Stress-Free Work Results

How a manager restores team morale during challenging times

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Wynona Redmond

Already familiar with managing a full plate,the ongoing economic crisis has created a more intense workload and additional challenges for Wynona Redmond, director of public affairs and government relations for Oakbrook, Illinois-headquartered Dominick’s Finer Foods, Chicagoland’s second largest supermarket chain. “My team is always on-call handling urgent matters as they arise and those addressing the various stakeholders and constituencies,” says Redmond. Like many professionals, Redmond’s department has been challenged with maximizing productivity on a more conservative budget during the current economic climate. In addition to their usual workload, requests for charitable support have tripled as nonprofits have seen major declines in grants, requiring the public affairs team to work even smarter.

To help her team succeed and thrive in the changing economic landscape, Redmond revisited David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (Penguin; $16), a time-management almanac for busy professionals.

Redmond asserts that Getting Things Done provides a system and offers a proven method for high-performance workflow management. She incorporates the following practices to de-stress her work life and improve results:

Manage commitments.
Allen recommends writing down all the “to-do” items that are currently on our minds and categorizing them in an organized structure.  Each week Redmond and her team capture their work commitments in one document and discuss the expectations of each commitment.

Identify the “next action.”
Allen describes the “next action” as the only subsequent physical activity that can and must occur in order to move a project toward completion.  He encourages readers to choose next actions that take context, priority, and available time and energy into consideration. Redmond readily admits to punctuating her discussions with three questions: What’s the next step? Who’s responsible? When will it be completed?

Do it, defer it, or delegate it.
Allen offers a quick, momentum-building plan for taking identified next actions. He suggests immediately handling items that require less than two minutes of effort, deferring actions that take longer and delegating actions when someone else is more appropriate for doing it. Redmond says, “By going through the process, we’ve identified functions that were more appropriately handled outside our department that freed us up a lot.”

This article appeared in the December 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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