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How to help your company earn back valuable time

How to help your company earn back valuable time Michael Cohen

Often companies get bogged down with day-to-day tasks and meetings that don't always produce the expected results. However, to be the most successful, companies need to evaluate and adjust internal culture to have the most effective processes in place.
The mantra, "You can't spend the same minute twice," is at the heart of this. In other words, focusing on key priorities, avoiding distractions, knowing when to put things in the parking lot, and maintaining frequent, transparent communications facilitate fast decision-making. Simply put, the success of how well a company or an individual team executes relies on how well cross-functional areas are engaging and working together.
Here are the top six ways we have found to effectively communicate, to establish team goals, to have successful processes, and to "never spend the same minute twice."

Establish company values

I sum up our culture in two words: "values-driven." Harvard Business Review's recent blog post, "Does your company make you a better person?" demonstrates the value of belonging to a workplace where you know that in addition to working on projects, problems, and products, you are constantly working on yourself. Many people put values up in their office, but values are what tie a company together and unite a team to win at their own game. Here are two examples of how you can bring your values to life:

  • Team events that align to the outlined value statements.

  • Creating performance reviews that directly get at "How well did you exhibit our values?" "Which did you excel at, and which do you need to improve?"

    Create and spread a weekly team dashboard

    In my experience, in the absence of knowing what's going on, people are unaware of the bigger picture for the company, and thus believe that they are in the dark. To eliminate any secret meetings and guessing by team members, it is critical to even the playing field by democratizing information in an easy to understand, weekly dashboard that visually shows how all teams are doing against key goals.
    Rich Kneece, the CEO of Massachusetts Technology Corporation and founder of Vocoli, noted that, "When businesses build...platforms to support company-wide conversations, employees inherently become better at their jobs. Upon improving horizontal and vertical communications, firms may receive more feedback from employees and will be tasked to execute new ideas."

    Use whole team meetings to facilitate open communication

    Jack Stack in his book, "The Great Game of Business: The Only Sensible Way to Run a Company," takes a critical look at whole staff meetings and says that, "A major problem with most staff meetings: [is] the boss is the only one communicating. Those meetings waste everybody's time, including yours if you're the boss."

    In order to keep open communication and to facilitate top-down transparency, all employees must feel that they have a forum to receive information about the company and ask hard-hitting questions. With the speed at which our company, and the industry is moving, it's critical to keep everyone on the same page about what's important for the company and ensure open communication loops.

    To do this, consider a weekly, one-hour, all-hands meeting that serves three purposes:

    Provide organization updates
    This includes updates on priorities, new team member introductions (who's new, who's doing what, how this impacts the organization), etc.

      What you need to know this week
      This portion is presented by different team members and encompasses key learnings from different offices, meetings, events, and the dashboard.

      Team members submit questions to ask anything they want. The questions (and most are tough) are then answered by members of the executive team.


      It's also important to have company-wide visibility into how everyone's actions are aligned to focus areas, and thus we have created the 3-1-3 model. Each week, one member of a functional team rotates and sends a company-wide note consisting of:

      3: Last week
      Key developments/activity with: Influencers (creators, leagues, teams, brands, etc); meetings (brands/ agencies / partners), content, community, etc in the context of our goals

      1: Thing that must be shared
      A challenge encountered/overcome; a key learning; a cross-functional shout-out

      3: Upcoming week
      Key priorities for next week in context of our goals
      The goal of the 3-1-3 emails are to spark cross-functional conversation, transparency, awareness, and education.

      Focus on making decisions in meetings

      Patty McCord, Netflix's chief talent officer until 2012, came up with questions that have come to be called "Patty's parting questions."

      The questions not only help everyone work as a team, but also reiterate the decisions made in the meeting, as well as the actionable items that will result from said conversation. 

      Communicate differently: Clean out your email inbox

      According to a study from McKinsey Global Institute and International Data Corp., time spent on email can be cut by 25-30 percent by introducing social networking communications into a business. By doing this, an employee can free up seven to eight percent of the workweek for other tasks.
      We use a private Facebook group to post all sorts of things that relate to our market such as interesting articles, press mentions, etc. and then we have discussions around them. This frees up our inbox and actually encourages more people on the team to engage with social media platforms throughout the day.
      The only constant in working at any emerging company is change. However, with processes, tools, and a general mindset that embraces change, we strive to stay laser focused on what's important. Success is about having the confidence and adaptability to make tradeoffs and decisions based on the here and now, our team, and our gut.
      So I ask you, how does your team avoid spending the same minute twice?

      Michael Cohen is the EVP, finance and operations at Whistle Sports.

      On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

    • Michael Cohen, EVP, Finance and Operations, is regarded as a progressive, innovative and highly professional individual with exceptional business skills centered on corporate finance, investment, strategy, and operations.  Before joining the...

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