How to Get Work Done

By Risa Fogel

This is the time of year that we think about resolutions, both personal and professional. It’s also a time to think about the workplace advice we hear about positioning ourselves for business success in 2014, such as create and communicate high-impact goals; plan, plan, and plan some more; and execute tasks and projects in an efficient and timely manner. This is good and well-intended work advice, but let’s face it, you can do all of these things and still not accomplish what you set out to accomplish. Despite the best of intentions, the reality of an average business day has your team facing seemingly endless meetings, multiple workplace interruptions, and changing and often-competing demands. How do you provide leadership and help your workers balance the reality of the present-day office with the need to get their work accomplished?

Here’s my time-tested managerial advice on meetings, collaboration and setting goals.

Time is the one thing we don’t get more of, and you need to create an environment where people use their time effectively, which is likely not sitting in mind-numbing meetings. This year, schedule meetings only when they’re necessary. Ensure that each meeting has an agenda and a purpose, and the purpose is focused on advancing business goals. Make sure you have the right people in attendance and that they understand what will be accomplished in the meeting. Most importantly, develop these meeting habits across your team. Remember: in high-pressure organizations the ability to quickly communicate and drive decision-making is a key factor in being viewed as a business leader.

Collaboration is the buzzword of the decade and today’s workplace is changing to encourage maximum teamwork. The only problem is that in many situations collaboration means more interruptions, which means less efficiency. The open floor plan being adopted in many offices looks good on paper, but does creativity happen in a forced team environment? As a leader, it is important to recognize that people work differently and you need to support flexible arrangements for certain employees. Working remotely or having “no collaboration” days in which people are given an opportunity to concentrate and work uninterrupted need to be options. Also, understand which team members are introverts who require extra-quiet time, as well as which team members are extroverts and may also need extra-quiet time but don’t possess the self-knowledge to recognize it in themselves.

The need to do less with more is a mantra that we live with each day. As you set goals for 2014, remember there are likely fewer people on your team to achieve the work. Keep the goals reasonable and realistic, and provide the necessary managerial guidance to balance multiple competing demands. Also, listen to your team if they question what has been outlined for the year. They want to follow you and help you accomplish great things, but they also know that quality may suffer if their attention is spread across too many initiatives.

Each January is a fresh start. We are invigorated and focused on what we want to accomplish in the New Year. As you develop your business strategy, remember that you need to establish an environment where your team can succeed. Create a workplace where meetings have meaning, collaboration coexists with accomplishing work, and business goals are clearly defined and achievable. Give how work gets done the same focus as what work will get done–and you might be surprised at what your team can accomplish.

About the Author

Risa Fogel is a senior managing director at Cushman & Wakefield where she is responsible for global business solutions. She has led global transformation efforts and is experienced in working with public, private and governmental organizations. Fogel is a former president and trustee for the New Jersey Chapter of the Society for Information Management.

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