Robert Pozen knows a little something about thriving at the top — he’s the former chairman of MFS Investment Management, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, and the author of the book Extreme Productivity. I recently asked him about how demands on executives — and CEOs in particular — have changed over the years, and how today’s leaders can best navigate their busy days. An edited version of our conversation is below.
What are the most pressing productivity issues executives are facing today, and how can they tackle them?
For executives who aren’t part of the C-suite, I think the two most pressing issues are meetings and email. They consume a ridiculous amount of people’s time, and a lot of it isn’t well spent. But they’re both solvable problems.
On email, my suggestions are pretty simple. First, don’t look at it every minute; look at it every hour or two. Second, try to discipline yourself to read only the subject matter in order to discard 50% to 80% of your emails right away. We all get so much spam. Third, practice what I call “OHIO” — Only Handle It Once, immediately deciding what to do with each email. Concentrate on the emails that are important and answer them right away. And don’t put them into some sort of storage system, because by the time you’re ready to finally tackle them, you’ll spend another half an hour trying to find them…
Between our finances, fitness, beauty, working — even our souls. We can spend thousands of dollars on making ourselves better. The self-help business is booming: from personal trainers to plastic surgery, how are we spending money to help ourselves? This is the question that radio host Tom Hudson and I discuss tonight on Miami’s WLRN “Sunshine Economy”…
Are obsolete ideas about productivity holding back investment professionals? The modern investment industry is a knowledge-based business operating with an industrial-era mentality about time management, according to Harvard economist (and Future of Finance adviser) Robert Pozen. In the November/December issue of CFA Institute Magazine, he explains why professional investors who want to excel “must totally change their mindset” about productivity.
To be an effective manager, you need to be skilled at giving out both praise and criticism. While praise is easy to give, it is far more challenging and unpleasant to criticize your employees. Yet the practice of management requires you to occasionally show employees where they need to improve. Thus, it is vital for managers to learn how and when to give negative feedback.
Despite the endless predictions that business travel will become “obsolete,” spending on business travel has just climbed to an all-time high according to Oxford Economics. Since business travel doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, what steps should you take to maximize your productivity on the road?
Here are my four top tips for effective business travel: