8. Managing Recurring Tasks

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/8. Managing Recurring Tasks

8. Managing Recurring Tasks


When you’re running a business, the big projects are exciting and they inspire the team into action. It’s what tends to occupy most of our time in Operations and some of the most inspiring work that we’re able to do.

But most of your team and the team time is actually spent on all the recurring, day-to-day operational tasks that are required to keep the business running. In fact, while we’re off imagining and implementing the future of the company, our teams are deeply emerged in balancing any requirements that we have for them while simultaneously maintaining the day to day of the company.

And while Operators are drawn to those big and exciting projects, properly managing the recurring tasks are going to be a game changer for taking stress and anxiety off your team and making sure that things don’t get dropped during the process.

This becomes even more important as you scale and the recurring tasks become more important to fulfill on the promise that you’ve made to your customers.

The recurring tasks can make the difference between success and overwhelm.

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Hey, welcome back to another episode of smooth operator, I'm your host, Adam Liette. So good to have you back for another episode exploring some really exciting topics today. Well, I don't know if this one's exciting. But if you fail to master this, it can hold you back from doing the exciting stuff.

So I really want to explore task and project management. We've done this before when talking about project management software, and various tools. But we're gonna get into some of that nitty gritty like I promised. So when you're running a business, the big projects are exciting.

You know, the the big marketing projects are developing development projects was exciting, and the Inspire the team into action. It's the great things that we all got into business for. And it's what tends to occupy most of our time and operations, and some of the most inspiring work that we're able to do.

But the fact is most of your team and the team's time itself is actually spent on all the recurring day to day operational tasks that are required just to keep the business running. In fact, while we're off imagining and implementing the future of the company, our teams are deeply immersed in balancing any requirements that we have for them for those future projects, while simultaneously maintaining the day to day in the company.

While operators and entrepreneurs are drawn to these big and exciting projects, properly managing the recurring task is really going to be a game changer, because it's going to help take the stress and anxiety off your team. And make sure that things don't get dropped during the process, which is going to really help you because you're not going to have to then do any cleanup, you know, things are just gonna really just happen.

And that's the ideal, these recurring tasks just happen.

This becomes even more important as you scale.

And the recurring tasks become more important, because you have to fulfill on the promise that you made to your customers and the recurring tasks will actually take up more of your time and you'll add team members and they're going to take over a recurring task. So having a management of a management plan in place for these tasks becomes incredibly critical. Met recurring tasks and managing them properly, can really make the difference between success and overwhelm.

And I didn't fully realize this until I looked around one day, and I realized that we had students in multiple online courses. And we're experiencing a rapid growth in the number of new students that we were getting every week. This required me to quickly provide solutions and predictable workflows to my team so that they were able to come into their workday, with the clarity and competence that they needed.

This is where project management and putting it into a tool can really help help you gain that roadmap for your team. So what we do on my team is I have a project and it's just a templated project. With all the recurring tasks that take place on our company in this big master template project is links to all the discussion boards links to the various resources that my team need.

Needs, I really took the time to develop out this templated project and continue to add to it as we need. This template project is something I go into when I'm getting ready to plan the next week, I usually batch this, I'll do a month at a time, at times. And I'll batch it and I'll duplicate that project. So all the links, all the everything gets put into the duplicated project.

For the team, this gives them the clear day to day areas of the website where they're responsible for providing support to our members and providing support to the various business operations that have to take place in order for our company to fulfill on the promise that we've made to our students, for example, who's the lead in customer service on that day?

And what type of resources that they need to do customer service correctly? Do we have any live calls scheduled? And who's hosting who's editing the clips, who's publishing the replays, all those little minut details that could get lost in the sauce unless it's properly managed out?

Even the scheduled recurring team meetings that we have on our team are part of the recurring project so it comes up as a task. When they open up their Asana, they see it they know that they have a meeting on that day and it's there for them. So this really helps provide a stable roadmap for every team member when they start the week.

They have a clear understanding of what they're tasked with doing. And it provides them predictability and stability for what they're doing throughout the week. From the operator perspective, I can see everything from a 10,000 foot level, I know where my team is, I can make sure that we have full coverage over everything that needs to happen.

To keep the company running at our optimal optimal levels, I can also make quick adjustments to the entire workflow of the team, just from that simple project by moving things around by moving assignments around or by adjusting who is where I can quickly adjust when my team members are working. So should some part of the site become busier say we're getting more traffic in a particular section and a particular course, a team member can be then assigned to that area.

If a team member needs to take off for personal reasons or requested vacation, we can then shift their assignments for that week to someone else. Or we can even use this to help to dis to ship a new initiative that we have in place. So one thing I do is I employ dashboards within Asana, where I can see what still needs to be done the week and then can quickly adjust team obligations as needed.

I check this frequently throughout the week before I do my daily update to the team that I mentioned back on episode three, previous episode four. Finally, I can make these recurring tasks operational. Yeah, and including all the resources and links and cheat sheets and playbooks, everything that they'll need during their time in that task that they do to accomplish what they're out to do.

So it really becomes a one stop shop, they can get everything they need, they can forget bookmarking 27 things in, in their Chrome, everything that they need to do their job I give to them. And if we need to make an adjustment, we make an adjustment for the team, rather than individuals having to adjust their own their own browsers. So once we put this system in place, I tell you, the difference that made for the team was night and day, we were able to communicate very clearly and get through the tactical day to day operations that needed to happen to push the company forward, my team felt more confident. They felt like they knew exactly what they're supposed to be doing.

And we also were able to ensure that everything that had to get done indeed did get done. It brought clarity to everything that they were doing, and made things like bringing in a new team member, something that isn't always the easiest thing to do very easy, seamless, they were able to come right into the fold and start working immediately. And looking forward, we're able to collaborate and cross load tasks quickly, because everyone has an understanding of how to perform their duties.

Because it's all built into that common operational framework. We were able to survive really rapid growth, we grew by a lot adding several 1000 students to our membership site over that year, when we first started doing this, and able to maintain 100% of our team, we had zero layoffs, or people leave the team during a time of sometimes extreme stress. Because we made those adjustments, were able to hear the the pain points and of our team members and where we were causing them friction and noise and solve it through a very predictable flow of information.

Now moving forward, I'm able to anticipate how many of their hours are spent on these recurring tasks, so that I'm able to properly allocate emerging tasks based on their current workloads. And this is something that we'll really get into on the next episode. So for example, if I have a team member, that's budgeted for 30 hours a week of work, but 20 of their hours, are already dedicated to specific recurring tasks, I need to make sure that I don't give them a task that's going to take more than 10 of their available hours. You're asking for trouble and frustration if you do this.

The other way around, you're talking about missed deadlines, you're talking about frustrated and overwhelmed team members that are just stressed out pissed off management, they can understand why things are getting done. When, honestly, I was the problem, I assign them something that they didn't have the actual capacity to do, because I wasn't considering their recurring tasks when I made that assignment. So this overall implement implementing something like this can be highly dependent on your business structure. And what goes into making things happen every week.

The best way I would suggest to get started is to do an audit, the audit an audit of what you're currently doing every single week, like get nitty gritty with it get get down into the weeds and what your team members are doing every week. Where are they working?

Where do they find themselves constantly being pulled to? If you allow this process to go through several different revisions, you you take that initial audit, you battle, check it and then next week, you do another audit, you're going to end up finding pretty much everything that is happening on a regular basis. At the end, really remember that this process isn't for you. It's not for you. It's for your team. So make sure that it's workable for them.

So I know this is a topic that's going to come up over and over again. So we'll continue about it for today. Because I get kind of passionate about, I built a really nice system that works so well for a team. And I'm really proud of their ability to see it to help me to help inform me on how to create it. And then once it was created to implement it and work from it seamlessly, I couldn't be more proud of them.

And I hope that really comes through because I if you guys are listening, I don't know if you guys listen or not, but like the work you guys do every every week is amazing. So with that, I would suggest First things first, get your audit done start with you, what tasks are you doing, because you are going to be a part of this template, you're going to be a part of this workflow, get your audit done.

Let's move to your team members. And on the next episode, we'll talk about estimating time obligations, and how to manage that then within your CRM, so that you can or not your CRM your project management tool, so you can better project to the future of what your team is, what your team needs of where you need to place additional assets, and where your team has the flexibility and the capacity to move in other ways. All right.

That does it for this episode of The Smooth Operator podcast. Please do give a shout at WWW dot Adam liette.com. I look forward to seeing you there. Please do subscribe to the podcast. We're on Apple podcasts and Google and make sure you leave a review while you're there.

Now the only way we get more ears and more eyes on the show is through your reviews. So if you can just leave a quick shout out. I would genuinely appreciate it. Until next time. I'm Adam. Have a good one.

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