Dear Boss, Can we talk?

At some point your people leaders need time to lead...

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It is rare to come across a pure people manager role these days. Today’s managers are also ‘doers’ .

The catch-22?

You rely on them to do a lot more than lead people, but if they are not actively developing their team to its full potential, you risk decreased productivity, increased absenteeism and employee turnover.

Do you give your managers time to manage?

How much time does time an employee need to set aside to do a great job of leading, developing and managing every member of their team? Do your managers have the time allotted to do their core function? 

If you aren’t sure, a good place to start is by counting up the hours required per month for one to one meetings, hard and soft skill development, business knowledge transfer, training, and coaching conversations. Now think about how much time currently is devoted to everything else your manager is responsible for such as reports, presentations, meetings, projects and other initiatives. If the total number of hours you came up with is well beyond what you expect in your organization then you can be certain of one thing: the managerial responsibilities are getting shorted. 

This certainty stems from the fact that a weekly report not landing in your inbox will be noticed. You may not notice if your manager continually postpones their one to one meetings with their team to get that report done.

Often the way your managers are incentivized supports the ‘doer’ side of their role. Dollars to donuts says the priority is given to the non-people management responsibilities when it comes time for goal-setting and any bonuses that are tied to their performance.

Good managers want to dedicate time and energy developing their people and will have heightened frustration when they are unable to do so. This situation negatively impacts both them and their team.

The good news is that you can change this dynamic

It is unrealistic to transform your manager/doer roles into pure people management functions. That is no longer the business environment most of us work in. You do have the ability to revisit the non-people management tasks your managers perform:

1) Can some of those responsibilities be transferred to their team?

2) Are they really required at every one of the meetings they are booked in?

3) What are they spending time on that can simply stop being done? (there is always some legacy task that can be shelved permanently)

Have an open conversation with your managers about what needs to stay, be transferred or simply done without. Review the functions you feel your best managers are expected to perform well (i.e. one to one meetings). Reinforce that this is a priority for your organization and work with them to determine the amount of time to be dedicated to developing their teams.

You have now provided the space for your leaders to develop their people, established more efficient use of time and contributed to the overall strengthening of your organization.

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