Recently, Jason was lamenting how he doesn’t have enough time to be strategic in his work. As we talked about how his days were spent, he recounted working long days, often reacting to unexpected requests, dealing with employee issues, and helping his team with their work.

By his account, Jason is really too busy and does not have enough time to do more important strategic work.

Yet as we sat down and reviewed his calendar for the upcoming 2 weeks, we looked for places where he could better spend his time. He sees an appointment with a vendor that his team could readily handle. He realizes that he often takes time to work on things with his team when effective coaching would be both less time consuming and encourage more of their growth.

Next, we talk about how many employee relations issues are really a symptom of the need for more strategic development of his leadership team. Jason realizes that he eats up time with repeating (and preventable) issues. Jason acknowledges that he needs to create strategic plans to work with his team to get to the root cause of these issues and decrease the time and energy that’s wasted.

This scenario reminded me of the times I also need to really step back to consider ‘what’s the best use of my time?’ It’s not just that there may be more important work to do. It’s that the exercise causes me to see where my time is really holding my team back.

The approach that has helped me be at least more aware of how I spend my time (which a wonderful mentor had shown me as a developing manager) is below.

3 tips for making the best use of your time:

1. Take a half a day each week and schedule it for larger, more strategic issues. Treat this time like a mandatory meeting. I often go somewhere new to think out of the box and gain perspective.

2. Remain intentional and diligent about building the skills of your team. Examine your “to-do” list and look for anything that someone else on your team could do and would grow from the experience. Ask yourself if your team’s capabilities have grown in the last month.

3. Identify areas that are related to handling problems (especially those that repeat). Ask yourself if there are opportunities to get to the real root cause and eliminate or improve the work over time.

I often find that managers are wanting to add more strategic value, but feel utterly overwhelmed by meetings, reacting to situations and getting involved in unexpected problems. They really want to feel more impactful. They are also wanting to develop their team members to the greatest extent possible.

Often our roadblocks to being more effective have to do with habits that have developed over time that need to be transitioned to new ways of working.

If you want to learn more about how your team can increase their value and change how they work, contact me here.

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