For many managers/supervisors, personal productivity is often sacrificed in order to help others do their job. From oversight, training, and coaching, to nickel & dime interruptions…it is often difficult to find time for personal productivity. If this is a challenge for you, here are 4 tips to help:
1) Block off personal productivity blocks. Before you decide this can’t work, think about this: Can’t work, or you haven’t tried to make it work? Many managers are convinced that processes and systems will grind to a halt if they aren’t personally overseeing them. If that is truly the case, you may not be managing (or more accurately, leading) correctly when you are present. Your team members should be able to manage themselves for some period of time without you “looking over their shoulder.” By setting an appointment with yourself to have an hour or two to work on YOUR work, you may be surprised at how much better they get at doing THEIR work. They’ll become more self-confident in making decisions and working through problems. You’ll get more done, and your entire team will benefit greatly.
2) Make sure that the way you’re managing isn’t contributing to someone else’s productivity challenges. If every decision has to run through you, you’re creating (or may have already created) a terribly inefficient system. Teach people to think the way you think. They don’t have to think WHAT you think, but giving them a process to go through for deciding the best solution will allow them to solve problems without interrupting you. It will also give them greater buy-in to whatever the task is since they will have some ownership.
3) Have one-on-ones with your direct reports. You may be thinking, “How is adding meetings to my schedule supposed to increase my personal productivity?” Making time to meet with your team members individually will be one of the best investments you can make in the overall productivity of your team and will help you greatly with your own personal productivity. In these focused meetings, you can make sure that the individual is focused on the correct priorities, answer questions they have, and provide coaching specific to that person. This will eliminate many of the frequent 5-10 minute interruptions you probably experience now. You’ll need to reteach some of the ways they deal with small, everyday challenges. If they come to you with a general question, respond with something like, “Why don’t we talk about that in our one-on-one this week. That will give me some time to think of the best way to (fill in the blank), AND I’ll have more time to devote to talking it over with you.”
4) Make sure that your team members’ lack of thoroughness isn’t causing you to have to handle items multiple times. Are they giving you ALL of the information you need in order to make a decision, do they complete paperwork BEFORE they put it in your box or email it to you, and/or have they thought through a problem and come up with a possible solution they can suggest to you? If not, you need to reteach them how to do those things correctly/completely and explain why it is so important. Then, you’ll need to be committed to holding them accountable to the new expectations.
These four strategies aren’t complex, but they aren’t simple either. They will take work and commitment. They will require you to retrain yourself and to retrain others on your team. But, if incorporated, they will make you more productive, and in turn, will help you produce better results.