Firstly, I would like to apologize for the lack of content published on Business Management Blog in the past couple weeks. I have been tremendously busy with work and also a side project that I have recently launched in “stealth mode” (more to come on this as the project progresses and validates itself…) I promise that I haven’t forgotten about my readers and I will make a huge effort to ramp up my writing going forward to make up for lost time.
Today’s blog post is about time management tips and how to boost your productivity and efficiency as a manager or team leader. Regardless of the size of your operation or how many people you manage, these tips that I’m about to discuss stand true as useful best practices. Note that these are simply my recommendations based on personal & professional experience — I invite your time management best practices in the Comments section below this post!
1. Empower your team members to figure things out themselves
This tip basically means: Rather than your staff or team member routinely calling you to confirm or ask operational questions, you empower them to figure out the solution independently by using available resources (such as guideline documents, peer coaches within the team, Internet searches, etc.)
This suggestion might sound obvious to some but it can be very powerful at boosting your productivity if you are not already actively complying with it. Perhaps if you manage a team of 1 or 2 people, you could generate a number of arguments to debate that this is unnecessary and ultimately leads to greater inefficiencies in the end. If you manage a team of 20+ people, however, you quickly learn how much of your valuable time gets consumed by answering often easily-searchable questions from your team.
I like to designate one or two team members as peer coaches or “leaders” within the team. These peer coaches should rightfully be compensated accordingly for their additional responsibilities. You make a communication to your whole team stating that, on a go-forward basis, any operational questions below a described threshold of severity shall be directed to a peer coach rather than you as the team manager (e.g. if a store is burning down, you might want to be notified about such severe incidents immediately.) By doing this, you apply a filter to the nature of reports you will receive from your team.
The time you have gained from outsourcing the day-to-day, easily-solvable problems that your team experiences can now be put to better use working on the business, rather than in the business. Moreover, you are developing a team of leaders and problem solvers, rather than hand-holding a team of reactive task masters.
2. Confirm ownership of action following all communications or meetings
Have you ever had an hour-long meeting in which many brilliant ideas were brought to the table but then a week later it seemed as though nothing had been acted on by anyone? This was (potentially) because there was no summary of who is going to do what task(s)!
Discussing plans and important items is nearly valueless if there are no accompanying actions set to take place. And we as humans have a natural tendency to evade responsibility unless it`s clearly communicated that we own a given responsibility. The solution to this is simple: state very clearly who is responsible for doing what tasks at the end of every meeting or conversation.
As a manager, it`s also important that you follow up on these work delegations. If you fail to do so, your team will quickly learn that your system of delegating action is merely lip service and that they can get away with not executing as agreed upon. My recommendation is to agree upon a deadline date with your staff member and mark in your calendar to follow up and verify completion of that task on that date. This will earn you respect as a team leader.
3. Get it done right on the spot rather than kicking the rock down the road…
This tip is very easy in theory but requires a bit of discipline to actively enforce. There`s a common rhetoric in the corporate world that goes “Let’s take that away…” or “I can follow up on that and get back to you.” In my experiences, this management approach typically leads to forgotten follow-ups, inefficient bureaucratic lag times, and additional unnecessary work in managing the series of follow-ups that you rightfully need to honor.
My recommendation is simple: take out your phone on site and reach out to the appropriate person to get the required answer. Unless it is an item that requires extensive strategic reflection with multi-employee brainstorming, there should be no reason to kick any proverbial rocks down the road rather than acting immediately.
As an additional bonus over and above your saved time and increased productivity, this technique will improve your relationship with your team as they see with their own two eyes that you follow up on behalf of them in a timely manner. This sends a powerful message to your staff that you mean business and you are action- and results-oriented.
Hopefully these time management and productivity tips will help you in improving your performance as a manager! Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or leave a reply below. Thanks for reading.
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