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Understand the Why of Paperwork

Think about how you set expectations for your team: Who will do What by When and Why. The frustration with paperwork and administrative tasks usually comes because we don't understand the Why. We see it as some task that takes up time (our time - which we consider the most valuable) with no clear benefit.

Therefore, once you understand the Why, you will have a better appreciation for the task.

Think of it from two sides: yours and whoever is doing work for you.

From your side, you want to understand the why so you can do excellent work (get them what they need) and possibly make suggestions or improvements. For example, if the marketing department asks me to send them a weekly report, I am going to say "sure" and then ask why they need the information. As they tell me how they will use it, I may find ways to create the report easier and actually make suggestions for them. It may be what they asked for was more than they needed, so I simplify the task. Plus, if I suggest something else added to the report would help their purpose, they will see me as a partner, not someone they have to struggle with.

From the side of people who are providing you information, the same concept applies. Once they know, they can figure out the best way to do things and then make suggestions for me. They can make my life better.

A great example has to do with weekly reports. I always ask my team to provide me with a report on Friday afternoon that tells me what they accomplished this week, what they are working on next week, and any questions or concerns they have. I don't simply ask for this as a status report, I explain how I use it. I tell them that I am not checking up on them, but it becomes an easy way for me to keep tabs on projects without bothering them individually. This way, I can offer suggestions if I know something they may not be aware of. Or, I can answer senior leader questions about the project with confidence. It also lets me know who might need help, who has some bandwidth, and who might need some coaching.

Once they know all this and realize I am not doing it simply to give them something to do or because I don't trust them, most people are fine with it and actually give me some really great information I may not have thought to ask for.

When someone still resists, then it becomes time for feedback and possibly coaching. Some people will never come around, but most do.

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