A proven system for ensuring that your business is productive--not just busy!
Coauthored by the president and CEO of the prestigious international consulting firm Psychological Associates, Why Can't We Get Anything Done Around Here? Shows business leaders how to get bottom-line results with new methods for designing and implementing business strategies. These proven methods will help any business:
- Zero in on tasks essential to company success and assign them to the right people
- Motivate employees to achieve and maintain crisis-level performance without crisislevel stress and burnout
- Match tasks with technical, interpersonal, and decision-making skills
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About the Author
Robert E. Lefton is cofounder, president, and co-CEO of Psychological Associates, a leading U.S. management and organizational consultancy servicing many Fortune 500 companies. He lives in St. Louis.
Jerome T. Loeb is former Chairman of the Board of The May Department Stores Co. He is currently adjunct professor of marketing at the Olin School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis. He lives in St. Louis.
Read an Excerpt
WHY CAN'T WE GET ANYTHING DONE AROUND HERE?
The Smart Manager's Guide to Executing the Work That Delivers Results
By R. Lefton, Jerome Loeb
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2004Psychological Associates, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ARE YOU GETTING THE RIGHT THINGS DONE?
Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done.
James Ling, Business Executive
It's the end of another busy day at the office. As you do every day, you have tried to practice effective management skills. You plan, you listen, you prioritize, you schedule, you delegate. You work hard to set a good example. You may even be open with people and believe in empowerment. In short, you employ a management style that is supposed to motivate people effectively.
Yet you are often frustrated and disappointed by the results. You have the nagging feeling that your efforts don't make a big enough difference where it really counts—contributing to the bottom-line performance and success of your company. More specifically, one or more of the following conveys how you feel:
Although my people are busy at their jobs, my department's output doesn't improve much from year to year.
I have worked on developing an enlightened management style. It is supposed to instill a "go get 'em" attitude in people. Yet, when the productivity of my department is tallied up, somehow it's often less than the departments run by my "less enlightened" colleagues.
Try as I might to get my people to perform when I need them, it seems that when a really important task needs to be done, I have to do it myself.
Certain projects seem to hang around forever. Frankly, some days I wish that I could wipe the slate clean and start fresh either with different work to be done or new people.
Although I am supposedly in charge of my direct reports, I often feel as if I am on the outside of my department looking in at a process over which I have little control.
These statements all have something in common. They all reveal an underlying impression that people are not getting the right things done. This is a valid concern. After all, "getting the right things done" is the measure of performance in an organization. In essence, it is a definition of performance itself.
GETTING BACK TO BASICS
Ironically, managers frequently do not even think of this concern as they go about dealing with the workload in front of them. While caught up in the minute- by-minute decisions they have to make all day, they may fail to step back and ask themselves some basic questions:
What tasks are people working on and why?
Are we spending more time working on the wrong tasks and less time on the ones that count?
And even if people are working on the tasks that count, do the people and the tasks match (the principal idea that we will address in Chapter 3)?
This is very simple stuff. However, not only can it be difficult to make sure that your organization has good answers to these questions, many leaders also spend days, months, and even years not asking them. A sort of laissez- faire attitude creeps in: "We do what we do because that's what we do, and that's how we do it!"
Nevertheless, these questions are important, and managers should be asking them all the time. Every effective high-performance leader of a department, a division, or an entire organization spends significant time making certain that he is getting the right things done.
Furthermore, this skill is not a by-product of some other desirable attributes of an effective leader. A leader doesn't get things done simply because she is good with people, charismatic, persuasive, or has an appealing personality, although these traits are real pluses for any leader. Instead, this is a fundamental characteristic of effective leaders, cultivated as a skill all its own. It is the ability (1) to size up all the things her organization could be doing and deciding what it should be doing and (2) taking the shoulds and getting them done!
A METHODICAL APPROACH TO RESULTS
You can learn to be a results-oriented person. This book gives you a clear and practical way to get the right things done as often as possible, one of the most important jobs you face as a manager. Specifically, it will do the following:
1. Provide you with a simple, systematic method to apply to every decision you make about what gets done and—usually overlooked— who does it as the key to better productivity and high performance.
Much is written today about the high level of stress and burnout in the work environment. Obviously, people are busy doing something. At the same time, when asked to respond anonymously about how they spend their time on the job, employees admit that much of what they do is "busy work," not crucial to the success of the company. Indeed, some estimate that they are achieving only 40 to 60 percent of their potential. As many as 7 of 10 employees say that they could be significantly more effective at what they do on the job. And they want to be more effective!
Therefore, despite the notion that today's downsized, no-nonsense workplace is supposedly stripped to the bone, people are still not being asked to perform at full capability. And this is a leadership problem. Not that managers don't try to crack the whip or offer incentives to direct reports so that they will go faster, waste less time, and take shorter breaks to accomplish more. However, our interest is in raising the percentage of work people do on the job that actually contributes to getting things done.
If your employees are only working at about half their potential, just imagine what it would mean if you could tap into that reserve and raise it by as little as 10 percent. If you can think logically, you can apply our systematic approach. You can focus on the tasks that are essential to your company's success and assign them to the right people.
2. Help you analyze problems that can keep managers from getting the right things done.
All of us are creatures of habit. As you will see, a lot of the unnecessary or incorrectly assigned "work" that goes on in organizations year after year is the result of unexamined assumptions and deeply ingrained habits.
This part of the book will identify and explain the mistakes that are made over and over when assigning work. Sometimes such mistakes are the result of not analyzing the situation correctly. In other cases they are the result of not thinking at all about certain important factors that should go into deciding who is right or wrong for a task. In fact, entire corporate cultures have been built on fundamentally unsound thinking about what work should be done and who should be doing it.
As you read about common problems that you can relate to your own managerial role, you will see how to apply the ideas presented here to real workplace circumstances and gain insights that you can apply immediately.
3. Show you how to go beyond managerial style and apply this effective tool for focusing on performance that will work for your personality and the particular managerial style you employ.
There is no question that cultivating an effective managerial style is essential for being a leader. However, your managerial style is not the focus of this book. While we advocate a particular leadership style that is the most effective for motivating employees, you can apply the principles presented here whatever your present style is.
4. Demonstrate how you can get your people to perform effectively, closer to the way people perform in a crisis, but without the stress and burnout associated with a crisis.
Excerpted from WHY CAN'T WE GET ANYTHING DONE AROUND HERE? by R. Lefton. Copyright © 2004 by Psychological Associates, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 ARE YOU GETTING THE RIGHT THINGS DONE?
CHAPTER 2 GOING BEYOND STYLE
CHAPTER 3 THE TASK MANAGEMENT MODEL
CHAPTER 4 FIVE COMMON MANAGEMENT ERRORS THAT KEEP YOU FROM GETTING THINGS
CHAPTER 5 MANAGING IN A CRISIS MODE—WITHOUT THE CRISIS!
CHAPTER 6 BACK IN STYLE AGAIN
CHAPTER 7 CHECKLIST FOR TOMORROW
CHAPTER 8 WORKING IN FRONT OF A MIRROR
DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS AT THE GETTING THINGS DONE WORKSHOP