Managing People on the Quick

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The Harvard Business Review has a good article explaining how to be a better manager in 15 minutes per day. Here’s an excerpt:

1. Turn dead time into development time. Walking back to your office after a meeting? Use those two minutes to give your direct report feedback on the presentation, and on how he could do better next time. He didn’t have a speaking role? Ask him how he thought the meeting went and how he might have made certain points differently — and then offer feedback on that. Direct, in-the-moment feedback is your single best tool for developing people.

2. Constantly spot dead time. Look for every two-minute stretch in your day during which you could be talking to someone else — most often, that’s travel time — and convert each into a coaching opportunity. Walking down to Starbucks to get a coffee? Driving to the airport? Headed out to your car at the end of the day? Ask one of your people to come along with — and talk to them about their goals and priorities.

3. Show up in their workspace. Employees expect you to stay in your seat. Don’t. Once per day, get up and walk over to the desk of someone you haven’t spoken to recently. Take two minutes to ask her what she’s working on. Once she’s done answering, respond “What do you need from me to make that project/transaction successful?” Message to employee: I know who you are, I’ve got high expectations — and I’ve got your back.

4. Make two calls per day. On your way home from work, call (or email) two people you met with that day, and offer “feedforward.” “I like what you’ve done with the Smithers account. Next time, let’s try to keep marketing costs down. Thanks for your hard work.” Always make “thank you” a part of the message. Employees who feel appreciated, and know that you’re trying to develop their skills, stay engaged over the long run.

I would add taking a couple minutes to reflect on your daily interactions with people: What went well, what didn’t, what needs improving. That way, you can start the next day with an interaction plan to help you fill those extra time slots. Does anyone have any other tips?

  • I love this. Small tactical tips like these will be in my mind now when I have dead time.

    I’m currently working with the authors of a new book on leadership that just hit #1 on Amazon – The Three Laws of Performance.

    I’d be happy to send you some blogger-only materials if you’d like.

    best,
    Robert