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Work Smarter Not Harder: A Better Way to Elevate Team Performance

Why adding more people often causes more problems than it solves.

How my one-on-one meetings used to feel…

Read Time: 3 minutes

I do my best to unravel the complex mystery of management and provide highly actionable insights. 

The funny part is that no matter how refined those insights become, someone always asks me to simplify them further. 

If I give them five ideas, they'll immediately ask me, "But what are the three I really have to do?"

So here’s my definitive answer on the minimum you can do to manage:


Here’s what every leader should do instead first…

Join 500+ leaders on Tuesday, March 26th, at 1 PM ET for this free 30-minute workshop. Come for my tips. Leave with your working template.

Don’t Add Capacity. Find Focus Instead.

With any role in a business, the game is simple:

  • Convince someone to give you a dollar

  • Deliver value in excess of that dollar 

If the excess value is high enough

  • They'll buy again

  • They'll tell their friends

Soon, you'll go from time and no money to having money and no time. 

And you'll ask the obvious question that strains every leader: 

Is it time to hire someone? 

While I believe deeply in the power of high-performing teams, I think most of us use hiring as a cover for not making hard choices. And we overstate the capacity they’ll bring while underpricing the complexity they’ll add.


Hiring people is hard. In addition to their salary, there are bonuses and often equity. There's your direct cost of recruiting and your indirect effort to recruit. 

Managing people is harder. There's onboarding, training, coaching, feedback, development, and oversight. Hire a couple more, and we can get power struggles and unresolved conflict.

And that's if everything goes right.

If not, add in performance improvement plans, drama, severance, and, in extreme cases, lawyers, not to mention starting the who process over again.

Hiring is the highest-stakes decision you'll make as a leader. 

You either unlock new levels of performance for you and your team. Or you do subtraction through addition.

So if I can buy back time in some other way, I do it. 

What are the options? 


If it's not vital and directly supporting your effort to address your team's bottleneck, why are you doing it? 

It's easy to rationalize the work you've always done as important.

But is it? 

You can create capacity simply by doing less. 

You're only limited by your creativity and courage. 


If things happen on repeat, look for opportunities to standardize. 

I used to write every coaching or training program proposal from scratch. Then we stepped back and found that 80% of the content was repeated. And really, there were only three variants.

What used to take hours now takes minutes, and those minutes add up. 


The offspring of delete and standardize is streamlining. I call it out separately because we can usually find fewer steps to get to the same place. Maybe something that served us well before no longer does. 

For example, early on in the MGMT Accelerator, we had every student fill out an application. We realized that we were rejecting less than 5% of applicants, yet we had to urgently review them because we didn’t want to lose enrollments.

We streamlined the enrollment process, and quality went up. 


Software is a massive multiplier.

It used to be that you could only automate highly repetitive, structured work. If you have those, I'd definitely start there. For example, your calendar software can send meeting reminders to avoid getting ghosted. The wasted minutes add up.

However, AI has moved the goalposts, and we can immediately get higher-quality assistance on more creative tasks. Consider drafting an email or memo, outlining a marketing plan, or editing videos into small segments for posting online. 

Action Over Aspiration

If you read this weekly and don’t take action, it’s just a newsletter.

Playbooks require that you run the play.

Here’s a 10-minute exercise you should do once a month:

  1. Grab a post-it note and list out 10 things you do.

  2. Classify each as:

    • Important

    • Urgent

    • Repeating

    • Standard

  3. Implement these 4 strategies, and you may realize that you can 

    • Not Important = Delete

    • Important + Urgent = Standardize

    • Important + Repeating = Streamline

    • Important + Repeating + Standard = Automate

Here’s an example from our business:

Apply this basic framework, and you might be surprised just how much capacity a little bit of courage can uncover.

Podcast Alert

There are moments when I’m speaking that flow takes over.

We call it “the trance” in our house. It usually correlates well with some of my better teaching or coaching moments.

My latest appearance on the Run the Numbers podcast felt like one long trance.

We went deep on...

  • What 5-year-old soccer teaches us about high-performing teams

  • How to help your team develop an ownership mentality

  • Why leaders should never say, “That’s ok, I’ll do it.”

Find it on Spotify, Apple, or your favorite platform.

Thank you for reading. Appreciate you!


Ways To Work With Us

MGMT Accelerator - Our flagship leadership development program is taught live over 8 sessions. 50 leaders from companies around the world will build out their foundational management systems together. Perfect for leaders with 3-10 years experience. The next cohort starts April 30th.

Customized Leadership Programs - Bring our MGMT Accelerator in-house in a two-day intensive workshop. We get to know your culture and current practices and help your managers build a common language and approach to leading. Ideal for scaling companies with 20+ leaders.

1:1 Executive Coaching - I work with 5 C-level executives to help them become more effective leaders while solving real business problems. I’ll be adding one leader layer this summer. Contact me to schedule an intro call.

Speaking - We’re now booking keynotes for summer. Hit reply on this note, and we can set up a time to discuss topics and pricing.

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