One of the biggest challenges managers face today is probably time management. From the point of view of the head of Department, it sometimes feels like a hamster wheel. Just when you think that you are the critical tasks for the day, you are faced with a whole bunch of new E-Mails, somebody’s standing in front of the door and has a question, the phone rings and so on. Here, it is important to not be distracted and focus on the essentials. This sounds quite simple, but is actually very difficult in practice. There are many concepts, such as the Eisenhower principle, which helps differentiate between what is urgent and what is important. Some people like to write their tasks on a note to avoid having too much in their head, because only with a clear head you can tackle problems effectively.
These concepts can be useful – but they are often used in an isolated way, ignoring the interfacing challenges. Let’s say you are working on three different projects and some of these are actually part of your objectives for this financial year. Let’s assume that some of these projects have proved more difficult than originally thought, so they had to add more tasks during the year. At the same time you get more and more single tasks by her boss on the Desk, some tasks are regarding projects of colleagues, and so on. What happens now with the priorities we originally set for the projects?
The truth is that priorities are constantly changing. Things are dynamic and that many priorities are not important enough to remain on priority, when new tasks appear. The key here is to never lose sight of your goals and constantly work on your strategy. In order to achieve your goals, you must always reassess and classify emerging tasks and problems. Never forget what they are measured against, the “key performance indicators” or performance indicators because of which they were primarily set. At the end of the year, their work is measured and then assessed.
Suppose you are a leader and one of your main goals is to reduce customer migration. This is one of the most important performance indicators and this is in the red – not only in Euro, but also in terms of lost customer numbers. Now you need to develop strategies to stop the loss of customers. A milestone in your strategy could be to get Feedback from your managers about the status of customer relationships. Another could be to develop a Plan with the Marketing Department on how to keep existing customers up to date and informed about the company’s work with other clients – including assessments of their work from the other customers. The third milestone may be, in this fiscal year a series of Meetings with key decision makers of your customers, to get proper feedback and to get suggestions on how to improve the collaboration. All these projects need to be prioritised and subdivided into many small steps; and many of them need to be delegated to the right people in order to advance the whole thing quickly.
The most Important thing is to integrate the project tasks with the many line management tasks and Routine things into an ongoing Plan. This Plan must be properly managed at least once a week and priorities must be reviewed. For example, if one of your customers has indicated that they want to change the supplier, you must give this Problem a higher priority. Priorities should be dynamically adapted to the respective current situations at all times.
Jens Moeller Consulting Ltd.
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