By Ty Bello
There is just not enough time in one day to get everything done. You need strong people to help you grow your business in this ever-changing marketplace. Owners and leaders need to have structure; must provide direction, motivation and analysis; and create an environment that perpetuates sustainability and growth.
Removing pandemonium from your day is about you, and how you manage your day, but it is also about your team, and how they have been trained. Together we will look at your activity as a leader, and change this from activity to productivity. We will capture some best practices, and help you make the pandemonium go away. But first we need to clarify one of the guiding principles to making the pandemonium go away – time management.
Time management has been at the forefront as the solution to providing a way to be more productive. There is no disputing that managing one’s time does help in this area; however, just the term “time management” is somewhat deceiving. Can any of us really manage time? I really don’t think we can. Can we stop, start, adjust, eliminate, or add time to our day? I know I can’t. So, rather than discussing time management, which we really do not manage, we need to talk about self management. Time does not make our day more or less productive. Time just keeps ticking away, whether we are active or inactive, awake or asleep, working or recreating. So, it is not managing your time that is going to make the pandemonium go away, it is managing yourself.
Identifying and eliminating the noise
To begin eliminating pandemonium, identify the noise that is in the way of making you productive. Don’t get me wrong, you and your team are productive, and get a great deal done every day. But can you imagine what you could get done without the noise?
Noise is anything that distracts you from being productive in your business. All of us have periods of activity during our day, and we check off things on our list, but noise gets in the way of being productive, and needs to be eliminated.
Because everyone’s day is different, I will not be supplying you a list of things that create noise in your day. Instead, think about what it is that distracts you from being productive. Some leaders have identified the culprits as:
- Too many e-mails and voicemails
- The team
- People who don’t know their job (both employees and vendors)
Before you make your own list of noise in your day, let’s define the three types of noise, the characteristics of each, and the problems they cause:
#1: White noise
White noise is also considered background noise. There has never been a showroom or shop that I have gone into that has not had some sort of radio playing. The “white noise” coming from the radio could be any genre or even talk radio. Another form of white noise that has gained popularity is background noise at bedtime. There are many who cannot fall asleep without a fan or some sort of noise in the background.
White Noise is not a culprit in the arena of pandemonium in your day. This is what is called “productivity noise.” This noise actually helps calm, sooth, and balance your environment, and actually assists in productivity.
#2: Yellow noise
The second type of noise is what I call “yellow noise.” Of the three types of noise the biggest offender and the one that contributes most to pandemonium is unscheduled interruptions. That is a bit of an oxymoron because nobody schedules interruptions in their day. But there are interruptions that you can expect in your day and then there are unscheduled interruptions.
Expected interruptions in our day could include a coworker telling us about a recent vacation, a (good) vendor stopping by unannounced because they were in the area, family stopping for a visit, or even a repeat customer coming by for a visit, and, of course, prospective new customers. These interruptions are not the culprit, but rather just part of the day in a business. The real culprit of yellow noise – also called “distractive noise” – are those unscheduled interruptions.
The number-one cause of distractive noise in your business is the lack of formal and continual training and education of your team. Just think about who comes to you during the day (unscheduled) and the questions they ask. Often, this is not the first time that they have come to you with this question.
So, is asking questions the problem? Yes and no. You encourage them to ask questions, because if they don’t, it could have costly consequences. However, the unscheduled interruption with these questions is a problem with their training and education, and does cause distractions in your day.
The solution to this distractive noise is increased formal and continual team education. You must look at this as one of the essential investments in your business and team. The more you train and educate, the less distractive noise you will have. You must establish a formal training program for every job description and level. Then you need to develop a continual process of investing into your team. There are dozens of resources that can help you with this and help you make this distractive noise go away. Some examples of such resources include online courses, vendor training, industry training, and industry articles.
#3: Red noise
The final type of noise is what I call “red noise,” which is also known as “destructive noise.” Like the name, it can destroy the future of your business while eating away at your current productivity.
Red noise, like yellow noise, has one main culprit and also a similar source: both types of noise land squarely on the shoulders of ownership and leadership of a business.
As owners and leaders, you must coach your team to process and think similar to you. Please note I did not say “like you.” The intent as you coach your team is to have them add value to the way you process and think, and make it better and their own.
We have all seen businesses that have failed. Forensic reviews of the demise of such businesses most frequently points to the destructive noise of ownership and leadership not working with – and coming alongside of – their teams, but instead keeping everything to themselves.
In his book “The E-myth,” author Michael Gerber said, “The E-Myth says that most owners don’t own a true business – most own a job…doing it, doing it, doing it…hoping like hell to get some time off, but never figuring out how to get their business to run without them”
The culprit of red noise is owners and leaders who never stop being a technician, and continue to work in the business and not on the business.
The reality is that, as an owner and leader, you have done a remarkable job of starting and growing your business. You have had amazing team members who have helped you get to where you are at today. But unless you start working on your business and less in your business, there may not be a business.
You need to remove the red noise from your business, and you do this by coaching your team to process and think similar to you. To begin this, you must give your time to your key team members who are actively running your business. During this time, you need to coach them through the essential elements of a successful business including finance, sales, marketing, operations, vendor relationships, customer care and much more. The difference is not just covering these things in a staff meeting, but enriching these in one-on-one coaching meetings where depth, knowledge, insight and experience can be transferred.
Coaching is not a one-time event, but an ongoing developmental process. As you transfer key information to your key team members, you will be freed to work on the business, the future, the vision, the culture, and the path to be taken.
The solution to pandemonium
The real work begins by identifying the two types of noise that exist in your business (red and yellow) and how you will make them go away. As an owner or leader, you must decide:
- What does my team really need from me?
- What am I doing today that needs to stop?
- What am I not doing today that I need to begin?
Answering these questions will help you see the noise, and reveal if you are still a technician in your business. From there, you can create the path of how to begin working on your business.
This is definitely an investment of time. Do not get caught up in the excuse that this is too much time to invest. Just like financial investments, you do not see the yield of your investment all at once – the gain is over time. The investment of your time here is a deposit into the future of your team and your business. Addressing the pandemonium in your business today will allow you to deposit significant resources of time and talent into the future of your business. Today is a great day to begin the self-management process, and make the pandemonium go away.
Ty Bello, RCC is the president and founder of Team@Work, LLC. He is an author, communicator and registered coach. The team at T@W has more than 50 years of combined experience in assessing, developing, and coaching sole proprietorships, sales teams, C-suite executives, individuals and teams in a variety of industry settings. Contact Ty at firstname.lastname@example.org for your sales, customer call center, and management coaching needs. Or visit www.teamatworkcoaching.com for more information.