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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

You May Be Unwittingly Wasting Your Employees’ Time

A study by Stanford University found that leaders are wasting their employees’ time… most of the time, unintentionally. This study outlines a few ways leaders have inadvertently led to employees’ wasting time because their company culture favors hierarchy over collaboration.

It is more productive to have a company culture that is open and collaborative instead of one that favors hierarchy.

Comments, not Commands:

Thinking out loud is a common trait we all share. However, when you are the CEO, the random comments you make can be interpreted as a command. As an example, the study refers to one story of a CEO who noted that there weren’t any blueberry muffins at a breakfast meeting. Because of this one comment, this casual observation, their staff made sure to always have blueberry muffins at every meeting. This went on for years before the CEO finally found out why every meeting he attended had piles of blueberry muffins.

It’s not only our comments that are interpreted as commands, but our actions as well. A sales manager once took one of her clients out to breakfast. Seeing as a requirement, instead of a one-time occurrence, one of her sales people followed her lead. Every day, he took a different client out for breakfast, wasting time he could have been spending doing two meetings instead of the one.

Top Priority Busy Work:

When assignments are given by members of the executive team, they are often given high priority and accepted without question. But what happens when that task becomes antiquated? One executive assistant spent a few hours each month pulling a report and sending it to over 100 people in the company. When asked what the report was about, they didn’t know. She said she was asked by a VP to pull a report each month to send out and has been doing it ever since. For 8 years, she sent this report. A report which no one currently receiving understood what it was for, all because a VP (who no longer worked there) asked her to.

Stanford University uses the example of a boss who announced new initiatives each year before knowing the how much work it would require of his staff to complete. This would sometimes result in employees abandoning previous projects to complete the new initiative, wasting the time they spent launching the previous “new” initiative.

To Delegate, or Not To Delegate:

Another time-wasting practice the study identified regarded delegating, or lack thereof. One example used was of a CEO who wanted to personally interview every job candidate at her company. Even after the company grew to more than 500 employees, she still continued this practice. Because of this scheduling nightmare, some job candidates took other job offers, wasting the time of both those on the committees and the candidate themselves.

Choosing not to delegate can also result in a waste of your own time. One manager was stubborn about managing all of his teams leads. Every lead that came in, he qualified and assigned. Instead of delegating this task to an employee whose job it should have been to handle the leads, he spent hours wasting his own time with no reward.

As a leader, having everything catered to you without question can backfire. It is more productive to have a company culture that is open and collaborative.

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