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What is the secret to having more time as a people manager?

How often do you hear (or feel) the following as a people manager:

  • I don’t have enough time.
  • I have no work-life balance.
  • I don’t have time to develop myself or the team.

71% of people managers we surveyed believe that what they would need to get the job done better  is “more time”.

Most people managers feel they are firefighting, spending their normal working day responding to their team, answering questions, giving advice, and not getting any ‘real’ work done.

They believe, however, that they are doing the right thing by helping everyone. The reality is that they are creating their own challenges around time and around how they create impact as a people manager.

They are creating overdependence.

As people managers, we think that the best way to help our team is to give them the answer. We believe that it is where we add value – by solving other people’s problems, providing solutions. We are convinced that it is what’s expected of us!

However, by doing that, we are not focusing on the work that really matters – the work that brings realvalue – which is empowering our team, strategic thinking and the forward planning.

Instead, we create an overdependency circle, where our team keep coming to us every time they face a challenge or a problem. And human nature is such that we want to help…

What we do not realise is what we are really doing is taking their responsibility away.

As a people manager, we need to take the time to reflect on the beliefs  that we hold about what we think our role really is.

Our mindset – or beliefs – shape how we make sense of the world and ourselves; and the mindset we hold influences how we think, feel and behave in any given situation.

The mindset we hold about our role is going to drive the actions that we take. So, when someone comes to us with a challenge, the mindset we are currently holding about our role is that it is up to us to provide a solution.

And to change that, we need to switch our mindset around. We need to recognise that those beliefs are unhelpful for us and for the people that we manage because, by taking away and fixing the problem every single time, we are not encouraging and enabling people to believe in themselves, to develop and to increase their own capability to problem solve.

So, if that is an unhelpful belief, what would make helpful beliefs, you may ask?

Helpful beliefs would be:

People do not need to be fixed. People are resourceful and often have greater strengths and capabilities than we give them credit for.

The best solutions are the ones that we identify ourselves. We all have different ways of doing things. What might work for us, might not work for others.  Finding solutions that fit with who we are and how our brains work is going to be the best solution for our own problem.

We have greater accountability and ownership when we find the way forward ourselves. And if we believe that our role as a people manager is to increase accountability, to empower and develop others, then our role is not to fix and solve problems – It is to help others to do it themselves.

So, if we want more time, we need to consider what the belief is that we need to hold on to.

In those moments when someone comes to us and asks us to fix a problem, that is that belief that we need to bring to mind and hold on to in order to stop us going into our default auto pilot mode (i.e. I will fix that for you).

We do not have to be the ones solving the problems. We can enable others to do that instead. And next time someone comes to us with a challenge, let’s ask the following question: what do YOU think we should do?

We promise you this will be a real game changer…

We understand that sometimes these conversations take a bit longer than perhaps just giving advice. But the cumulative effect is that people will stop coming to you for answers; and you, as a people manager, will get your time back in return – no more reacting or firefighting. 

You will be able to have good quality conversations with people at the point when they need them; develop and enable others; and do all the strategic thinking, the forward planning and the day-to-day tasks that needs to be done.

The secret to having more time as a people manager lies in your own control… your mindset.

Here, at CAPE, we help create brilliant people managers. If you want to learn more about yourself and how you impact on others, and develop your own style of management, contact us today for more information:

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