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January 23, 2018


In our previous Business Insight, we identified that interruptions can be costing you and others in your business up to three hours of productive time every day. Let's repeat that - Interruptions can cost your business 3 hours of productive time every day! They draw you away from what you are focused on and take you into what others are focused on, reducing your ability to effectively achieve your priorities.

While some interruptions are unavoidable, most can be eliminated. It begins with a desire, and a decision, to implement simple, effective structures and techniques.

One of the most effective ways to eliminate interruptions is to STOP giving answers and teach your team how to get results without you.

 
Start responding to interruptions by asking a question. It may sound strange, but here is how it works:
 
The next time someone asks you a question, for example:
 
"What should we do about project ABC communication?" 
 
Do not answer the question, but respond back with a question:
"What did we do about the communication on past projects?"
 
Or
 
"What information are you lacking to make a decision?"
 
When asked:
 
"What should be done about XYZ client?"
 
Respond with:
 
"What would you suggest?"
 
Or
 
"What is the end result wanted?"
 
When interrupted with:
 
"Client Smith wants to talk with you."
 
Respond with:
 
"How would you handle Client Smith's call if I wasn't here?"
 
Or
 
"What does Client Smith want that needs my attention?"
 
This will be awkward at first, but if you stay committed in responding to questions with a question, it will become a habit. In a relatively short time, your team will learn to ask themselves the follow-up questions to their questions and they will interrupt you less and less.
 
Additionally, by answering a question with a question you and your team will discover what is needed for them to take action without you. It might be the lack of procedure, access to information, or a need for training. The best way to find out is to stop giving people answers and start giving them questions!
 

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