My client, a small business leader, consistently wrestled with inconsistent execution of strategy. Over time, this inconsistency cost him business. And he no longer could afford to overlook the issue.
As a small business leader in the manufacturing space, he employed less than 20 people on his team. Consequently, each team member wore wear many hats. The good news was that many of his employees had worked for the company for over five years. As a result of the small employee size, and multiple hat-wearing, everyone typically had everyone’s back in terms of interoperability.
First, the small business leader reflected on the workplace environment.
For starters, the workplace norm always was fire-fighting mode. In fact, it always had been in fire-fighting mode.
As a result, overall organizational productivity suffered. Consequently, no single employee ever worked at their highest capacity, exercising their optimum skill sets and critical thinking acumen. In addition, in spite of everyone’s best efforts, the team continued to overlook critical project aspects. And those errors continued to lose the company critical business.
Thus, this small business leader’s team looked to him for a way to liberate themselves from being reactive, instead of proactive. And that small business leader looked to me to create and help him implement that strategy.
The small business leader felt it beneficial for me to conduct an initial assessment. I would arrive at suggestions and recommendations for moving forward. However, as I prepared to conduct the assessment, I made a small request.
I asked the leader, and each employee, to keep a one-week record of each time during the day that they accessed their social media accounts. At the end of the week, they sent me their data.
Then, I sat down with the small business leader to discuss aspects impeding organizational productivity. Just on the basis of findings from that one exercise, alone, the leader had a major business epiphany.
The small business leader was his company’s greatest productivity impeder!
The employees on the production line had set breaks during the day when they could access mobile devices and social media. And the administrative employees were so busy fighting fires, they did not have much time for social media, either.
However, the leader was continuously posting throughout the day on social media. All sorts of quotes of the day, photos from the weekend, whatever struck his fancy. Not only that. Many of his clients followed him on these social media accounts, in addition to his friends and family.
Not only was his social media addiction blurring his personal and professional boundaries. Also, he was posting far too much conflicting information, which delivered mixed messages to various followers.
In addition, I sent him several articles on the impact of workplace distractions on personal productivity. Every time he self-interrupted with social media, it took him at least 23 minutes to regain his business focus. He, literally, wasted half of his day jerking himself in and out of continuous distraction!
Needless to say, this revelation was a shock to the small business leader. How could he lead by example when, in fact, he set the worst example in something as “trivial” as social media!
First, the leader perceived social media as a reward: an inconsequential, light-hearted “break” from daily activities. As a result, he never realized that his multiple, daily rewards actually impeded his personal and professional productivity.
As a distracted leader, he acknowledged that his own habits were the root cause of why his company was losing business.
Once we set some boundaries on daily social media usage, he became far less distracted. In addition, he also became far more focused on addressing those daily workplace fires his team continuously battled. And while greatly reducing this one habit did not magically correct factors impeding organizational productivity, the team now had a fully engaged leader on board.
When people lead, manage or work in a small business environment, everyone’s actions directly impact organizational productivity. There are no “trivial” distractions.
- What type of distractions are currently impacting your ability to lead, manage or work productively and profitably?
- Have you taken steps to correct the problem?
- If so, how effective have these actions been in achieving the desired endpoint? Why?
Take the next steps towards workplace productivity and leadership.
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Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of One Millimeter Mindset™ serves organizations as a corporate catalyst and innovative speaker, strategist, coach and storyteller. Babette’s One Millimeter Mindset™ Workshops and Speaking programs leverage collaboration to catalyze professional innovation, workforce engagement and customer retention, especially in challenging Industrial Internet of Things environments. Babette’s playbook of IIoT team collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. She is a member of SME, ASQ, SHRM and the National Speakers Association.
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