Time is the scarcest resource we have – especially when at the executive level. Too often, executives find their schedules filled with inconsequential items that could be better handled by others. They spend valuable time addressing problems that should never have reached them in the first place.
In fact, it’s estimated that top management spends less than 3 hours a month discussing strategy. The vast majority of their time is spent on issues that account for a small portion of your bottom line – when it should be the other way around.
Every minute your executive team spends handling day-to-day admin or nitty-gritty details is a minute they’re not planning for the future of your company.
Here’s how to shore up your front lines to minimize busy work and ensure that your executive team has more time for strategic planning.
Leadership isn’t just for those in the upper echelons of a company. Great companies foster leaders at all levels. They do so by empowering staff to take ownership of problems and challenges. How? Through accountability.
Assign your front line staff set responsibilities and hold them accountable for handling them – and reporting on them.
They’ll have an incentive to resolve lower-level tasks and challenges, rather than passing them along to a higher-level decision maker. The less that reaches your executive team, the more time they’ll have to focus on strategy.
When staff are ill-equipped to identify, validate and solve problems, these issues typically get kicked up to management. The outcome? Your most skilled and specialized teams end up spending valuable time solving non-critical problems or explaining how to solve them.
Training your front-line staff in critical thinking and problem solving can reduce the load on your executive team. Develop rubrics for categorizing, addressing and handling frequently encountered problems so that challenges can be addressed quickly, efficiently and in line with the overall company vision – and without needing your executive team to weigh in.
Accountability and problem solving can only go so far if no one is authorized to give the final say-so on a particular issue. Don’t let “discussion” become a substitute for “decision”. Give your front-line team decision-making authority – especially around operational issues. And ensure that processes are put in place around decision-making and the implementation of those decisions.
Highly successful companies take advantage of shared language, methodologies and standards around decision-making. That means faster and more effective decision-making, as well as more seamless implementation.
Plus, the more exposure your front-line staff have to decision-making, the better placed they are to grow into leadership roles.
Questions to consider:
- How much time do your executives spend on strategic decision making?
- Does your company have a common decision-making framework?
- Do your team members know who is authorized to make decisions?
Learn more about building high performing teams at our upcoming webinar scheduled for February 28th from 11:30am to 12:30pm CST.