Asking what, why and how?
The ability to analyse a task and its purpose helps
us to not only prioritise effectively but also seek efficient ways to complete the task
- What am I trying to achieve?
- What value does this bring?
Has someone else solved this problem before?
- Is there a better method I could use?
What is the quickest way I can get this item off my list and move on?
- Think of each component that is involved in the process and allocate time for it to be completed.
- Examine the parts of any task and figure out step-by-step what you need to do to get it done.
Time management methods
Sharing tried and tested task management methods
with your team is a great way to help them become
more productive and drive their performance,
particularly if they are working remotely.
Implementing time management methods prevents
you from overloading your day with an impractical or impossible list of things to do. Getting to the end of the day and seeing just how much you didn’t achieve can have a negative effect on your morale and your confidence.
Understanding how much time a task will take is fundamental to effective time management, but it is not as easy as it sounds. Douglas Hofstadter, a cognitive scientist and author, introduced in his 1979 book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, the observation
Meaning that things always take longer than you expect them to, even when you try to account for things taking longer than you expect them to.
This was also the basis for the cognitive bias known
as The Planning Fallacy, first proposed by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, also in 1979. They defined this phenomenon as
The best method for limiting the effects of The Planning Fallacy or Hofstadter’s Law is to break the tasks down in to smaller time chunks. Reviewing to see if you are as far ahead as you thought you would be at the end of each chunk.
Time boxing is the process of breaking the hours in
your day down into time blocks. These can be 15-minute intervals, half hourly intervals, two-hour intervals
or whatever is appropriate for your role and the tasks that you need
Next you will review your entire task list, work out which tasks are going to have the biggest impact and allocate them to a time box.
Be sure to give your tasks a little buffer space between them for breaks, over runs and unforeseen interruptions, you need to be agile and flexible for when unexpected events or tasks arrive.
This is a really useful tool to help individuals who have problems managing a workload, staying on schedule or
for those who have a tendency to over engineer work.
Time boxing is extremely effective when it is based upon clear instructions and set expectations for the tasks that need to be completed but it is important for the team member using the time boxing method to be involved in setting the deadline and associated time allowance for each task.
This is just one example of an effective time management method and while this may work for some or even most of your team, everyone is different. Focus more on encouraging individuals to use methods like this to organise their time but to find a method that works best for them. Go one step further and schedule a team review where everyone shares the method that works for them.
The continuous development of your people via coaching is particularly important in the new remote and hybrid
work environments that we are operating in.
The world of coaching is complex and multifaceted.
On one hand it is about helping the individual come
to their own conclusion, using a specific framework of questioning to define effective performance in their role. Never telling them what to do, but instead asking them what, how, should, or could they do in certain scenarios.
On the other hand, it is helping people better understand the consequences of their actions and helping them to try and see where there might be a disconnect between the promises that they have made and the reality in terms
of being able to deliver. The International Coaching Federation 1 defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their potential. 1
With effective coaching we want to bring all of these approaches into our leadership and coaching methods so we can maximise professional and personal potential by helping team members to actively seek to learn rather than simply teaching them.
These words can be found in wood block books that are almost 1,100 years old written by Xunzi (Xun Kuang) a Confucian philosopher who lived in the third century B.C.E.
Over a thousand years later and research shows this philosophy still to be true. In a study conducted by the University of Chicago the percentage recall of information given was measured over 3 weeks and 3 months. 2
The research showed that the long-term recall performance greatly increased when individuals were told, shown and allowed to experience the information compared to simply being told, or being told and shown.
Implementing effective coaching techniques
Coaching can be a planned activity, you can set aside specific time in your day to get together with your team member and coach on a particular topic, but coaching is also highly effective if it is responsive and in the moment as individuals face challenges or blockers in their daily tasks.
In our changed world, where we are operating remotely or in a hybrid environment it can be challenging to provide responsive coaching in the moment when it is needed but there are ways to ensure that virtual coaching
or remote coaching is as effective as it could be.
- Make yourself available.
- Encourage your team to come to you or to keep a list of difficulties, challenges, questions and concerns that can be addressed in scheduled one-to-one sessions.
- Foster psychological safety to reassure team members that they’re not going to be humiliated or rejected
if they come to you with problems or issues.
- Make sure that there is always a follow-up
from topics raised.
- Give team members your full focus, a virtual coaching conversation should be a special kind of interaction.
- Leave time between the end of your coaching conversations and moving on to the next event on your calendar to give you both space to digest what was discussed and reflect on the conversation.
Make sure that you are in a coaching mode all
of the time so you can spot subtle cues to coach.
Utilise technology, namely video calls to allow the observation of body language from your mentee and project openness in your posture on these.
- Plan a positive focus discussion for a future session.
Accountability strongly underpins coaching for performance. Ultimately there has to be a desire or a drive to succeed, you can’t coach someone who doesn’t want to change.
Building awareness of that responsibility is the essence
of good coaching. It is the individuals own mindset shift that we’re looking to achieve through coaching so they can approach issues, challenges and problems as well
as their ongoing development in a proactive way.