If the majority of busy managers aren’t sufficiently engaged in effective conversations about basic management tenets, what are they doing? None of the managers I work with have any extra time; they’re overworked.

According to a survey from Rainmaker Thinking, Inc., here’s how most busy managers spend their time:

  1. Attending Too Many Mediocre Meetings. If you’re like most managers, your No. 1 time suck is meetings.
    • People fill seats without any purpose. Then they sit there, waiting for something to come up that falls within their domain. They’d rather be productively working.
    • Meetings seldom foster accountability. It’s too easy to hide in a meeting, shirk responsibility, blame others and divert attention.
    • Poor meeting preparation and agenda planning encourage mediocre meetings.
  2. Dealing with a Tidal Wave of Email. So much of our email is unnecessary, duplicative and sloppy.
    • Train your people to spot the messages on which you should be copied.
    • Make sure they address an email to you directly when critical information is in play.
    • Until you give them guidelines, people will automatically copy you on every message and generate a ton of useless emails.
    • Never forget that a 15-minute, high-substance personal conversation trumps a barrage of emails.
  3. Touching Base, Checking in and Chit-Chatting. Limit face-to-face conversations to high-substance content. Stay on topic with questions like:
    • What are you doing? How are you doing it? What steps are you taking?
    • Let me see what you’ve got so far.
    • What’s next?
    • How long will that take?
  4. Interrupting and Being Interrupted. When something pops into your head, write it down and save it for your next scheduled conversation. You don’t like interruptions; the same applies to your staff.
  5. Reviewing Dashboard Metrics with Employees and Conducting Formal Reviews. While most reviews are highly structured, they often focus on outcomes—not on what people can actually control. Provide immediate feedback, whenever possible.

It’s overwhelming and challenging to have the discipline to put effective management tasks ahead of these time strains. But it must be done. Nothing is more important to achieving results than providing the fundamentals of management. A good manager should be busy managing people, not paperwork, not doing tasks such as these.

What’s it like in your workplace? Are you sucked into these common time and energy drains? I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here or on LinkedIn.

Showing 3 comments
  • Mark

    I need to remember these tips. I get sucked into time drains like these all the time.

  • Cindy J.

    Great article, thanks!

    • Nancy

      Thanks Cindy. We all fall into many of these. We just need to remind ourselves to stay focused in the goals of the day.