QUADRANT II - Finding time to do the right things
"Quadrant II does not act on us; we must act on it. This is the Quadrant of personal leadership." S. Covey First Things First"
Quadrant II organising empowers you to look at the best use of your time through the paradigm of importance rather than urgency." S. Covey First Things First
Quadrant II activities are important, but not urgent. Because they are not urgent they are always, on any given day, easy not to do. Yet important activities are the very activities that most need to be done. Arranging training for your Committee is never urgent - it could always wait a bit longer. Yet it is clear to see that it would make a big difference to the way in which your union runs. On the other hand putting up a poster about an out-of-school event next week that isn't going to be any good but a teacher keeps hassling you about is urgent (so will get done) but will never be important.
The challenge is to escape from having to do things that aren't important (by saying no, or by making them important by changing them) to concentrate on things that are important but not urgent.
In his book on time management First Things First, Stephen Covey compares the organisational cultures of successful and unsuccessful companies. In a typical unsuccessful company 25-30% of time is spent in Quadrant I, 50-60% is spent in Quadrant III, and only 15% is spent in Quadrant II. In a successful company 20-25% of time is spent on Quadrant I activities, just 15% of time on urgent but not important (Quadrant III) activities, and 65-80% of time on Quadrant II activities. Quadrant II activities - important but not urgent activities, are present wherever success is present.
The following kinds of activities are Quadrant II activities that you will be well served working on. Do not allow yourself to be side-tracked by the sense of urgency that can pervade all unions - refuse to do things explaining why you don't have time - and instead set your own Quadrant II agenda.
Good delegation is perhaps the best use of time. It empowers others, helping them to develop as well as helping more get done. It is commonly thought that delegation is a very quick way of getting work done. You just tell some one else to do what you were going to do. However that isn't how good delegation works.
To successfully set up delegation, you need to think about what you want done, what guidelines to set, how reporting back should be done etc. If you take a short cut at this stage you will quickly find that delegation can actually make a lot more work than you thought. To spend time in Quadrant II on delegation, sit and think. Don't rush - good delegation is the most high leverage activity there is, you don't need to do it before you know what you are going to say. In fact, better not to delegate than to delegate badly.
Examples of things that you could delegate to save time and increase success include publicity, a specific event, speakers - anything really. If you delegate something to somebody and they are treating that thing as the entire focus of their job, they will do it much better than if you were merely paying that thing a small amount of attention.
Phoning someone to chat often seems like a waste of time. Listening to somebody's worries or difficulties can seem to get in the way of what you have planned. Setting aside an hour to chat to one of your Committee might seem bizarre to somebody who doesn't think in terms of importance. But if you manage to think about developing people, about getting important things done, then you need to do it.
Relationship building is the key to success in a union. You ought to be concerned with getting to know people - leaders and future leaders especially. You need to make sure that you set time aside to pro-actively seek out people to forge relationships. You can motivate and direct people by getting to know them better. They might feel flattered that you want to know them. You will start a culture of being friendly and welcoming - that will have a huge impact upon your whole union. By being able to understand others, by getting on better with others, your actions will be better understood, and better judged. This means that if people make mistakes it won't be the start of a huge argument. By building relationships, you are able to build commitment and involvement - the key to a strong Jewish student union.
Taking the time to plan activities before putting them in to action is one of the best possible uses of time. Don't embark on something without spending time thinking out your plan of action. Most people don't plan a lot. Most people plan very little. This means that you may feel as if you are wasting time, that others are getting a jump on you, that you too need to start acting.
Good planning of a project (a Chanukah party etc.) means that you know who is meant to be doing what. You are able to give everybody a sensible time scale to work with. You have thought out what should happen, what aims you have.
It might not feel like it, but time spent planning is nearly always more valuable than time spent doing. Find a quiet time away from everybody, and just plan - with others or on your own. Planning things usually reduces the amount of time it takes you to actually do them, as you can proceed in to action not only more effectively, but also more speedily. So plan, plan, and plan again.
There are a lot of things that need to be prepared for. All meetings need to be prepared for. Events need to be prepared for. Anything that is a concentrated period of time spent doing things with other people should be prepared for.
Meetings are the best example of something that should be prepared for. This is Quadrant II time well spent. Sit down and read any paperwork for a meeting before attending. If you are in charge of a meeting (as you are the Chair) find out what should have happened by this meeting according to the minutes of the last meeting. Always read the agenda and work out if you have anything that you want to say. Make sure that you have worked out a position on any potential disagreements that you anticipate.
Prepare for events by getting all of the equipment together, and making sure that there aren't any last minute rushes. Use checklists to make sure that nothing is forgotten. The value of preparation becomes clear at events, as the time spent preparing saves the most difficult stresses.
An organisation is a bit like a chariot, being pulled by a number of horses. If the horses are well harnessed, they pull in the right direction, quickly and speedily. If the horses pull in different directions at best energy is wasted, at worst the chariot will be destroyed by the lack of alignment.
Values clarification is necessary for any union that depends upon the use of a number of different individuals' energies to function. The only union that doesn't need to clarify values and direction is one that is run by only one person - and even then it can be worth working out what you want to achieve and why. Values clarification means clarifying what beliefs ought to guide an organisation. Values clarification exercises could be anything from the large task of getting a mission statement written to working out the underlying principles in play after making a decision. It is important to ensure that this sort of work is done - without setting aside time it will simply not be. Good values clarification exercises can include working out what the aims of a certain event that has always been run are, deciding what area of activity to prioritise, discussing with a group of people what their motivations for helping the union are, and many others.
The best resource that anyone has - according to a Quadrant II approach - is people. In fact, more than that, people are an end in themselves and not merely a resource. Training - investing in people - is one of the most important things that anybody can do.
The old adage about teaching a person to fish instead of giving that person a fish is vitally important in all unions. With a variety of different tasks needed to be done, and no born experts to do them, it is imperative to develop people by training. The amount of responsibility and the complexity of tasks that unions can have is very large - equivalent to any small non-profit organisation. To function properly - as with any well run organisation - training is necessary.
An extensive training timetable is essential to really develop a union. If you can work out what tasks people are expected to perform, and then schedule time in for them to be trained in it, you will make sure that they can get things done. By setting up a well trained Committee, it is possible to rapidly expand your union. The more training is planned the better, so put together a timetable for training at the start of the year. If as you progress through the year you identify something as being a bit weak, then all you need to do is arrange training so that you can improve things in that area - be it publicity, your website, the quality of assemblies, or even how well you organise your own time.
Organisations have cultures. Some organisations are corrupt. Others are hard working and serious. Some organisations value hard work. Others are full of nepotism. The culture of an organisation is often quite simple to identify. It can be another thing entirely trying to change it. Different unions are very different - some are serious, others aren't. Some are full of massively dedicated people, in some unions things are more of a side-line. The culture of a union is shaped in a few different ways. Obviously individuals shape the culture. So does the organisational structure too though - is it hierarchical, does it encourage individuals to be valued etc.? Constitutions and mission statements create a culture in their words - but only if they are noticed in the organisation. More than anybody else, the behaviour and values of the union Chair shapes its culture. If you are hard working, the union will take that on; if you are fun and enjoy what you do, the union will take that on etc. [dugma ishit]
The right organisational culture is vitally important. If your union is trying to be open to all but the culture isn't welcoming it won't happen. If your union is trying to train and develop people but doesn't give people the time of day, all work will be in vain. A culture makes what you do possible, or even easy to achieve.
To change a culture change yourself. Think hard, be honest at a deep level, and then commit to change. Change others by leading by example or sensitive hinting. Try and change reward systems and structures to match the culture that you want. Changing a culture requires a lot of thought, and will only happen if somebody consciously makes it happen.