April 8, 2019

Give Your Team Real-Time Visibility into Work Being Done Across the Entire Organization

When I look back at all the successful people I’ve met in my career, one characteristic stands out: They don’t think of work as a four-letter word. For successful people, hard work is inspiring. Great business leaders understand this and know hard work doesn’t always mean endless hours at the job, but it certainly means working in a way that’s focused, organized, and results-oriented.

And yet these same leaders often treat the work of their employees as an afterthought, compared to other aspects of the business.

They make strategic investments in people and systems of record to get finances, IT, customer management, and human resources operating efficiently across their enterprise. But they treat work as a second- or third-tier asset. Instead of investing in modern enterprise work management practices and systems, they focus on tasks, projects, and a cobbled-together set of software tools. When you think about it, most corporate work management software is still modeled on organizational tools, such as file folders and rectangular documents, that emerged in the 1860s.

So even as business leaders are digitizing and modernizing major elements of their corporations, their people have been left behind, unable to do their most important and crucial work. And, it turns out, there is a huge cost to that oversight. As we show in our State of Work report, the average knowledge worker spends 40%—that’s just 16 hours a week—of their time doing the job they were hired to do.

Look at it this way: if I were the CFO of a manufacturing company trying to improve financial performance and I found out our manufacturing utilization was 40%, I would attack it immediately.

So why are great business leaders, who have the understanding and capacity to make strategic investments in enterprise processes and technology, at the same time accepting the inefficiency of their work operations as “normal”?

The problem seems to be that many leaders are not thinking of work as a tier-one asset.

That’s not sustainable. It’s time to treat work with the same level of process and technology sophistication as we do all other major business functions. It’s time to champion a model for work that aligns the corporation, teams, initiatives, people, and work around a common view of success and achievement. And it’s time to put in place a system of record for work that stands shoulder to shoulder with the customer, finance, and people systems that run every major corporation.

Just as a system of record for sales supports your salespeople in closing business, aligns your teams on efficient processes, and provides executives insight into quarterly performance, a system of record for work helps your people get their best work done, aligns teams around common goals and objectives, and provides executives with company-wide visibility into major initiatives and business results.

It’s worth noting here that a system of record for work only succeeds when coupled with a culture of trust, empathy, and openness—a culture that’s fundamentally committed to viewing work as it’s happening, free of spin.

The great news is that tomorrow’s leaders are already taking the initiative to do this. I visited an organization a few weeks ago where all work operations are managed in a single system of record. The major initiatives and status were displayed on a wall of monitors, giving everyone real-time visibility into work in progress and results achieved across the entire organization, both of which push the team to constantly outperform yesterday’s achievements.

This team gets it. For them, work is a tier-one asset, and everyone is focused together on climbing a common mountain—on working hard at work worth doing.

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