Are you stealing from your employer? To ask it another way, have you been given tools and a work environment that should help you be more productive? The other day I was on a conference call with my friend Marcin Kwiecinski (yes – his site is in Polish), a productivity consultant, and he told me he found that many people do not want to be more productive. They are afraid if they get better, they will get more work. The result, they do 10 hours of work for 40 hours of pay. That is theft.
Photo courtesy of Flickr/Creative Commons/lett -/\=
6 Ways You are Stealing From Your Company (and How to Stop)
1) Email – Much of your email overload is a waste of time. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. Whose responsibility is it to be more effective? Yes, a good part of your email overload is from your employer. Still, you are the one who should be an expert at using this tool and not wasting time and money. You are the professional, so act like it and take back control.
2) Meetings You Call – Most of us poorly manage meetings. Therefore, when you pull together people for a meeting, you are a huge drain on company resources. To be effective does not mean it has to be short or long, but that something of value is gained. Most people walk into meetings having no clear idea of what outcome is desired. If you called the meeting, you are responsible for setting the agenda. You are also on the hook for providing the value of that meeting.
ACTION > Improve your skills related to planning and running meetings. Michael Hyatt has a wonderful post on more effective meetings.
3) Meetings You Attend – If you attend a meeting where you learn nothing and contribute nothing, you have wasted money. It is true that as an attendee, you may not always know what to expect from a meeting—but part of your job as an attendee is to get the information you need to show up prepared. Another thing I see at meetings is people who pay no attention to the speaker and spend the whole meeting checking their email or Facebook. Once they realize they have missed something important, everyone has to waste time while the details are repeated. This same situation arises when a team member is late to a meeting, and the whole group has to wait while the late arriver is caught up. It’s rude, it’s lazy, and it’s obvious.
ACTION > Surprisingly, I did not find a lot of resources out there on how to be more effective at meetings when you do not control the agenda. (Guess I need to write a post on this subject.) So here are some hints I use.
Make sure you know what you expect to happen. Get the agenda. Request it if not provided.
Be prepared with any information you need to provide so you do not waste others time.
Be engaged so that you get something out of the meeting. I.e., no Facebook.
Be on time.
Help keep the meeting on agenda. This means you stay on agenda, and remind others when they are off the plan.
4) Failure to Network – In my last podcast on Networking Within the Company, I discussed networking within your organization. The result from skillful networking is better productivity on many levels. When done right – you get rewards of the connections, customers, improved productivity, and company relationships.
ACTION > Frequently connect with those whom you serve and those who provide things for you. Your internal customers and providers. Connect to vendors and system providers.
5) Drive by Chatter – While every work environment needs a certain amount of camaraderie through socializing, most people take it way too far. The average employee wastes 3 hours per day in idle chatter. Don’t think you do? Bet you are wrong.
ACTION > These are some simple but very effective things you can do.
– If people come to your office or cubicle, stand up. Rarely will people talk as long when standing as when they are sitting.
– If you are caught in a conversation going off in the weeds, politely tell people you have to go finish something before it gets too late.
– Continuously keep chatter lively and short. People will soon realize you are friendly, but also mean business. They will eventually stop interrupting you as much.
– Keep a notebook and when someone stops to chat, record the time as if you were going to bill them for it. Then, after a week, see how much time you spent in idle chatter.
6) Texting Junkie – Texting has this way of interrupting you without you noticing you are being interrupted. For texting junkies, hours a day are lost on meaningless small messages typed out one painful character at a time. Think nobody notices a quick text? Think again.
ACTION > If someone would not call you at work because they do not want to interrupt, have them stop texting you also.
– Cut the texts short. It might be one thing to note your friend’s dinner plans have changed, but it usually blossoms into an all-out text fest.
– Put the device away (on mute) and check texts (or emails) at predetermined times of the day when it is not interrupting your work. Perhaps when you finish a task.
Small Changes In Habits, Big Results in Productivity
All of these areas are small on their own, but they add up to huge time-wasters. If you think no one notices these small time wasters, you are dead wrong. Everyone notices. Most importantly, the boss from whom you are stealing notices. By taking some small steps to de-clutter your time and maximize your productivity, you will soon notice you are leaving the office with more done today and less to be done tomorrow.