The Importance of Creating Time to Think in the Workplace

by Bill Fournet | June 20, 2016

When will stability return? Many of us are likely asking this question about our work life. When will we get back to the normalcy of a crisis-free day? To the days when we actually had time to “think” and communicate with coworkers outside our immediate team? The pressure and speed of change can seem overwhelming at times.

For many teams, they can barely keep their heads afloat as they tread water throughout the day, hoping there will be relief in sight. But we can—and should—control this. Business owners and leaders can provide this relief to their teams. And if they do not soon, employees may start leaving because they are simply “worn out”.

When business leaders tell me they know they need to become more proactive in their planning and risk management, they often say something along the lines of “we agree we need to do this, but we just don’t have the time to do it.” I typically respond with an axiom a friend once told me: Your workers are out there sawing down trees—working all day as hard as they can to get those trees down. Yet, their saws have become dull. This doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard. It means they aren’t working as efficiently or effectively as they could. So, are you going to have them stop sawing and sharpen their saws? Once they do, you will likely saw down more trees over the year than they would have with dull blades. To stop and sharpen the saws, however, implies they are not “working”.

Four Initiatives to Implement to Create Thinking Time Creating Time to Think blog

How did we get to this mindset? When did reflecting on your business, your work, and taking time to improve how we work become “not working”? Business leaders, take this as a call to action to return to “thinking”. We are responsible for giving our team members breathing room to carve out time to think and improve how they perform. There are four initiatives you should implement tomorrow:

  1. Tell your team to carve out 2 hours on Friday morning to do nothing but reflect and discuss how they are performing and what could they start to improve.
  2. For your managers, have them go to lunch at least once a month with their team, and then once a month with their peers. This creates bonding and improves their awareness of enterprise issues and successes to improve your organization’s “cohesiveness.”
  3. Start asking your leadership team what the strategic issues for the business are—the “how are we doing” questions. Ask for these weekly and actually discuss them. Too often, we focus only on the tactical issues facing us.
  4. Ask your team to start providing realistic estimates—estimates that don’t assume everything must be urgent. We have become so aggressive in getting work done quickly, that we find ourselves working long, crisis hours as the norm, rather than the exception.

If you are concerned that by taking some time out of your week to “think” or getting realistic estimates will make you vulnerable to your competitors, you may be right, in the short-term. But if you do not start to provide relief to your team to start returning to normalcy, you risk losing your team members. And isn’t that a greater risk to your future?

Interested in learning more about time management in the workplace? Contact us today to schedule a training.

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