As the work environment has developed over the past many years, it has become more common that people on the job looks at an e-mail inbox full of expectations of actions with short deadlines. It is important that we are efficient and can handle many tasks at the same time and close issues that has come to awareness. In a world where the markets become more competitive every day and costs need to be saved, efficiency is more important than ever. The question to be raised here is: Are we really that efficient as we are working with a higher pace?
E-mails can become a catalog of ideas. I have seen many people in the situation where they get an idea and then straightaway forming this into an e-mail requiring some or a lot of people to do a lot of things that satisfy a “need for information” which does not really create value that is worth more than the cost to produce it. This leads me to say that in the specific tasks that we undertake, we are definitely doing it quicker and sometimes also more efficiently but as we do not stop to create a clear picture of what we are really doing, we are spending a lot of time on doing work that does not create any value. What we really need to do is to prioritize those tasks that will create the most value to the business.
When we are in a hurry, we also tend to not make ends meet by discussing the tasks with other interested parties along the way getting the best insights and evaluations on the direction. To be successful, we need to understand what the implications are of a specific decision to our surroundings in order is to understand if an idea is in fact good. There are mainly three questions that you need to discuss:
- Which value does the decision bring to the company (short-term and long-term)?
- What are the costs (including both time and money) to do this (short-term and long-term)?
- Who in the organization will gain and who will lose (in order to prepare proper communications)?
Some would say you can get the answers on above by sending an e-mail to the interested parties and getting a proper reply, but I dare to say you will not. Do you recognize receiving an e-mail from a person and then talking to the person later, realizing that you completely misunderstood the context of the e-mail. I believe most people have. Therefore, I say people need to talk in order to truly understand what the implications on a business decision are.
Often, a change will lead to something good overall but some people will see what hits them seems to a the opposite. Therefore, it is very important that those people (or the leader of those) are included in the decision making process and understand that there are negative (or negative looking) implications to their part of the business, so that they can also feel motivated to do the change.
Imagine the example that you need an extra resource to do admin work that is already being performed to create space for other employees to utilize their competences better. Some people will feel a relief that they can handover some tasks, some people will feel threatened by this new and some people will feel the urge to say naturally create more value. The leader can help pointing people into the right set of feelings by involving the people in the project and letting them know how they should reflect on their own tasks contra the additional value that is expected. This will improve the motivation of the people.
Prepare for Decision Making
A bad business decision, even the small ones, can cost the company a lot of money in wasted time and materials as we do not always understand all layers of the business. Therefore, it is important to invest time in taking the right decisions. Please remember, that talk and understanding require preparation. If people need to be able to answer, they also need to know what you are going to ask. Therefore, meeting invitations should always include an agenda and expectations on what the people invited should bring to the table. Many people tend to take this more laissez faire and pop the important questions when they meet. If you do this, please do expect that the people answering the questions did not have time to check what is important and might forget important details. In this case you risk getting poor information that will lead to the wrong decision.
Optimal Value on Implementation
If you let people in on business decisions and talk to people during the decision phase you are also more likely that those people feel that the decision will help the company and they would be eager to support a great implementation of the change at hand. Communication is much easier when people do not have the chance up front to say: “Is this really good for the company?” and their manager are not able to come up with a prompt answer of “Yes, because…”. Through involvement you get a big motivation from the people in your organization and you will also be more likely to receive feedback on what is working well and what is not so that you can adjust along the way.
Do not forget that talk and evaluations does not end as a decision is made. You need to continue this until the change is fully implemented and tested.
Celebrate Your Success
Another important element that is often forgotten is to celebrate the success at hand.
Often, we finalize a task just to start directly on the next one. This means that you started off on a good hand and everyone has been very motivated by getting things done but when we finalized this exciting project, we just fell back into business doing what we normally do or start on a new exciting project and almost forget what we have actually accomplished. To keep up the motivation in people, we should take a breathe and say: “Well done”. Even you, as the custodian, should clap yourself on your shoulder and be proud of your accomplishment.
My conclusion therefore is: E-mail is a good tool but you need to remember to slow down on e-mail communication, spend time to talk to each other, listen and become a team that celebrate your successes. Remember the good old team spirit and do not lose this in the digital space.
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