This simple exercise can help you identify opportunities for your team, as well as skills gaps.
- Before holding a meeting, have each individual on your team make a list of their recurring tasks. Examples: developing project plans, answering inbound emails, managing a vendor, designing presentations, etc. Have them list as many recurring tasks as they can generate and also have them estimate the number of hours per week, on average, each recurring task takes them.
- Then, hold a 90-minute meeting and pass out our venn diagram printout to have each participant silently fill it in. Each person will need to reflect on their recurring task list they created before the meeting and sort those tasks into three buckets: tasks I’m great at, tasks I love doing, and tasks that others need most from me (i.e. your tasks that others most need you to do to get their own work done). If someone gets stuck, have them talk it out with others in the room. Ideally, the majority of your work will fall into the “sweet spot” where these three domains intersect, but inevitably, some tasks will fall out of (at least) one circle. For instance, you might be good at some tasks that others need, but not necessarily love it—like managing expense reports. Alternatively, you might love designing slides and reports, but not be very good at it.
Have everyone reflect on how they spend their time. Because they estimated the time each recurring task takes them, they should be able to see where the majority of their work falls in terms of their competencies, passions, and cross-dependence. Are they spending the majority of their time on tasks which fall into the sweet spot, or not? Discuss as a team.
- Triage and troubleshoot. Split into pairs and discuss/brainstorm:
- For tasks that fall into things you’re good at, that others need, but aren’t tasks you love: Is it possible to train someone else on the team who does love this kind of work to take it over? If not, can this task be automated, outsourced, or possibly streamlined?
- For tasks you love, that others need, but aren’t things you’re especially good at: Is there someone on the team you can learn from? Is there outside training you can sign up for?
- For tasks you love, that you’re good at, but aren’t especially critical to others: Is this work really necessary? Is this work that you tend to do on your own, and if so, does it feel isolating at times? Are there other areas of the business where you could be happier and more effective? For example, if you love writing and you’re good at it, maybe you could lend some of your time to your corporate comms team?
- Come back together and discuss any ideas or actions you generated. Look for shared needs (e.g. we all need finance training, etc.) and try to find safe ways to move everyone forward and closer to having more of their recurring tasks in the sweet spot. Of course, don’t forget to capture next steps, responsible individuals, and close by asking everyone to share how they’re feeling after reviewing their roles and tasks.