I have talked about delegating and about focusing on high return activities.
“Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Peter F. Drucker
One area that I have not focused on, but is incredibly important if you are a manager, is in getting people to be respectful of your time. Your job is to manage, to mentor and to coach. You are expected to provide advice when it is needed and you certainly want people to feel like they can come to you when they need advice.
“The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” Tom Peters
The down side is when they come to you so often that it impacts your ability to get things done. You find it hard to concentrate on your tasks for extended periods of time without someone on your team interrupting.
Here are some thoughts:
- It is usually better to start with people coming to you more than they need to, rather than for people to run off “doing things” incorrectly.
- You should set a goal to improve the autonomy of your people over time… it could be a reduction in calls per day/week; or in minutes spent talking.
- You should give regular feedback with clear direction about what should be discussed and what decisions they might make themselves. Over time this should create more autonomy.
- You should instruct them in the difference between Urgent and not Urgent; Important and Not Important. You should only be interrupted for Urgent/Important issues.
- Train your people to have a means of collecting issues… it could be electronic or paper, just a handy way for them to collect items for your next meeting. This will discourage them from phoning you every 15 minutes when something pops into their heads.
- Organise regular meetings with your reports. They should probably be more frequent at the start, and backing off over time. Both you and they should feel comfortable that they are often enough, but not too often.
- Have a structure to your meetings. An agenda to which both contribute is a good idea. It will help keep the timing efficient.
- Set goals for the meetings. What does each want to achieve? Every meeting does not have to be exactly the same. For example the meetings might be weekly with different agendas on alternating weeks, or a monthly meeting focused on proactive agenda items rather than reactive items.
- If you have multiple direct reports then don’t assume the same format works for each… be flexible in accommodating different styles, different needs and different speeds of learning.
- Build time into your calendar during which you are not to be disturbed! This is a classic time management technique, but one way of finding time to get things done without interruption.
“The essence of self-discipline is to do the important thing rather than the urgent thing.” Barry Werner
What ideas do you have about managing multiple direct reports (who may also be managers) and still getting “stuff” done?
“The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves.” Robert Burton
Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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