It’s easy for managers to feel overwhelmed. There are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done, and most find it extremely challenging to make time for the value-added work that only they can do at their level. Research shows that managers are working at 60 percent effectiveness. This means they’re spending 40 percent of their time doing work that isn’t strategic with respect to the job that they’ve been hired to do. That’s a full two days in the workweek! Imagine what could be accomplished if every manager had this time to work on strategic initiatives? Making time for work that matters is not an easy task, but the good news is, it can be done.
Accountability and Authority Frameworks Provide Clarity
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In order for work to be done as effectively as possible, there needs to be a clear accountability and authority framework in place so that people are crystal clear about the work they need to do. The right framework provides clarity on how to collaborate, use judgment, make decisions, and take initiatives to get work done. As a manager, you can’t exactly diminish the factors that drive ineffectiveness overnight, but you can begin to create space by ensuring the right frameworks are in place.
Planning: Identifying Key Initiatives and Delegating Where Appropriate
Finding time that doesn’t seem to exist can be challenging; it takes a little creativity – and every trick in the book. One of the primary duties of a manager is to plan. Planning involves identifying work and separating the initiatives that need to be completed by you, from those that can be done by members of your team who possess the right capability. This means dissecting your deliverables into less complex tasks, identifying the key initiatives and proceeding to delegate these where needed. This creates that necessary space you thought wasn’t obtainable.
So now that you’ve established more space, what’s next?
After creating space, it’s time to focus on your priorities; that work that only you, with your capability, in your position, can do. Schedule these projects in your calendar and let people know that you will be engaged for that amount of time. Scheduling is a critical part of planning, and the key to completing your value-added work is making sure to plan ahead and make time for it.
Creating Space for Subordinate Managers
As a manager, you also need to create space for your subordinate managers to complete the work that only they can do. In many cases, they may not even realize that they too have value-added work, but it’s up to you to not only delegate this work clearly, but to also make certain they have the space available to complete these tasks. Part of your delegation process includes identifying the outcomes you expect from your team, and what they can delegate further down to their team in order to make the space available.
While it takes discipline and foresight as a manager to create space in your own workday, it’s also critical to work closely with subordinates to understand what their value-added work is, and how they too can create space to get it done.