Chris was overwhelmed. It had been four months since he had been promoted to supervisor. He thought he was busy before! Now, he was doing the work he had been doing before the promotion, AND leading several teams. He never saw his wife or young daughter. He was called out of bed in the middle of the night to troubleshoot problems on the line and he was running on fumes. His temper was getting short at work and at home, and people were threatening to leave if things didn’t get better.
Chris couldn’t understand what was going on. He worked 14 hour days and still felt behind.
The reality is that Chris suffers from “nobody does it better” syndrome. This is a common challenge of relatively new managers, and even some experienced leaders. We hold on to what we did well in our former position, while adding the new responsibilities of leadership. As a result, our time management spirals out of control, and the trust factor between the leader and the team plummets.
What can Chris do to get a handle on time? TRUST
Task review. It can be hard to let go of tasks you have been doing well – maybe even enjoying or receiving recognition for – for a long time. Whether the resistance is from dedication, from the fear that no one else can do it as well, or from the pride you take in doing a particular task, as a leader you have to start letting go of the old to make time for the new. Start by looking at all the tasks you currently do, including the amount of time they take. First, decide which are tasks that only you can do because of your position. Chris began to realize that, as a supervisor, his responsibilities were to ensure equipment was in working order, but he no longer had to be the one that fixed them. He put effort into getting to know his team better, improving trust between him and his team. Then, he was able to determine who would best be suited to take over certain tasks.
Reassign. One of the biggest trust builders in teams is being assigned a new “stretch” task. At first, Chris delegated the smaller tasks, then gradually worked his way up to more complex task reassignment. With each task, he gave detailed instructions, deadlines, and milestones. The attitude of the team toward Chris changed as they were given increased responsibility.
Utilize Strengths. As Chris got to know his employees better, he recognized where their strengths and range of skills were. Assigning tasks to the person who had the most skills for the particular task saved time in training the person, and saved time on the task because that person had a more natural understanding of it. He also recognized that the more similar the tasks assigned to the person, the more aptitude that person developed for those tasks.
Strengthen with feedback. This is the most important part of delegating. When workers are doing well with a task, or even a part of the task, let them know. If they are falling short of your expectations, invite them to share their thoughts on what’s happening. Hearing their perspective first allows you to address their needs better. And don’t forget to ask for their feedback about how you are delegating. This is a great opportunity to discover whether you’re providing enough information, assigning the right tasks to the right people, and providing the appropriate amount of oversight and feedback.
Trust, but verify. Once you have assigned a task, trust the person to do it on their own terms, the way they feel is best. Set up ahead of time when you will check in with the employee to verify that things are moving forward. Then check in. Doing so helps to build trust, and lets the employee know that you’re willing to listen and support them as they learn. It also prevents breakdowns in communication.
It isn’t always easy to delegate, but as Chris learned, it’s imperative for your own personal health, your relationships, and the effective execution of your job. Starting with small steps, targeting the right people, using strengths, giving feedback, and verifying via follow through will help you reclaim your time and focus on what only you can do.
If you are struggling with trust and time management at work, contact Joy today. After all, time is money. The more time you dedicate to ensuring your team is doing their fair share of the work, and doing it effectively, the more time you will have for your work and your life. Best of all? Your bottom line will be positively affected as well!