Let Them Eat Cake

Change saturation is a common challenge in today’s workplace and the cause can be either a lack of resiliency, lack of capacity or both. We’ve observed too many times leaders piling on more and more layers of things to do and wondering why change takes soo long to stick.
Capacity for change is a clear factor but the tip today is more about resiliency. People need time to learn, grow and recover. The time that an employee has to engage in take that professional development activity is usually at the top layer of the Layer Cake.
A Layer Cake is our analogy to explain the multiple layers of an employee’s responsibility:

  • Layer One: What an employee must do to accomplish their job for 35 to 40 hours per week.
  • Layer Two: Set on top of Layer One comes all the projects employees are involved in, supporting or leading.
  • Layer Three: Set at the very top, and last, on the cake is personal development which is necessary for the ongoing growth and change of the employee and, ultimately, the organization.

When it comes to organizational resiliency and change capacity, Layer Three is an area of great opportunity for an organization. Unfortunately there is often little capacity for this important work. Successful change requires capacity to learn, grow, adapt and adopt. If the layers of the cake are too filling, there’s no room left for adaptation and change.
THE CHALLENGE: there is more to do than there are hours in the day / week (each person has 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, 60 minutes in an hour for a grand total of 10,080 minutes to spend on sleeping, eating, fun, family and friends…and work!
Tips for dealing with the Challenge:
Look at Your Cake – assess your work and how much of your time is being devoted to each layer of the cake. Are you out of balance? Draw a picture of your cake and identify what is in each layer. You may be surprised by the expectations of each layer as you look at them. Once you’ve looked at your cake, check out the following three tips.

  • Work Smarter – how often do you “audit” your work habits? It’s easy to fall into routines that are not as efficient as they could be. For example, do you check email first thing in the morning? Change that habit and begin your day by looking at your schedule and your daily goals. Then you can schedule in time to read and respond to email. Don’t let your day get hijacked.
  • Tell Your Manager – organizations suffer from “Satellite Syndrome.” They put projects, tasks and actions up into space like satellites and leave them to orbit endlessly. How many reports are produced because they always have been done that way? Are they serving a purpose? Is there a better way? Talk to your manager about those items that have been “abandoned in space.” Explain what needs eliminated, the purpose it used to serve and how it can be replaced with something more effective or simply stopped.
  • Prioritize – once you’ve looked at your cake, determine where you need to focus your time and energy. You can’t do it all equally well. Based on your career goals and your interests decide where to focus. Too often the urgent trumps the important. When you prioritize and pay attention you can avoid this trap.
    Unfortunately there is no cure for the layer cake that is out of balance. However, we are on a mission to help leaders pay attention to their employee’s cakes and ensure there is adequate capacity for the demands being placed on them.

You can take control of your layer cake by identifying it’s layers and then working smarter, talking with your manager and prioritizing.

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