Time management is important in all aspects of life, but it’s especially crucial as a business owner. There are many factors that can contribute to time lost, but today we’re focusing on time spent being the office encyclopedia.
Whatever do I mean by you being the office encyclopedia? Picture this: You’re just walking through the door, coffee cup in hand, and you’re instantly swarmed by some team members with questions.
“Oh, I just need to run something by you”…“Do you have a few minutes to chat?”…“Can I check with you that it will work?”…“Can I ask you something? It’ll only take a minute!”
How many times have you heard those questions before? Sometimes it feels like you’re bombarded with questions every step you take.
Now, while these questions can feel overwhelming, it’s important to recognise that it’s only normal.
As your team’s leader, you want to be approachable, friendly, helpful, and all those good things. They look to you for answers because, well, you’re the one who’s going to have them.
So, this is where it can start to feel like you’re their encyclopedia. It seems like you’re the source – the only source – for their answers.
Each question that is asked means time taken out of your day. Time taken away from parts of your business that you’re desperate to get done. By the end of the day, you may feel like nothing has been checked off your to-do list.
You probably feel fatigued and completely drained.
That’s why I’m discussing this topic in the newest episode of the PPMP podcast. I want to help you learn how to manage your time and create a strong and independent team.
Let’s look at some ways you can tackle the situation.
Effective Time Management at its Source
Not so long ago, a survey was conducted on the challenge that business owners have with managing their time. Findings suggested that leaders are spending more time working “in” the business, rather than “on” the business.
“The average entrepreneur spends 68.1% of the time working “in” their business—tackling day-to-day tasks, putting out fires, etc.—and only 31.9% of the time working “on” their business—i.e. long-term goals, strategic planning.”
Crazy, right? Working “in” your business widely involves answering questions that staff should be able to confidently answer on their own (when appropriate, of course).
Now, when getting to the root of the cause, ask yourself this:
Why are my team members asking me these questions?
It may seem a little obvious, but I’m talking about getting to the real deep source of why your team are asking you so many queries. What are the motivations behind them?
Is it confusion? Do they not have the resources to figure things out by themselves?
Identify any lack of clarity around your systems, then fix accordingly. Double check their training, get up-to-date on your resources, and so on.
What Can You Do In The Moment?
Even if you’ve got systems under control, it’s important to know how to handle these kinds of questions in the exact moment that they happen.
The more you answer and give, the more you’re building dependency on yourself as the business encyclopedia.
Well, let’s be real, you kind of are the company encyclopedia – but that doesn’t mean it’s practical for you as the owner. You can’t be doing that 24/7.
If you find yourself delivering a casual, “blah, blah, blah,” response, then what has that team member actually learned?
This is where you shift into the coach approach and try answering their question with a question.
For example: “What do you think?” “What worked last time?”
I strongly believe in having a coach approach set up within your performance development framework. It brings out the brilliance in people, because you’re not just feeding them the answer – you’re encouraging them to discover it by themselves.
You’ll be fostering a culture of independence, of inner resourcefulness, of ownership.
Keeping a Record
For the next couple of weeks, write down all the questions you are asked. Well, at least as many as you can remember. Think of it like the offices FAQ’s.
Take note of how similar or different they are, which will help you zero-in on what needs to be addressed or re-addressed.
By recording the queries, you can then explore if the solutions exist in manuals, training, policies, or procedures.
If not, then you can focus on developing those resources that are required.
A Diary, Open Office & Coworking
What do these three things have in common? Why, they can be used for time management, of course.
Blocking out your diary is a great way to indicate to your team members when you’re free for a quick chat, and when they should bring up their issues in a different environment.
They may start to step back and understand your obligations. They can recognise where your time and energy needs to be at certain times of the day, thus highlighting your non-interruption moments.
Open office or coworking sessions are also effective for helping with your time management.
Depending on your office set-up, delegate a particular time when you can go in and co-work with your crew. This makes you available for those light-touch questions, conversations, or check-ins.
You could also gently nudge the inquirers to reserve their questions for team meetings, peer supervisions, or clinical supervisions.
As an allied health business owner, your aspirations lie in wanting a high-performing team. Then, you can get back to doing the things you need to do to get your business where you want it to be.
You want them to be able to think for themselves, make those tough decisions, know where their roles and responsibilities stand, and know what, how, and when they can decide.
For all my best tips and strategies on how to tackle time management as a leader, listen to the latest episode of the podcast.
You’ll hear the top reasons why your team members are asking you so many questions, steps you can take to stop building dependency on you as a business owner, and so much more. You don’t want to miss out on these awesome tips.