Tag Archives: Leadership

How to Make Time (2 minute read)

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Time management guru Brian Tracey (Eat That Frog, 2001) says that, even on our deathbeds, we’ll have at least 300 hours of stuff left to do. Personally I hope that’s chores like mowing the lawn rather than treats like catching up with an old friend from primary school.

I’ll keep this post short – so you can use the 30 seconds you’d spend reading a longer one on something else.

Time as a reason or excuse

“And what barriers might we face in adopting this new initiative/ strategy/ pedagogy/ marking system/ phonics programme etc.?”, asked the leader, consultant, trainer and specialist.

“Time!’ replied the teacher.

And quite correct too. But if the reflex response is a final and general ‘not enough time’, we miss the chance to ask a specific, ‘how much time? and when?’

If you find yourself stuck in ‘not enough time’, ask, ‘exactly how much time do I need, when, and how can I get it?’ And when someone offers ‘no time’ to you as a reason or excuse, help them ask those questions and make the time they need.

I recently coached someone who discovered she’d spent around 20 minutes avoiding a difficult task that ended up taking 10 minutes to complete, all because she got stuck in ‘not enough time’.

Eat That Frog Summary

Brian Tracey will tell it better than me but here’s a summary:

List every task you need to do by a certain deadline (today, this week, this term etc.)

Categorise tasks as A, B, C or D:

A = the consequence of not doing it is very significant
B = the consequence of not doing it is significant
C = the consequence of not doing it is mild
D = tidying your desk, getting a coffee, checking email/news etc.

Then rank the A’s 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. in order of significance (and the B’s too).

Then do your A1. It’s your frog. Do it now. Eat it now. You’ve been avoiding it, haven’t you. And don’t get distracted again by an easy D, save that for a treat later.

When the frog is gone, magically, all the other tasks become a whole lot easier. It feels like you’ve made time.

Thank-you for taking the time to read this. I hope it’s been useful.

Scripts for Being Radical

Radical Candor

Do you care about the people you work with? Do you challenge them if they need to change? Do you care for them and challenge them at the same time?

You’ve likely heard of Kim Scott’s ‘Radical Candor’ (book at Amazon) advocating the principles of ‘Caring Personally AND Challenging Directly’. Omission of one or both, argues Scott, makes for team dysfunction and reduced productivity.

Prioritising care can lead to ‘ruinous empathy‘: necessary (and difficult) professional feedback is withheld through fear of upset or ‘rocking the boat’. Overemphasising challenge is aggressive and causes fear, disengagement and conflict. If a leader lacks both you’ll know; manipulation and insincerity prevail.

But to care AND challenge is to have ‘Radical Candor‘ – you give essential, performance-related feedback for the sake of the other person’s growth and success. You care about them doing well. ‘I’m telling you what needs to change in your practice so that you can achieve more, can be more, can do more‘.

Of course, it can be hard to balance the two: picking your moment to give the tough message; reading the context, the other person, the risk; preserving their esteem, their control, their security. But here’s why taking the risk makes sense:

Receiving Radical Candor

Imagine that, even though you believe you’re doing the best job possible, you actually aren’t. You don’t know this; you haven’t realised; you think things are just fine as they are. After all, non-one’s told you anything different. But you are making things harder for yourself and running at 80% efficiency.

So, what if your manager knew of a couple of things you could do differently that would make your job easier and eventually get you promoted. You’d get more done; you’d enjoy the work more, you’d thrive. Would you want them to keep this to themselves?; keep quiet in case you get upset; or would you want them to come out with it? And if they did, how would you like to hear their message?

Giving Radical Candor

Here are a few phrases to get you started – whether your radical candor aims to help a team member, a child, a colleague, friend or even a family member:

I’ve noticed a few things that might help you get this done more effectively, may I share them?

There’s a difference between what we were expecting to see and what we’re actually seeing. Let’s talk about what might account for the difference.

I’m going to share a couple of ideas here that I need you take on board right now. Tell me what the positive impact might be for you…

And if you want to make this a whole lot easier in your organsiation, normalise it. Have the big discussion up front before anyone needs to use radical candor. Reach a shared understanding of what radical candor is, why it’s important and how you’ll all use it for the organisation’s benefit.

Then you’ll work in a culture where everyone cares personally and isn’t afraid to challenge directly.

Here’s Kim summarising the core concept.