What’s currently winning out in your managing – time or quality? Do you meet your deadlines in an effective manner? Do you have the time you need to do a quality job or does the quality of your work suffer because your time is limited? Even though many circumstances are beyond your control, the choice is still yours. If quality is paramount to you, make room for it. If time is paramount, decide what level of quality you will maintain, when your time is limited.
Sometimes you can lose on both fronts. You can rush through things and quality suffers. You can take all the time you need to produce quality and deadlines are missed and efficiency is ignored.
In a perfect world, you would have the time you need to do a high quality job. It becomes a matter of balance – how do you balance your desire to do a quality job with the time you have available?
photo: Jan Vašek, stocksnap.io
Stop laughing. ☺ It’s worth paying attention to. Why? When you are fully present to what you are doing, your work gets the benefit of your intelligence, attention, time and skill. Distraction or inattention diminishes the quality of your work and often increases the time you spend, for lesser results.
Being fully present brings all of you to your tasks. You’ll work better, faster and more effectively. For my next blog post, I’ll create a list of 10 ways to stay fully present to what you are doing.
photo: Photokanok, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The Urban Dictionary defines Dumbing Down as:
The act of taking a product and watering down elements of it to make it appeal to a broader mass market. This often damages or destroys the very elements that gave the product any appeal in the first place.
As managers and leaders, we sometimes dumb down our work and products without direct intention to. How does this happen? I think a central reason is that we allow outside influences to trump our own commitment to quality and excellence. For example, there may be too much to do and you scrimp on quality, just to meet your deadlines. Or, there are “politics” involved in a project and you feel you have to please the various parties (watering down) to make the outcome palatable to them. Sometimes choosing to dumb down in this way is about being lazy. Instead of maintaining your commitment to quality and excellence, you take the easy road, detach from the project and decide to diminish the quality of the product, rather than hassle with others or find elusive solutions.
Dumbing down never serves you as a leader or manager. Have you dumbed down any of your work this year without intending to? What does your answer tell you about how you are leading?
photo: Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
How often do you hear the word simplicity mentioned when describing the art of managing? Do you consider simplicity a component of your management style? Simplicity involves ease, clarity, no frills and a lack of complication. We can use more of these elements in our workplaces. Work has become complicated and complex, creating some major advantages. In the process, however, we have lost sight of the value of simplicity. Reinstating simplicity into managing can streamline operations and improve productivity.
What are some ways to reintroduce simplicity into your managing? Here are a few ideas and I am sure you can identify some ways as well. You can bring simplicity and clarity into your communication by speaking and writing succinctly and with brevity. You can pull back from challenges and observe for a while to identify the basics of the challenge and find solutions that address them. You can identify and honor priorities, bringing simplicity by creating focus on what is important. You can ask your team members to find their own ways to simplify without losing quality, and share them with the team.
Give simplicity a try in your managing. Let it remove the extraneous and bring focus to the essential.
“ That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean, to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
– Steve Jobs
photo: sumetho, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The risks in rushing are inherent in its definition – swift, urgent, haste, sudden, hurry. What has your experience been when you rush? Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
It’s a question worth answering as the decision to rush, or not to rush, impacts the quality of your result as well as the timing. When pressure heightens and you are inclined to hurry, ask yourself “Should I rush?”.
“Short cuts make long delays.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien
There are so many pressures on managers today – to produce, to downsize, to save money, to be fast and on and on. This environment can encourage you to “skip steps” as you manage. Do so with caution. It’s a tough call – the pressures are real, but the expectation from upper management that you excel has not gone away. It is as alive as ever.
Set your boundaries in order to protect yourself and the integrity of your work. Determine how far you will go to accommodate pressures from upper management and where the line is that you will not cross. You are the one who loses, if your performance diminishes.
As Tolkien alludes, shortcuts aren’t always what they seem. You may be in a rush and a shortcut looks appealing. But think it out fully before you take it. Rather than a shortcut, you may be able to innovate, find an efficiency or save some time without sacrificing quality. These are positive outcomes in response to pressure.
Having a singular message of “get it done fast, no matter what” has to be balanced with an understanding that skipping steps often leads to reduced quality. Organizations have to have their own accountability. Managers cannot do the impossible.
You can push, push, push until you drop or you can pace yourself for the long distance run. Managing is consistently demanding. There is always something to do. When I started taking periodic breaks during my day, it felt unnatural. I’d be on a roll and stopping felt abrupt and disconcerting. After taking breaks for a while, I realized that, in the past, the longer I went, the more my capacities diminished. I was soon running on empty – tired, mentally fatigued and not at my best.
For some, the natural inclination is to keep going. You think as long as you can keep going the work will get done. You do not recognize your diminishing capacities. When you finally stop, time is needed to recuperate or to fix problems that may not have occurred if you were at your best.
If this intrigues you, try an experiment. On one busy day, push till you cannot go any longer. On a second busy day, take three ten minute breaks in addition to a lunch break (short is okay). Notice the level of your productivity, quality of your work and your physical and emotional state on each day and compare them. When I did this experiment, taking breaks brought me to my better day.