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Are you a time-efficient communicator?

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Your interactions with others consume a huge portion of your day and, if done wrong, can be a huge time waster. Even technical workers who work on machines all day can spend up to 75 percent of their time communicating with co-workers. By improving the quality of your communications, you can greatly increase the efficiency of your interactions.

1. Common misunderstandings: A major time waster. A major waste of time is caused by misunderstandings about roles, goals and responsibilities. People may not know what they are expected to do, how they are expected to do it and by what time. Misunderstandings lead to inefficiencies, anger, frustration and unhappiness and can require an enormous amount of time to clear up and get matters back to normal.

2. Listen carefully and set clear priorities. Misunderstandings about priorities often lead to your working at the wrong job, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason and at the wrong level of quality. On the other hand, knowing exactly what is expected leads to positive feelings and high levels of motivation at work. The #1 complaint (or de-motivator) of employees is that they lack this important knowledge. In order to perform at your best, you need absolute clarity about your job and what you are expected to do.

3. Poor delegation. Poor delegation to others or from others leads to mistakes and frustration for both the boss and the employee. It is a major time waster. Poor delegation causes even the most sincere, talented people to do poor work because they have been assigned to the wrong jobs. This causes them to feel frustrated and unhappy.

4. Save time through lines of authority. Unclear lines of authority and responsibility also lead to wasted time. People do not know who is supposed to do what job, when is it be done and to what standard of quality. People are left to wonder who is supposed to report to whom? Who’s in charge? Who’s the boss?

5. Incomplete information. Another major time waster in business is poor or incomplete information, which leads to erroneous assumptions and conclusions. It is amazing how often people jump to conclusions or make false assumptions on the basis of wrong information.

The very best managers take the time to ask questions and listen carefully to the answers before they make a decision. If there is a key piece of information that suggests a problem or difficulty, they check to make sure it’s accurate.

6. Aimless or too-frequent meetings. Too many meetings or aimless meetings that proceed without an agenda, direction or attempt at closure are an enormous time waster at work. These are meetings that start and stop without any particular resolution. No problems are solved, no decisions are made and no responsibilities are assigned. No deadlines are agreed upon for follow up or action.

7. Lack of clarity concerning one’s job. People need to know everything that is happening in the company that affects their particular jobs. The very best companies are open and honest with all employees concerning matters affecting the health of the company.

Employees need to know what is going on and how their jobs fit into the big picture. When employees are unclear or unsure, an enormous amount of time is lost as the result of conversations, discussions and gossip, all of which lead to ineffective work behaviors and poor productivity.

8. The best managers take action. Be crystal clear in explaining to others exactly what is to be done, to what standard of performance and by what date. By following the above steps, you will save time and become a more efficient manager.

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Brian Tracy is the CEO of Brian Tracy International, which specializes in business training, and the author of the best-selling Psychology of Achievement. For more information, go to