Calendars contain one of the under-studied data sets within companies. How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives, wrote Anne Dillard. How we spend our days at work determines what we and the company ultimately achieve.
I remember meeting Ryan Fuller of Volometrix several years ago. He shared the story of the business he and his colleagues had built analyzing the way companies spend their days. For one company, they tallied the annual hourly contribution of employees to support the three-hour weekly executive team meeting: it was something on the order 300,000 hours or about 150 person years. Quite an investment!
In December, the Volometrix team published a report on What Great Managers Do Daily in HBR. This analysis substantiates the team dynamics that most people intuit already.
First, great managers set the expectations of how much time the team should work. Second, great managers balance the workload across the team. Third, great managers maintain broad networks within their companies. Fourth, great managers spend more than 30 minutes every three weeks with their reports. More time is always better.
The Volometrix insights originate from large companies. So do they apply to startups? The third point likely has a parallel in startups: great managers maintain broad networks within and across companies. I suspect the great benefit of a strong network is finding new opportunities to inspire and enthuse a team.
All of the other points are immediately applicable to any business with managers. In fact, they extend to almost any team.
Great teams share their workloads, spend time with each other, challenge each other to do better, and look for inspiration and opportunity from the outside.
Is this how your startup's management is spending its time?