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New Manager Guideliines - Part Two

Time Management

As a manager you may also maintain all or some of the responsibilities you had prior to your promotion. You know how long the technical or project tasks take but do not understand how much time or effort managerial tasks take. If you grossly underestimate the amount of time for managerial tasks, it will lead you to an unrealistically optimistic estimate of the amount of time available for technical work. Effective use of time is essential. You can do anything, not everything.

First, understand your work style, where are you effective, where do you waste time. Time wasters come in various forms; fire fighting, procrastination, lack of a plan, poor delegation (or none at all), making quick decisions without having all the necessary information, analysis paralysis, and crisis management are the most common examples. Identify the time wasters that may impact your effectiveness. Create an action plan to minimise your time wasters and increase your productive time. Help your staff identify their action plan and work as a group to maximise effectiveness.

This article will focus on delegation, which is one of the most difficult challenges for new managers. For managers, like most of us, it is the "what ifs" that keep us stressed during the day and awake at night. Thoughts like "I'm responsible for it, so what will happen to me if the project doesn't get finished on time, what if it is over budget, what if the team doesn't do it well or the way I would have done it". "How can I possibly trust anyone else?" Remember that your role has changed; management means getting things done through others. Your responsibility is to get the project done by relying on the same people who were doing the job before you were promoted to manager.

Delegation is a two-sided coin, knowing how to delegate and knowing what (and what not) to delegate. Your challenge is being appropriately involved-neither micro-managing nor completely relinquishing responsibility. Some of the reasons for your promotion were probably your accomplishments in a staff role, people skills, and decision-making abilities. The purpose of delegating is to amplify your own time and skills to meet business objectives. Micro-managing is not delegating. When micro-managing, you're spending too much time and energy focusing on how the tasks are completed. You will be in the way and your direct reports will resent your presence.

On the other hand, by completely relinquishing responsibility to your direct reports, you run the risk of failed projects, misplaced focus and energy. Be involved to the appropriate level by asking questions, for example, "what's the complexity of the task being delegated?" and "what's the experience and talent level of the person doing the work?" Discuss with your direct reports how you would like the project progress reported. Set parameters and expectations around the project and communicate them to the staff involved. Open the lines of communication so you can freely discuss the project at anytime without your staff feeling like you don't trust them.

Don't know where to start to identify your time wasters? Assistance can come from colleagues who are willing to share their experiences and reading books are places to start. Hire a coach who has access to validated assessment tools to help you identify time wasters and help you create a personalised plan for your success.