A Few Words About High Payoff Activities

When one takes the time to examine any employee role in virtually any organization, it becomes readily apparent that we are a society that values multi-tasking.  It is not uncommon for an employee to have thirty or more responsibilities that relate to them successfully completing their respective job.  Employees are expected to do everything from activities that directly impact the profitability of the organization to responding to interoffice emails.  However, not all of these tasks are of equal importance.

The first fact is that employees tend to initially focus on completing those tasks that are most within their comfort zones and easiest to complete.  Despite the fact that the easiest and most comfortable tasks are invariably those that provide the lowest degree of benefit to organizational profitability and productivity.

The second fact is, as leaders we value those employees who provide us with the highest return on their time.  In other words, those employees who focus on completing the most important tasks first.  Therefore, developing an employee team built upon individuals who not only understand but are also experts on executing these “High Payoff Activities” should represent a leader’s number one objective.  Interestingly enough, for virtually any role within an organization, an individual will only have approximately seven “true” High Payoff Activities.

To reconcile these two facts, successful leaders must focus on accomplishing three critical goals:

1st  Clearly defining the role of each of their direct reports and isolating the employee’s High Payoff Activities.

2nd  Clearly communicating those High Payoff Activities to the employee.  Always remembering that, as a leader, you are redefining comfort zones, and this can only be done with consistency over time.

3rd   Coaching and Mentoring the employee based upon their respective level of competence in executing their High Payoff Activities.  It is not a fair expectation of a leader to simply communicate High Payoff Activities to an employee and then assuming that they will become a master of them without any guidance or assistance.  In fact, a leader’s greatest role is that of a Coach and a Mentor.  Coaching and Mentoring based upon High Payoff Activities assures that the leader’s time is being spent focusing on assisting employees in maximizing their individual contribution.