How many times is it said from someone in the organization, it seems they cant get anything accomplished because they keep getting interrupted? Consider the progression of communication over the years within an organization. On many occasions, a paging system would sound off requesting someone to call a number or come to an office. If you were a service organization and considered an important person, it was customary to carry a pager. These pagers were typically one way communication with the requesting person sending a message for the receiving person to call
typically. The receiving person would then seek out a pay phone and using a phone card, would call to the office. Then you had the conference room meetings or conference calls that would occur periodically and would require time out of the day. Cell phones came into play and were more reliable but, to a certain extent, costly to operate. Computers advanced and emails become important for routine communication but there was no assumption you were reading emails all day long as not everyone had a computer or only had a computer at work but not a laptop. For those who had email, they would spend the first part of the day answering and responding to messages and in some cases routine opportunities during the day to catch up. Then things like meetings and conference calls started to increase in an attempt to make more collective and collaborative decisions. Through all of these types of communication, there was still primarily a focus on work first, but communication was very close behind.
Now consider how you interact with others within your organization and the course you take to communicate through the day today. The day probably starts off with large amounts of email if your phone hasnt already received them
your connected 24 hours a day by 7 days a week. You look into your email and see several messages collecting in the hundreds that have not been moved to an archive folder or deleted. Many are not dealt with due to the belief that they are still important or your just plain afraid to delete them. Worse yet, many messages will sit un-opened as the sender and/or subject matter is not what you considered a high priority. Phone calls are routinely diverted to messages and depending on the priority you set in your mind based on topic or person calling, will dictate if you respond now or sometime in the future. Then there are the meetings and conference calls added during the course of the day. Often times, these conference call sand meetings alone can encompass the entire day leaving little or no time to actually achieve any real work. Important? Maybe or maybe not. The reality is the role of an owner or leader within the organization is becoming more of discussion and collective thinking as opposed to what some would term, actual work.
Reflect on the course of you and your staffs day. Every time you call a meeting or conference call of those who report to you, will take them away from the work you expect them to get done every day. Now consider everyone else who has the power or ability to schedule a meeting or conference call for them and even for you. In some cases these force staff, and even yourself, to be making decisions on whether to attend the conference or meeting as opposed to attending to the actual responsibilities that brings in the income. Then you throw in the emails that constantly seem to flow through the information superhighway. On top of this, there are those who respond to emails with the proverbial Reply All thus bringing everyone into every conversation and many of whom might not necessarily need to take time to be involved. And by the way, there still exists the paging system that seems to routinely echoes out for you or your staffs attention. After looking back on a typical day of work, how many days can be declared as successfully achieving value added work that contributed to the growth in the organization or allowed folks to actually achieve a level of work that should be expected and progressive?
Finding the balance of requesting your staff to be in meetings and conference calls as well as email messages having direct value added information for only those that need it, can be a very difficult endeavor. Some business leaders actually limit the amount of time a staff member can spend in meetings and conference calls. Paging systems are often times given way for radios and provide a more direct and quieter form of communication. It is important to focus on the activities that are enveloping your staff day to day and keeping them from actually performing work to which they are responsible for. If key work staff is required to spend most of the day in meetings and reading emails, basically collecting information, then what time is allocated for them to actually perform value added work or execute against that information? The amount of time taking action should greatly outweigh the time spent collecting information. Looking at email inboxes, if the total quantity is high and any percentage is still unopened, you may simply be bogged down with the proverbial too much information and more than likely an inefficient process. Again, I cant stress enough, More time should be spent on value added work as opposed to spending time in meetings and on email.