Many of todays corporate problems have one common cause.
A lack of self-management skills.
Of course there are a lot of corporate problems like sustainability, innovation, fierce competition ect. How successful each company deals with these problems ultimately depends on its leaders and employees. Recently we notice that there are some changes. Despite more powerful computers and great AI services it is hard to increase productivity or even keep it stable. Furthermore we also notice an increase in sickness levels and even burnout, lack of motivation and high job turnover. Traditional concepts like time management and coaching are not longer the right tools to tackle the 21st century challenges.
Better self-management lead to more fun, lower absenteeism, higher productivity and less turnover?
It is a bold claim that better self-management leads to more fun, lower absenteeism, higher productivity and less turnover. Can we live up to this claim?
Scientific research, and probably everyone’s experiences, show that we are not very talented at managing ourselves. There are several reasons for this. For example, this not a skill that was very useful in recent history. Our ancestors did not need it. They were directed by the group, by nature, by the kings, by religion etc. So there was no evolutionary advantage if you were extraordinary skilled in managing yourself. Other skills, especially the social and physical ones, were much more important.
In the current turbulent time, in which we can and must make our own choices, self-management is increasingly important. However, as we did not inherit the natural talents for this from our ancestors we are struggling with self-management. For example, we lack sensitive antennas that warn us if we are spoiling our time. The result is that we sometimes find out (much) too late that we spend time on the wrong things. Or that we work too long on tasks that consume a lot of personal energy without compensating this with fun tasks. We gradually use up our energy buffer with unwanted consequences like little job satisfaction, low productivity, a feeling of discomfort and possibly the wish for another job.
Professional self-management means that you simultaneously keep an eye on whether you are working on the right things (productivity) and whether there is a good balance between energy-consuming and energy-giving tasks. Because you cannot rely on your memory, there must be some form of registration. To measure = to know.
Professional self-management does not immediately lead to more fun and higher productivity, but it does lead to insight (knowing) that allows you to take targeted actions to achieve this. By working on the right tasks, by saying no to tasks that do not get you closer to your goals, by investigating why certain tasks take so much energy. And if you can’t change the situation, you have enough insight to progress this further by discussing with your peers or manager.
Another advantage of professional self-management is that you are stimulated to think about your (short-term) goals in advance so that you work with more focus.
The journey towards professional self-management is not a course with a nice certificate. It is a learning trajectory in which you learn from yourself according to the classic PDCA cycle. Making the goals explicit (Plan), measuring the interim (Do), viewing the results (Check) and defining improvement actions (Act).
Can we live up to the claim? The answer is yes. Professional self-management leads to insight, insight leads to improvement actions, improvement actions lead to more fun, lower absenteeism, higher productivity and ultimately less turnover.