For a brief stint, I worked as a middle school teacher. Teaching is a wonderful gift and I was delighted to do so. I found that the most time spent, however, was directed towards items and issues that were not germane to the work I was asked to do. Over and over again, forms had to be completed, state requirements proven and validated, interviewing with academia, etc. Please understand that I believe in compliance and in accountability…definitely. What I struggled with was the amount of time it took and how much time it took away from the students.
In human resources, I have experienced and witnessed a similar phenomenon. While the distractions may differ, the results are the same. For example, think about how much time you spend at your desk. Can’t do it? How about for the next 7 days, you keep a log (seriously!) as to how much time you are sitting at your desk. Now, while sitting at your desk is not the enemy, per se, it may show you how much less you’re actually amongst the people you serve.
And it isn’t just about paperwork either. I bet it would be amazing for you to log how long you actually spend with a particular person or two each week. Perhaps it’s all good stuff, but likely, you may have your time taxed by someone that should not have as much time as he/she has been allowed to have. Think about that employee who “just needs 5 minutes” each day. We know that 5 becomes 20 in seconds. If it’s every day, what could you do with an extra hour and 40 minutes each week?
There are still those time-suckers who want to review something again, complain about something again, have software explained to them again…it’s the same stuff time after time. Am I insane? Do I expect a different outcome? Why do I allow this distraction to take me away from serving the larger population? Stop the madness…you cannot get that time back. Make decisions about the wasting of time. If someone cannot handle the work they’ve been given, then get them out of that role. If the same process isn’t getting the results needed, then put the effort in to change the process so you can be free from the hamster wheel. Make the change.
I am not making light of responsibilities. I know that form completion matters. I know that one-on-one chats have to happen. I know that your CEO will walk into your office and eat an hour of time. I know. Is that every day? Is it keeping you from the objectives you’ve set?
Time will keep moving on. Those goals you have for 2014 have a smaller window for completion. We’re about 9.5 months into the year. Can you accomplish those goals you set for the people of your organization in these last couple of months? If so, maybe those goals weren’t so stretching after all?
Are you allowing busyness and distraction to keep you from what you’re to do? My words are easy to type. The action of leaving your office for a time and closing the door behind you might be a discipline that you have to employ. Be with the people. Learn processes. Watch cultural interaction. Those components will make you a better HR person, a better business partner, a better worker. You will be energized, enlightened…more alive! Take back your time.