Who Has Control Of Your Time?

Time to go homeDo you have control of your time… if not who has?

Rebecca was a strong minded individual, definite about what she wanted. She was never one to hold back on her point of view. She was a caring person who listened and spoke in equal measure and was respected for being calm and assured. Such authority and assurance was soon noted and Rebecca found she was repeatedly promoted until she hit the heady heights of the senior management team.

Every Monday morning the team were expected to come in early and take part in the Monday morning meeting to look ahead at the week’s opportunities and problems. Rebecca had to get up extra early to make these meetings and organise special child care arrangements as she couldn’t take her children to school as she would normally do.

The meetings seemed to have a consistent pattern and being a newcomer to the team Rebecca sat back respectfully and observed and participated when appropriate. The boss would stand up at the start of the meeting give a 20 minute monologue. He  would then invite participation from everyone. The meeting would ramble on directionless, taking as many detours as the number of people who spoke. Some two hours later, with nothing decided, everyone would shuffle off to their departments to start their morning’s work, muttering and complaining under their breath, that the last two hours had been a thorough waste of time.

At the next meeting after the boss’ monologue Rebecca stood up and calmly asked her boss. “Brian, I have been to three meetings now and I am not sure what these meetings are trying to achieve. I really want to contribute in a meaningful  way and use the time most productively. I feel I can’t at the moment so can you set some objectives for these meetings so I do feel it is a good use of my time?” And could we put a time limit to it so it’s not so open ended? Brian sat back stunned, as if in shock. The rest of the management team waited for Brian’s reply and secretly all thought that this had been one of the finest career limiting speeches they had ever witnessed. To his everlasting credit Brian hauled himself up to his full height and slowly and deliberately thanked Rebecca for her honesty and forthrightness. The meetings had drifted, he admitted, from their original purpose and he carefully crafted three objectives for the meeting. The meeting then proceeded to take an hour to complete.

That wasn’t the end of Rebecca’s story. If any of the senior managers went to a meeting they would ask, “I’d like to fully participate but don’t think I can unless we have specific objectives. What are they?” And when they ran their own meetings they made sure they had objectives. Soon it became a part of the culture of that organisation to ask this question at every meeting. Consequently meetings had greater focus, were more satisfying, decision based and took less time. The biggest pay off, however, was that the number of meetings decreased by a third in that company.

Rebecca continued at the company her value and respect enhanced.

What are you going to do to get back control of your time?

photo credit: Alan Cleaver via photopin cc

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