Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Are You "Busy" Or Productive?

Every day at work, we see people rushing about with pre-occupied looks on their faces, or working furiously at their desk.  Sometimes we may even be told that they can’t speak to us because they’re “too busy”.

I used to have a colleague who made a practice of walking very quickly with a sheaf of papers and a pre-occupied look on their face.  To others in the office, this was a busy person with important matters on their mind.  I wondered how much of it was an act designed to impress.  The person concerned didn't have much of a reputation for getting business done, so I leave it to you to guess…

Another director in the same department sent out an email stating that a good relationship manager generates more emails than they receive - what kind of guidance is that?  People will simply find any excuse to send an email.

There’s a difference between being “busy” and being “productive”.  Being busy means finding stuff to fill the time between when you arrive at the office and when you leave.  Being productive means moving the business forward towards its stated objectives.

“Busy stuff” can include sending emails, making calls, attending lots of meetings, over-focus on administration or paperwork and the “details”.   Typically, bureaucrats are busy as this is what they live for - making sure all the “i”s are dotted and the “t”s crossed.  I’m not saying that a degree of bureaucracy isn't necessary (after all, someone has to please the tax man and the regulators), but these are not moneymaking activities.  They are, in fact, money consumers.

Productive people always have the time to do things because they focus on what's important.  I know CEOs running large organisations who have the time to respond personally (not through their PA) and promptly to emails.  They understand that this will generate opportunities, income or goodwill - all of which are important to growing businesses.

Ants are busy, business people should be productive.  There’s a natural tendency to want to look busy in the office, but make sure that you're focusing on the right thing.  Filling in forms is great (and, at times, a necessary part of life), but it shouldn't consume too much time.  If it does, there’s something wrong.  Equally, all those meetings may not actually be necessary (the minutes may suffice), you may not need to attend so frequently, or you may need to attend only for the time it takes to say your piece and answer questions.  One former UK bank’s name was humorously re-invented to suggest that, whilst they held numerous meetings, not much was accomplished…

Are you “busy” or “productive”?

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to offer solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email . My website provides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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