There are certain activities we must do each day if we want to be successful in business. So why don’t we have more tangible results to show for all our efforts? How is it that one person can achieve so much in a week while others complain about all the interruptions that prevented them from carrying out their tasks?
Life is primary – and work funds life
It’s my personal philosophy that life is primary – and work funds life. What I observe time and again when I visit offices is people chatting with colleagues, photocopying and doing other jobs I call “busy work”.
Busy work is any activity that makes someone look like they’re doing something productive when what they’re really doing is filling in time. At the end of a day of busy work, that person is tired and maybe even depressed. They have wasted another day instead of being the best they could be. When they go home to the most important people in their lives, they find that they don’t have any energy left for them. They are simply not enjoying life because they’ve missed another opportunity to be dollar-productive.
What do I mean by dollar-productive behaviour? It is any activity that will earn income. For example, in the real estate industry there are five primary activities which qualify as dollar-productive for the agent: prospecting, listing, negotiating, selling and keeping a deal together. If an agent is doing anything else during the work day, then they’re not being dollar-productive and their sales record and net income at the end of the month will reflect this. For the broker, there are also five dollar-productive activities: prospecting, recruiting, training, coaching and retaining (and/or freeing up the agents who have wandered into the wrong industry).
It is not uncommon to discover that in a 60-hour “working week,” only eight hours earned any significant income!
Getting your team to be dollar-productive
How do you get your team to be dollar-productive at work? I recommend a shock tactic. At your next meeting, ask your employees to take out their appointment books and list the activities they’ve engaged in over the last 24 hours while at work. These activities should be listed in 15-minute increments. Next to each 15-minute block, they should estimate how much they earned during that timeframe. They should include time spent on the phone with clients and potential clients, time spent doing administrative work, putting up signs, tidying their desks, talking with friends – everything they can remember.
It is not uncommon to discover that in a 60-hour “working week”, only eight hours earned any significant income! When my people realise how much time they wasted when they could have been dollar-productive, I sometimes shock them by suggesting that they combine all eight hours into one day and take the rest of the week off to have a wonderful life!
If you want to increase team productivity, you need to increase your dollar-productive hours from eight to at least 16 per week. By asking your team to focus on key activities, they can increase their productivity and income.
The next exercise you or your manager might work on is to explore the reasons or excuses people make for not doing activities they know would contribute to making money. This is likely to turn into an outrageous and embarrassingly funny session! You might even have a contest for the most impressive reasons given for wanting to remain poor when they could be making money. Remember, the aim of this exercise is to separate dollar-productive work from busy work. Good luck.