..and the manager you were meant to be.
By Cathy McNamara Fitzgerald
These days, no matter
how hard you try, you just canít do it all. So stop trying, like I finally did.
Here are a few tried-and-true tips to once and for all get on top of your
workloadóand stay there.
Make the List
Thatís right, itís
time to get back to basics. If youíre already a list maker, you know how this
works. If youíre not, youíre long overdue for giving this technique a try.
∑ Step 1: Type out your to-do list.This is going to take some time, but youíll see that itís
worth it. Include projects large and small, short-term and long-term, important
∑ Step 2: Prioritize the items, based on their immediacy. What needs to be done this week should
be moved to the top of your list; tasks that arenít as urgent should be placed
near the bottom.
∑ Step 3: Assign a realistic due date to each of the tasks. Now take another look at your list.
Want to cry? A list that long is likely to produce mixed emotions even in the
most stoic managers. Now that thereís no question about how much there really
is on your plate, you might actually feel like curling up into a little ball
under your desk. But you also might feel a little reliefóat least you have a
complete picture of what needs to be done, and when.
Make the Change
OK, say it aloud: "I
can no longer do everything myself.Ē Thatís right, say itóand say it again
until you believe it. For many, this is a life-changing event. Hereís the deal:
From here on out, you will better utilize your staff to meet your associationís
needs. Because (and youíve probably heard this before, but Iím going to tell
you again) if you hog all of the work to yourself, eventually you will begin to
lose control of your tasks because you simply cannot do it all. And if you try,
projects will begin to slip through your fingers or the work that you do
accomplish will become less than stellar because you simply donít have the time
to dedicate to it.
And what about your
staff? Well, your "Iíll just do it myselfĒ attitude certainly isnít benefiting them.
You know that they are capable of doing more than you are giving them. Youíre
also stifling their ability to grow. How can they learn if you never give them a
Hand it Over
Now that youíve
realized you canít do it all, the delegation process may begin. Congratulations!
∑ First, identify which tasks you must
And consider these tasks carefullyójust because youíve always done them doesnít
mean you must continue to do them. Managers should be focusing on goal-setting
or problem-solving or advancing the association, right? You donít really need
to be in charge of typing the minutes from last nightís board call. Why not
allow another staff member to do that, and then you can read and approve them? (See,
delegating doesnít mean that youíre relinquishing all control.)
∑ Second, identify people on your team who can undertake the tasks that
you determine can indeed be delegated. How will you identify the appropriate staff? These are the
individuals who have told you of their interest in taking on more responsibility;
they may also be the staff who, simply put, already have the skill sets necessary
to do the job. Assign names to all of the tasks on your list, including your
own. Click "Save.Ē
Share the Good Word
At the beginning of
the week, call a team meeting and bring copies of your master to-do list with you.
Your list should now clearly state the tasks at hand, when they need to be completed,
and who will be responsible for completing them. Give each team member a copy
of the list. Explain that you are undertaking a new process to allow for more
team collaboration and contributionóand responsibility.
Go down the list, item
by item, and give your staff their assignments. Give them the information they
need to succeed at accomplishing their assigned tasks. Tell staff that you are
available should they have any questions or require further direction. Allow
them to go for it.
Share the Wealth
Post the master list
to the intranet, and ask staff to alert you as tasks are completed so you can cross
them off the list. (Donít delete the completed tasks from the list; just use a
strikethrough, so you and staff can clearly see what has been done.) As tasks
are completed throughout the week, email updated lists to your staff. The
obvious accomplishments and fewer to-dos make everyone feel better; all of you certainly
will share in the sense of accomplishment. At the end of the week, meet again
as a team to discuss your progress on the master task list. Youíll want to discuss:
∑ Where you are with each of the
projects (acknowledge those that have been completed and commend staff for their
∑ Issues or concerns with particular
∑ Solutions to completing tasks that
have stalled out;
∑ Reassigning staff responsibilities as
∑ The plan for the following week.
Because yes, there
will be more tasks next week, and the week after, so youíll want to continue to
have these biweekly production meetings with your team. Try to create a
relaxed, casual atmosphere for these meetings. Donít assign blame for
incomplete projects. In the meeting, itís really not about who completed their tasks and who did not
(though that will become quite clear). Emphasize that itís about reaching the departmentís
goals and objectives by working together. Let staff talk freely about their
projectsí statuses and allow them ownership. Also allow them to air their
frustrations and their needs. You may be surprised to see other team members
reaching out to assist them.
When you share your
teamís accomplishments with your superiors, always give credit where credit is
due. You already know you did a good job by creating a successful team dynamic;
itís important that your superiors also know that, through delegation, you are
enabling your staff to grow and achieve their own career successes, too.
So, hereís to learning
to delegate. Itís a major growth opportunity for you and for your staff. And, hereís
to finally seeing the bottom of your inbox. Thatís about as good as it gets.
Cathy McNamara Fitzgerald is director, communications,
at the Academy of General Dentistry and a member of the Association Media &
Publishing Content Creation Committee.