In my role as a business coach and advisor, I often ask my clients if they are “working in the right time zone.” The reactions and responses are sometimes priceless, though many are puzzled by the question. Let’s explore how the use of a leader’s time in the context of “time zones” can impact the company’s success!
1. The concept of a “time zone focus” is directly related to job duties
Within most companies, there is a natural division of labor and “time zone focus” across the organization. As example . . . .
· THE NOW (0-30 days) --- Transactional activities; the focus of Staff and Supervisors
· THE NEAR TERM (30 – 90 days) --- Operations, efficiency, improvements, preparation, training; the focus of Managers
· THE LONGER TERM (90 – 180 days) --- Idea generation, accountability, customer engagement, systems design; the focus of Directors and VPs
· THE FUTURE (180+ days) --- Strategy, community engagement, future plans, investments, capital needs, collaborations; the focus of the CEO and Board
The concept of “time zones” does not suggest exactness and nor does it suggest that the CEO NEVER engages in “daily fires” or that the Staff should NEVER offer ideas as to future plans. Instead it is the primary focus of one’s work, the “time zone” in which the majority of your time and thought should be devoted, that is the essence of this concept.
2. An executive leader should focus primarily on “THE FUTURE”
Though fully interested in current results, the executive leader should be creating a future vision, describing goals and expectations, fostering creativity and teamwork, shaping the culture, and making clear a purpose of the company that can be embraced and implemented across the organization --- and thus the primary focus of an executive leader should be in this “time zone.”
If the organization’s leaders are spending too much time on transactional work or if they are routinely distracted from the important work of a leader, then who is spending time thinking about future ambitions and making plans for the future?
3. Effective “time zone alignment” can help improve results
Giving thoughtful attention to “time zone alignment” can help improve results ---expectations are clear, and each team member is able to perform the work intended for their role in pursuit of a common goal! Alternatively, when people are distracted from the “time zone” intended for their role, this often yields inefficiencies, a lack of focus, limited accountability, individualism rather than teamwork --- or all of the above!!
It’s important for each person in the business to do good work --- but equally important for each person to focus on the right work and the right “time zone.”
4. You can help improve “time zone performance”
Within some organizations, leaders themselves routinely work in the wrong “time zone,” forcing other team members to alter their primary focus of work. In this case, the company’s results are impaired largely because the leader is in the way of THE NOW and is ignoring the needs of THE FUTURE!
Improving “time zone performance” can be accomplished with a few selected actions by the leadership team, including
· Be a role model and champion of “time zone focus”
· Routinely review how much of your time is spent on "daily fires" and how much is spent on being a leader, e.g. generating new ideas or improving the culture
· Help others understand the importance of this concept and communicate clearly to them their “time zone focus”
· Evaluate your “time zone performance” against the company’s strategic initiatives --- are you spending enough time to help make your own goals a reality, or are you continually distracted by lesser matters?
If bad habits have driven you or others to the wrong “time zone,” fix it --- the future success of your company depends on it!
I help businesses and their leaders achieve better results and have greater ambitions for the future at SCSAdvisoryGroup.com