People & Human Resources

Sorry, no time for work – too busy managing people

Engel Schmidl /

Being promoted to a position of management for the first time is fairly exciting for most people. It comes with the added responsibility of making decisions and usually comes as a reward for performance.

Problems arise though as the skills that earned the promotion are different to the skills required to be a successful manager. Being in a position where you have to allocate work to others and manage the productivity of others is a challenging set of skills.

No scoreboard for outcomes

How do you know if you are good at managing people? Tasks tend to be measured by their outcomes, but how do you measure the confidence you inspire in other? How do you measure your impact on your team’s overall job satisfaction? These challenges can make it difficult for managers to know if they’re performing well. Managing tasks is, in some ways, much easier because you can set timelines and budgets. With the complex realm of people skills, things aren’t as black and white.

Spending a lot of time on poor performers

The 80/20 rule often applies with managing a team. A poor performer in a team of five will probably take up 80% of your managing time as you try to work together to improve. It can be frustrating for the team members that are performing well and require more time than you can offer them. Not only does it impinge on the time you have to address your own workload, it also creates a lot of friction.

When high performers leave

The frustrating outcome of spending too much time on poor performers is that the high performers will seek new opportunities. High performers are usually very motivated, and this sort of energy needs to be harnessed. If not, the high performers will find opportunities to expend their productive energy, usually in another department, but often at another company. Again, this is a drain on your time as you have to create opportunities to speak with your high performers and to ensure they are fulfilled and satisfied.

Conflicts with scheduling unpredictable crises

Dealing with the unpredictability of people is really tough. Sometimes a team member will have a sudden and lengthy dip in performance, or another team member may fall ill and be unavailable for two or three weeks. This is a huge challenge for managers that may be struggling to keep things together in ideal circumstances, let alone a compromised situation! Most managers have no slack in their schedules to allow for these crises.

Not having sufficient experience

It stands to reason that if you haven’t managed people before then you are probably going to make a few mistakes. Like all other skills you get better over time, but you can definitely benefit from discussing your challenges with people who are more experienced. Often a new manager wants to show she is capable from day one, but this type of pride can lead to a fall.

Bad role models

Most of us have worked under several managers and bosses in our careers. We can all name the good ones and we can especially name the bad ones that we have had along the way. Each business has its own culture and your manager provides an example as to what that ‘should’ be. Make sure that when you move into a position of management that you are imparting the positive example – become a good role model rather than perpetuate the shortcomings of your predecessors.

New managers often fail to take into account that it is very time consuming to manage people. People are unpredictable and can be frustrating, but they are also your biggest opportunity to do orchestrate great things.

Eve Ash has produced a wide range of programs for managers to develop their management and leadership skills like Inspirational leadership, Leadership Sins, Essentials for New Managers, Delegating and Empowering, and recently some comedy titles such as Understanding Accountability and Accepting Change.

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