Front-load to Protect Your Time

by | Apr 18, 2019

As a business professional, you know how important it is to prioritize important tasks before the day or week begins. This is an effective strategy to leverage time. However, have you ever considered prioritizing important guidelines for communication, before a conversation or meeting begins?

Let me introduce you to the front-load. Countless hours a year are wasted on spending time in conversations and meetings that have no purpose. Use a front-load to reduce the number of times this happens, and you’ll save valuable time.

Front-loading can relate to prioritizing important tasks before the day or week begins. This is an effective strategy to leverage time. However, where it can be most effective is in prioritizing important guidelines for communication, before a meeting begins.

To establish yourself as a leader, front-load your meetings. This will help you protect your time, and the time of others. You will do this by stating the purpose, establishing or confirming the time allotted, outlining possible outcomes, and gaining commitment before a meeting begins.

Here’s the step-by-step process for practicing and learning the art of the front-load to lead a team meeting or a sales call.

1. Begin with empathy and consideration.

At RedRock, we discuss three different types of empathy -cognitive, emotional and compassionate. In this case, I’m referring to cognitive empathy, which is your conscious ability to assess and respond to another’s emotions. For example, if you can see that the person you are speaking with is in a hurry, then you might need to pick up your pace of speech and demonstrate a sense of urgency. On the other hand, if that person is moving at a leisurely pace, then you will want to slow down the speed of your conversation and movements. If somebody acts in a casual way, you’ll want to be casual, but if that person is more business-like, you will want to straighten up and act professional.

Your posture and nonverbal cues mean a lot when you front-load. For example, to show that you are listening and engaged, try not to cross your arms in front of you; that sends a signal that you are closed off from the other person.

2. State purpose of the meeting.

Some of the greatest time wasters of business professionals are being part of meetings that have no defined purpose. When you call a meeting, state the purpose of the meeting before the meeting begins. Then, when everyone arrives at the meeting, be sure that everyone agrees with its purpose.

3. Be clear about the scheduled length of your meeting.

I am surprised at the number of meeting invites I receive that are obviously set with a default of 30 or 60-minutes. Few things are as frustrating as thinking you are going into a meeting scheduled for 30-minutes and receiving a 60-minute agenda. What’s equally annoying is setting up a 60-minute meeting only to find out that the person you are meeting was only expecting to stay for 30-minutes. To minimize frustrations and make the most of your time, set and agree upon the length of your meetings before they begin.

4. Outline possible outcomes and gain commitment.

One of Steven Covey’s Habits of Highly Effective People is Begin with the End in Mind. Getting everyone focused on possible outcomes will keep your meetings focused and on track. When you outline possible outcomes, you are establishing a vision for the people in your meeting to pursue.

Below are examples of a front-load for managers who lead team meetings and sales professionals who lead sales calls with their prospects.

Front-loading for Managers Who Lead Team Meetings:

Begin with empathy and consideration.
“I appreciate you being here.”

Purpose
“The purpose of this meeting is to align our thinking.”

Time
“We’ve planned __ minutes for this time together. Does this work for you?”

Outcome
“_____ will be our parking lot attendant. Any items that may take us off on a tangent will go into a parking lot that we will address during the final 15 minutes of our meeting, right before we assign action items.”

End with empathy and consideration.
“Are you in agreement with our agenda and format?”

Front-loading for Sales Professionals Who Lead Sales Calls:

Begin with empathy and consideration.
“I appreciate you setting aside time to meet with me. I am looking forward to
our discussion.”

Purpose
“The purpose of this call is to explore how we can be a resource for each other.”

Time
“Does the __ minutes we had set aside work for you?”

Outcome
“Typically, I find there are three logical outcomes to a call like this.”
– We agree to move forward and work together.
– We decide we need more time, so we schedule our next call.
– Through extensive conversation, we realize that it doesn’t make sense to work together.”

End with empathy and consideration.
“Does this make sense to you?”

RedRock Offers Management and Leadership Training. Managing, protecting and leveraging your time is just one of the many topics we cover in our RedRock management, sales and leadership training and coaching programs. Learn more at www.redrockleadership.com.

Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder & CEO of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.