Bosses, Want to Manage Your Time Better? Manage Expectations

May 2, 2018

If you want to manage your time better as a manager, you need to manage expectations

Being a manager can be a difficult job. Often, managers – particularly new managers – will work longer hours and feel more stress than individual contributors.

Well, Dave Crenshaw wants to help. In his LinkedIn Learning course Time Management for Managers, he gives an actionable plan for managers to work less and ultimately produce more.

One of the biggest takeaways from his course – for managers, managing your time often comes down to managing expectations.

“The 18th century poet Alexander Pope once wrote, ‘Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed’," Crenshaw said in his course. “In our modern workplace, certainly we need to expect a little bit more than nothing. However, let me suggest a slight alteration to this phrase: ‘Blessed is the manager who sets reasonable expectations, for they shall never be disappointed’."

Crenshaw’s point? It's appealing to be always available to your team, where they can talk to you anytime and you respond to all their emails ASAP. But that’s not practical nor effective.

Instead, Crenshaw suggests managing expectations. By doing so, you’ll have time for all your employees, but on a schedule that still empowers you to be as productive as possible.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dave Crenshaw explains why managers need to manage expectations to effectively manage their time.

Why Managers Need to Manage Expectations to Better Manage Their Time

Most managers want to be there for their employees. But “being there” is really defined by you, the manager. “Being there” can mean responding to every email within 30 minutes or within 48 hours. So long as it’s consistent, employees will feel that you are “there” for them.

Crenshaw points to the example of in-person interruptions. Research shows there's a huge time suck when people interrupt you when we are focused. As a manager, Crenshaw encourages you to set the expectation with your people to schedule a meeting when they want to speak with you or to hold their questions for your weekly one-on-one meetings with them, as opposed to them interrupting you whenever they want.

Now, you are probably saying – okay, if I tell my people they can only talk to me in meetings, I’ll come across as a jerk. But think about it. If you set the expectation that people can interrupt you whenever, you and your team will be less productive and more stressed. In the long run, it’ll lead to more problems, not less.

It goes back to another point Crenshaw makes – he’s against open-door policies. Instead, he is in favor of a closed-door, open-calendar policy, where people are free to schedule a meeting with you if they want to speak with you.

Yes, of course there are always exceptions for urgent matters. But, the more you adopt this approach, you’ll see inevitably see the amount of urgent matters drop. And instead, you’ll see a team that’s more prepared.

The Affect This Approach Will Have on Your Team

You, as the manager, set the norms for your team. If you respond to emails immediately, send emails all hours of the night and live in a state of constant urgency, so will your team.

And likely, over time tensions will rise and performance will drop.

Conversely, if you change the expectations so your people plan ahead, interruptions are minimal and deadlines are realistic, the culture will change. Your people will be happier and more productive, and you’ll work less and ultimately have stronger results.

There are many other factors to managing your time as a manager: the importance of training others, prioritizing effectively and ensuring meetings are productive. But, it starts with setting the right expectations, so you and your team are empowered to do great work – instead of living in a constant state of urgency.

Are you a manager looking to better manage your time? Check out Crenshaw’s full course, Time Management for Managers.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are:

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