Leaders: Are you focused on the wrong budget? Time vs. Money

Time vs. Money

The huge amounts of energy applied to budgets, pro-formas, projections, expenses, profit margins, etc. is certainly responsible and prudent in any business.  Financial resource contributes to keeping a company healthy, vibrant, and thriving.  Almost every decision that is evaluated in a responsible organization comes down to investment/return, what will it cost us and what can we expect from applying our financial resource to that specific initiative or tool?  Then a triage of what is most critical.

In business there are two silos of resource which are equally important, financial resource and human resource.  The latter being time and energy applied and the subsequent return realized from the investment of that time, yet when evaluated, the greatest financial loss in any organization is not money, it’s time.  You can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t buy back lost time with any amount of money.  What if time was measured at the same level of intensity as money?

In my consulting with leaders over the years that are responsible for leading a company and recruiting more human resource to the team, I have maintained a critical focus around time analysis.  The constant analysis of where human resource is focused delivering a return, and where it is not.

I stand firm in my tracks that, “The Growth of  your Business is Inside your Business, not Outside your Business.”  The search for the magic pill of productivity will, well, keep you on a constant search, but when you step back and take the time to analyze your own business, therein lies the magic pill and solutions.  Let’s take a look at one of the scenarios you may experience.

  1.  The meeting that ends accomplishing one thing, another scheduled meeting  to discuss what wasn’t completed in the prior meeting.

Sound familiar?  How many times do you schedule and or attend a meeting and after it concludes you think, “What did we really accomplish except for scheduling another meeting?”

Your Scarcest Resource -- Time vs. MoneyIn the attached chart from the May Issue of Harvard Business Review, “Your Scarcest Resource:  Time is money, but few organizations treat it that way”, written by Michael Mankins, Chris Brahm, and Gregory Caimi you can see the huge drain of resource meetings can have on an organization.

Michael, Chris, and Gregory write, “A single meeting at the top can consume significant organizational time and money.  At one company we worked with recently, the senior leadership team reviewed performance across the business in weekly meetings that directly consumed 7,000 person hours a year.  In anticipation of those meetings, each meeting member met with his or her unit-consuming an additional 20,000 hours a year.  The units, in turn, looked to their teams to generate and cross-check critical information, usually in meetings, which ate up another 63,000 hours a year.  Preparatory meetings consumed a further 210,000 hours, bringing the total time accounted for by weekly meetings to 300,000 hours a year which doesn’t even include data collection and related work time”

These huge numbers may not resonate for your specific organization, but can you see the relativity?  How are you budgeting your most valuable resource?   How much money is your company losing in non-productive meetings?  By the way, time management is not the answer.  Time is not manageable, only the choices we make with our time are manageable.

 Here are some strategies to focus on for your next upcoming meeting:

  1. Know what you are looking to accomplish in the meeting.
  2. Prior to the meeting communicate to all attendees what the focus of the meeting will be, the specific input/participation you will expect, and what you expect to accomplish.
  3. At the beginning of the meeting, declare your expectations just as you did when you invited the attendees to the meeting.  You must lead with clarity and purpose.
  4. Ask the group if they are committed to support in this process.
  5. Have a time limit for the meeting.
  6. Don’t allow usage of a cell phone in the room except for the purposes of checking a schedule if needed.
  7. Allow open and honest feedback from all participants.  Create a safe environment.  Too many times brilliance is shut down due to fear of judgment and not allowed to contribute to the process.
  8. How you end the meeting is how the meeting will be measured:
    1. Define action steps, commitments and deadlines of delivery from what is discussed in the meeting and contributes to your objective.
    2. Have each individual declare their commitment, personal responsibility, and by when/deadline they will deliver back on their action step/contribution.
    3. Schedule a future meeting date that will include measurement of prior commitments and the next company objective you are focused on carrying forward.

Wait a minute Jon, you have just given framework to have a meeting that sets up the next meeting.  Yes I have, what I have outlined above will move you much further along and quicker into completion as you go from meeting to meeting and initiative to initiative.

Here are some guiding principles to support you:

  1. Formalize your processes.
  2. Encourage input.
  3. Have a context of commitment.
  4. Measure.
  5. Constantly be moving forward instead of chewing up time being stagnant in incompletions.

Sharpen your choreography, facilitation, and measurement of action in every meeting that takes place and recapture  the most valuable resource you continue to lose, time.

Ready to focus on Time vs. Money? Start Here

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