It's a familiar complaint among managers: They aren't as productive as they would like to be because they're constantly interrupted by the demands of others. They have to solve problems that seem to crop up constantly, they are required to attend endless meetings and their own bosses seem to need them for something several times a day.
Now a new study of 20,000 managers on six continents by Robert Pozen, senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, sheds some light on how some managers are more productive than others.
Among the findings about the most productive leaders:
1. They base their work on their top priorities and then take action based on those stated objectives.
2. They develop techniques that are the most effective in managing a great deal of information and tasks.
3. They know the needs of their colleagues, which leads to shorter meetings, better communications and clearer directions.
Based on those findings, Pozen recommends:
- Every night, revise your next day’s schedule to stress your top priorities. Decide your purpose for reading any lengthy material, before you start.
- Skip over 50-80 percent of your emails based on the sender and the subject. Break large projects into small steps — and start with step one.
- Limit any meeting to 90 minutes or less and end each meeting with clearly defined next steps. Agree on success metrics with your team.