QUESTION: “I’m a manager, but I’m so busy with my own daily tasks that I have no time for managing team members. Please help!”
ANSWER: What?!! I’m sorry to be so blunt, but your priorities are completely reversed! If you really are a people manager, and not just managing budgets, schedules, and other “things”, then your #1 priority is to lead your team. This includes coaching and mentoring each individual, as well as inspiring and supporting the overall teamwork required to achieve extraordinary business results. There is nothing more important than this! Your #2 priority is to manage your business, which includes providing resources for your people and removing obstacles to their success. Your own daily tasks are the lowest priority of the three.
A Manager Who’s Too Busy to Lead? Unfortunately you’re not the only manager with this problem. In fact, research has shown that 90% of managers waste time procrastinating, daydreaming, and doing busywork. This negatively impacts the productivity and enthusiasm of every person on their team. For the sake of your people, and your business, you must reprioritize your work!
Busy-ness Isn’t the Same as Business. One cause of this behavior is a widespread addiction to the adrenaline rush that comes with feeling busy. Efficiently processing an endless stream of tasks doesn’t make you effective. This unproductive habit is rooted in a shocking lack of understanding of what it means to manage, and more importantly, to lead. I’m constantly studying the practices of the best leaders and managers in the world, and can assure you that focusing on their own daily tasks is never their #1 priority.
The Best Managers. One important thing I’ve learned is that management and leadership are different. Harvard’s John Kotter tells us that the best managers spend their time planning, organizing, and staffing projects, as well as correcting off-track issues. They remove obstacles to success and provide resources needed by their teams.
The Best Leaders. Leadership, Kotter says, includes setting direction, aligning people on shared goals, and inspiring the team to achieve what seems impossible, but is merely difficult. And Malcolm Gladwell says that great leaders instill in their teams a sense of shared purpose and lofty vision for the future, and then create an environment where people can work together effectively. Rather than pointing out their people’s flaws, they build their self-esteem, which directly increases their performance. And they develop in their teams an unrealistically optimistic belief in their ability to make their lofty vision a reality. Ultimately the very best leaders help their people achieve what initially seems impossible, but is merely difficult!
A people manager with no time for team members is merely creating the illusion of leadership. Managers, please remember that your #1 daily task is to lead your team! There is nothing more important than this! If you truly have no time to manage team members then you are neither a leader nor a manager. Take immediate action to correct this! First, reprioritize your work so that your people and your team come first. Then meet with your own manager to figure out how to deal with the many other daily tasks that are keeping you from doing your most important work, enabling your people to perform at their very best.by