If humans had a keyboard, I’m sure there would be a Respond button.
Everyone would punch it, our clients, our bosses, our staff, our families – Respond, Deadline’s tomorrow, ASAP, Important…
Most of us feel like the button’s jammed.
We live in constant response mode – time to think? Who has time for that?
The problem with that constant fire fighting is it leaves you dealing with the same kind of things over and over.
Take meetings, for example. People send you invitations, if you’re free, you reply that you’ll attend, then you promptly move on to the next thing.
How many times have you started your day, glanced at the calendar and groaned that you are in meetings for seven hours, leaving very few hours left for the real work.
Look across your week – I bet it doesn’t get any better. It’s a meeting culture these days and a lot of managers are stuck in the web.
Review your meetings to reinvent your job
Ask yourself honestly, taking your ego out of it, are you the ONLY person who could possibly attend this meeting?
If someone else could attend and summarize the information for you, think about who would find this meeting a stretch.
Pass it on to the person who would be excited about it. For them that meeting is a chance to work with a new department, work with someone senior or learn about an area they don’t know.
Then give yourself a bonus point for clearing one hour in your week. Repeat the exercise…
Hold on to your thinking time
As you clear those meetings, put in some buffers, a few two hour blocks that are set aside to plan, evaluate, imagine a better way to motivate and inspire.
Mark them as if you were out of the office and honour your commitment to yourself, don’t give them away.
Use one of those breaks to think about how you measure your own success.
If the measuring stick is about work you’ve accomplished, boxes you’ve ticked and things crossed off the list, you need a new measuring stick.
Your job is to manage your staff, not the work, so how do you judge that?
What’s the new measure for what you do
To reinvent your job, think about where you add value. A Media Director I work with decided to add value by redefining what her department stood for, what she wanted the rest of the company to think of when it came to her team.
Then she made sure her staff understood that vision and the role they played in making it happen.
To measure her success, she began to look for results that showed they were building a reputation for the team’s new expertise.
You might also watch for people seeking out your staff for advice or inviting them to contribute. That’s your new measure of a good day’s work.
Another gauge for your performance is in the moral of your staff. How happy are your team, do you have a minimum of people calling in sick?
Look for signs that they can work independently, that they take responsibility and shoulder the authority to get things done with a minimum of guidance and approvals.
A strong, autonomous team reflects a successful manager.
Plan the next step
Take another of your thinking slots to figure out what your next step will be in your career.
Decide what you want to do next and how you can begin to gain experience in the areas you’ll need for the future.
If there are a few alternatives, explore those positions, talk to the people in those jobs and mentally try them on.
Now re-invent your job
With your staff running smoothly and managing the day to day, select what will challenge you and allow you to learn.
You can offer to relieve your boss of some of his meetings, things that are interesting or more senior than you’ve experienced to date.
Think about working across departments, for that elusive convergence that innovative companies say leads to business brilliance.
Find new ways to challenge yourself, learn something new or gain your own autonomy on a project that excites you.
And just like that, you’ve reinvented your job.
Let’s hope the new responsibilities are motivating, inspiring and make you want to skip to work.