Organizations have two types of work in today’s business environment: day-to-day work and project work. Both have a unique purpose and benefit to the organization. However, the latter is much harder than the other to get completed; but, its impact on the organization’s performance is very high.
Day-to-day work is the work that justifies an organization’s existence based on its purpose. It’s what an organization does to provide value to the company. Day-to-day work is the type of work, if not completed or done properly, that will get immediate negative feedback. It is considered urgent and important.
Project work is temporary in nature and usually involves initiatives that improve the efficiency and quality of day-to-day work. It can also be strategic in nature, driving the company or organization’s strategy forward. It is always at odds with day-to-day work in terms of priority. If the results from project work are not delivered on time or satisfactorily, it never hurts an organization immediately. However, it will hurt the organization in the future because the completed output from the project work won’t have improved the organization’s performance level.
For leaders, there is no doubt that performance matters. Extremely high expectations are expected of them, and their ability to deliver determines their bonus and employment security. Performing well today is important but not any more important than performing better in the future. Increasing an organization’s throughput and quality is paramount. This is why project work is so very crucial.
So, how does an organizational leader or project management leader balance their employee’s effort in performing well today with the effort needed to perform better tomorrow? Leaders have to be able to influence the resources used on project work so they don’t get sucked into the urgency of day-to-day work. The best way to make this happen is to only have employees assigned to day-to-day work for 25% of their time. Having them assigned to project work at least 75% of the time will allow employees to get the projects done sooner and will keep them focused so it is harder to get drawn into the day-to-day work demands.
If leaders put a higher priority on project work, seeing it as an investment, then they will lessen the effort required to manage the day-to-day work. Truly, all leaders should view project work as their organization’s most important work.