Too much to do? Too little time? Here’s how to identify some of those tasks that might be streamlined out of existence.
Evaluate tasks that are delegated to you or that you assign to others over the next few months. Keep a journal of observations and questions. What really matters? What looks like busy work?
Tune in to your frustrated self-talk: “Why am I doing this? Nobody looks at this!” Follow through on those internal comments and ask around. What is the reason for doing the job in question? Who actually does look at the information that you are pulling together and in what detail?
Listen to the comments and frustrations of colleagues with a questioning attitude as well as a sympathetic ear & shoulder.
Invite new employees to question activities that seem unnecessary or procedures that seem more complicated than necessary. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will see more clearly what experienced ones take for granted.
Carry out a paper and process audit. Trace the routes for certain reports, forms and decisions. How often is each document generated? How long does it take to compile? Is this information later reworked into a different form? Who sees it, reads it or approves it? Why do we create it? How is it useful to the organization? Are there wasted steps in its creation or approval? Collect specific data and write it down.
Note any duplication of efforts – rewriting of reports for the next level of management, duplicate filing of information, unnecessary multiple copies, separate systems tracking the same information, old systems maintained alongside new systems well past a normal period of caution.
Review equipment & software manuals. Scan the table of contents and index looking for shortcuts that are already built into your systems that no one is using.
Reflect on holiday adjustments that are made to work loads and work patterns. Could some of the approaches used during periods of short staffing be extended through the entire year?
Quiz employees in other branch offices of your organization about their streamlining efforts. What have they stopped doing recently and with what results?
Swap streamlining ideas and approaches with others in totally unrelated businesses. You never know when an idea from another field can be adapted to yours.
© Patricia Katz MCE CHRP of Optimus Consulting is a speaker, author and consultant who helps individuals and organizations restore the rhythm of renewal to work and life. To bring Patricia’s expertise to your organization, contact her at www.patkatz.com or toll free at (877) 728-5289.