Take a few moments to watch this video before you read the post. It’s only 5 minutes — and you’ll thank me.
I’ll admit it. When I first watched this, I thought William Tincup had lost his mind. I thought: Does he have any idea how hard people like me in HR have worked to gain responsibility and ownership for this kind stuff?!? And now I am just supposed to give it away?!? Is he nuts?!?
Then I thought again. And I realized, he’s right.
We all enter our workplaces desperate to prove how our function adds value to the organization, how we are able to think and plan like true business leaders, and how we are able to juggle multiple, competing high-priority tasks with proficiency. So we volunteer and volunteer and volunteer — and sometimes we’re just drafted into — taking on all this stuff!! And before we know it, we’re overwhelmed and adrift and the value we thought we were adding is gone because we’re stretched so thin that we really can’t get it all done and done well. And we can’t focus on the things we really want or need to focus on because we’re too busy doing all this other stuff. We end up existing instead of thriving. We’re “tactical” instead of “strategic.” We burn out — and our organizations and employees suffer for it.
The solution: give it away!
Just like our closets have clothes that are outdated or no longer fit, our list of responsibilities likely have tasks and duties that need purging. Stop being a duty hoarder and give that stuff away!!
If you get all you can, can all you get and sit on the lid, you will never have the opportunity to learn what you don’t know, grow or stretch professionally! Because closed, full vessels can’t receive anything new!
William gives a very simple formula for us to “Get To NO” in our workplaces — 1) stop taking on more stuff and 2) start looking for things to give away — that will allow us the space we need to reinvent ourselves. Giving stuff away is scary because we usually asked for the stuff and we don’t want to look weak by admitting that we’ve taken on too much stuff or we don’t want to look like a diva or a jerkface by saying the stuff we have isn’t valuable. However, we have to find the courage to be honest with ourselves and the people we work with/for.
Many times, they will thank you for it! I know because it happened to me.
As an HR Manager, I perform all generalist duties. However, our organization has undergone a lot of changes in the last 2 years in order to improve the efficiency of our processes and workflow. And I fortunately was in the mix of all that! I was able to gain recognition for myself and my department and really add value through the HR function. But I felt a constant pull in balancing my every day stuff (benefits, leave, COBRA, compliance, time off, etc) with the project stuff I was doing. It was stressful and I began to resent the work, even the parts I liked.
Before I went too far down that path, I knew something had to give! I began looking for what I could give away. And I created an action plan for how to get it done. It was well-received — and I look forward to implementing the plan in 2012!
How did I do it? Simple! I answered 6 questions …
Who, what, where, when, why and how
You must have very clear answers to these questions before you reassign or delegate anything.
- Shifting duties can’t just be about your being “too busy” — because that could just be an indication of poor organization or time-management on your part. It should be about effectiveness and efficiency of the flow of work. It should be about the development of under-utilized members of the staff. And it should definitely help the organization further its strategic goals.
- Shifting duties can’t just happen tomorrow. There will need to be some training. There may even need to be some more shifting of other people’s duties to make space for new work. Your plan has to have a timeline which takes all of this into account and shows how and when it will all get done.
- Shifting duties can’t just leave you with projects on your to-do list. The point of giving things away is not to leave you with nothing to do. You don’t want to go from being über busy to being bored — you want to find better balance.