Books

Why Can’t We Get Anything Done Around Here Book

Written by Robert E. Lefton, Ph.D., and Jerome T. Loeb
$12.95
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Our Get it Done Book

When Jerome Loeb, president of May Department Stores, flew out to visit the company’s stores in California, he was shocked by what he learned. An employee had spent 2 years developing a video training program for their floor sales people. Why was this so upsetting? It was not at all aligned with the company strategy or plans. How was it, Loeb wondered, that someone could spend that much time and effort on something that was incongruent with the company’s direction? Conversations with Bob Lefton, President of Psychological Associates ensued, and out of it was born their get it done book, ironically titled Why Can’t We Get Anything Done Around Here? | The Smart Manager’s Guide to Executing the Work that Delivers Results.

Books on Delegation

We refer to it as a get it done book because it is about how to get more done in your organization. This quick read will open your eyes to a new way of looking at productivity, task assignment, and strategic delegation. You’ll learn a task management model, how to avoid five common task delegation errors, how to prevent black hole activities, how to attain crisis level productivity when you are NOT in a crisis, and much more.

Studies show that employees work at less than half their potential. If you are frustrated as a manager that your people are not performing at their highest level — that you’re not getting things done — this book reveals a simple system for assigning work to achieve maximum productivity. Apply the tool that has helped managers improve performance significantly.

Below is the table of contents, first chapter, and ordering information for Why Can’t We Get Anything Done Around Here? Here are reader reviews.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1  Are You Getting the Right Things Done?

Chapter 2  Going Beyond Style

Chapter 3  The Task Management Model

Chapter 4  Five Common Management Errors that Keep You from Getting Things Done

Chapter 5  Managing in a Crisis Mode – without the Crisis

Chapter 6  Back in Style Again

Chapter 7  Checklist for Tomorrow

Chapter 8  Working in Front of a Mirror

Chapter 9  Develop Your Skills at the Getting Things Done Workshop

Chapter 1:  Are You Getting the Right Things Done?

“Don’t tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done.”
–James Ling, Business Executive

It’s the end of another busy day at the office. As you do every day, you have tried to practice effective management skills. You plan, you listen, you prioritize, you schedule, you delegate. You work hard to set a good example. You may even be open with people and believe in empowerment. In short, you employ a management style that is supposed to motivate people effectively.

Yet you are often frustrated and disappointed by the results. You have the nagging feeling that your efforts don’t make a big enough difference where it really counts—contributing to the bottom-line performance and success of your company. More specifically, one or more of the following conveys how you feel:

  • Although my people are busy at their jobs, my department’s output doesn’t improve much from year to year.
  • I have worked on developing an enlightened management style. It is supposed to instill a “go get ’em” attitude in people. Yet, when the productivity of my department is tallied up, somehow it’s often less than the departments run by my “less enlightened” colleagues.
  • Try as I might to get my people to perform when I need them, it seems that when a really important task needs to be done, I have to do it myself.
  • Certain projects seem to hang around forever. Frankly, some days I wish that I could wipe the slate clean and start fresh either with different work to be done or new people.
  • Although I am supposedly in charge of my direct reports, I often feel as if I am on the outside of my department looking in at a process over which I have little control.

These statements all have something in common. They all reveal an underlying impression that people are not getting the right things done. This is a valid concern. After all, “getting the right things done” is the measure of performance in an organization. In essence, it is a definition of performance itself.

Getting Back to Basics

Ironically, managers frequently do not even think of this concern as they go about dealing with the workload in front of them. While caught up in the minute-by-minute decisions they have to make all day, they may fail to step back and ask themselves some basic questions: 

What tasks are people working on and why?

Are we spending more time working on the wrong tasks and less time on the ones that count?

And even if people are working on the tasks that count, do the people and the tasks match (the principal idea that we will address in Chapter 3)?

This is very simple stuff. However, not only can it be difficult to make sure that your organization has good answers to these questions, many leaders also spend days, months, and even years not asking them. A sort of laissez-faire attitude creeps in: “We do what we do because that’s what we do, and that’s how we do it!”

Nevertheless, these questions are important, and managers should be asking them all the time. Every effective high-performance leader of a department, a division, or an entire organization spends significant time making certain that he is getting the right things done.

Furthermore, this skill is not a by-product of some other desirable attributes of an effective leader. A leader doesn’t get things done simply because she is good with people, charismatic, persuasive, or has an appealing personality, although these traits are real pluses for any leader. Instead, this is a fundamental characteristic of effective leaders, cultivated as a skill all its own. It is the ability (1) to size up all the things her organization could be doing and deciding what it should be doing and (2) taking the shoulds and getting them done!

A Methodical Approach to Results

You can learn to be a results-oriented person. This book gives you a clear and practical way to get the right things done as often as possible, one of the most important jobs you face as a manager. Specifically, it will do the following:

1. Provide you with a simple, systematic method to apply to every decision you make about what gets done and—usually overlooked—who does it as the key to better productivity and high performance. 

Much is written today about the high level of stress and burnout in the work environment. Obviously, people are busy doing something. At the same time, when asked to respond anonymously about how they spend their time on the job, employees admit that much of what they do is “busy work,” not crucial to the success of the company. Indeed, some estimate that they are achieving only 40 to 60 percent of their potential. As many as 7 of 10 employees say that they could be significantly more effective at what they do on the job. And they want to be more effective!

Therefore, despite the notion that today’s downsized, no-nonsense workplace is supposedly stripped to the bone, people are still not being asked to perform at full capability. And this is a leadership problem. Not that managers don’t try to crack the whip or offer incentives to direct reports so that they will go faster, waste less time, and take shorter breaks to accomplish more. However, our interest is in raising the percentage of work people do on the job that actually contributes to getting things done.

If your employees are only working at about half their potential, just imagine what it would mean if you could tap into that reserve and raise it by as little as 10 percent. If you can think logically, you can apply our systematic approach. You can focus on the tasks that are essential to your company’s success and assign them to the right people.

2. Help you analyze problems that can keep managers from getting the right things done.

All of us are creatures of habit. As you will see, a lot of the unnecessary or incorrectly assigned “work” that goes on in organizations year after year is the result of unexamined assumptions and deeply ingrained habits.

This part of the book will identify and explain the mistakes that are made over and over when assigning work. Sometimes such mistakes are the result of not analyzing the situation correctly. In other cases they are the result of not thinking at all about certain important factors that should go into deciding who is right or wrong for a task. In fact, entire corporate cultures have been built on fundamentally unsound thinking about what work should be done and who should be doing it.

As you read about common problems that you can relate to your own managerial role, you will see how to apply the ideas presented here to real workplace circumstances and gain insights that you can apply immediately. 

3. Show you how to go beyond managerial style and apply this effective tool for focusing on performance that will work for your personality and the particular managerial style you employ.

There is no question that cultivating an effective managerial style is essential for being a leader. However, your managerial style is not the focus of this book. While we advocate a particular leadership style that is the most effective for motivating employees, you can apply the principles presented here whatever your present style is.

4. Demonstrate how you can get your people to perform effectively, closer to the way people perform in a crisis, but without the stress and burnout associated with a crisis.

It is a common phenomenon. Organizations that appear to be busy and even overworked are often able to kick into overdrive when faced with a crisis—sometimes doubling and tripling the quality and quantity of their performance. Why is this?

When forced by a crisis to concentrate solely on important work, organizations employ many of the same principles and go through the same decision making processes that are the basis for this book.

They truly focus on getting the right things done. This successful crisis-management behavior can be applied to your organization without requiring a real crisis to make it work. You get the sizzle without going through the anguish to get the same results.

5. Explain how applying this simple tool can build a foundation for significant leadership in your organization.

Although it is simple to apply, this does not mean that this system is simple-minded. Its simplicity helps you to focus clearly and precisely on how you direct people and the work they do.

We will discuss the role you play in your organization and how you can use these methods to aim high and to realize that making good decisions about assigning work and getting the most out of the people who will do it is a signature skill of effective, high performing leaders.

Run Faster by Running Smarter

Finally, understand that while improved efficiency and productivity will result from using these techniques, this is not a book about managing your time. It’s about deciding how your organization uses its time. It is also not concerned with installing processes to make people move faster or finding ways to squeeze more tasks into a given time frame.

Rather, increased productivity will result from putting the right people on the right tasks. Why? Because of the simple proposition that the more often people are working on something they do well, the faster it gets done—unless, of course, they despise that particular task! More about this later. Suffice it to say here that the principles you apply from reading this book get to the heart of how your people work without putting a stopwatch to what they do. You will end up running the race faster by running it smarter.

We hope you are excited about learning the many benefits of using this system. We are excited to bring it to you because it is a tested tool that was developed over many years by leaders in some of today’s most dynamic and successful organizations doing business globally. It works for the smallest department. It works for the largest corporation.

So read on and discover how to hang this tool on your managerial belt, ready to use often as you go through your day making smart assignment decisions that get the right things done. Each good decision will be a building block that contributes to a structure of better productivity and higher performance.

Order Your Copy

To order your Why Can’t We Get Anything Done Around Here book, please complete the form below. If you’d like more info on our accompanying workshop, please contact us.