Want to save time? Focus on the people.


Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it? As busy people, we sometimes think we need to avoid people as much as possible in the workplace; make conversations as short as possible; end meetings as quickly as possible; communicate using text and email as much as possible.

Well, here’s a perspective you may not have considered before there are really just two types of time management challenges: people and process.

Our processes for time management purposes are how we handle things such as email, phones, interruptions, procrastination and meetings. Yes, people are involved but these are essentially processes which, when managed well can help us maximize our efficiency and optimize our utilization of human resources to achieve organizational results, if we supervise the work of others.

But lets focus a couple of minutes in this brief article on the people side of the coin. If we invest time building effective relationships with people at work we tend to save time. Have you noticed that? I don’t mean we have to try and be best friends with everyone at work. I’m not suggesting you waste time chatting about trivia and take long lunches to build rapport. What I am proposing is that if you have effective relationships at work, you will find there’s an enhanced speed at which you get things done. Pause and think about one of your most effective work relationships and one of your most ineffective work relationships. Now consider within which of those two relationships you get the most work done and done well. I’m sure you’ll find its the one where the relationship is strongest. Why is that?

The glue that bonds people together is trust, which is really character plus competence.Character is who you are. Competence is what you do. If you’re a person of high character and high competence, people will trust you. Likewise, if the person you’re dealing with is also a person of high character and high competence, you tend to trust them. As Stephen M.R. Covey said in his book of the same name, there is a speed of trust.

Focus for a moment on an ineffective work relationship — a relationship you need to improve because you need to work better together to get organizational results. What’s my top tip for time management in this situation? Focus on your character and your competence. You cannot change other people — the best we can do is influence them. Maybe you need to clear the air with them. Maybe you need to apologize, (humility being the opposite of ego). Maybe you need to ask for a fresh start. All three of these suggestions are character-based choices. If they’re genuine and you follow-through with your competence; over time (forgive the pun), you will notice the work relationship will improve and you’ll get more done (through and with this person), than you ever thought was possible. Trust me.

If you’d like a collection of practical, real-world tips for managing your processes (email, phones, interruptions, procrastination and meetings), email hello@newleaf-ca.com or call 661-288-1004 and we’d be glad to send you a useful checklist for free.

Newleaf Training and Development help people and organizations better manage time.

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