It’s one of the most common time management challenges we hear from managers.
“How do I keep my employees from interrupting me?”
For many managers they feel almost as if it would be easier to just do the work themselves! Who feels me?
But in the real world in most jobs and companies more work needs to be done than any one person can do.
So how do we create a system where managers can get their work done – and employees can get theirs done too?
Well in the simplest terms we have found that two simple things can change it all: boundaries and expectations.
Start thinking in these terms and you’ll watch your relationship with employees change, annoyance go down and – get this – you’ll actually start getting your work done!
So how does it work?
You are a supervisor and you have work to do. But, if you are like many supervisors we hear from, you are doing your employee’s work rather than your own!
That all changes with the right boundaries.
To get your work done you need time you can focus and work — without the world bothering you! For many of our clients time blocking is the answer. Set-up 1, 2 and 3 hour blocks on your calendar where you focus on your work. This is critically important for those tasks that require critical thinking and deep thought. Without this safe haven you might fail (and someday not even be a supervisor any more).
But what about your employees while you are in deep thought?
They’ll be OK. I promise you.
Well almost always. There are sometimes real emergencies (the roof caves in, someone goes to the hospital).
In the case of a true emergency give your employees your location and contact information – and make sure they only interrupt for a true emergency. Gina’s telephone not making outbound calls is NOT an emergency for you!
So with you having all of these boundaries won’t your employees be goofing off and lost?
Well that’s where expectations come in.
While you are controlling your boundaries you still have expectations of your employees. They have work to get done. You’ll be checking their metrics.
But to be fair they have to know what you expect in detail so they can do it for you!
This works to keep them motivated to get things done even when you are focused on other things.
And now you’ll be expecting them to fix some of their problems.
But what about all those problems?
So the problems your employees were interrupting you with won’t suddenly go away. Well, surprisingly some will get fixed without your intervention. But some will still be there.
So what now?
For many of our clients they have “office hours”. A set window of time when employees know their supervisor will be available for questions and coaching.
For instance promise from 2 to 4 pm you’ll be near your desk ready to answer any appropriate questions.
That gives your employees the safety of knowing their problem will get solved, the ability to plan and gives you the piece of mind to think.
Try it out. So many of our clients have benefited from this simple strategy: boundaries and expectations.
So are you ready to set yours?
Let us know how it goes!
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