February 23, 2018

Too much to do?

Exhausted computer userThen you might find this helpful…

This isn’t my idea at all and, in fact, I’m a student of it. The philosophy is Jim Benson’s and Tonianne DeMaria Barry’s and it’s written up in their book “Personal Kanban.” See http://www.personalkanban.com/pk/#sthash.kx80gfYu.dpbs

To explain…

Kanban is an approach used in manufacturing in which stock to be consumed is only moved to the production line when it is needed. The result is, therefore, a demand-led, pull system. For a simple example, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_board

The alternative, and in the West, traditional approach to manufacturing involves moving stock to the line to be processed i.e. it is a push system.

Most of us manage our tasks and to-do lists with a push approach. Basically, we pile it all in.

And the result is stress and reduced achievement.

Moving from a push approach to a pull approach to managing tasks makes a world of a difference.

The two key principles of Personal Kanban are: Visualize your work and limit your work in progress.

In other words…

Don’t move anything else into your “Doing” until you’ve moved something out.

As a former colleague said, more prosaically…

“When it comes to swatting flies, the important thing to do is swat one fly properly”—not very Buddhist, but there we go!

You might like to investigate. I’ve found this philosophy very helpful.

Acting hard—a good idea?

Woman making an emphatic pointAn organisation wonders if it has a particular problem with stress—more than is typical…

I ask whether the employees believe management cares about them, really wondering to what degree that is true. The response “Oh no, we wouldn’t want that” was so striking to me that I still wonder if my contact was half-joking. But even if he was joking, he was, as I say, only half-joking.

The same organisation has a culture where acting hard and tough seems to be seen as a good thing to do, or expected.

Now of course hard decisions need to be made. Let’s take that as read—and, funnily enough, real toughness might well work as a culture—but pretending to be hard when you’re not?

There’s a cause of stress for employees right there.

To pretend not to care when you do… I don’t see much upside in that for a manager unless it really is a rewarded behaviour. And then the culture is off.

I believe it’s quite possible (and beneficial) to be tough or demanding and care at the same time, and to let people see that.

But a fake hardness? A drag on the organisation, I reckon. Care deliberately withheld sounds pretty stressful to me.

What do you think?

How demanding is too demanding?

Group working on a projectIn some relationships, being demanding is (arguably) required to achieve the highest performance—for a coach with an athlete, for a leader with a team, or for a customer with a supplier. A little discomfort may be needed for the greatest achievement. Deliver the leadership people need rather than the leadership they want, they say.

On the other hand, self-generated, intrinsic motivation may be the most sustainable long-term driver of performance.

Being too demanding may risk being counter-productive (as well as uncomfortable) resulting in a lower performance, beyond the peak, as stress, distraction and tension set in.

What’s your experience? How demanding should a coach or a leader or a customer be? How do you tell when you’re overdoing it or when you’re not being demanding enough?