The Dreaded Backlog… How To Smash Your Team’s To-Do List

The Dreaded Backlog

Most people have been back to work for a week, or longer. Chances are your todo list is growing, daily. Some of the items on there are just a case of finding time, but others are painfully complex; requiring solutions you haven’t quite worked out.

Here’s a quick technique to liberate you and your team of these horrendous backlogs.

What’s the backlog and why should I care?
Rewind your mind back to December. 

Can you recall the rush and that d@mn to-do list? It wasn’t a December problem. It was the accumulation of to-do items across the year. 

Why does that happen?

Well, you’re busy. Meetings, emails, phone calls, staff crisis, customer problems and everything in-between. By the time you get to the things you actually NEED to progress, you just don’t have the time and mental capacity to figure out a solution.

This happens day in and day out to you and your team until your to-do list turns into a collection of flipped over chairs in the room that is your ‘work’.

A flipped over chair is messy, annoying and occasionally stubs your toe to remind you it’s there (cue the swearing and hopping on one foot).

Once the pain subsides, you don’t pick up the chair, you just move it a bit further out of the ‘way’; invariably smashing your toe again.

Let’s fix that here.

How to solve it: The Monthly Hack Session
We do a LOT of work with companies helping them to build better teams. One of the best ways to lift your team cohesion and outcomes is to share some pain and work together to solve it.

Here’s a process to do just that.

The steps:

  1. Get everyone to track the complex, wicked and/or painful problems that they have on their list. You need to tell the team beforehand what the intent is and make sure it’s about HOW to help, rather than pointing out failures.
  2. Before the meeting, get everyone to pop their list on to a shared document. It doesn’t matter if you use OneDrive, Google Drive or a massive whiteboard. Just have it be a shared document everyone can add to at the same time so you don’t lose people’s contributions.
  3. Buy a cake, pizza or whatever your long meeting guilty pleasure is and tell people you will have that at the meeting (come on, who doesn’t show up for cake?). 
  4. Have a team meeting where the ONLY thing you do is work together on these to-do list items/problems (from step 1). Have the group offer ideas, solutions and share experiences of how they’ve solved similar challenges. THERE IS NO OBLIGATION for the team member to adopt the proposed solutions, but they DO have to commit to what they will do to smash the problem so it isn’t on the list again the next month.
  5. Share the list of problems solved and actions committed to via email to everyone after the meeting.
  6. Do a mid-month check-in.
  7. Repeat the following month. If a problem is on there again, go through the same process to try and come up with new ideas.

This is essentially a mini-mastermind group where you use your 3-12+ brains to solve problems together. The person still owns the solution, but they and the team get the feeling of trust and support by having the whole team work through it.

I want you to try this technique for NO LESS THAN two months. The first one will be wobbly, the second will get you a better result. The third will be smooth like butter.

Need help lifting your team results?

Click here and schedule a call.

Until then, keep being amazing.

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