Tag Archives: setting expectations

I didn’t have time

I didn't have time

 

 

How often do your team tell you “I didn’t have time to do that”?

Now more so than ever, with extra demands on your team with additional safety procedures, you’ll probably hear “I didn’t have time”

Irrespective of Covid precautions, how often have you asked someone to complete a task only to discover some time later that it’s not been done because they tell you “I didn’t have time”?

I’m sure it’s happened to you, and I’m certain your managers and supervisors hear this ‘excuse’ all too frequently.

And no doubt at some point you’ve been the one saying “I didn’t have time”!

In fact, it’s one of the biggest barriers I come across when I’m helping businesses make improvements either in their customer service culture or with management development; i.e. when people believe they don’t have enough time to devote to the actions they know they need to take.

It can be very frustrating for anyone when they know what’s expected but they feel under pressure to do the task to standard. And when they feel under pressure one of four things can happen:

  • They simply don’t do the task in hand
  • They do it, but cut corners in that task or try to make time by cutting corners elsewhere, either way resulting in silly mistakes or not completing either task to standard
  • They drop another task to make time
  • They complete the task but only by having to put in extra time, which puts them under duress

In last week’s blog I shared some tips on helping people get going on overwhelming tasks, but what if it’s simply routine recurring tasks which aren’t getting done?

If you or your duty managers are hearing “I didn’t have time” from any of your team it’s quite possible that the person doesn’t see the value of the task in hand, in which case it’s important you highlight why it’s important.

However here are 5 other considerations to help you see that the task gets done:

1. Conflicting priorities

Assuming people in your team now have additional duties since returning to work, what tasks have you dropped to make way? People who have been doing the same job for years, will no doubt have a set routine and tasks they’ve always carried out, and unless they are clear which of these are now a lower priority, they’ll very likely feel the need to carry on with these.

If these are tasks in which they’ve always taken a pride in doing well, these may be things it’s difficult to drop.  Telling them not to bother with It any more can give the impression these tasks weren’t valued, or the standards they’ve maintained aren’t appreciated. So tread carefully.

If team members report to different managers on different shifts, ensure each and every manager is placing the same level of importance on each task.

2. Reactive tasks, distractions or interruptions

All too often important tasks can take a back seat due to the number of re-active tasks people have to deal with.

As with the overwhelming tasks discussed last week, https://www.naturallyloyal.com/how-to-beat-overwhelm/ help team members schedule time for important tasks, which might mean that others in the team have to be the ones dealing with the reactive tasks at that time.

Distractions can of course come in the form of time wasting activities such as extended breaks, too much socialising, or running errands for people that have nothing to do with their responsibilities, in which case it may be necessary to go back to the importance of the task or review conflicting priorities.

3. Takes too long

If you believe there should be ample time to complete all their tasks, it’s worth analysing how people approach their tasks and if any (or all) are taking longer than they should.

Are they approaching the task in a round about way? If so maybe some retraining or guidance is needed. Or their expectation is for perfection, above and beyond what is really necessary. Are they disorganised so have to keep to-ing and fro-ing to gather the tools or resources they need for the task?

4. Poor systems or equipment

Tasks can take longer than they should (or simply be put off indefinitely) if people have tools or resources that aren’t up to the task. (see last month’s post on Spotting Problems

5. Bottle necks

If your team members are dependent on others – colleagues, suppliers or customers – are these causing bottlenecks in the process?

For example, if someone can’t finish a task until a supplier has delivered one of the tools or resources for the task, and this doesn’t arrive until minutes before the end of their shift, that might leave the task incomplete when they leave. So the issue here is more to do with when orders are placed or delivery times with the supplier.

Take action

If you only do one thing. Next time someone tells you they have not had time, ask questions to analyse if it’s down to one of the above reasons.

Related video: I didn’t have time on YouTube


Setting Expectations

When your team start returning to work you’ll need to be setting expectations. The chances are some of the responsibilities and priorities will change. Determine what needs doing, who is best placed to do it and then set your expectations.

This is something we discussed on last week’s Lessons in Leadership programme and here is my 7 step guide to help you ensure nothing gets missed or taken for granted.

It’s easy to assume people know what to do. But I'm sure you will have had that frustration of discovering after a task should have been completed that it's not been done to your satisfaction, or simply not been done at all.

A little time spent up front will avoid this. 

Setting expectations might not need much time at each of these stages, but at least consider them before leaving team members just to get on with the task how they see fit.

1. What tasks ~ Make a shopping list everything that needs doing:

  • What new practices and procedures are in place
  • What new or amended offerings or service are you now providing that require new ways of working
  • What tasks normally performed by people who are still on furlough need to be covered by someone else
  • Which task which would have been routine pre lockdown are no longer a priority

2. Who ~ Select the best person for the task

  • Not necessarily the one with the best skills or the most time. There may be good reason for allocating some tasks to a less than perfect candidate to develop their skills in areas where they are weak
  • Often what people lack in experience and skill, they may more than make up for in potential and motivation

3. Why

  • Set a clear and simple objective for the task. It should build confidence, develop and stretch, not break the person or be considered an ‘offload’
  • Discuss the assignment and, importantly, how the task fits into the big picture, why it’s important for the business
  • Explain why you’ve chosen the person for the task

4. How

  • Check for understanding and ask for ideas
  • Provide guidance - not ‘how to’ do the task - but all the necessary facts, possible approaches, expected results

5. Where and when

  • Make a ‘contract’ establishing resources available, how often you will follow-up, how performance will be measured
  • Establish controls - budget, deadline, when and how any review will take place

6. Let them get on with it

  • Allocate, then trust them to get on with it. Make yourself available, particularly at critical times, but let them decide whether, and whenever, they need your help and guidance
  • Let everyone know who is responsible for what tasks so there is no stepping on toes, or tasks that fall through the cracks

7. Evaluate and feedback

  • Encourage self-evaluation – they’ll normally be able to work out for themselves how they’ve done
  • Concentrate on:
  • What worked well (giving praise for a job done well)
  • What they’d do differently (identify lessons learned not only for the person but for yourself too!)

We also discussed the longer term goal, but more on that next week.

Take action on setting expectations

If you only do one thing: make a plan of who is best suited to which task.

Related article:  https://www.naturallyloyal.com/old-habits/

Related video: https://youtu.be/546C4nilsxc



The accepted norm

The way it is jared-rice

I sometimes see managers getting very frustrated that people in their team aren’t contributing as much as they’d like.

They know, or at least suspect, they are capable of more, but for some reason some people are just not taking responsibility for making decisions or getting things done.

Ask how they see their role?  They may see things differently.  If you (or maybe your predecessor) have always done the thinking for them, maybe that’s accepted as the way it works.

Do they even recognise that you’d like more from them, and if so what?

When we find ourselves getting frustrated that people are not handling things the way we’d like, it’s time to reflect on how well we’ve explained our expectations, and the training and support we’ve given to help them realise these expectations.

Do they know what ‘great’ looks like so they have something against which to benchmark their performance?

Do they have all the tools, resources and enough time to meet your expectations?

Have we given feedback on how they’re doing and comparing it to their understanding or perception of what’s needed?

Are they kept up to date? Quite apart from the fact no one wants to look uninformed, especially in front of colleagues or customers, unless they know ‘what’s happening where’, it will always be difficult for your team members to make considered decisions.

But probably the most important question to ask is: are we giving them the freedom, confidence and autonomy to do what they’re capable of doing and to fully contribute.

Want to know what the next step is….?