Have you ever been on a team that lost its focus? You and your teammates may have wasted time wandering down dead ends, getting caught up arguing over trivial items, or had assumed next actions lie incomplete due to a lack of delegation? While there are many contributing factors to such failures, a good manager can make or break a team.
In an increasingly distracted world, one skill that can elevate managers is the ability to focus their team on the priorities. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, GTD founder David Allen and Justin Hale break down seven ways that managers can help their teams focus on work. Not surprisingly, the ideas are born out the GTD principles. This first suggestion is to inventory tasks and projects.
This is a discipline where common sense is not common practice. If your people don’t have a complete list of their commitments and projects, they can’t realistically prioritize. As a leader, hold people accountable for keeping current to-do lists and give them time each week to do a full weekly review of these commitments so they can stay in control.
Another way managers can help their employees focus is to make meetings meaningful.
Most people’s workdays are monopolized by meetings. Help employees stay focused by allowing them to decline meaningless meetings. To improve meeting efficacy, one manager we coached set a bold precedent. He said, “If someone invites you to a meeting without a clear agenda and reasons why you’re vital to the success of the meeting, you have my permission to decline it.” This manager put the onus back on the meeting creator (which was often himself) to show greater respect for others’ time. It also put employees in control of their days so they could focus on high-priority work.
Read the other five suggestions at the Harvard Business Review website.