How long should you really spend managing employees?
“But Marion, how much time each week is it reasonable to spend actually managing my team? I do have a day job to do you know, and it’s not going to do itself”.
I’m asked this question a lot. And I do have the answer – and I bet it’s nothing like the amount of time you’re thinking.
Many managers are overwhelmed by the amount and variety of work they are expected to do. Work coming from their own manager above them that needs doing yesterday. Work from customers or suppliers that is just as urgent. And then the seemingly endless stream of questions and interruptions from team members who need approval or a solution before they can get on with their own job. Not to mention managers from other departments who need answers so their own teams can get on with their own workloads.
So time to actually manage people – to reply to email queries from the team, have 1:1s, team meetings, or have informal conversations face to face or on the phone about “stuff” that is relevant to the team’s work, but not urgent or important in the moment, can often feel like a luxury that can’t be afforded. And that’s without the spare time needed to review performance and work out how to improve individual and team productivity.
If time for managing happens at all, it’s hurried, often unplanned, and rarely goes deep enough to actually make a difference. And because it doesn’t seem to make a difference, managers decide it’s not worth the time or the effort.
And because managers don’t see the benefit of time spent managing people, that people management time is usually the first thing that gets sacrificed when we get busy.
So if people keep coming to work, they do the job, and they don’t complain, everything must be ok, mustn’t it?
I know time spent on people management activity makes a big difference. And there is research to back me up.
In 2014, Leadership IQ surveyed 30,000 US managers, executives and employees, to see if there was an optimum amount of time managers should be spending with their employees.
And the results may surprise you!
They found that half of all employees say they spend fewer than 3 hours a week interacting with their bosses. Interaction included face to face and phone conversations as well as sending and replying to emails.
But where employees spent 6 hours of the week interacting with their boss, employee inspiration was 29% higher, and those employees were 30% more engaged, 16% more innovative, and 15% more intrinsically motivated than employees with 1 hour’s contact per week.
Beyond 6 hours the positive impacts start to drop off. But up to 6 hours, more is definitely better.
Imagine managing a team that were inspired to come up with new ideas to solve existing problems or generate new opportunities for your business? Imagine your team being more engaged and motivated to work harder, push up productivity, and improve their own performance?
You can have all this, by spending more time with your team.
It’s you – their manager - they want to talk to. It’s you that sparks their creativity, and their willingness to contribute more. They get more motivated by spending more time with you. It’s you that makes them feel great about coming to work.
Even if they don’t like you very much, the research shows that the impact of your presence and your interaction is positive for the first 6 hours per person.
If you only knew how much of a difference you could make to your team performance by just being there, being present with them and talking to them, you would make time for it every single day. You would know that it’s the one thing you can’t afford to miss.
Time with your team would be your top priority.
And that is why I recommend that you forget your fancy engagement projects, or your wellbeing initiatives, and just spend more time interacting with your employees. If you currently spend 20 minutes a week with each person, focus on upping that to an hour. If you currently spend an hour per person, try for two hours. Keep increasing it until you get to 6 hours per employee per week.
And then stick at 6. No more, no less. Your business will thank you for it!
If you're struggling to find enough time to manage your team, our Accidental Manager 1:1 coaching is just what you need. Call to find out how it could work for you. 07902 903086
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