Ever found yourself thinking “what would the outcome have been if I had explained the task better or demonstrated what I needed done better?”

This article in the Mercury on the 30th January 2013 by Melanie Veness demonstrates exactly that:

I have been thinking quite a bit about efficiency lately.

I took leave in December, and as is customary, my dear housekeeper goes on leave at the same time. This leaves me oh joy with the housework to do. Of course, I constantly dream up ways of how to get things done quicker, smarter and faster.

First stop, the washing and ironing. It doesn’t take long to work out that quite a bit of your washing doesn’t need ironing, because it is never seen by anyone other than your own family, and that if you fold things when they come out of the tumble dryer or off the washing line, you can save yourself hours behind a steaming iron. We managed to keep the ironing in the ironing basket to a minimum, despite having overseas guests and constant flow of teenagers. This made me wonder why my dear Gogo, who never sits down for a minute, can’t keep on top of the ironing during term time. Quite simply, when you analyse it, her processes are seriously flawed and very inefficient. She irons everything (even tea towels) and scrunches all the washing up into baskets as she takes it off the line or out of the tumble dryer. It’s just about impossible to get the creases out of the sheets, and instead of folding things that don’t need ironing and putting them away, these items get bundled into the baskets too. It made me realise how important it is to train people to constantly think about the efficiency of process, because it is a mindset. As managers, we need to teach people to stand back and to look at their work through €œefficiency binoculars€, and to constantly question how they do things.

As Bruce Less says: “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of” (I watched quite a bit of television while I did the ironing). And we all know that time is money.

I have to say too, that I often found myself less than inspired when faced with the domestic chores. It took a fair amount of effort to drum up the necessary enthusiasm as a mantra and repeat it often and with gusto. He said: “Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes; the swing in your gait, the grip of your hand. The irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.”

Having mastered process and attitude, I learnt that it is not enough to give an instruction without explaining your reasoning in detail.

One of the things that drives me nearly insane at home is the Tupperware cupboard. When the dishwasher is emptied, everything is just squashed in wherever there is space, and it all falls out when you try to find a matching lid and container.

Over the years I have tried a number of systems that just fall apart after a couple of weeks, probably because I’m the only one that understands the system or the only one that’s bought into it. Anyway, my latest idea is to put all the lids standing upright in size order in one of my basket drawers. I emptied said drawer and then asked my precious housekeeper to move the lids across to the drawer while I was at work.

Bless her, when I got home, they were lying flat on top of each other, with only the top few easily accessible. She must have thought that I’d gone batty and wondered how this new “system” of mine was going to be any better than the previous chaos. It gave me a good giggle, and reminded me how important clear instruction is.

It made me think of what Gilbert Amelio, the president and chief executive of National Semi-conductor Corp, said: “Developing excellent communication skills is absolutely essential to effective leadership. The leader must be able to share knowledge and ideas, to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm to others. If a leader can’t get a message across clearly and motivate others to act on it, then having a message doesn’t even matter.”