There is an epidemic occurring in the workplace. Leaders are using certain phrases that are spreading to their employees and being used as a badge of honor: “I’m so busy.” “I worked a 16-hour day.” “I worked super late last night.” The list goes on. The reality for today’s workforce is that everyone is busy; however, we aren’t focusing on the value behind our work and effective management of the time we have.
A primary reason leaders exist is to serve others, and if the majority of a leader’s time isn’t focused on their team, it’s time for them to evaluate the effectiveness of their time management. There are three areas of time leaders must make a priority in order to be effective and give the people they lead what they deserve in word and example.
1. Time to Listen
People feel valued when someone cares enough to actually listen to them. It may be listening to the next steps for the project they are working on, the action steps they took from the meeting they attended or what they did with their family last weekend. It all matters to them, and as their leader, it’s crucial that it matters to you, too. These people are driving the results the organization expects you to accomplish. Too often, leaders forget this fact and book meetings over one-on-ones with their employees.
Effective time management leads to effective leadership. Build in weekly time for one-on-ones with your team, sometimes to work with them on development and sometimes to listen about what they want to share. Incorporate huddles into your schedule. They can be a huge value-add, short touchpoint with your team members. Huddles can be a time for people to provide quick updates on projects and share any barriers they need help working through. They’re also a great time to incorporate a way to “gossip the good” about the team, rewarding and recognizing team members. It’s another built-in time to listen!
2. Time to Reflect
Business is present in all industries. Great leaders figure out ways to build in time for thought and reflection, both for themselves and for their team. Reflection allows you to think about what’s going well and what course changes need to happen, assess growth and progress, and much more. It allows people to step outside their day-to-day work and look at the larger strategy. It allows for reflection of process improvement and goal achievement. If your team isn’t used to reflection, this time can also be educational; allow team members to read and research. This time is for staying forward-thinking and reflecting on where the industry is going, where the team and organization are, and how they might assist in closing that gap.
3. Time to Develop
Annual performance evaluations are a thing of the past. Employees have made it widely known that they want more timely feedback and an ongoing growth and development plan, and they want their leaders’ help. Effective leadership involves setting up scheduled time to work with team members individually on their growth. Some employees will know exactly where they want to go and simply need their leader’s help removing barriers. Others need a guide to help them through their development path. Creating time to develop can open up possibilities for your team. When your team develops, that development, in turn, opens the door for more in-depth delegation opportunities, allowing you to manage your time more effectively. When a team operates this way, business changes from a stressor into an environment of thriving toward results.
Leading is a verb, so it should be filled with action. This action should be focused and dedicated on the people you lead. When leaders realize this reality, they open the door for a different way of accomplishing business results through people results. Be the kind of leader you’d be honored to follow for your team, and take steps to ensure you’re giving the people you lead the time they need.