Once upon a time, efficiency was a much-valued competency in a manager. Of course, it still is. But it often comes at a price that is too high to pay. To be an effective new manager, efficient managers need balance.
Task-Focus vs. People-Focus
Efficient managers work hard to get things done in a timely manner. They are focused on the tasks and on being productive. This is all good – until they lose their focus on people. They worry that spending time on inspiring a team, developing others, building relationships, and showing empathy could stand in the way of their ability to execute.
Too intense a task-focus and too little a focus on people needs can make managers less effective in general. Not only do they suffer personal consequences such as missing out on a promotion, but their teams suffer too. Too much pressure to produce without compensating attention to the people side can cause burnout which has widespread and negative results. A recent survey of HR leaders named employee burnout as the greatest threat to employee engagement and, therefore, a key contributor to employee turnover.
Tips for Overly Task-Focused Managers
If you suspect you spend too much time and energy on efficient productivity to the neglect of your people responsibilities, here are some tips on how to reset your priorities:
- Be More Self-Aware
Are you moving too fast? Are you being impatient? If so, try to slow down and figure out what is behind your need to push yourself (and others) to the limit.
- Ask for Feedback
Check in with your team to ask how they would rate you as a manager in terms of your people-focus vs. your task-focus. You will get an indication of how they see you. But beware that they may not feel they can provide candid feedback. It might help to get an outside person to anonymously poll your team.
- Plan Immediate and Visible Action Steps
If you need to strengthen your people skills, make a list of what you can to do to spend more time with your team – schedule one-on-one meetngs to get to know them on a personal basis, ask about their career ambitions, and learn what they like to do when not at work. A simple tactic is to include a “good news” section at every team meeting so the team has a chance to share more than deadlines.
And remember, this is not time wasted; it is time invested in your and your team’s success.
The Bottom Line
The best managers have found a comfortable balance between efficient productivity and taking care of their people. Do not limit your success with a management style that weighs too heavily on one side of management equation.
To learn more about being an effective manager, download 5 Management Misperceptions that Slip Up Too Many New Managers