9. Recurring Time Commitments

Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Smooth Operator/Podcast/9. Recurring Time Commitments

9. Recurring Time Commitments


Most of what you and your team are doing within the business are repeatable and predictable tasks. These recurring tasks are what really makes the company run with your current obligations, serving the customers that you already have or the routines that have to be done to maintain your business.

It can be easy to lose track of the commitments and time obligations that are baked into what your team is doing on a regular basis, leading to members being over committed, frustrated, and unable to contribute to emerging projects.

Which is why you need to have a method for organizing and predicting their time obligations on a daily and weekly basis.

Learn more in this episode.

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

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Yo, what's up, welcome back to another episode of smooth operator, this is Adam Liette. So glad to have you today. So I talked about last, in the last episode, we talked about managing recurring tasks for your team.

So if you haven't listened to that episode yet, just click pause on this, go back and get the full context before we dive into this episode. And the reason I say that is because managing recurring tasks for your team is going to be a game changer is going to allow you to see the full picture to properly manage your team to know what your team is able to flex into to not overwhelm them, to really see the day to day business operations that are the lifeblood of your company.

It's what keeps things running well as operators. And if you're a visionary entrepreneur, while we're out, creating the future, it's our team that's in there in the company, doing the work that keeps the lights on really, it's what they're fulfilling, or they're in fulfillment they're working with our students or our clients, I'm in the E learning business, that's really the niche I found myself in is online education.

And if we don't commit, if we don't fulfill for our students, we're gonna have refunds, we're gonna have people leave. So like this is incredibly important to keeping the company up and running. So a quick recap, because most of what your team and even sometimes you are doing within the business are repeatable and predictable task.

These recurring tasks are what makes the company run with your current obligations serving the customers they already have, or the routines that have to be done need to be done must be done to maintain your business. For my company, it's things like customer service, member support, live calls with our students, our internal team meetings, newsletters, content, marketing, all of this stuff happens on a regular basis.

And all these things happen every week, with almost no direct input from me, or the CEO of the company. But this is the lifeblood of the company, it's maintaining those minimum requirements that must happen every single week. And this didn't happen overnight, the process that we now have, it took a lot of experimentation to get correct, especially as we started to grow. Okay, so that's the first part is just having a system in place. And again, we went over that in the last episode, to make sure everything gets done in an efficient manner. And the team members are able to operate in the workflows that have been created for them, they're able to have predictability and stability in what they're doing.

But that also leads to a significant portion, a significant portion of their work week already being spoken for. So a task that takes five hours per week, a recurring task means that I from the operational perspective, lose five hours of that employee for emerging projects that can keep us moving to the next level. That's why it's imperative that you find ways to estimate with some degree of accuracy, exactly how much of your employees time is spoken for.

Before you decide to take on a project or initiatives that require inputs from them that requires their work, you have to make sure that they have the capacity to do it right. To do this, I use my secret weapon. It's a sauna, okay, I'm, I'm kind of an evangelist for that program. It's what's worked the best for me. So as I mentioned, I organize all my all my recurring tasks and do a weekly project.

And this weekly project gets duplicated at the start of our work week. Now, in that weekly project, if you've used Asana, there's Yes, making the assignment give a due date, the task description, blah, blah, blah, all those things.

There's also an area where you can create a custom field. And I created a custom field where I can manually input the number of hours that that task requires, for example, customer service tends to take around two hours a day for my customer service lead.

So I put a two in there some days it takes less, some days, it takes more, it tends to even out. So how did we come up with that too? Honestly, at the beginning, it was an estimate. It was me asking the team after doing an audit with them over their time commitments of their task commitments.

And then just asking them, how long on average does this take? How much time is required for the task? And from there, it was really a matter of brainstorming. It was them tracking their hours for little bit. And we were able to do that as well with a tool called Time Doctor where we could get a more accurate view of it.

But that's kind of another subject for another day when we talk about integrating various tools. So you audit your tasks, you brainstorm these, you put numbers to them. And make sure you're really looking for the average, not necessarily based off a single week or time period that is known to be busy or not busy. For example, we just had Black Friday.

And that was a mad, mad house for our customer service team. What I did then was had a quick face to face meeting with each temp team member and went through their list, we estimate the hours when we had any adjustments as necessary, then I implemented it into into Asana so that I could see exactly what we were looking at in terms of their time allocations.

So within that tool, and I imagine other project management tools have this as well is they have a dashboard where I can see my entire team from a 10,000 foot perspective and know exactly where they are. I set up a dashboards, I could quickly decipher where my team is spending their time and where they were operating already obligated. I broke it down into departments, individual team members, and even projects so I can have all the information that I need, when I'm doing decision making.

This practice would also then bleed over into our, you know, into our product creation. And when we're doing other more forward thinking tasks that weren't necessarily recurring, but we could estimate the time that it would take to do one of those tasks, so it can be leveled up against their recurring task.

So overall, doing this will give you clarity on who is available for additional tasks, and most importantly, how much time they have available. So when you need something done, you can take a look at your dashboard and know that this team member or that team member has available hours for the week. And you can make that commitment with with their time, you can ask them to do something because you know that they have available time before they hit their quota.

So if you're not doing this, if you're just assigning willy nilly, you're really overwhelming your team are setting them up for failure along the way, if they don't have the time to fulfill a task with their quota, do they have a choice and that's not fair to your team. It's a recipe for disaster.

And honestly at the really just burn out your team members. So a really a big silver lining is that you can assess which tasks are taking the most of your time, and make information based decisions on whether or not that's a useful activity. And that kind of goes into another vein. So an example this is a twice weekly call that our head educator has with our students. On paper. This is two hours wasted until you consider the alternative.

Before we had those dedicated calls, he was spending three to four times that amount of time answering questions, one to one with our students inside the platform, we were able to save a lot of time by allocating him into more of a group coaching format. The inverse is also true.

Imagine if a team member was constantly late with getting some assignments done. And I couldn't understand why. If I do a time analysis on their recurring obligations, I can see clearly that these tests took nearly half of their available time. And we are consistently giving them more work that can be accomplished by anyone in those time periods.

The problem wasn't them, it was me, looking in the mirror was not the most pleasant thing. But it allowed me then to adjust what I was doing.

Let numbers and facts guide my decision making so that I could properly manage what was going on the company. So time overall, is our most valuable asset. And this is one step in the direction of making sure that you value respect and properly account for the time that your team members are already committed to. This will overall just give you a different perspective and a newfound respect for what it takes just to maintain your current market position, while giving you valuable estimates for what will be required. as the business grows.

If you're looking to add X number of new students to your membership site, you can look back, see what was required to serve the previous number and do a little bit of quick math and determine what new hires need to make, what new platforms you can make available to your to your students to give them that service that need that members support that they need.

So you're really good then you're hiring from a data driven perspective, rather than there's your insights or your guesses when you're not even in the trenches with your team members. Overall, when you take responsibility for managing this, it can be an absolute game changer for you not only in managing and accounting for what it takes to run the company, but to give you a different perspective on your team members inputs and what they already have on their plate.

If this will help gain and maintain their respect and position you to be able to protect them from mission creep. That's a loaded word mission creep, and more on mission creep, and within a company how to guard against it in a future episode, because that's something I could talk about for quite a while having seen it several times in business and in the military.

But let's not go there for just today. Anyway, that's all about recurring time commitments, how to estimate them how to put them into a platform. So just to review, we're talking about the recurring time commitments that our team members have, once we know those tasks, doing an assessment and estimate of what it actually takes to do those tasks, and then accounting for it inside of your project management software.

And then using dashboards. So you can see what your team members are already committed to with just recurring tasks, which will allow you to predict better project, what additional commitments that they can take on during a week.

So they're not overwhelmed. They're not stressed, and they're overall able to then fulfill on their mission on their job on their task and get that satisfaction that comes out of that and make sure that everyone's moving together in step in cadence with one another.

Thank you so much for joining me on this episode. Please do give a shout out at www dot Adam liette.com You'll find links to both iTunes and Google.

If you haven't left a review yet please do if you know anything about the the algorithms for podcasts, its likes its its comments and ratings that really help push us up. Get us more listeners get us more people with with their ears on the show. So thank you in advance for giving a review and a rating to the podcast. Until next time,

I'm Adam Liette. From Smooth Operator podcast. Go get it go get after those recurring time commitments. And I will see you next time on the show.

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