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Of course, not all administrative work is meaningless or trivial. Indeed, much of success in an organization rests on process and process controls. The science of modern management demands that we have process wrapped around technical work. From Frederick Taylor and his scientific management to Peter Drucker and his focus on management as a profession, we have been told that all that Planning, Organizing, Controlling stuff is essential to success.
The hierarchy of every company needs to know what is happening and how business is running, so even in smallest of companies there will be a seemingly endless string of reports. These reports range from volume counts, to process controls, to financial plans, budgets and actual performance measurements. In any given day, it often seems that we could literally spend most of day completing reports.
If reports and other administrivia activities are all that a work leader has time for, then they will ultimately hamper leader’s effectiveness. Every one of us who are responsible for “getting work accomplished” must spend time being a leader of staff. This means spending “face time” with our associates, helping them understand what is expected of them and making certain that they are competent to achieve results. This is hard work and can be very time consuming, but it is essential work.
Bosses often forget how much time and energy real leadership really takes. Leaders who use planning, organization and control as effective tools to handle work flow will have more time available for leader work. Those who allow administrivia to consume their time and energy will have nothing left for leadership. If administrative work is effective, then you will be free to lead. If it is not, then you will be a less effective leader.
Parts of Law of Administrivia have been recognized for some time. Saul Gellerman wrote in 1968, “The simple fact is that most managerial jobs are already more than full-time jobs. The typical manager has more than enough to worry about. His typical solution is to arrange his problems in order of priority, deal with ones he has time for, and just ignore rest. In other words, that which is urgent gets done and that which is merely important frequently doesn’t.” What we are adding is that frequently urgent is not essential to mission but rather just easier to ask for or to accomplish.
Look at activities you engage in and determine if they are critical to your efforts to succeed. If you are spending time doing tasks other than leadership actions, then you are wasting time. If your efforts to lead are frustrated because you are preoccupied with administrative tasks, then you need to find a way to break loose from constraints of those activities. You will find leader actions need not be so time-consuming that you have no time for anything else. In fact, if you do leader work well, you will have plenty of time for administrative tasks. The only way you are going to break loose is when you realize that leader work is only way to achieve your goals and objectives. It is “good work.” You must fight natural and destructive tendency to be ruled by “The Law of Administrivia.” For more go to www.deltennium.com/articles.php
Mr. Czarnecki helps organizations achieve peak performance through effective leadership, focused strategy, effective organization and sound financial management. He also speaks and conducts seminars on corporate governance and his book, You’re In Charge…What Now? provides work leaders with seven principles for peak performance, all of which tie to the simple to remember mnemonic “L.E.A.D.E.R.S.” http://www.deltennium.com