I recently met with a corporate Executive VP in New York City. I'll
call him Kyle. Kyle said his division was struggling. But instead of
leading the charge to turn things around, he was being called into
meetings regularly to make lengthy, detailed, Power Point presentations
explaining what was wrong. He was too busy doing business to be doing the business. Interestingly, one of his recommendations was for the company
to get out of some of its operations because they were draining money
and other resources. He explained that his people were spending too
much time on things that no longer yielded the kind of margins the
Does any of this sound remotely familiar to you?
I realized while he
was talking to me that I had gotten up at 5 a.m. to deal with emails
from a European client; spent time on the cell phone in transit with a
non-profit, pro bono client who needed to talk; and allowed myself to
be sidetracked by hallway conversations with managers from the client
group who I hadn't seen in a while. A similar schedule unraveled today.
What is there to learn?
1. If you do business globally in the electronic age, the
expectation is that you are available on "their" time...or you should
be. So choose carefully--you can't afford to be awake 24 hours a day.
2. Time management isn't really just about time. It's about clear priorities. Which means...
3. It's important to say "no." In fact, I think "no" is the solution to a lot of this craziness.
4. If you are in Kyle's position, at some point you need to tell
those above you that the very act of "over-reporting" is exacerbating
the problem. Do it respectfully. Share the impact and consequences on
your business and let them take responsibility for whether or not it
makes sense to continue all of those external demands on your time.
Note: You may not get any relief. Instead, you may hear, "Everything is equally important."
Everything isn't equally important. That's a fact.