Time management: the cost of quick work

“I need it now!”

Do you cultivate a quick culture, an ‘always on’ culture, in which you prioritize speed above all else?

We live in a commercial world which has been fine-tuned for speed: we’re connected 24/7 by internet, email, phone, to a global marketplace in which client demands, competitive pressure and quarterly budget targets are driving this demand for speed.

Unfortunately, quick often means ‘telling’ or ‘doing’

As a team leader, time pressures can mean we resort to ‘telling’. As a management style it works, telling someone what to do is quick, and if you have a good team it gets the job done.

Of course, sometimes we go one step further, to ‘doing’. Our mental conversation goes like this: “By the time I’ve told them what to do, reviewed their work, corrected their mistakes, I could have done it myself!”.

‘Telling’ and ‘doing’ can be counter-productive

If you are always telling your team what to do, they’re less likely to take responsibility for the success of their work.

For some work – repetitive, simple, manual work – this may not be an issue. This type of work can be controlled to such a degree that there is less need for any sense of responsibility or ownership by the person doing the work.

But if you’re expecting your team to use their judgment, be creative, develop solutions and apply discretionary effort, then always ‘telling’ is not going to help (you or them).

Why should they bother engaging their brain when you’re always telling them what to do?

Take time to coach your team

Using a coaching style of leadership supports learning, and will lead to a more engaged and expert team with higher levels of performance.

As a coach, you support your team as they work. Your team members have responsibility for a successful outcome (within the scope of their role).

The steps towards a more coaching style of management

  • Agree clear team and individual goals
  • Ask probing questions to make sure your team member understand the issues and challenges
  • Encourage your team to explore the options (again, by questioning, not telling!)
  • Agree with your team what will be done, when and by whom
  • Leave them to get on with it!

Sometimes a very task focused “I need it now!” is the only option. But as a team leader you have a responsibility to find opportunities to coach too: it will benefit your team, their performance, and your contribution to the business.