Because when you have these really simple things figured out now, the whole thing's humming along. Everybody feels more motivated. Everybody's more engaged in the work. You get to the creative ideas faster. You get to the innovations faster because people aren't digging around through a folder structure, trying to find a document.
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Welcome back to the show. Today, we're going to talk all about how to save time on your team, which implicitly saves money. So you're not going to want to miss this one. And how are we going to do that? By diving into the team norms that you need to have in order to optimize your team. Now if you heard team norms and you're like, Oh, I don't know what's more exciting than that. And I will tell you. From driving team operations in some of the most influential companies in the world, doing that for about over a decade. The biggest thing that costs teams time, which implicitly costs them money, the biggest thing that prevented products from shipping on time from, from customers to getting their services from, from things to launch.
The biggest thing that got in the way was a lack of clarity around how to get things done. And that's why this is my mission on earth to help solve. Because when you have these really simple things figured out now, the whole thing's humming along. Everybody feels more motivated. Everybody's more engaged in the work.
You get to the creative ideas faster. You get to the innovations faster because people aren't digging around through a folder structure trying to find a document. Okay. So that's, we're going to talk about today. And as I thought about, you know, we can have working norms, which essentially are expectations or agreements across the teams on how we do things.
Okay. So that's how we're going to look at norms. You can have norms around really any topic. But I wanted to share three areas today that I think are a great place to start or a place to check in on, Hey, do we have norms here? Are they working? Because these are going to be huge, huge time and money savers for your team.
And I'm going to throw it out there. I think if you implement all the things I'm talking about here, depending on how far off you are, I think this at least can be saving you four to five hours a week, just right out of the gate. And now think about multiplying that out by how many team members you have.
Now adding in yourself multiply that out by the hourly rate that you all charge or you know your salary, whatever And think about how much time that is going to be sending just by implementing these things. Okay, that's why we're here. So first area I want to cover is communication norms. This starts with when and how we email, Slack, text, whatever, which tool we use for what.
First around when. We want to make sure we have norms that don't step on work life boundaries, okay? And I understand that a lot of us got in a habit of, myself included, of finishing up work, hopping back on the computer at night. But we don't want to be emailing our teams at all hours of the day because this starts to imply that I expect you to be responding.
And I'll tell you, even if you say, Hey, this is my working hours, I don't expect to respond. It still sends the message because you're the boss. Instead, I say, figure out the working hours with your team. Hey, we email between, you know, eight and five, whatever local time, and then use good old schedule, send a feature in many emailing tools to fill the rest of the time.
When you wake up at three Oh four in the morning and a hot sweat thinking about that project that didn't get finished or, or hopefully it did, but you don't know the status of it. Sending that email, eh, you just use the Schedule Send, send it during business hours, okay? Because usually by 6, 7 a. m. when you slept a little bit more and you woke up, you realized maybe the way you framed that wasn't the way you wanted to say that.
Schedule Send is our friend so that we stick within whatever hours that we set up in these norms. Okay, so then I think it's really helpful to talk about which medium we use for what kind of communication. I've been on teams where I get an email and then someone follows up in chat and then it's like I get a text later and I have no idea how to follow the plot.
So instead of this, it's really helpful to have a conversation with norms around when do we send email versus text versus Slack versus Messenger, whatever it is so that people can follow along. Maybe emails are used for client correspondence or sending out status updates or tracking stuff. Maybe Slack is used for discussions.
Maybe text is used for emergencies. What are the different buckets and then really sticking to it. And if someone sends a message that's in the wrong bucket, not shaming them and saying, send an email, but saying, Hey, I'm going to follow up on email so that we don't lose this. Okay. So it's really simple, but these norms are going to go a really long way to maintain those boundaries, not make it feel like everyone's on call and has to be attached to their phones.
In case you write something, they can step aside. They know, Hey, I don't need to be on my phone during these hours unless maybe there's some project going on and I'm already aware of it, but really I don't have to be doing this all the time. It's going to go a really, really long way to help your team feel a lot more ease, prevent burnout.
Second area that is so important to set some norms around is meetings. And we could have a whole like four hour and 15 minute conversation on meeting management, but instead of talking about meeting management, I want to talk about norms around when to come together. What we talk about, who's there.
Because norms around all the little pieces that go into a meeting are going to help you save so much time. And I think one of the biggest things that I see in larger companies is really big meetings where maybe there's 20 or 30 people invited, four people are doing the talking, everyone else is either video off or looking at their laptop.
And that cannot be a good use of time. And I think when I'm in that kind of meeting, what I usually see is there's folks that were just spectators and they wanted to go just to hear the information. And then there's also folks that are just there because they needed to answer one question at a certain point.
So how do you solve those two problems? Well, for the spectators, this often shows that there's a different issue that you want to look into, which is how is information cascading out of meetings? How are status updates communicated, decisions, approvals, are there notes coming out of it? Because when you get that figured out, you'll have less spectators because people see, oh, there's other ways to get this information.
Now, for the one where people are just sitting there in case they're needed for the two seconds of the meeting, I think it could be really helpful instead of having that person there to ping them maybe five minutes before that agenda item comes up and saying, Hey, can you jump on or asking that person to delegate that answer of the question to somebody else?
Like is there another person in the meeting who's going to be adding a lot more that that can take that on? Because when you're sitting in a meeting and your camera's off the whole time and you chime in for five seconds or you're looking at your laptop and you look disengaged, that starts to send the message in a meeting that, Hey, none of us are really paying attention here.
Like, why should I now, when do we meet and why for these big meetings? I think a lot of times I also see that people came together, they took a lot of like time out of their day and then nothing kind of came out of it. So it's really helpful, especially for large meetings to have criteria of when do we bring a group this size?
Is it when we're on the brink of a decision? Is it for planning mode? Is it for certain kinds of updates? Whatever it is. And then you know, okay, that's the only way, like the primary ways that we're going to bring the group together. Now, what we meet about, you know, what kind of things should be a one on one versus a small group versus a large?
That's another thing to set a norm about so that you can follow those forums. Who is there? Okay. I just talked a little about this. I think it's important to not be overly exclusive and excluding folks because that's, that creates another sort of culture issue on the team, but, you know, having everybody there just for visibility isn't going to work either.
So figuring out what are the roles of every single person that meeting and communicating that. And if someone wants to challenge and say, Hey, I really think I should be there hearing them out, but having, you know, the, the, the, usually the best practice is the fewer number of people, the better within reason.
Okay. Without excluding people or, or creating a siloing of information or saying, you know, you're not. You know, as, as high up or good enough or whatever in the in group to be in the meeting. We don't want that, but we do not want to have a massive meeting for them. Next, you know, how long should meetings be?
A lot of calendar software has 60 minute or 30 minute chunks or even 25 and 50, but does it have to be that long? What about 10 minutes? You know, are there times when it would be useful? I just say, Hey, I have a quick question. And there's a, we just put a 10 minute slot on or 15 minutes. I think it can be helpful to normalize the shorter meetings for quick questions and quick check ins.
Okay. Try that out for a sec. And then the last thing I think is what kind of content has to be prepared. So this could both be norms around, do we send pre reads? You know, when are they sent out? But also when you're trying to have more informal touch points, I think one thing I heard from folks that I was working with, um, One thing I heard in, in coaching a lot of folks in tech during the pandemic was I felt like I have to prepare a huge presentation to just talk to my, uh, director for 10 minutes.
And I don't, I don't know what I'm supposed to do here. So I think normalizing lightweight, quick check ins that don't need presentation content, and then setting a norm around that, saying, Hey, here's the kind of place where it is helpful to have a presentation versus here. We don't have to. So your team members don't feel like they have to create this whole slide deck just to ask you one question.
Now with that said, folks should always be prepared. So I wouldn't say, you know, you just like come off the cuff if that's not what you're looking for. But I think what I'm talking about here is. Presentation content where someone feels they're so burdened by, by setting up a meeting, they have to make all this presentation content.
They're then spending hours on that instead of what they really should be focusing on. And it kind of is, it doesn't end up winning and it ends up not being a good use of anybody's time. Last thing, the third area is where to find things on the team. This is something that I think when I see this happen, when people don't know where to find things, I usually see two different issues.
First is people will just kind of quietly search for hours and hours and never really find it and they're just wasting time looking for documents, looking in the finder, looking on the server, looking at the things. And we don't want to have that. Second, I see people look for like 25 seconds for the document and then make the new one themselves.
And I think the second problem is worse because you then have multiple versions of documents, of folders, of project files, all these things, and that creates a ton of confusion and then even more time because people are looking through two systems or five or twenty. So instead of doing this, we want to have norms around where do we put information.
What is this folder structure? What's the hierarchy of information? I was on a team once that had such a dialed in like server structure for where to, where to set up all their project files. That if you thought of something, say, I wonder if we ever tried this idea, you could go back to that moment in time, like within a minute and find it.
And I think two of the things that team had were they had it organized by time. So whatever kind of project release it was or year or quarter. And then they had it by theme. So what was kind of the nature of the work? So that you could look for the thing across two dimensions. And I think most folder structures have things like tagging and keywords and all sorts of stuff.
Where you can search by multiple criteria, so you don't need to be locked into one system. But you're going to want to have norms around, where do we put stuff? When do we document it? Right? Like after the project wraps up or after something gets to a certain stage, that's when we start making sure we've captured what we did, what we learned, um, what we're doing next.
It's really important to be doing this regularly. Otherwise, it's three years have gone by, nothing's documented and someone, It either has to do that from scratch, it becomes a full time job, or you're missing so much of the learning that could be carried forward. A norm around how to document things as you go is going to be really, really helpful.
And then the bigger one, where do you put all that stuff? How is it organized? So that no one has to say, I don't know how to find things on this team. So many of the teams that I work with, that's the feedback they have around what slows them down around getting their work done effectively. They literally said verbatim, this is the thing that slows them down and costs them time and money, but because they don't know how to move forward and they're looking for the thing and they don't want to reinvent the wheel.
So we want to prevent this and it's an easy one to get, get a little working group together, ask folks to figure out what should that folder structure be? Some communication norms around documentation. And you're going to see there's so much less time wasted and across all three of these. So we covered written communication.
We talked about meetings and we talk about finding stuff. When you dial these things in with really simple, easy to adopt team norms. You are going to see your team transform. Not only are you going to save time and money. Okay. I said at least four to five hours a week, but you are going to see people are more excited about things because they can move faster.
I mentioned at the start of the conversation, people are going to be able to get those creative ideas out there quicker to be able to innovate faster. People want to meet with more purpose. And that's going to drive higher motivation. So it's not just about saving. It's also about building and getting to a better output at the end.
Now there's a couple routes you could take to establish the team norms. And I think you either sort of do it bottoms up. You have conversations with the team around, Hey, how do we want to do this? How do I do this? And that can be really effective, or you could start with mapping it out yourself as the team leader, as that business owner and saying, Hey, here's a proposal I have and, and opening up for feedback and asking folks to iterate it on it with you.
I think either one could work. If it's hard to make decisions on the team or kind of get to consensus, then maybe start with proposing an idea and having people react to it. But either way, the only way they're really going to be rolled out effectively is if people feel like they were bought into the process.
So you are going to want to have some feedback loop where people can say, Hey, can we add this? Can we tweak this? Or does this work? And then say, yep. Do we collectively agree on this? Let's start with these. Let's check in in a month or six weeks, see how it's going and refine having that feedback loop.
That's also going to help people get more bought in and feel like, okay, it's not set in stone. I can, I can go with this. With that said, these are the things that I urge you to try to do this week, this month, this quarter, whenever it is getting these norms dialed in, this is going to be game changing for your team.
See you next time. That's all I have for today. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Managing Made Simple podcast, where my goal is to demystify the job of people management so that together we can make the workplace somewhere everyone can thrive. I always love to hear from you, so please reach out at LiaGarvin.com or message me on LinkedIn. See you next time.