Time – How to have this discussion

I am working with two teams right now trying to manage explosive growth (50+%) and all of the challenges that go with it.  One theme that ALWAYS comes up is time.  Here is what it sounds like:

  • I want my work week to go from 70 hours to 50 hours
  • I am working hard, and yet I am still not getting it done
  • My family has not seen me at a meal in weeks
  • My email is overflowing and people have expressed frustrations with my ability to complete things
  • There are not enough hours in the day
  • I will make time for woodworking when I retire

Time is always an issue, and in the age of “customer focused” and “collaboration” saying NO is not an option —  if it is there has to be some reasoning to it and people want to hear options.

Here is a hint, if teams are struggling with that or you have a person on your team struggling with it, dust off a copy of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, turn to the time management matrix on page 151, do this:

Covey's Time Management Matrix
  1. Introduce this as a way to sort through our to do lists
  2. Draw the matrix on the wall and give everyone a stack of post-it notes
  3. Ask them to write their top 10 things that come up during the day (you might ask them to record some of this before the meeting, especially if they are in a customer facing role)
  4. Explain the matrix to them, and have them place it in a quadrant
  5. Talk through it.  Here are some questions:  
  •  
    • What does this say about your priorities? 
    • What can move? (from my perspective as your leader)
    • What is one change I can make that would help my ‘time issue”? 
    • What is one thing I can do as your leader to help?

Leadership is about great conversations, and within those conversations helping people sort through and overcome barriers.  This is a great conversation around time, and many thanks to Covey for helping frame this discussion.  (hint:  7 Habits is a great resource for any leadership library. )