The West Wing

Time is something that we all have exactly the same amount of as each other and yet some people seem to do so much more with their allotted amount than others.  One of the questions that I am asked the most is how to make more time?  Well, the simple answer is that you can’t.  But, what you can do is save time: make better use of the time that you have.

Most things will take as long as you allow them to.  So, an easy way of saving time is to give everything you do a set amount of time: making it less than you normally might.

One of the biggest users of time are meetings.  Endless meetings, meetings to discuss meetings, meetings because that is what you are suppose to do.

I firmly believe that most meetings could be at least 25% shorter, maybe 50%, and that some meetings need not happen at all.  I will explain my rationale.

Most meetings are given a set time: 30 minutes, an hour, maybe two, maybe even all day.  Then an agenda is worked out to fill the time decided on.  A meeting might be scheduled for 2 hours every week and so it is filled up with stuff to take two hours.  But what if there are only 20 minutes of material to cover?

So, how about trying this?  Decide what needs to be covered in a meeting and however long that requirement is, that is the length of the meeting: whether it be 20 minutes or one hour and thirty-five minutes.  Trust me, no one will complain about having shorter meetings if it means they get something else done.

Another major loss of time in meetings is bad chairmanship; people getting way off the subject in hand and being allowed to waffle.  Every point on the agenda should have a fixed amount of time and then that time stuck to. 

Practise just these two things and I promise you will save hours of time.

I titled this blog ‘The West Wing’ I don’t know if you have ever watched the programme but if you have you will have noticed that some of the President’s meetings are just a few minutes long.  When what needs to be said has been said the meeting is over and it’s on to the next one.  Now before you say “It’s only a TV show” do you really think a President runs the US without having such meetings?

The wheels come off!

A good friend of mine wanted a new head torch for her cycle helmet and so popped along to the local branch of Moore’s Cycles; she had shopped there before.

Unfortunately, they were just closing but the person on the door was really helpful, gave her a couple of ideas, and suggested that she call in the morning just to confirm that they had them in stock, so she didn’t waste her time coming to the store only to find they were out of stock.

The next day she called and asked the person who answered what head torches they had in the shop. It wasn’t the same person who had been so helpful the evening before – and what a difference.

This person had no interest in advising on head torches, let alone checking which ones they might have in stock. Instead they suggested checking on their website and then calling them back to see if they held the one she wanted.

Being somewhat taken aback she hung up and went online. It didn’t take long on the Moore’s website to pick the one that best suited her. But then the obvious thing happened. She checked the price from other suppliers. And guess what?! She could buy exactly the same head torch somewhere else but for 25% less. Moore’s Cycles had lost a sale and, more importantly, possibly a long-term customer.

This was all because of two very different members of staff and I wonder just how much other business this unhelpful member of staff is costing Moore’s.

If you have staff, any staff, that have customer contact, do you know how they portray, not only your company, but also themselves? If not, you could have staff, just like Moore’s, that are costing you a great deal of money.