We all need to get more done in a day -- especially managers who juggle tactical, administrative, and strategic work simultaneously. As responsibilities increase, so does the pressure to maintain a high level of performance.
Although we could all benefit from healthier habits like prioritizing and planning, sometimes it isn't enough. You can only do so much. At some point, you'll have to look to others if you want to get more done. However, you can't just throw work at people and expect results. There's a right way and there's a wrong way to ask others for help.
I spent a few years in third party recruiting. It's an environment unlike any other: intense, fast-paced, and highly competitive. As an account manager, your earning potential was limitless. The more job orders you got, the more money you made -- if you had the candidates to fill them.
The best account managers built teams of recruiters to help them source, screen, and submit quality candidates. However, in offices with multiple managers, there was a lot of competition. As a recruiter, if you had a marketable candidate with a desirable background, you held the power -- and managers knew it.
In my experience, the account managers that were authoritative and brash struggled. Their job orders got placed at the bottom of the pile. On the flip side, those that focused on creating meaningful relationships accomplished far more because they had the willing support from others. That crucial support allowed them to multiply themselves time and time again.
The managers that unlocked the secret to delegation did these three things.
1. They took the time to educate and clarify.
It's easy to throw a "stack of papers" on someone's desk, give them a deadline, and leave them to figure it out. That's also a quick way to demotivate employees and send them looking for other projects.
The managers that earned my respect and support took the time to educate. They explained the importance of the work, they connected the project (regardless of how minuscule) to the bigger picture, and showed me what "A" quality work looked like. They clarified their expectations and invested time in my development.
The work took on more meaning than the task itself. I was eager to help because I was getting something out of the deal too. I was developing skill sets necessary for progression while broadening my knowledge of the business.
2. They showed their appreciation.
I would have done the work anyway. I had no choice in the matter, she was my boss. But for some reason, knowing and feeling like my work was appreciated and valued motivated me to improve my contributions. It gave me a sense of purpose and strengthened my bond with my manager. I trusted her more, felt more relaxed, and even had higher self-esteem. Her appreciation made me feel like I was a respected member of the team -- not just another paper-pusher or number-cruncher.
In return, I continued to seek out opportunities to support her on special projects. I even volunteered to take on research tasks outside of my area of expertise because I wanted to see the team succeed.
The problem with many managers and their employee relationships is that the employee doesn't respect them or their process. Therefore, they don't take their assignments seriously.
Gratitude is a great way to earn the respect of others while simultaneously building their self-efficacy.
3. They reciprocated the favor.
No one likes a taker -- someone who constantly asks for help, but never offers any. Eventually, you'll get labeled and employees will avoid your projects like the plague. If you want assistance, then you'll need to be willing to provide some first. Healthy relationships are not a one-way street.
As managers, the thought of spending time working on something else sounds crazy, but I can assure you that the investment will pay dividends. You will always reap what you sow. If you sow hard work, selflessness, and servant leadership, then you will inspire the same in your employees.
As a manager, it can be easy to let pride, pressure, and stress negatively affect your relationships at work. Take it out on the treadmill or the punching bag. Your relationships with your team, and others, are the key to getting more done.