Two birds, one stone

Save time and energy and save your staff by working on productivity.

Save time and energy and save your staff by working on productivity.

Two of the biggest issues for financial planners and other small business owners always seem to be:

1) Time – we all want more of it
2) Staff – how to keep great staff

Well both of these can be dealt with by working on your productivity. Think about Olympic swimmers? Do they just jump in the pool and starting flapping their arms and legs and hope for a gold medal? No. In fact they look effortless. Most of them look like they are hardly even kicking!

How? They work on their technique so that every part of their stroke is aimed to minimize their use of energy so that every stroke feels easier.

So what can small business owners take from the Olympic swimmers? In order to improve our productivity on a sustained basis we need to decrease our perceived effort. That is, we can only improve our productivity if it feels easier. Simple in concept but how do we actually do it?

There are so many ways to improve productivity. Today we are going to focus on personal pace – for you and your staff. So what do we mean by fast and slow pace?

Say you give 2 people the same 3 tasks and the same time to complete them.The faster paced person would prefer to spend a small amount of time on each and chop and change tasks. For example it might be 20 minutes on task A then over to task C for 30 minutes and then task B for 25 minutes and so on until the all the tasks are completed by the end of the day.The slower paced person would prefer to start with task A and complete in its entirety without any interruptions and then move to task B and so on until all the tasks are completed by the end of the day.

Which is more productive? Both are equally productive! Assuming both are working to their natural pace they are both completing their tasks in the same time. It’s just different execution.

So how do we use these differences in pace to create time and keep staff?

Firstly – the principals need to appreciate their own natural pace and try to work more closely towards this to decrease their risk of burnout. Take a long, hard look at your diary and how you execute tasks. This will decrease your effort levels show good leadership for your staff.

Now the trick to keeping your staff is to let them work more closely to their natural pace even if -shock horror- it’s different to yours. If they are slower pace than you then your constant interruptions will stress them out and they will leave the office feeling as though they have run a marathon without even leaving their desk.

The more mentally exhausted your staff feel at the end of each day – the less likely they are to stay with you long term. So let them work more closely to their natural pace so that they improve productivity for you and leave the office feeling energized. It’s good news for them and you won’t have to pay effectively twice their salary to replace them – it’s a win/win.


About Vanessa Bennett
Vanessa Bennett is chief executive officer of Inside80; a consultancy specialising in performance and productivity coaching. Vanessa was head of financial advisory services at Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA) Australia for eight years, driving strategy for the firm’s financial adviser channel.

Prior to joining DFA Australia, Vanessa held various roles at Macquarie Bank including associate director, business development management, and technical manager.

Vanessa is also a health and lifestyle coach and a group fitness instructor at Fitness First.

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