How many times have you heard leaders say they are over worked, their teams are too busy, everyone has an excessive amount of work to be completed? And when you say to them that looking at priorities and taking some stuff off the table is the only way forward, it is met with a look of incredulity that says, what planet are you from!
In a recent interview for my podcast, The Leadership Diet, my guest shared an activity he gave his organisation that in hindsight gave people permission to be adults in the workplace and saved the organisation over 200 ‘man’ hours per month, month after month, in wasted effort.
What did they do?
The leader told the organisation in a town hall meeting that his experience suggested most organisations were usually very busy and no matter how many hours per week people worked, there was always more to do done.
He was met with noises of violent agreement!
Therefore, he went on to say, he was instigating a ‘Stop It Month”.
From that point forward, for a trial of a month, everyone has the right to stop working.
He explained, everyone had the right to stop doing parts of their job that they felt was a waste of time, offered no value or could be done in a more efficient way.
He gave two caveats.
If what they were hoping to stop, had the effect of providing a less than needed service to their clients, then that right was rescinded.
Secondly, if their ‘stop it actions’, put the business in risk in any way, then again that right was rescinded.
But other than that, ‘go for your lives over the coming month’, he told everyone in the organisation.
As you can imagine he was initially met with stunned silence and then lots of questions.
Essentially this leader gave permission to the organisation to act as adults in their roles.
But as the month concluded and lots of activities were stopped, or no longer worthwhile reports were finally put to bed, the organisation calculated it was saving over 200 hours per month by stopping effort on activities that were no longer needed.
That’s 200 hours in month 1,
200 hours month 2,
The same in month 3 and every following month.
Almost 2500 hours per year.
Stopped. Just like that.
Employees treated like adults.
This was more than just a symbolic gesture to the organisation. It was the start of a transformation that saw outstanding financial results two years later.
What could you stop doing if you gave yourself or your teams permission?
Would it be worth it? I bet.