Do you remember when you first became a manager? You probably inherited a team of people who came with all sorts of problems for you to resolve. It made you feel so important having all these people who needed you to solve their problems large or small.
After all, that was why they promoted you into a manager role because you knew the business, knew the customers and had vast experience of handling problems. I’m sure there were lots of other reasons for giving you the job. However, dealing with problems has always been seen as part of a manager’s job. But don’t you sometimes get a bit fed up of having to solve all these problems?
My first job in management was as a Regional Sales Manager in charge of six Fields Sales Engineers. This was in the days before mobile phones so the guys used to phone me at home in the evenings. At first I would let them phone me anytime because I wanted to be “there for them”. I was their leader and I thought they couldn’t survive without me.
However, when I was getting phone calls just as I was to tuck into some well deserved dinner, changes had to be made. So we agreed on a time window when I could be phoned and that worked okay for a while. However, I started to get sick and tired of these problems eating into my personal life.
It wasn’t the case that the six of them would phone me every night but some would phone more than others, and some would demand more time on the phone.
At that time I didn’t know what to do about it, so it was tolerated – it was just part of the job.
I was eventually promoted to an office-based Sales Managers job and there were even more problems to be dealt with. It wasn’t just the sales guys I had to deal with; it was the people from the finance department, the marketing department, the distribution people and of course – the customers!
I remember when I took my first week’s holiday from this job and thinking before my return to work, ‘My desk will be piled up with problems to be solved, there will be people standing in line at the door of my office waiting for me to solve their problems.’ The funny thing is, there weren’t as many problems as I’d thought there would be.
Solving problems is part of your job as a Manager. Do it well and you’ll have a happy and motivated team. Do it badly or spend too much time dealing with problems then you’ll have exactly the opposite.
Spending quality time with your team, listening, giving feedback and coaching them is a vital part of a manager’s job. One of the reasons some managers don’t do this well is because they spend too much time solving business problems!
I’m sad to say that some managers like solving business problems. They see it as a major part of their job and it makes them feel important and worthwhile.
However, while that manager is sitting at his desk solving problems, the listening, feedback and coaching isn’t getting done. And if that isn’t getting done, you’re in danger of creating a de-motivated team who take too many sickies, and don’t make a positive contribution to your business.
So we need to look at the whole situation of dealing with problems.
Business problems – people problems
If you want to be a successful Motivational Manager then you need to minimise your time solving business problems and focus on any people problems you may have with your team.
This article isn’t about time management, so I suggest you get a hold of a book on the subject or attend a training course and take a long hard look at how you spend your time.
Your success as a Motivational Manager will be determined by the amount of time you spend with your team. If you’re faced with too many business problems then I suggest you have a meeting with your boss.
You need to make the case that business problems get in the way of managing your team and resultantly jeopardise your ability to achieve your objectives.
I remember one day, just as I was about to leave the office to spend some time with one of my salespeople making calls on customers. My boss, the Sales Director, stopped me to suggest I join him at a meeting to discuss how we could solve some problems in the administration process.
Now, that would be the easiest thing in the world for me to do; sit in on another meeting and possibly prove to the people there, what a clever chap I was.
However I resisted the temptation to give into my manager’s request and said, ‘My plan is to spend some valuable time with our salesman, John, helping him increase his sales conversion rate so bringing more sales into the business. Are you telling me you don’t want me to do that and attend this meeting?’
There wasn’t much he could say about that other than to suggest I continue with my plan to spend time with John.
I’m not saying that I won every one of these discussions; sometimes I was overruled and made to do what the boss wanted. However, my prime objective as a Motivational Manager was to achieve my outcomes through the efforts of my team. Attending meetings and solving business problems wasn’t going to do that.
Fight hard for the time you spend with your people, that time will determine your success.
A man must be master of his hours and days, not their servant – William Frederick Boo