Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is That the Highest Priority?

As a business owner, I need to know what my staff is doing on a daily basis. Now, don't get me wrong. I trust them and know they're working hard. And I truly have no interest in being a micro-manager. But, there are times when certain tasks must take precedence over others. And if I have not properly communicated this to my staff, then we're operating under different assumptions about what is important. And that's how mistakes happen.

That's why approximately 6 months ago, I implemented a new system in the office. Here's how it works. Every morning, I receive an email from each staff member with a list of projects they will be working on that day. The list looks something like this:

  1. Highest priority...first thing to work on
  2. Medium priority
  3. Lowest priority
  4. Only if I finish #1, 2 and 3, will I consider this task!

Once I review the list, I take the opportunity to talk with each person about the day ahead. This two-way communication also gives me the chance to re-prioritize tasks on their lists if need be. {This hasn't happened often, but it has happened.}

This task may seem elementary and even a little silly but there really is a good reason for the exercise. Actually, two good reasons. The first is reassurance each morning that the highest priorities for both businesses are being met. And that there won't be any surprises when I think a task is being worked on {only to discover it's been given low-priority status}. I don't like surprises and this helps eliminate them.

The second reason for this exercise is to keep my staff {and myself!} on-task, motivated and accountable. This usually isn't an issue when we're swamped and trying to survive! But, it does become an issue when we're slow and not driven by an event {or two, or three!}. It helps all of us use our time wisely and efficiently.

I really like what this system has done for us. Not only has communication improved, but I think it's empowered each person to fully embrace their position in the company and understand how vital their role is to our success. And frankly, I think there is no better employee than an empowered one!



Brandi Reiland | Soiree said...

Love this idea, Jodi. As a business owner with in-office/ part time staff plus remote staff, it's become more and more crucial for us to implement ways for everyone to be involved and work efficiently. Thanks for sharing- I've been looking for some ideas of how to better handle our situation!

Jodi said...

Thanks, Brandi. I'm in the exact same staffing situation as you and that's why this system works so well. Let me know how it works for your team!