Prior to the pandemic, I often heard tales of people talking about how their busy days were full of back to back meetings. On hearing these stories, I often wondered how they ever got any ‘work’ done.
Over the last 12 months, with many people working remotely, this situation seems to have become exacerbated. I now hear tales of many people working longer and longer hours filled with back to back Zoom/Hangout/Teams (delete as applicable) meetings. So much so that many are starting to suffer from ‘zoom fatigue’.
The problem with this situation is….when do leaders get time to think? To explore? To solve strategy problems? To get to know their customers better (as I described in my previous post) ?
To remedy that situation, I believe that they need to break out of the pattern that they find themselves in and resolve to do something radically different for their own and their customers benefit.
So, here’s a couple of radical ideas that I would like leaders to consider:
The first idea centres around a story about a leader that took over a software company. The first thing that she did on taking the helm was gather all of her senior executives together. When together, she said to them: “You all have Executive Assistants (EA), who are all very skilled and capable people. I would like you to redeploy them into other areas of the business where the business can benefit from their skills and experience. In doing so, you will then have to take control of your calendar and, thus, your own time. The rationale being that you only really manage what you directly control”.
The second idea is about proactively creating space to think and involves arbitrarily cancelling 20-30% of all meetings in your calendar every week. The goal is to free up between a day to a day and a half of time every week to allow you to think, explore and get to know your customers better. To many, this may sound like a radical idea. But, I checked how ‘mad’ this idea was with a senior and global experience leader, and she told me that it was something that she has been doing for years. She also swears by it as a way of routinely freeing up time and space every week. However, she did admit that initially she found it hard to choose which meetings not to attend, particularly when you factor in the social condition of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). But, once she started and explained to her colleagues what she was doing and why she found herself taking on the task every week with zeal. Not surprisingly, when she started this practice, she also gave her colleagues permission to follow in her footsteps.
So, here’s my challenge to leaders, especially if they aspire to create a stand out customer experience.
If you are not willing to do something different, how can you expect to get different results? Everything starts with you.
So, if you have an EA, thank them for their service and find them a great job elsewhere in the business. Then, start cancelling meetings every week to free up that space you will need if you are to build a better understanding of your customers and plot your way to delivering a great and stand out customer experience.