Los Angeles: “I really liked your last piece The Demise of the Sales Assistant, as I’m in full agreement about the evolution of the support role,” complimented Garret with conviction, and then addressing his issue, “But my challenge is our efficiency. We’re so committed to client service that it seems everything is a priority. I know we can do better, any suggestions?”
Some 100+ years after Fredrick Winslow Taylor popularized the Time Study as a core component of scientific management, his Time Study concept still serves as a basis for efficiency and performance standards.
At its most basic, it involves breaking down each role (job) into component parts, timing each part, and then rearranging the parts into the most efficient method of working. Incidentally, back in the day Taylor had a host of critics, one of his most vocal -- Unions.
Anyway, I suggested to Garret to conduct a Two-Week Time Study -- tracking everyone’s activity during their working day. The expression on Garret’s face said it all; this is overwhelming, how do I get started? So here’s what I outlined for Garret. Follow it and it will improve your overall efficiencies.
Every member of the team commit to writing their:
- Job description
- Role within the team
- Areas of responsibility – Observe the order in which they list their tasks. Their top items are more than likely their biggest focus areas, but may not be top priority.
Meet as a team to review what everyone has committed to writing:
- Clarify ambiguities
- Get agreement from all parties
- Make necessary adjustments in roles, areas of responsibilities, and tasks
Conduct Two Week Time Study
- Everyone participates (including team leaders)
- Log in each day: arrival to office, activities and tasks performed, and time spent completing each activity/task, and which client the task involved
- Log out each day: time departing office for the day, activities and tasks that were not completed, and interruptions (what, if anything, pulled you off track)
- Rate each day on a 1 to 10 scale (1 lowest, 10 highest) for efficiency
Review of Two-Week Time Study
- Review everyone’s daily rating; drill down on days rated below 8.
- Look for common themes regarding inefficiencies; phone interruptions, financial advisor requests, colleague interruptions, management, technology, etc.
- Make one to two adjustments per individual (if you attempt too many it can become overwhelming and little if anything will improve)
- Determine if systemic issues are contributing to your inefficiencies; lack of clearly defined service models, client base not segmented as thoroughly as it should be, too many clients, unclear priorities, poor leadership, lack of goal focus, unclear performance standards, lack of accountability, etc.
- Address one systemic issue at a time, such as clearly segmenting client base and communicating to every team member
Two-Week Follow Up
- Meet as a team to review each individual adjustment, discuss, and fine-tune if necessary
- Review the systemic issue being addressed; Is it complete? If not, what’s the progress? If so, is it helping?
- Address each individual, is there another adjustment needed?
- Address another systemic issue to correct
There are numerous challenges in executing the aforementioned. First of all, it’s important to communicate very clearly that YOU are participating and that this IS NOT punitive. Yes, it’s work, but the objective is to make everybody more efficient.
Second, this will only improve efficiency and performance if the team leader is proactively engaged – so really financial advisor inefficiencies must be flushed first. Where is your time being wasted? What adjustments need to be made? Are they being made? Is everyone being held accountable? And so on.
Team leader proactive engagement was Garret’s issue. Before leaving our conversation, he’d already admitted that he was at the heart of his team’s inefficiencies. He had trouble delegating and was always getting involved in tasks that he shouldn’t. This resulted in pulling him away from spending enough time on his core area of responsibilities; time with his top clients and COIs (relationship management) and business development (relationship marketing). It seems that his core responsibilities hadn’t been a priority.
Voila. That said, I suggested a complete team Time Study should be completed annually and that NOW, in the spirit of efficiency, is a good time to start.