Team Leaders' Resource Library

***For Karl McCracken's personal (mainly triathlon) blog, please visit This blog is an alternative way for you to get access to our TeamTips series of articles. TeamTips is a short, fortnightly article that's aimed at TeamLeaders. Each edition covers a subject that's important for Team Leaders' performance - both in technical issues and man-management.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

One At A Time, Please (2)

Seven Tips For Focus and Flow

1. The One At A Time Mindset
Remember the old-style banks? You’d always join what looked like the shortest of the eight queues, only to find yourself behind the man from the penny arcade. Now there’s only one queue but it moves much faster. As a teller becomes available, you’re directed to them.

2. For your own work . . .
Look at your ‘To-Do’ list, and prioritise it, using the methods we’ve talked about in previous editions of Team Tips. What’s Important, and what’s Urgent? What doesn’t actually need doing at all, and what can you delegate? Schedule the remaining items into your diary, if at all possible, in time block’s that’ll see them finished.

3. Communicate
Tell the people who’re expecting work from you when it’s going to be done.

4. FOCUS the Team
If the team routinely works on several similar items in parallel, consider how you could re-organise things to focus their efforts on only one job between them.

5. Scalpel! Forceps! Suction!
When there just isn’t space for everyone to work on the same job, think about an OPERATING THEATRE. You’ve seen ER / Casualty / Days of Our Lives - usually there are only two people up to their elbows in the work, while the rest of the team supply materials and tools. This is highly effective - how can you copy it?

6. If You Can’t Focus, FLOW
If the team’s work is largely repetitive, can you organise it into a production line? You’ll need to break the job down into equal segments, and link these together. It’s essential that work is passed along as it’s completed - don’t allow batches at any stage, as this’ll slow things down.

7. Takt and Diplomacy
If you’re setting up a production line, work out the TAKT time - the rate every stage must run at to meet your hourly / daily target. Where a stage is too slow, involve the team in figuring out a solution to the problem.


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