Find yourself managing paperwork and reports instead of leading and coaching your people? One of the most common mistakes new managers make when they get promoted to a manager position is they tend to become a manager of paperwork and reports, rather than a leader and coach of their people. This is common not for just new managers, but most managers that lead employees. These managers find themselves spending more time managing paperwork and reports, then actually coaching their employees. In many cases, a leader talks to their employees throughout the day discussing the daily issues, or helping them deal with customer issues but they are not proactively teaching or coaching their employees. This causes the managers to fall into The Manager of Reports trap.
The Manager of Reports trap is initiated by the need to share results of the team up the channels of command to their leaders and taking direction and information from their leaders and communicating down to their people. In the absence of clear expectations and priorities it is very easy for a manager to find themselves in the middle of a two-way communication swap between their employees and their bosses, causing them to be stuck in the office managing reports and information and running out of time to coach their employees. Sound familiar?
There is a test a leader can do to find out if they are spending too much time managing paper VS coaching employees:
The Knowledge Test: Where does the manager’s information and knowledge of their team come from?
First thing is for the leader to look at the data they have on the team’s activity and results, and identify if their knowledge of the employee’s success or failure came from a report the employees gave them or if the leader actually witnessed the activity or result with their own eyes. Then next to each result or information, the leader needs to mark R for report and E for eyes, and see where most of their knowledge and awareness came from: Report or Eyes.
Most managers will have a significantly more Rs than Es — if they are being completely honest with themselves. This means as a manager they are spending too much time managing paper and reports, and not enough time coaching their employees.
The good news is this trap can easily be avoided once a manager understands they have the ability to control of their priorities.
THE SOLUTION: Get out and start coaching!
The Number One job of any great leader in business is to coach and develop their employees. This cannot be done by gathering information from reports.
Here are 4 crucial steps for you, the leader, take:
Step 1: A leader needs to get out of their office. Whether their team is in the office or in the field or remote, the leader needs to find a way to get side-by-side with their employees.
Step 2: A leader must identify their priorities: what is the most important activities they can do?
Step 3: Create a peak and off-peak daily calendar. Peak being the time they can spend with their employees and off-peak time is time their employees are not available. Then the leader can assign off-peak tasks like reports, follow-up, and other paperwork.
Step 4: A leader needs to identify and calendar their top coaching activities, practice meetings, one-on-ones, and field days, with employees.
If a manager can implement these simple 4 steps without allowing the noise or non-important “urgent tasks” to get in the way, they will find themselves being more productive and impactful for their team and the organization.
Being a leader of people versus a manager of paperwork is the goal of many leaders, but to achieve this goal it requires confidence, courage, and the ability to put others first. The greatest way a leader can serve their employees is not to make their job easier, rather it is to make them better so they can achieve their goals and desired success!
About the Author: Nathan Jamail is President of the Jamail Development Group, and author of The Leadership Playbooks, including his newest release Serve UP & Coach Down. An expert in organizational leadership, Nathan has spent the last 14 years coaching top executives and teaching thousands of leaders around the world on leadership, employee coaching, selling skills, and cultural development. To learn more, visit http://www.nathanjamail.com or follow Nathan on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.