I am obsessed with productively. I started using the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology back in 2008 when my last company Trulia was growing like gang busters and my personal overwhelm was at a breaking point. It was a big help. In fact, it was a life saver. Once I got my own work flow under control and achieved a state of “stress free productivity” I started thinking about how I could help my team do the same. Everyone on the team was working the 50-70 hours work weeks typical of a fast growing start-up and I could see it wasn’t sustainable or scalable. So I started instituting quarterly time-logs where everyone individually tracked everything they did for a week in 15 minute increments using an always-open spreadsheet. I prefaced this exercise to the team by explaining that we were trying to make sure we were using their time effectively as well as find opportunities to automate, delegate or eliminate redundant tasks so they weren’t mired in minutia. Anyone that has ever working with me knows I am a hands-off leader. I am here to help you, not babysit you. I simply don’t have time or patience to hire people I feel like I need to stand over, so my team knew my intentions were truly to help them work smarter, not harder. Does your team have the same belief in you? I also made sure to create a dead simple time-log worksheet to make it easy for them to log activity with minimal burden while making it easy for me to aggregate logs across the team quickly and easily for analysis. Here is a link to download my Excel template populated with real data from an Account Manager on my old team to demonstrate how it works when done. As you can see from the spreadsheet, we broke down his activity into three buckets to better understand how to optimize his time in his role:
- His six buckets of responsibilities
- Proactive vs. reactive activities
- Pre-sale vs. post-sale activities
Our Account Manager was part of the Sales Operations team, which was responsible for supporting the sales team (internal client support) and paying customers (external client support). When we took the time-logs of everyone on the sales operations team we made some pretty startling conclusions:
Out of all of this information and analysis we derived a plan to eliminate, delegate or automate whenever and wherever possible (not included). We created specialized roles around reactive work and proactive work, which allowed reactive people to focus on rapid customer response and proactive people to focus on thinking one step ahead to delight the customer. Most importantly, we built a customer satisfaction team that could support both internal and external clients in a repeatable, scalable way. The end result? 95%+ satisfaction rating from both groups of customers the following quarter and four consecutive quarters in a row! Now that’s a happy ending!
Go ahead and download my Excel template and try the time-audit yourself and find out just how proactive you are. I guarantee you will be surprised how much room for improvement you find.