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How to Deal with Time Suckers!

My client Saira has 50 direct reports. I am not exaggerating. She manages a group of professionals that work remotely in various locations across Ontario. As you can imagine, Saira finds it challenging to provide each of these individuals with much one-on-one time. She also has to carefully manage those individuals that unnecessarily demand too much attention from her.

Recently she implemented a great tool with one of her “time-suckers”. This person tends to dominate Saira’s time, especially when she has a problem to solve.

So, Saira taught her colleague the SBAR tool and it has been life changing. It is a really useful tool to help improve interpersonal communication. Here is an explanation of the tool:

Situation: Clearly and briefly define the situation. For example, “People complain too much in my staff meetings and I am struggling to keep these meetings positive and productive.”

Background: Provide clear, relevant background information that relates to the situation. Using the example above, “We have instituted many new changes and there is a lot of resistance. People feel like they were not consulted before the changes were implemented.”

Assessment: A statement of your professional conclusion. For example, “I feel like I need to take control back in order to make my meetings more productive.”

Recommendation: What can you do to solve this situation? For example, “I have decided to use an agenda for my meetings. I will include time to discuss issues and ensure that I build in time to brainstorm solutions to those issues.”

So, how has Saira used this tool? Well, she taught the tool to her “time-sucker”. Then she asked this person to follow these steps:

  1. Fill out your SBAR independently before coming to see me
  2. Email me your completed SBAR (I will review the SBAR and email back any questions)
  3. Proceed with your recommendations

Saira was thrilled to notice two outcomes that this SBAR process provided. Her colleague rarely interrupts her now. Instead, she uses SBAR to solve her own problems. Also, she has noticed that her colleague feels more confident in making her own decisions. That is what I call win-win!

How can you use SBAR? Are you allowing your team to interrupt you constantly? Could your team use a dose of independent thinking? Try the SBAR. It works like a charm!

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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