Who's on first shirtSometimes it can feel as nothing has changed other than the last digit of the year, which usually takes me until February to switch. But it is a new year, and a great opportunity to take moment and some perspective on what is going on in your office. While you are getting underway with the new year, a good use of less than an hour is to visit with your staff and make clear who is doing what. It may seem that this is obvious, but many times this can be a really eye- opening project that will have a beneficial outcome.

Who is Taking Messages?

I noticed one day that some of the notes I would find on my desk were not coming from my assistant. The information was not as complete and I seemed to be having to ask for more follow up more and more. When I inquired, I discovered that in order to do some things that she determined were a priority, my assistant had asked the receptionist to take some of her calls for me. She didn’t think this was a huge problem, nor did the receptionist. The only one who had a problem was me as I was not getting what I needed, and didn’t know what was handling some of my calls.

This is an example of how things can migrate without there being a defined change in processes or responsibility. The problem then became how to assure my assistant could address her work, get it done while making sure the phone was answered, and my calls were being addressed properly. The receptionist needed to understand what my requirements were for obtaining information and directing the calls properly. That was a pretty simple one.

Who Knew? Ken Lay said he didn’t…

If this has been a problem, it could have been addressed then. As it was, we could find a way to handle this, but this illustrates how things can shift just enough to change your office and work landscape. The solution is simple, follow a phone call or email that comes into your office- who does it go to, how does it get handled and addressed and how it is completed? As the head of the organization, there is the presumption and assumption that you know every detail about the firm and how it works. Many leaders have been embarrassed or hidden behind the fact they didn’t know who was doing what….and almost universally this has not been a strong defense.

As usual, open communication internally is key; but even so subtle shifts can take place that have larger implications. Asking who is handling what, and who needs to handle different types of work, what path needs to be changed or tweaked maybe one of the most effective 45 minutes you can spend this month.

Who can Help? Me!

Are your communications internally murky or indirect? Do you know who is really do what for you? For some outside perspective and perhaps some clarity, give me a call on 310 828 6979