Getting People to Focus

Don’t ask me why, but we regularly encounter leaders who have been in leadership roles for a long time, who have been very successful, yet have never individually reviewed with their team members, the activities that make the organization more money than what the organization pays that person.  We call this the High Payoff Activity Exercise, and the goal is to connect people with the cost of time spent.

The only way for an organization to be profitable is for every person to be focused on the activities that make the company more money than the company pays them in compensation.  And yes, in a for-profit organization, this includes IT, HR, legal, and departments who think they are exempt from living by a for- profit mindset.  But don’t confuse a high payoff activity with a goal or a responsibility.  As a leader, you can be responsible for a goal, a presentation, a budget, a sales plan without being responsible for every activity that contributes to achieving it.  Needing a Power Point slide deck for a presentation does not mean you, the leader are responsible for the activity of developing it.  To drive efficiency, consider doing the High Payoff Activities exercise with your direct reports.

To begin, have each of your direct reports list the top five activities that make the organization the most amount of profit, and the low payoff activities that make the least amount of profit.  What you are working towards is focusing your team members on what matters and giving them permission to delegate the rest.  But consider this, your direct reports can’t complete this list until you, the leader complete yours because you are going to delegate your low payoff activities to them.  But consider this, you can’t complete your list until your boss completes theirs and delegates to you.  You see, everybody in a vertical has to complete this exercise in order to get maximum focus and efficiency.

This exercise will meet with many benefits to your people.  It will give them permission to say no to distractions without being judged.   It gives conflict avoidant mentalities the courage to control their time.  It will prevent you, the leader from distracting your people with urgent fires that suck time.  It will reveal to you that you have may not have clearly communicated expectations when you see lists that don’t align.  It will empower your leaders with the legitimate need to delegate.  It will streamline efficiencies within the entire vertical and really engage a team.