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How To Help Your Team To Stop Drowning In Work


In Nick Sonnenberg’s new book, Come Up For Air(available February 7, 2023), you’ll learn about his CPR Business Efficiency Framework, which stands for: 

  • Communication
  • Planning
  • Resources 

This framework focuses on eliminating the pain points most teams experience by optimizing these three operation areas foundational to every organization.

“In my book, I show you the tools that will boost efficiency in all three of these domains and I provide you with a detailed blueprint for the most effective ways to use them,” explains Sonnenberg.

He further shares that some sections of the book may be more applicable to managers, and some may be more applicable to individual contributors. “However, it is still integral that both roles understand all of the concepts within the CPR Framework as each one benefits the team as a whole,” says Sonnenberg.

As you read the book, you’ll learn what Sonnenberg has learned through years of building a leading efficiency consulting business – that the primary reason why so many teams are overwhelmed is not because they don’t have enough time, or that managers expect too much of their employees, or that there aren’t enough people. The problem is that everyone is drowning in unnecessary work and inefficiencies that prevent them from focusing on the work that drives results.

Sonnenberg believes that by implementing the CPR Framework, you and your team will:

  • Reduce stress and burnout by creating a more stable work environment.
  • Eliminate the 58% of employee time per day spent on “work about work” instead of being productive.
  • Improve company culture by empowering your team to spend their time on work that matters.
  • Stop wasting time on the “Scavenger Hunt” of trying to find where information is stored.
  • Increase employee happiness, satisfaction, trust, and retention by making work easier.
  • Stop wasting time in meetings with four proven techniques.

Additionally, supplementing the teachings found within the book, Sonnenberg provides you with more learning opportunities via free content and in-depth instructions at ComeUpForAir.

Nick Sonnenberg

Play special attention to the Three Key Takeaways and Pro Tips that expertly summary each respective chapter's teachings. 

Today, Sonnenberg shares these insights with us:

Question: How long does it typically take for an organization/company to fully embrace and fully benefit from the CPR Framework?

Sonnenberg: It depends on so many factors, such as:

  • how big is the team?
  • how tech savvy?
  • how willing to adopt change?
  • how bought in is the leadership in the transformation?
  • what tools is the team using already?

On average, however, it takes about a month per tool IF you invest the time to learning and show up.

Question: You say that even a team using the best systems and tools on the market can still be inefficient and drown and in work. What’s the missing link there?

Sonnenberg: The missing link is that teams aren’t aligned on when and how to use each tool in the same way. One person likes email, another likes Slack, someone else keeps track of everything in a spreadsheet, etc.

When everyone is using different tools in different ways, information starts to live in different places, and it makes work needlessly confusing. It becomes difficult to get everyone on the same page. So, a huge part of the solution is simply aligning as a team on when to use which tools, and then establishing some baseline knowledge around how to use them efficiently.

Question: What do you mean when you say that by using your CPR method that people can potentially free up a whole workday of productivity?

Sonnenberg: The reality is that there are thousands of inefficiencies in most businesses, and almost everyone is struggling with the same things. We’re all wasting time in meetings, searching for information, chasing people for status updates, endlessly checking email, getting distracted by notifications. The CPR Framework focuses on tools that most companies are already using, and it can quickly fix a lot of those common inefficiencies.

We find that, on average, we’re able to save people at least five, but more like eight hours per week just by optimizing when and how they use their tools as a team. And that’s time that people can either reinvest into the business, or if they’re underwater, it means they can go home at a normal hour, and they don’t have to keep playing “catch up” or working on the weekends.

Question: How do you define productivity?

Sonnenberg: There’s a famous quote from Peter Drucker that says, “Efficiency is doing the thing right. Effectiveness is doing the right thing.” To me, productivity is when you’re being both efficient and effective with your time.

Question: Any favorite personal hacks you yourself like to use?

Sonnenberg: Loom is a fantastic tool I use almost every day. It lets you create a recording of your screen and webcam with just one button, and when you’re done it converts the video to a link so you can instantly share it with anyone. It saves me tons of time, especially running a remote company.

Question: With all the systems and tools on the market, how do you even begin to select the right tools for you and your team?

Sonnenberg: Well, you’ll be happy to hear that the actual software you choose doesn’t really matter. What really matters is understanding which types of tools to use, and when and how to use them.

For example, Slack and Microsoft Teams are both “internal communication tools.” They effectively do the same thing, and they have mostly the same features. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re on Slack or Microsoft Teams—they’re both going to get the job done. What matters is that you and your team are aligned on when and how to use that tool in conjunction with your other tools. And the same could be said for work management tools, knowledge base tools, etc.

Question: You say individual productivity is necessary but not sufficient for team productivity. What can co-workers do right now to get more on the same page?

Sonnenberg: I think the biggest thing is to optimize for the speed of retrieval of information. What this means is that when you have a document, message, file, update—whatever it may be—you should really stop and think for a second about where the best place to put it is. Because chances are, someone in the future is going to need to find that thing.

It might be easier for you to just put it in an email or call someone to let them know. But that’s how things get lost, and you could be making your coworkers’ lives a lot harder in the future. So just take a step back and spend the extra few minutes to put things in the right place, where they won’t get lost, and you can save your entire team a ton of time in the future.

Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.


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