I was asked in an interview, “How should a first line manager split their time to fulfill their duties?” First: this is a great interview question because it asks two questions in one, and secondly: I had no clue to either answer. I gave a best guess based on my experience in volunteer leadership at church and failed miserably. But I got to have food for thought (that interview alone will lead to dozens of articles here) and I’m grateful for the answers it led to. There are multiple articles out on the Internet about this topic, but they tend to say the same things, so there’s consistency, and this article will add to the pattern.
Let’s take a look at (some of) the duties of a first line manager:
- Receiving direction and initiatives from upper management
- Coordinating administrative details
- Hiring & firing
- Team Accountability
- Team Training
- Team Coaching
- Team Mentoring
- Rejecting meeting invites for things that don’t specify why they should attend
The answer that it turns out my interviewer was looking for was a 50% split of duties above accountability and 50% from accountability down. What really happens in most organizations is not that. The top 50% is not the focus of this article, the bottom 50% is. We’ll cover the top 50% in other articles.
Accountability is critical to follow through and delivery, this blog will cover that in spades over time. But in the short term that manager is responsible for delivering results through resource allocation, prioritization, communication about what is expected when by whom and even consequences of failure. And lastly celebration of success when everything is delivered (the ability of accountability). This should be budgeted for 20% of their total work time.
Managers need to spend 5% of their time on training. This is an ongoing task for new hires, new policy implementation and new tech.
10% of a manager’s time should be spent purposefully coaching team members to improve their current job’s skills. This will help reduce mistakes, improve efficiency and increase trust in team interactions.
Another 10% should be alloted for mentoring. This is for career development within your team related to career growth. Employees who have “upward mobility potential” are happier, more focused and engaged. Employees with no visible hope of upward mobility are likely to drown in frustration of being trapped.
By having a known quantity or expectation this will let you say no to the right things deliberately and yes to the important things with confidence. There are few options out there for perfect management jobs, but you can begin making your choices for your self and your team to deliver excellence by scheduling these things on purpose.
– the MGMT
I have had a large number of weird and excellent experiences with management throughout my career. I’ve embarrassed myself in front of owners, C-level executives, VP’s and of course flung myself off of the cliffs onto the rocks of first line managers. Somehow I’m still employed. I’ve complained about leaders who have “jokingly” called me a racist [my friends would disagree], leaders who asked for a 360 feedback and then attacked me for being honest, and had leaders who decided personal growth was for the birds.
Managers can deliver culture, purpose, career growth, and opportunity. I’ve worked for leaders that made me want to fight in the trenches next to them and lay all of my energy and skills on the line. I’ve had leaders who made me feel like one of God’s gifts to the software field. They made their team their family – and I was a special part of that.
So philosophy of management should be cared for and taken in as a personal mission for those who lead. Something to be done deliberately because the default is entropy.
I want to be a manager because of what the best of what management can bring, and to help stop the spread of bad management.
– the MGMT
Saying you suck at something is a great way to get attention. Self deprecation means that people give you a lot of room for mistakes. But what if you’re an inexperienced student of a thing such as management? Well, then you start a blog to chew on the issues and topics for the development, growth, and mastery of said things.
This is that blog. Let’s learn together, grow together, and challenge one another’s assumptions. Then down the road we’ll stop sucking, we’ll start changing the cultures, bottom lines, and futures of those around us.
– The MGMT
I keep seeing or reading quotes and articles about saying yes to more things for experience and saying no to more things for time management. This balance is crazy hard because you can’t say yes to everything and not become overwhelmed, but you can’t say no to everything or else life gets very boring 🙂
There’s actually something powerful about combining the two so that you say yes to only the experiences and opportunities that will truly add value. Then you’ll know when. To say yes and know when to say no. It’s a longer term perspective thing.
I’m Mr. TMI (too much information). It’s my defense mechanism. You see shame loses its power when you speak about something that might be embarrassing. The cat’s out of the bag. I’ve never been very popular and often growing up in public school I was ridiculed for various things: my faith, my hobbies, my idiosyncrasies, my love of music (I wasn’t a jock). So I over shared and over – informed so that I could reduce the fact that someone else would shine light on my ‘weirdness.’ I’ll just put it out there in the open.
All that to say when my friend Dave O’Hara told me about the book Daring Greatly the topic resonated with me. Vulnerability is a powerful tool for intimacy between people, but shame keeps us from committing to true vulberability. It turns out people use one of (at least) two techniques to handle the shame issue, both of which may hinder intimacy through vulnerability. One way is to over shared (like me), the other way is to strive for perfection. Perfection has no shame – except that no one is truly perfect and no one is going to escape from the shame of their eventual imperfection.
I’m learning a lot about vulnerability and shame as I read the book, but I’m finding that I am guessing the next chapter or point because the implications of these topics in the research is very, very real to me.
I want to be vulnerable and intimate with others, but I need to do that in a healthy way. I want to put shame away in my relationships. I want to rise up to the challenge of healthy intimacy. It’s a great place to be at nearly 38. I haven’t been here before.
Where are you growing?
The scriptures are hard because of the and. Be gracious and forgiving and kind and loving. And righteous. The polarization within Christendom is often due to the and where readers have blindly sought the or.
I died to the Law because I was identified with Christ. Grace is my motivator (grace is not merely the forgiveness of sins, it is blessing beyond that), but the life of Christ is to be lived out in me. But that life is done through rest and relationship, not through rigidity or legalism.
The standard for love and righteousness come from the same God. This means that instead of my getting to “or”, I get to “and.” This is a powerful truth that demands I step aside with my attitude and self importance and I get to be a model of submissive grace, serving righteousness, and compassionate listening.
Go learn something new somewhere new and have a new treat.
I haven’t been on facebook at all this last week and it’s been liberating.
This habit is likely to continue.
Mega-church naming suggestion: avoid naming your organization things that don’t imply most small towns outside of the city are smaller than your weekly attendance. Calling your behemoth congregation, “The Village,” Or “Hillside Family Fellowship,” when you can seat a basketball arena’s worth of attendees is misleading. When the likelihood your attendees will run into a familiar face increases with the number of, “where are you sitting?” texts they send you need to help people understand how vanilla things are giing to be. Go with something like “church of the 80-20 rule.” Or “Jesus loves our headcount fellowship.” If that doesn’t work try something more medium sized like, “church of the wholly ambiguous,” or, “The Catholic Church.” [JUST KIDDING THE CATHOLICS ARE HUGE]. Also consider going with J.P. Morgan/Chase/Church.