Make 30 tacos or hire 30 people? My husband was faced with this strange decision a number of years ago. He had successfully completed the training program for managers of a fast food restaurant and was quickly assigned a troubled restaurant. But, before introducing himself as manager to the staff, he ordered lunch from the drive thru. An hour and a half later (!), he was finally driving away with his food AND the unfortunate knowledge that he, as the new manager, had a lot of work to do! Once inside and introduced, he was invited by a shift manager to “get behind the counter and start making tacos”. The store had only 6 of the recommended 36 members on staff. His choice was clear and basic, or was it?
Often, when faced with the ‘urgent’ we forget about the future. It is easier to mitigate effects of an emergency rather than invest resources required to avoid an emergency. For a high-level leader, executing a basic plan that addresses the core issue trumps the distraction of the ‘here and now’. In business, we see the results of not adhering to this advice. Have you worked for a manager focused entirely on solo tasks –always too busy putting out fires alone rather than gathering a team to prevent them?
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, dubbed activities like crises, pressing problems, and deadline-drive projects: Quadrant I. Quadrant II activities include prevention, relationship building, recognizing new opportunities, and planning. Quadrant I activities are defined as Urgent and Important. Quadrant II activities are also very Important, but Not Urgent and too often de-prioritized by overwhelmed leaders. Effective leaders staff both Quadrant I and II appropriately knowing what is critical for today’s success AND critical for tomorrow’s success.
My husband took unprecedented action those many years ago and did NOT roll up his sleeves to make tacos. With a line of hungry customers snaking out the door and waits exceeding an hour in the drive thru, he chose to hire and train 30 new employees. He identified and implemented other efficiencies as well –he left the taco making to the experts while he used his own unique skills and authority to prepare a full team for peak capacity. Initially, his actions may have been perceived as disrespectful to the half dozen people working furiously to meet customer’s requests. But, within a month of focus on the ‘not urgent’, the restaurant’s ‘customer wait time’ dropped below 1½ minutes –even during the lunch rush!
Remember, even Christ took time away from the hustle and bustle of his ministry for relationship building and rest: “…because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ “ (Mark 6:31)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Sugerman (PMP, PCC) is a speaker, author, and leadership coach with Leading Synergies. She hosts global masterminds, called Synergy Groups, for REALLY BUSY Christians leading with powerful confidence and humble hearts. She works with high-performing leaders focused on organizational effectiveness by refining strategy, inspiring teams, and delighting clients. Michelle specializes in the areas of information technology, project management, franchise management, and business as mission. Michelle lives in Colorado where she hikes fourteeners and enjoys gourmet meals with her loving husband of 21 years.