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Tips for Finding the Right Balance Among Managing, Doing and Leading

Source | | Sarah Schott

Sarah Schott is vice president and chief compliance officer at Northwestern Mutual.

One of the biggest challenges managers face is making the best use of time. There never seems to be enough time to check everything off the to-do list. So on any given day, what should be tackled first? Supporting the work of your team? Getting your own work done? And will you ever find the time to take a step back from the day-to-day and strategize for the future?

To some extent, finding the right balance between supporting your team, doing your own work and strategizing for the future depends on the skill level of your team, where you are in the organization and where the needs are. But regardless of your circumstance, it’s important to get time management right. If your team gets the sense that you’re having trouble keeping up with your responsibilities, they may lose confidence in your ability to lead. Plus, it’ll be more difficult to manage your stress, and that will radiate to the people around you.

Time Management Tips for Managers

In my experience as a manager and leader, I’ve found that I’m better able to set priorities, stick to them and feel confident about how I’ve chosen to spend my time when I focus on four things:

1. Prioritize tasks that will keep others moving forward. It drives me crazy when things aren’t efficient, so 9 times out of 10 I’ll start my workday by answering emails from—or providing guidance to—my team. If I can get four other people activated by the time I start my own work, we’ll have five work streams moving simultaneously in the right direction, making the most of everyone’s time.

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