Work has always been pressured but it is becoming more so, especially in the UK. In one of the very last EU surveys that included the UK before Brexit (and Covid) kicked in, the UK had the most time pressure with 52% of workers reporting that they are always or often under time pressure at work (compared to 35% for the rest of the EU).
Managers are especially under pressure with a 2021 study by the TUC showing that over 30% of them were working an average 7½ hours of unpaid overtime a week, which is pretty much a 6-day week. The report suggested, in what is possibly an understatement, that “the additional responsibilities of senior staff are not properly managed by employers”.
A third study, this time in the US, focused on the added complexity that managers face due to hybrid working and working-from-home. It was aptly titled “working harder and longer” and showed that managers were facing more meetings than ever, and, with juggling work and home, had extended their working day by an hour.
Taken together it shows how much constant time pressure managers are under, which is undoubtedly directly contributing to increasing numbers of leaders burning out and quitting. As I have written before, leading a team is a difficult and crucial role, yet a typical manager receives shockingly little support and training.
I haven’t got time
It is not surprising then that the biggest push back we get from prospective and new clients is our suggestion that team leaders have weekly meetings with their teams to reflect on their happiness at work. You can almost feel the collective groan: “No, not another meeting, I haven’t got time”. This is completely understandable. But it’s ultimately short sighted, as unhappy teams are much more time consuming than happy ones.
Think about it. What happens when a team is unhappy? Team members become less cooperative, and they start doing their own thing (or not doing anything). There are more conflicts and resentments and more blaming. It all adds up to a lot of stress that spills out from the team into other areas of the business. Then people start leaving, which means other team members must pick up the slack. This then leads to a lengthy time-consuming and energy-sapping recruitment processes. In other words, more and more pressure. It is a vicious cycle of time pressure leading to unhappiness, leading to yet more time pressure.
A wise investment of time
The way out of this vicious cycle isn’t to carry on as is and hope it all goes away. Instead, it’s about identifying what is essential to building a successful team. I really like best-selling author Greg McKeown’s insight that the way to be successful, in life and work, is to focus on the “vital few” rather than “the trivial many”. He elaborates:
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done, it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
Ultimately, the path to success is about being disciplined and systematic in how we choose to spend our time.
At Friday Pulse we seek to be disciplined and systematic in how we help our clients build happy, successful teams. We are acutely aware of the pressure that many of our clients and their teams are under. So, we have boiled down our measurement-led process to these essential elements:
Measurement kick-starts the process.
Every week we ask team members how happy they were at work. The resulting data enables team happiness to be tracked across the organisation. We also give them the opportunity to share their successes, to thank colleagues, plus air any frustrations or ideas for improvement. This text-based data feeds into the next stage.
We encourage teams to meet every week to discuss their results.
This is the step that many clients are concerned about, however it is the heart of the process. It is the opportunity for the team to come together, hear about each other’s successes and challenges. By reviewing together, Friday Pulse helps them build on what’s going well, understand what isn’t working and identify actions for the week ahead.
If this step is skipped, then in our experience, response rates fall as team members feel like they are not being listened to.
Maintaining momentum is critical for creating positive change.
The consistency of meeting every week is how trust is built. Team members feel cared about and are able to share the responsibility for happiness at work. Slowly step-by-step new strategies and ways of working emerge. Communication, collaboration, and even creativity improve. Time inefficiencies are reduced. Overall performance improves.
Using Friday Pulse only takes about half an hour a week. The ROI is over 5x in terms of productivity alone, and this doesn’t even include estimates of the extra time pressure and sheer stress of unhappiness in teams. Take a look at this article for further detail on this. Using Friday Pulse really is an investment of time for teams and team leaders, but it really is a wise one.
You can read more about Friday Pulse’s Measure-Meet-Repeat methodology by downloading our new eBook on building happy teams.
And find out more how about how Friday Pulse can help you and your team invest time wisely.