Know Your Personal Bandwidth


bandwidthThis last week I had the privilege of attending the Sticky Teams Conference 2014 in Vista, California, with speakers Matt Chandler, Mike Erre, Larry Osborn and Chris Brown. The focus of the conference was building great teams.

Matt Chandler mentioned the concept of “personal bandwidth” more than once and I’ve been thinking about the concept a lot. As PR consultant Stephanie Shirley put it “Just like the bandwidth on your internet determines the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time, we each have our own bandwidth for the amount of work we can individually take on in a single day.” More>>

The same goes for our teams, our departments and other key individuals in our lives. This is not an issue of righteousness or godliness or even niceness…it’s “the energy of mental capacity required to deal with a situation.” Some jobs in key roles need the capacity of “high bandwith people.” This is especially true of growing organizations or during times of transition. Some people thrive in smaller, simpler environments…and that’s OK. But we do a disservice to ourselves and our teams when we put low bandwidth people in high bandwith areas. The person will eventually become frustrated, overwhelmed, burnt out and their areas of responsibility will suffer. This isn’t good for anyone.

Part of the bandwidth issue is training, skills and gifting. For example, if you put me in accounting, I know that I would get overwhelmed fast. As business author Jim Colins says, It’s not enough to get the right people on the bus…you have to get the right people in the right seats. More>>

I’m a big believer that people can increase their personal bandwith with strategic organization and planning. Personally, following the ideas contained in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done has been a big help for me in handling more work with less stress. Knowing yourself is a key ingredient in maximizing your bandwith. Are you a morning person or an evening person? Do you prefer bright lights or softer light. What kind of work environments do you thrive in. How do you get more of that?

Another way to increase your “capacity” is to simply work harder and put in more hours. (I know from what I’ve seen working in a church the last eight years, the lack of work ethic on some people “in the ministry” is an issue that I’m repeatedly amazed at.)

Appropriate “bandwith” cannot be assumed. The best predictor for future capacity is past performance.  People who get things done, have gotten things done in the past. That’s why this saying rings true, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”

In reflecting on my work situation, the team I have in the Communications Department is filled with a high capacity, skilled hard working people. It allows our department to get more done in less time. And for that, I’m grateful.

Me and a colleague taking a selfie with the speakers : )

2 thoughts on “Know Your Personal Bandwidth

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