How being brave will improve your productivity

And how great leaders embrace this bravery

Being a great worker in a team navigating a complex environment can be hard. It seems like every decision needs to be validated, every team meeting is dependent on your boss agreeing to a proposal. There is a simple tip to increase your productivity and it means you’ll have to be brave. You’ll also need a boss that will trust you. A leader who is brave as well.

Photo by Andreas Klassen on Unsplash

How it seems to be

I’ve seen this happen many times. You prepare a document and spend some time refining it with your peers. Then you forward it your boss for release. It is a document that will need to go to a few different Division or Section heads, so your boss may need to be involved.

You have worked hard to meet your deadline, one that is a few days before the true deadline, this provides some time for your boss to read, review and refine before sending out. It spends three days in their inbox before you get a scrappy review and request for changes, you rush through these changes (noting that they are not adding value) and get it back to your boss. A day later it is released.

The document is reviewed by the other teams and you move to the next phase of the job. The document you spent days preparing and refining, had arbitrary changes made in 30 minutes over four days by a single person so they could ‘add value’. Is there a better way for this to happen? Does everything need a rushed 30-minute review by your boss that takes four days to occur?

You may suffer from different types of delay, waiting on something else from your boss. You may have told them what you intended to do but still need a moment of their time to communicate the next steps. This continued delay through the ‘funnels’ of your organisation (nearly everything goes through them) reduces your productivity. There is always waste time. 

This scenario is frustrating for many, and a stress-driver for most. The thing is, it can be avoided. All it takes is bravery.

What do you mean bravery?

I am not talking about the firefighter running into the burning house kind of bravery. Nor the speaking up against poor behaviour type of bravery. I am talking about the trusting type of bravery. 

Flickr: Andy Langager

You remember the trust fall? Knowing that someone else has your best interest at heart, and believing that it will work out fine? This is the type of bravery I am talking about.

In the office, this type of bravery manifests as that of the purposeful leader or pro-active follower. They know that the others have their back and it will all work out. These people have worked out how to boost their productivity by becoming comfortable with the ‘No Window’. 

The ‘No Window’ works like this;

Hey Boss, here is that document you requested articulating the strategy for this quarter. It captures the shift in priority from the CEO and outlines the four key initiatives we identified to increase revenue. I intend to release this to the other divisions on Wednesday, you have until then to pull it back for review”.

Essentially, they have provided a set period of time for the Boss to say No — this is the ‘No Window’. If they don’t pull it back for review, the document keeps moving. At the very least, the boss remains aware that the document has progressed. 

The ‘No Window’ e-mail must capture the intent and purpose of the document succinctly. If this email content is in-line with the agreed strategy for the document and there is trust with the developing team, then the Boss does not need to read the document. 

You need to be brave, you need to be sure you have the right intent in the document, and if this is true. You can embrace the ’No Window’. 

How to embrace it as a leader

As a leader, it is easy to fall into the habit of reading and reviewing everything that is released by the team. After all, that is how you add value and remain assured that the team is producing and sending good content. Right?

You can do it differently. You can switch things around. Instead of sitting behind the desk reviewing documents. Get out of the office and ensure your team has all the right information and intent to succeed on their own.

Not only does this improve their productivity, it also improves their psychological ownership of the tasks. You get more productive workers, and they are happier for it. You do not get to refine the language in their document, you have to trust they understand your intent. If you do this, you need to be brave. 

Rather than you succeeding in releasing good product, start helping your team succeed in releasing good content. Your methods switch to coaching/helping them through the document development rather than refining it at the end.

You need to be comfortable, that if you adopt this approach, the team will get the message right and your review would only cater for minor tweaks. This takes bravery. Are you ready to be a brave leader?

It will be scary, and your team may make some mistakes, but it is worth it. Your team will be full of energy and taking ownership. These mistakes will be seen as opportunities for improvement, not inadequacies in their work. You can shift the culture of your team just by changing your focus and letting your team show what they can do. 

So, talk to your team about the No Window. Let them know that you will be spending more time with them in the development and not the review phases. Be the leader who actually gets out of the team’s way, let them thrive. 

If you are new to leadership, you may want to read about the first three things you should do when you are promoted into that role.

Learn more about me on my website. I am a writer with a passion for leadership, growth and personal development. I try and create a spark, a little idea that nests inside and kindles your aspirations.

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