The legendary if controversial management guru, Peter Drucker, once wrote that:
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all”.
Younger generations today are turning away from the obsession with work that has driven so many of their parents and grandparents into premature burn out and seen too many families damaged by the impact of absentee salary slavery.
Maybe the time has finally come for wise entrepreneurs to think carefully about the benefits of reducing their involvement in the day-to-day running of their businesses, rather than perennially looking to engage with them in ever greater detail.
With resources stretched ever further as business leaders battle against an ailing economy, efficiency, good judgement and self-preservation is a good mantra to take for the year ahead. But what does this adoption look like in the day-to-day of a business leader?
A business leader strategy for 2024
Avoiding endless meetings
While key meetings are vital for business leaders to be involved in, at the opposite end of the spectrum are endless meetings that can result in micromanagement rather than a top level strategic view of the business.
Three core questions should sum up the decision-making on cutting down attendance at meetings, virtual or face-to-face:
- “Do I absolutely have to be there?”
- “Is this the best use of my time?”
- “Could a member of the team attend instead, and might it contribute to their development?”
If the answer to either of the first two is “no” and to the third is “yes”, the answer is decline or delegate.
Information overload is a problem in many aspects of everyday life; in a business environment it can be a massive distraction to senior and middle management. Aiming for less but well-focussed management information that will best influence your strategic view is the ideal route forward and once in place can position business for the exact knowledge they need to make the best decisions.
Routine reporting should concentrate on the important issues and any significant departures from plan, not bore and frustrate by majoring on every minor aspect as well. More detail can be always made available on request to those who are genuinely interested.
Resisting the urge to dash in to deal with every issue can not only save scarce time and energy for senior executives, but energise and motivate members of the team to take the onus in coming up with the solutions particular to their field.
How clear are directions to staff? The vaguer they are, or the more open to multiple interpretations, the more time will be spent clarifying them or clearing up the mess when they’re misinterpreted.
As a general rule, the more politics there are within an enterprise, the less productive it is and the less job satisfaction there is at all levels. If politics are already established, they may not be easy to eradicate but doing so will save senior executives a great deal of wasted time and emotional energy.
Too much change
One key issue we come across when assisting business leaders is too frequent a change in direction which can be challenging, and often costly, to maintain and create demotivation within a team. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with innovation, or adaptability when it is required, but constantly moving an organisation’s goal posts not only confuses its staff but it can also distort performance measurement and soak up executive capacity explaining what is going on and why.
It is well worth reviewing what task have become regular to your day as a business leader and determine if they would be better placed with another member of the management team or junior staff. This evolution can help to elevate an overbearing load on business leaders, freeing up their focus on the long view and future possibilities for growth.
Do executives have space booked out in their schedules for reflection, planning or learning, or are these vital aspects of senior management shoe-horned into snatched moments or at the end of a long day? Decent strategies need time to mature, so giving time to this is a must for a business leader.
The most frequently quoted excuse for failure to delegate is that the team isn’t up to the task or doesn’t have the capacity. But this is more a matter of skill and staffing. Consider, do you have the right staff in place and the skill set your business needs. Could training be put in place to enhance and progress your staff’s skills. Is it possible to break down delegations between staff members to get tasks done in the best way? There is nearly always a solution that will allow you to delegate what you need to in order to free up your valuable time.
Would outside expert advice help?
Reviewing workloads and priorities is difficult in the heat of commercial battle, as businesses currently find themselves in. This time is psychologically challenging for many executives. This is where input from independent experts can help to break negative business cycles, which too often get in the way of improving the working lives and effectiveness of business leaders. Bringing in an outside expert can help you to focus on the future of your business and the best route forward to reach your goals.
How we can help
We have extensive experience advising business owners and directors, and we will always work with you to find the best solution for you and your business.
One of our Partners would be more than happy to have a non-obligatory confidential chat with you. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 3326 6454 and we will arrange for a call with one of our Partners.