July 13, 2015

Slack it Off, Slack it Off…


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It is funny what your mind wants you to read and what is actually written on the paper. By a show of hands, how many saw the title of this blog piece as Shake it off, Shake it off? You’re going back to look aren’t you?

The purpose of our latest blog is not to play mind tricks on you. It is, in fact, supposed to help you recharge your mind and realize its fullest capabilities. Many of us are so busy these days that we don’t have enough time to reflect on how our business is doing and take a moment to think about how to make things better, more efficient and more effective. It’s hard to improve your work-life balance when you are constantly doing the same thing over and over again. One of our early mentors had a sign in his office that read as follows: “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” For the first three or four times that we looked at it, we read it the opposite way (as if we should be running around looking productive).  We remarked to him about our initial misread of the picture, and he smiled and stated that we weren’t the only people who saw it that way. He expressed the importance of being able to reflect about what you are about to do and really analyze it from an outsider’s perspective. In order to effect change in your organization you needed to step away from your daily routines and do something that has nothing to do directly with your operations. Read a book. Paint a picture of your backyard. Do the New York Times puzzle. Anything to exercise your mind and force it to refocus on tasks that have not been weighing you down for the large majority of the day. We really took this to heart because this individual at the time was the SVP and Corporate Controller of a major media company and effectuated changes in Fortune 500 companies throughout his career that resulted in savings of hundreds of millions of dollars without the aid of a significant downsizing. We can count on one hand the number of people who can make that same statement!

One book that we highly recommend that you don’t see too often is Slack by Tom DeMarco. DeMarco summarizes how important it is to step away from the day-to-day activities that we all do and re-energize your body and spirit. He goes on to refute the common misconception in Corporate America that the only way to cut costs and increase profitability is through massive restructurings and major reorganizations that repeats itself every three or four years. The best way to increase your company’s profitability is to ensure that your company has the proper support and infrastructure for your employees. By supporting your employees they will know that you care about them, and this will lead to better service to your customers. Cutting your employees for the sake of improving the bottom line without considering the quality of your products and the impact it will have on your customer base will end up destroying enterprise value in the long term.

So how do you keep yourself and your company in peak condition?

1. Don’t leave your family and interests in the dust

It’s important to make sure that you keep hobbies in your life so you don’t become all work and no play. It’s one of the oldest phrases of all time – “Work hard and play hard!” – but you should remember those things that made you smile when you were a kid. Go to the beach and fly a kite with your son or daughter. Enroll into that karate class that you have been meaning to get into for the past few months. Start training for the NYC marathon in November. It is the time away from the office that makes your mind sharper and your spirit open to changing your outlook.

2. Consider investing in additional staff or outsourcing some non-critical tasks

If you are spending too much time catching up on posting pictures on your Instagram account or if you are up at 2am trying to send out invoices that have been sitting on your desk for a month, it might be time to get some outside resources. It is always best to hire the resources on a full-time basis as long as you know that there will be a long term need for the resource. However, if you are drowning in administrative tasks but don’t know if it is necessary beyond 30 or 60 days, then hire someone on a part-time basis or hire an outside company to do it. Do you ever wonder how companies have time to tweet or blog on a regular basis while delivering high quality products or services?

3. Worst answer of all time – “Because it’s always been done this way”!

It is important to challenge the status quo within your organization in order to make it relevant and efficient. If you or your employees have been doing their tasks for several years and haven’t changed their ways, you are quite likely leaking a lot of productivity out the door. No one likes change, but complacency breeds indifference and there is no room for non-caring employees in your organization. If your employees don’t care about what they are doing, why will your customers come back?

4. Technology solutions can help you, not hurt you

You don’t need to get the latest gadget, but there are lots of improvements that can be implemented with the help of the right service provider that can increase your company’s productivity. From online banking to researching the latest trends in CRM solutions, it is important to challenge your employees to figure out how they can spend less time on the rudimentary areas of their job and more time on adding value to your customers and senior management.

Thanks for reading this post and Keep Smiling!

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