Time, Talent and Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power – Michael C. Mankins and Eric Garton (Harvard Business Review Press)
You’ve probably seen it posted on an office wall or on the back of a tractor trailer or some other highly visible location; the reads something like, “Our people are our biggest/most important/best/strongest asset. That line has been used in some variation of the form by any number of businesses in a wide array of industries – to the point where it has moved beyond cliché to become utterly meaningless.
For many of the companies posting this phrase it raises the question – who are they trying to convince? Their customers, their employees or themselves? The striking thing that many businesses are slow to realize, is that, that simple statement is absolutely true and the companies that live up to that statement are at an immediate strategic advantage over those who don’t grasp that reality.
Recently I have spent time working through a series of books dealing with employee engagement and the advantages companies that recognize this most important business tenant have in a competitive market place. During a break in a group session with an executive coach I asked the coach what the best book he had encountered on the subject and without hesitation he recommended Time, Talent and Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag and Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, by a pair of Bain and Company business consultants Michael C. Mankins and Eric Garton.
While most recognize the value of employee engagement to the businesses bottom line, I think that Mankins and Garton separate from the pack by demonstrating how a company can effectively engage their teams and move beyond doing for the sake of doing. They make the clear cut case that for most companies the scarcest of resources across the board are time talent and energy.
The pair spell out strategies for tracking things like meetings and communications strategies on eliminating wasted time and draining energy so that the team can focus on execution. They spell out how to strike a balance between autonomy and eliminating back and spirit breaking bureaucracy and micromanagement. Nothing will drive your best people to the exit faster.
I found the section of the book that focused on operational models and how nothing can stop execution dead in its tracks faster than the operational decision making process. Decision making can cause operational inertia that can be difficult if not impossible to overcome. Mankins and Garton make the case that leaders have to closely monitor and streamline the approval process to keep the execution train moving forward.