Sullivan was in his middle management position for about two years when I was brought into the picture to work with him. His supervisor outlined several areas for improvement including being able to accomplish more by minimizing distractions. It was the nature of Sullivan’s position to be responsive to requests for information from various parts of the organization. After some discussion, we brought to the surface that Sullivan’s style was to be responsive to these requests, clearly at the expense of getting his own tasks accomplished. He wanted to be open not only to the people who reported to him but anyone else at his level or higher who may need something from him.
In our sessions, we talked about how he could plan his day and his week. Sullivan’s experience was that he was staying late many days and when he did leave, he looked at an empty parking lot because everyone else had left way before him. We talked about his openness to others and how if he closed himself off just a little, he might be able to accomplish more during the regular workday, allowing him the ability to leave work between 5:00 and 5:30 PM.
Sullivan was fortunate in that his company’s office space is very generous and he has an office of his own with a door. Our experiment was to have him shut that door for blocks of time for one week. We talked about how he could prepare his staff for this modification and what the desired outcome would be of this new technique. It worked well, slowly at first, but with some success. Each week, we built on this and soon it became the norm for him. Sullivan quickly saw the results of his new practice and he was soon in better control of his time.
Seeing things with a pair of objective eyes, evaluating pros and cons to an action in the future, taking chances with something new and different are all things that a coach can help you with.