McKinsey Global Survey results    How effectively executives    spend their time                                         J...
2       McKinsey Global Survey results     How effectively executives spend their time                                    ...
3   McKinsey Global Survey results   How effectively executives spend their time                                     Surve...
4   McKinsey Global Survey results   How effectively executives spend their time                                     Execu...
5       McKinsey Global Survey results        How effectively executives spend their time                                 ...
6       McKinsey Global Survey results     How effectively executives spend their time                                    ...
7       McKinsey Global Survey results   How effectively executives spend their time                                      ...
8   McKinsey Global Survey results    How effectively executives spend their time                                       Lo...
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Mc kinsey how effectively executives spend their time

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Just half of executives say their time spent at work aligns with their organizations’ strategic
priorities. Great support makes a big difference.
Senior executives often struggle to manage their time, though that time is
arguably among individuals’ and organizations’ most precious assets. This survey sought to
find out how and where executives spend their time and how satisfied they are with the
current allocation.
1
The results begin to highlight a few areas where executives could make
small changes that would lead to meaningful improvements in their effectiveness
and satisfaction.
More than half of all executives—57 percent—say they are at least somewhat satisfied
with how they spend their working time. But only 9 percent of respondents say they are “very
satisfied” and a full one-third are dissatisfied. The data show a fundamental mismatch
between where executives say they currently spend their time and where they want to, while
only 52 percent of respondents say the way they spend their time largely matches their
organizations’ strategic priorities.

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Transcript of "Mc kinsey how effectively executives spend their time"

  1. 1. McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time Just half of executives say their time spent at work aligns with their organizations’ strategic priorities. Great support makes a big difference. Senior executives often struggle to manage their time, though that time is arguably among individuals’ and organizations’ most precious assets. This survey sought to find out how and where executives spend their time and how satisfied they are with the current allocation.1 The results begin to highlight a few areas where executives could make small changes that would lead to meaningful improvements in their effectiveness and satisfaction. More than half of all executives—57 percent—say they are at least somewhat satisfied with how they spend their working time. But only 9 percent of respondents say they are “very satisfied” and a full one-third are dissatisfied. The data show a fundamental mismatch1 The online survey was in the field between where executives say they currently spend their time and where they want to, while from November 8 to November 18, only 52 percent of respondents say the way they spend their time largely matches their 2011, and garnered responses from 1,374 executives at the level organizations’ strategic priorities. of general manager or above. Respondents represent all regions, industries, company sizes, forms It’s no surprise that respondents say they spend twice as much time managing short-term of ownership, and functional crises as they would like. Indeed, the time spent on crisis is the single biggest difference specialties. The data are weighted by the contribution of each between a group of executives who say they are most satisfied with how they spend their time respondent’s nation to global GDP and that it closely matches strategic priorities (whom we’ll call “effective time optimizers”) to adjust for differences in response rates. and those who are least satisfied and say it least matches. What executives want instead Jean-François Martin
  2. 2. 2 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time is more time with customers or clients and in more far-flung parts of their own companies, rather than headquarters. Executives also want to spend more time communicating face-to-face. In addition, many respondents say they are seeing benefits from “always-on” technology that go beyond connectivity, such as improving their effectiveness in making tough decisions (and a far greater share of effective time optimizers indicate they see such benefits than do other respondents). Respondents on the whole report that they have less time alone to focus on important topics than they should—nearly one-third say they have such “dedicated focus” time once a week or less—which suggests that many executives’ time may be unhelpfully fragmented. Though CEOs are often cited as the executives facing the biggest time crunch, this survey shows that the executives just below them—the so-called “CXOs” such as chief financial officers and chief marketing officers—and general managers have a more difficult time optimizing their time and spend even less time focused on strategic priorities. How executives spend their time Executives report notable disparities in how they currently allocate and would ideally allocate their time across activities, people, communication channels, and locations2 (Exhibits 1 and 2). On the whole, responses indicate that executives want an organization that can better manage day-to-day operations on its own, leaving the most senior executives with more time to focus on the long term. For all the talk about the demands of travel, respondents to this survey indicate that they feel somewhat tethered to headquarters: they say they spend 53 percent of their time there now, which they’d like to reduce to 39 percent; CXO respon- dents say they spend 63 percent of their time at headquarters, the highest share of any group 2 It’s also important to note that in the survey. Instead, executives would prefer to spend more time with clients and executives who are very over- customers: all respondents would ideally spend one-quarter of their time at client or customer whelmed may well not have had time to complete this survey. locations, up from 17 percent of their time spent currently.
  3. 3. 3 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time Survey 2011 CEO time Exhibit 1 of 6 Exhibit title: More time wanted with strategy and clients Exhibit 1 More time wanted with strategy and clients Average % of working time1 Actual time spent Ideal time spent On what, and with whom, respondents spend working time Activities Situations 20 24 Making operational decisions 14 Alone (eg, thinking, e-mailing, writing) 21 Managing short-term or unexpected 18 With clients, customers, or 17 issues or risks 9 potential customers 22 17 14 Managing and motivating people 22 With direct reports one-on-one 14 Setting organization’s direction 15 13 22 With other employees (eg, meetings) 10 and strategy Managing organization’s external 14 With direct reports as a group (eg, 12 stakeholders and relationships 17 leadership team) 13 Reviewing organization’s 12 10 12 With other external stakeholders 10 performance against goals 7 With the board or board members 8 Survey 2011 CEO time 1 Respondents who answered “other” are not shown. Exhibit 2 of 6 Exhibit title: Less time at HQ preferred Exhibit 2 Less time at HQ preferred Average % of working time1 Actual time spent Ideal time spent How respondents communicate and where they spend working time Communication channels used Locations 37 53 Face-to-face communication 43 At head office 39 Asynchronous messages 29 At client or customer 18 (eg, e-mail, voicemail, 20 25 locations social media) At other organizational Phone or other real- 21 11 locations within same time voice 18 13 region as head office Real-time messages (eg, remote meeting technology, 8 10 10 At home 12 instant messaging) 4 At organizational locations 7 Real-time video 9 10 in other regions 1 Respondents who answered “other” are not shown.
  4. 4. 4 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time Executives also say that they spend about one-quarter of their time alone, e-mailing and thinking, but only 27 percent report having uninterrupted time to focus on an important topic at least once a day. This time fragmentation is worse at lower levels: only 19 percent of general managers have uninterrupted time to focus more than once a day, compared with 37 percent of CEOs. The best and the worst What’s troubling about all of these mismatches and lost time for companies is that so many executives also indicate that the way they spend their time doesn’t match their organizations’ strategic priorities (Exhibit 3). Among CEOs, only 61 percent say their use of time matches priorities to a great extent or completely—that figure falls to 41 percent among CXOs. Naturally, Survey 2011 are dissatisfied with how they spend their time: one-quarter of CEOs many executives CEO time of all respondents say so. and 32 percent Exhibit 3 of 6 Exhibit title: Mismatched time and dissatisfaction with time 3 Exhibit spent Mismatched time and dissatisfaction with time spent % of respondents,1 n = 1,398 Extent to which time use matches organization’s Satisfaction with overall use of strategic priorities working time Not at all Very Very To a small extent 1 Completely dissatisfied satisfied 7 4 3 9 Somewhat dissatisfied 29 48 To a great To some 40 extent extent 48 10 Somewhat satisfied Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 1 Respondents who answered “don’t know/prefer not to answer” are not shown.
  5. 5. 5 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time A small group of respondents, however, say they are both very satisfied with how they spend their time and believe it matches their organizations’ strategic priorities completely or to a great extent—the ones we have called effective time optimizers. What’s most notable is that there are few differences in how these executives say they spend time compared with a 3 group of those who are least satisfied and say the way they spend their time barely matches The effective time optimizers say they’re working slightly strategic priorities (Exhibit 4), and in the amount of time spent working each week 3— more, 61 hours compared with though the most meaningful difference seems to be in the time spent on crisis. The dissatisfied 59 hours among the ineffective time optimizers. Effective executives, or “ineffective time optimizers,” say they spend 30 percent of their working time optimizers also say, however, Survey 2011 crises, compared with the satisfied, effective time optimizers who spend time managing that they take almost a week more of vacation each year. CEO time 13 percent. Exhibit 4 of 6 Exhibit title: Top time managers focus more on long term Exhibit 4 Top time managers focus more on long term Average % of working time1 Activities where Total, Effective time Ineffective current working time n = 1,374 optimizers,2 time optimizers,3 is spent n = 120 n = 59 Making operational decisions 20 19 20 Managing short-term or 18 13 30 unexpected issues or risks Managing and motivating people 17 17 14 Setting organization’s direction 15 16 9 and strategy Managing organization’s external 14 16 13 stakeholders and relationships Reviewing organization’s 12 12 12 performance against goals 1 Respondents who answered “other” are not shown. 2Respondents who say the way they spend time matches their organizations’ strategic priorities completely or to a great extent and that they are very satisfied with how they manage their working time. 3Respondents who say the way they spend time does not match their organizations’ strategic priorities at all and that they are very dissatisfied with how they manage their working time.
  6. 6. 6 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time Survey 2011 CEO time Exhibit 5 of 6 Exhibit title: Effective time optimizers have more support Exhibit 5 Effective time optimizers have more support % of respondents1 Effectiveness of support in scheduling and allocating time Effective Neither effective Ineffective Don’t know/prefer nor ineffective not to answer 3 Total, n = 1,398 55 21 21 Effective time optimizers,2 84 6 6 5 n = 125 2 Ineffective time optimizers,3 7 29 62 n = 61 1 Figuresmay not sum to 100%, because of rounding. 2Respondents who say the way they spend time matches their organizations’ strategic priorities completely or to a great extent and that they are very satisfied with how they manage their working time. 3Respondents who say the way they spend time does not match their organizations’ strategic priorities at all and that they are very dissatisfied with how they manage their working time. In findings that are no doubt related, the dissatisfied are spending markedly less time with clients and customers, and far more of their time at the head office. They also say they have far less uninterrupted time: only 31 percent of ineffective time optimizers say they have such time at least once a day, compared with 59 percent of the effective time optimizers. Another marked difference between the satisfied and dissatisfied executives in the effectiveness of their support in scheduling and allocating their time (Exhibit 5), which may be a critical distinguisher between executives who are able to align their actual time allocation with their ideal time dedication. Not surprisingly, there is also a great disparity in how satisfied the respondents in these two groups are with the amount of time spent. Eighty-three percent of effective time optimizers say they are satisfied with the amount of time they spend working, while only 22 percent of ineffective time optimizers say the same. Finally, always-on technologies can, of course, create enormous benefits in connectivity but they can also harmfully fragment executives’ time.4 Indeed, all respondents say they 4 want to reduce the amount of time they spend on asynchronous communications such as For example, see Derek Dean and Caroline Webb, “Recover- e-mail, from 29 percent to 20 percent; the effective time optimizers want to reduce it ing from information overload,” from 27 percent to 19 percent. But the results also show that much larger shares of optimizers mckinseyquarterly.com, January 2011. see meaningful benefits from these technologies than other respondents. Among the
  7. 7. 7 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time optimizers, 51 percent say these technologies have improved their effectiveness in making difficult decisions and 28 percent say they make them more effective in concentrating on com- plicated issues, compared with 42 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of all respondents. What it means at home 5 One reason may well be the More executives at larger companies (those with annual revenue of $1 billion or more) say they high degree of complexity many large organizations need to are dissatisfied with the amount of time they spend working, even though they report manage. For more, see Julian working slightly fewer hours than those at smaller companies (Exhibit 6). These executives Birkinshaw and Suzanne Heywood, “Putting organiza- also report that their time spent working takes more away from other aspects of their tional complexity in its lives. Altogether, these findings indicate that working at a larger organization may take place,” mckinseyquarterly.com, May 2010. a bigger toll on executives than working at a smaller one does.5 Only one-quarter of C-level executives at large companies say they have uninterrupted time to focus several times a day, compared with 31 percent Survey 2011 CEO time of their peers at smaller companies. Exhibit 6 of 6 Exhibit title: At larger companies, less satisfaction Exhibit 6 At larger companies, less satisfaction % of respondents1 Respondents at large companies,2 n = 262 Respondents at small companies,3 n = 1,034 Satisfaction with amount of time Amount of time available to participate in personal spent working activities (eg, social, religious, sporting) 49 1 Satisfied 56 All of the time desired 5 Neither satisfied 19 22 15 Most of the time desired nor dissatisfied 26 32 57 Dissatisfied 29 Some of the time desired 54 19 None of the time desired 13 1 Respondents who answered “don’t know” are not shown. 2Companies with annual revenues of ≥$1 billion. 3Companies with annual revenues of <$1 billion.
  8. 8. 8 McKinsey Global Survey results How effectively executives spend their time Looking ahead • Respondents want to spend less time alone and at headquarters, and more time with customers and colleagues. To make this possible, it is critical for executives to find a more effective way to manage e-mail and other incoming messages. Some are clearly better at this than others. For all, turning away from technology is unlikely to be the answer, but we’ve found that one straightforward way to get technology to work for you is experimenting with available tools, such as filtering and batching tools, that very few use currently. • If senior executives really want to spend less time managing day-to-day operations to gain the uninterrupted time they need to focus on important topics, they need to let go of the operating detail that often characterized their earlier jobs. Stepping away from habitual areas of expertise is difficult at any time, and can be particularly hard in volatile economic times. A helpfully clarifying exercise, we’ve found, is to identify where you can make distinctive contributions to your organization based on your unique vantage point, authority, and experience. • The effective time optimizers are much more likely to say they have excellent office support, which suggests that executives who have been getting along with “good enough” support could benefit significantly from taking the time to make improvements. However, this does not necessarily mean making a change in personnel. A valuable first step is actively managing, coaching, and developing an assistant just as you might with a valued successor or protégé, or taking better advantage of time-management tools. The contributors to the development and analysis of this survey include Frankki Bevins, a consultant in McKinsey’s Washington, DC, office; Aaron De Smet, a principal in the Houston office; and Caroline Webb, a principal in the London office. Copyright © 2011 McKinsey & Company. All rights reserved.

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