Everything we as business people do is (supposed to be) important. If our work wasn't important, surely we would have no reason to do it. Therefore, all work is (supposedly) important.
However, not all work is equally important. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd imagine we have several 1s, the least important, and fewer 10s, the most. Therefore, it is important for us to understand these levels so we don't waste time on the 1s (least) and ignore the 10s (most).
But, as we do our best to manage our effort with time and people, often there are these other folks out there called bosses who think it's their job to interrupt our best efforts. Sure, we sometimes need guidance in figuring out what work is at what importance levels. That's fine, especially when we get to work with empathetic bosses. Generally, however, I’m not so sure.
Bosses, though, don't always understand their jobs. They don't understand that every human thinks and works at different rates. And, the worst part of all this is that to these bosses who don’t understand their jobs, all issues are at the same importance level: HIGH.
The problem with this decreed perception from bosses is employees put the same effort into all issues, as per boss wishes, thereby wearing them out. But a much worse outcome arises. As workers spread themselves too thin, the stuff that should be highly important is brought down to lower levels. And, the stuff that should just be completed is praised by the king and queen. No one knows what to think any more. After a while, the organisation gets bogged down into ineffectiveness. We cannot survive without distinguishing between important and not so important work.
It's not that tough being responsible for people. I have a number of people reporting to me. I think they like my style. (I hope they like my style!) My secret: I let them do their jobs. I don't prioritize their work. They know how to figure out what’s really important and needs to be done now and the less important things that can be put off. Sure, when someone first begins reporting to me a lot of questions are asked. People need instruction, training, and direction - at least at first.
But, over time, I almost always go with the response of, "How would you fix this problem?" Their answers are almost never wrong, needing little if any adjustment. And, as time goes by, their answers get better and better until they don't need me anymore. I have the best job in the world, really. I help people when they need it but otherwise, I leave them alone.
Just to be clear, I'm not talking basic jobs here (although this plan should work for them, too). I'm talking about production managers and show directors and producers. These people have important jobs. I just make sure I listen to their frustrations and give them ways to get out of their problems. And, sometimes, I just listen. I’m not afraid to say I have no idea of the best decision. I will give them a few options, but I expect them to know their business, their clients, better than I ever could imagine. Therefore, the decision is theirs, ultimately.
It’s complicated, this business of running businesses. But, with care and refraining from constant interference, we can make this working world a better place. Trust people. Trust that they’re working hard and doing their jobs.
“Most good relationships are built on mutual trust…” [Mona Sutphen]