Excess management time is not the same as excess team time

You see this a fair amount in organizations. A manager has an extra hour or two come available. Apparently there isn’t enough on their own to do list or they are in avoidance. Paint the prettiest face on it and assume that this was the most important thing to focus on. What is the result? Some new initiative for their team, group, or business.

Is that problematic? On the face of it no. In a perfect situation where the team in question is planned with enough reserve time to take on additional initiatives and the initiatives are well structured and prioritized there is no problem at all.

How often do you see the perfect situation? Rarely enough for it to be remarkable. What you usually see is a team that is already fully loaded if not overloaded. There are a number of initiatives that have come and gone. Some are probably more important than the one currently under consideration.

What are the results of the ‘usual’ situation? The team sitting through another set of meetings that won’t end in success. These wind up being morale sapping since it is hard to commit to something new when there isn’t enough of a track record in success. It is also tough when you can’t see a way that there will be time to accomplish it. You know going in that the expectation is probably not going to be met.

What is a manager to do? The next time you have time available and your thoughts turn to what you should be setting forth in terms of new initiatives to accomplish ask yourself these things. Does my team have enough time to accomplish initiatives over and above base (or current) workload? If not, shouldn’t the focus be on finding that time before setting initiatives? If the team has the time, are the initiatives to be worked on well structured and prioritized? If not, shouldn’t the focus be on getting the existing initiatives organized, prioritized, planned and communicated so that the most important items are happening first? If the above conditions are all met, then it would seem you are well placed to add new initiatives.

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