The Greek myth of Sisyphus tells the tale of a man condemned to rolling the same giant boulder up a hill for all of eternity only to have it roll back down each time. There are times when handling work around the office can echo this myth and make us all feel like Sisyphus. How many times have you moved a paper or project across your desk, only to have it reappear still undone or needing your attention once again?
This mishandling or double handling can be especially dangerous when dealing with employees and customers. Managing multiple call lists and multiple customers can result in duplicating work, repetition, lost time and productivity, and, at its worst—appearing less-than-professional among your contacts and customers.
Nothing is worse than having a client “remind” you of their status, their project, or things you should already know. Don’t duplicate work and make your job more difficult. Some simple organization tips and planning can ensure that when work hits your desk it is touched once and taken care of—a cornerstone of professionalism and the efficient office.
Break Down Tasks and To Do Lists
Much of this can be remedied by simple planning. Break each project down into a series of steps, and assign each step to your employees in logical order. Be clear about expectations, and err on the side of giving employees “extra” background information to frame the project.
I like to think of it like assembling IKEA furniture. You wouldn’t hand someone two pieces of wood and tell them to “make a chair,” would you? They need a clear-cut picture of the finished project, the proper tools, and step-by-step instructions. Assembling all of this before starting the project ensures that the finished item will look exactly as planned and expectations will be met. It’s the same with business.
Manage Tasks and Handle Them Once
Each time you handle a project you lose time and productivity (and taking that boulder up the hill for another go). Projects should be reviewed, broken down, assigned, and then, if employees are meeting your expectations, a simple final check over should be sufficient. You should never find yourself redoing work that you assigned to an employee. If you do, you either have the wrong employee for a job, or are not giving clear instructions.
Using an all-in-one small business CRM can ensure that you are managing assignments, projects and customers with ease. Think of it as a way to quickly organize your data, see who’s assigned to a project and get an immediate status update. Not only that, but you can assure that followed ups to leads and customers are done immediately, and never duplicated (which can anger and confuse customers, resulting in the loss of business).
Record the Disposition to Get a Snapshot
By making a note of the status of each project, who it’s assigned to, and what the disposition is, you can gain a quick and clear insight into exactly where you are at all times. Cut down on paper by immediately entering a project, adding it to your calendar, and setting up a time to follow up. Using a CRM with integrated project management and apps can be a great way to ensure your data is constantly at your finger tips.
Once a day, check the status or “snapshot” of your projects. Knowing that this check-in time is scheduled right on your calendar helps to ease your mind and cut back on post-it notes and reminders. Keep your office running like a well-oiled machine (or a well-built chair), by providing instructions, handling data once, and then letting your CRM do the rest.
About the Author
Jen Huber holds a BA in Community Leadership and Non-Profit Business Management from Alverno College. Prior to and while attending college she built her field experience through 15 years in office managerial positions. This experience spanned a variety of industries, from a pre-Google-Images dotcom, to managing the offices of a psychiatric practice and a charitable foundation, and for the last five years, a public relations and lobbying firm. Jen consults for a variety of clients, manages content for multiple WordPress websites, writes articles for Posts By Ghost & ChamberofCommerce.com, manages social networking, billing and compliance for her former and current employers, and volunteers for numerous community gigs for fellow non-profits and events, including WriteCamp Milwaukee.