Tuesday, January 12, 2010

3E's to keep it simple at work

Whether you work in a small non-profit or a large complex corporation most organizations can benefit from increasing simplicity. Keep in mind, simplicity is not equal to slow, boring or easy. Most leaders want to find ways to simplify their processes and day-to-day tasks so they can do more, faster, better and cheaper. If you are seeking to simplify your organization or work, try my 3E philosophy:

Excellence. Work within your team and across the organization to identify improvement opportunities. Be sure the improvements align with the mission, vision and goals of your organization. Work with others to deliver the critical services and complete assignments on time and within budget. Excellence also involves looking for ways to innovate. Create and deliver innovative solutions to old problems. Look for alignments. Seek to eliminate duplicative processes. Try to avoid doing things the same way every time. Templates are typically the the enemy of innovation. Ask good questions about why things are done a certain way. Anthony Jay puts it this way, "The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions."

Efficiency. Learn to manage your time wisely. What deadlines are looming? Who can help? What is expected? Does someone need what you have to get their job done? Do you need what someone else has to get your job done? Have you communicated to customers, peers and your boss in a timely manner? Honest, open vertical and lateral communication is critical to completing tasks efficiently. Use the ideas, thoughts and talents of everyone on your team to solve problems, complete tasks and increase efficiencies. Even if you are assigned to lead a task, you need to use the talents of others to help you get your work done in a timmely manner. Talk about projects and successes in terms of "we", rather than "I." My favorite cliche' from old school management? Teamwork makes the dream work!

Encouragement. Be sure to take the time to verbally compliment and encourage others within your team or in another area of your organization. Whether you are the boss or a team member, someone needs to hear a sincere "thank you" or "good job" for their efforts. Maintain and build trust with your team and your boss, how? Avoid being defensive and try to understand where the other person is coming from even if you don't enjoy their behavior or your interactions with them. You speak volumes about yourself based on how you handle questions about your work or mistakes you've made. Take the focus off of yourself and encourage someone else.

Finally simplicity and peace at work is up to you. Your attitude and outlook always matters. The great Zig Ziglar reminds us,"The most influential person who will talk to you all day is you, so you should be very careful what you say to you!" Keep it positive. Keep it creative. Keep it moving. Then you can, keep it simple.