Do You Waste Your Employees’ Time?
Lessons from 2nd Grade: What we can learn from a skilled teacher about workforce management
I don’t write that often — life gets in the way, imagine that — so I need to remind you what we’re doing in these couple articles. We’re looking at what managers can learn from a talented teacher’s management methods. Twenty-eight children every day with a huge mandate for standards and benchmarks as well as a moral imperative to meet the needs of each individual child! You thought your job was hard. Teachers need to excel in methods and work ethic to be successful.
The teacher we’re following is Mrs. Lynch, who is energetic and passionate about education and also my lovely sister. [News Flash! I just this minute heard. She won 2011 Educator of the Year in her district!) Mrs. Lynch knows how to create a positive culture; I wrote about that last time. She can teach 8 year olds how to work together and cooperate. (Some of you are thinking your employees act like 8 year olds at times!) She knows how to hold those little free spirits accountable; accountability being something that many of them haven’t experienced at home. And she can get them to do anything, which the business world calls motivating your employees.
When I asked Jeanine what she felt was most important to manage her workforce, first on her list was Be Organized. “I don’t want to waste their time,” she said. She doesn’t want to waste their time! Do you waste your employees time? Let’s check.
How to Not Waste Your Employees’ Time
Mrs. Lynch has the whole day to organize, you have a meeting. How organized are your meetings?
Mrs. Lynch uses a daily agenda because, “Students like to know what’s ahead for the day.” It’s the first thing they look at each morning. They know if she’s left out recess or lunch (of course purposely); they love it when there’s a surprise on there; and “special guest” makes them very curious. What’s our lesson from 2nd Grade? Students and your employees all like to know that there’s a plan and we all like surprises, little gifts from our teacher or manager that shows she or he cares to offer things to brighten our day.
I’ve already talked with many of you about agendas for meetings. Some of you say that you like having a free, open discussion with never ending talk, talk, talk about topics of interest to you. That’s how your employees describe it by the way! In other words, “You’re wasting my time!”
If you want that kind of discussion, schedule a Round Table or work session, both good forums for free flowing discussion. Be sure to announce it with a list of topics/questions you want to cover, a time limit, and perhaps some background information to help them prepare.
For regular meetings, your agenda should be sent out ahead of time, everyone should know what their part of the meeting is, each item should show the time allotted for it and type of item it is, Discussion, Information, or Action. Include a space for recording desired outcomes, due date, and person responsible.
Have a plan. Mrs. Lynch knows she could probably fill days on end just off the top of her head. “But if I don’t have a plan I don’t know if I’m meeting all the requirements and, most importantly, meeting the needs of the students.” She has a big task: prepare them academically and socially for the world and their future. “If I don’t do my job, they can’t do theirs.” You have the same obligation.