Find Time For Life

Avinash is Head of the International Business (IB) division at a consumer goods business.  The division sells entirely to other organizations i.e. they don’t sell retail.

Lack of time came up as the largest problem facing Avinash. He was working 10 hour days. Work-life balance was a problem. Family was unhappy. So was he.

I asked him to track the time spent over 2 weeks.  This is what he came up with:

Emails 30 hours (he spends 3 hours each Sundays!)
Working a new model for allocating overheads that would show that IB margins are 10% higher than stated 6 hours
Trouble shooting client issues 13 hours
Time spent on solving interpersonal issues between subordinates 5 hours
Time with subordinates for solving specific order issues 16 hours
Preparing Monday report for his boss 6 hours (“It’s complicated, no one else can do it).
Visiting institutional clients in Bangalore 2 days (16 hours)
Time spent with the plant sorting out quality and delivery time problems 15 hours

Avinash was packing in 10 hours a day, working Saturdays and spending 3 hours every Sunday!

The obvious observations were

Email addiction (a common affliction)

Not delegating enough

This was however only a small part of the problem.

On closer examination it turned out that he did not know what else to spend his time on!

“Well, I am making the numbers. It’s my job to run the department and I am doing precisely that.  Get better at delegation, reduce my email-addiction and I am all set.”

I then asked him to list down his goals and outcomes.  Here is what he came up with:

Grow IB sales by 40% coming year

Protect existing sales

Additional sales with existing customers

New customers

Create a long term platform for business growth through

Higher end products

Deepening relationships with existing customers

Exploring South American markets

Improve the division’s margins

Within the company, IB was making lower margins than domestic business.  Exports no longer got the mindshare it received till the 90s. This irked Avinash no end. “I want to restore IB to its past glory.”

Develop higher end products

Change the method of allocation of overheads


Participate in strategic initiatives with the organization

Manage his team

Grow his people to take on more responsibilities

The next question was, “How much of your time in the last 2 weeks was spent on these goals”

Avinash had spent only about 10% of his time in realizing the above outcomes!

“I am not doing my job at all!”

Watch this space for more.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Pradip on August 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    It may look on the face of it that time spent is not proportionate to the KRA. However there is a need to appreciate that many of the task could be related to KRA. For example prompt reply in e mails may be for advising the team on where and how to get business. Solving inetrprsonal issues may put the team back on track of business. Similar linkage may be possible on other area listed. To conclude that ” I am not doing my job” you may want to drill the data.


    • Agreed Pradip. Actually I did investigate. Avinash realised that his outcomes were not being met. But I have written it the way it is to make it sound more dramatic 🙂


      • Posted by Sri on August 8, 2011 at 10:24 am

        How does Avinash define his job? For him to say “I am not doing my job” he must know what his job is. That is where should start.

      • Agreed Shridhar. There are multiple ways to approach this issue. We started with what was his immediate problem and eventually landed at the same place.

  2. Posted by Niranjan Sundram on August 6, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I do agree with you ,people have a lot of leakages in their daily time schedule which they can plug to manage time better.

    I also agree that deputing and delegating would definitely help the above canditate.

    Also we Indians have this habit of taking on more than we can handle.

    We do not know to say I don’t know.

    We are afraid of exposing our weaknesses and generally don’t believe in healthy exchanges and dialogues but invariably are more interested in monologues.


  3. Wow Niranjan! Isn’t that a rather strong generalisation about Indians?


  4. Take a break and refresh yourself. Its difficult come up with effective ideas/solutions if you are too stressed.


  5. I am coaching on similar issue, I told the coachee to list top 5 A item and top 5 B items which will have significant impact on his key stakeholders ( Outcomes ). Then end of day tick off how many A items were done and what were the “Time Wasters” of the day where he could have delegated or not attended to the task. Coahee had found it difficult to tarck by hour all activities so I changed to this approach and results were good.


    • In this case the coachee was quite methodical. But in other cases I have had the same experience. Coachee is unable to document time spent on a daily basis.


      • Posted by bhanudas on August 20, 2011 at 8:51 am

        wake up early do yoga and meditation for half an hour, go to sleep early. all problems will solve.


      • Thanks for the comment Bhanudas. For some people, it is really as easy as you have described.

        Others find it tough to follow the discipline of daily yoga and meditation.

        Yet others find that inspite of yoga and meditation, there problems though diminished are still significant.

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