Fucking Idiot, It’s Your People.” I don’t know if the curse word would be allowed.
Anyway, when this B2B company analyzed their sales team, here’s what happened:
A statistical analysis of metrics from Workplace Analytics and other factors revealed that top performers and average performers spent their time differently. Some of the differences were obvious: spending an average of four more hours per week than other reps communicating with customers, or being 25% more likely to cross-sell. But some behavior was surprising. For example, top performers were three times more likely to interact with multiple groups inside the company. In other words, they connected with people who could help them with customer issues, such as staff in ﬁnance, legal, pricing, or marketing.
See the difference here?
It’s literally all about time management activities and how people (in this case sales guys) choose to use their time. The more effective ones spend more time on customer communication (logical) — but they also don’t cluster in the sales silo. They go out and talk to other departments, because that will give them extra knowledge to solve issues when they sell. Sales is really about overcoming objections to a specific idea/product, right? So the more info you have, the better.
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This shouldn’t be rocket science — i.e. this idea that time management and breaking through silos is relevant — but unfortunately to many, many, many people in business, it still is a very far-off concept.
How else could time management activities benefit a non-salesperson?
A myriad of ways. For example:
- Better planning of the week ahead
- Easier communication with direct reports
- Setting and executing on priorities more effectively
- Creating “Focus Days” to be more productive
- Chunking tasks in 15-minute “pocket rockets”
- Seeking your own “four-way win”
Those are a couple of examples. There are many.
The bottom line on time management
Many organizations these days operate at an awkward two-way intersection:
- Priority is often unclear.
- This allows managers to deem everything “urgent” or “needed it yesterday.”
In such a climate, it’s almost imperative/essential that every employee has time management skills. If 14 things are urgent in someone’s eyes, how are you going to move through that in an effective, productive way?
Most people can’t answer that question. The lack of answer to said question is what creates turnover, churn, and dissatisfaction at most organizations. There’s so much to do (quantity) but people lack the time management activities or skills to do it right (quality). Eventually they burn out, or their manager makes them so insane that they’re willing to take less and go elsewhere. (Not often, but I’ve seen that happen.)
If business is truly changing so quickly (VUCA!), then understanding time management activities (like delegation!) is both (a) essential and (b) could make you some more scratch. That’s all good, right?
What else might you add on the need for better time management activities and skills within companies?