Managers often have a lot of things on their plate, having to juggle between client projects, team management, and administrative tasks, to name a few. When dealing with such an overwhelming volume of work, it can be difficult to make yourself available to your team whenever they need you.
However, making time for employees and their needs should be a top priority for any manager, as the success of the business largely depends on its workforce's satisfaction and overall efficiency. As guidance for all managers who find themselves strapped for time, these seven entrepreneurs share their best tips for how busy managers can make themselves more available to their teams without losing productivity.
Schedule in time
Being "heads down" should include time with the team, given that everyone is working toward the same goal, and employees should be able to reach their managers every day, argues Aristotle by Bouquet.ai CEO and co-founder Adrien Schmidt.
"This all comes down to scheduling. When I schedule my day, I try to be as meticulous as possible," Schmidt adds, explaining his own strategy. "I always leave a block or blocks of time throughout the day when my team can have my full attention."
Hold weekly meetings
"To ensure all team members are heard, I hold short weekly meetings on Friday mornings. I like to use this time as an open forum to exchange ideas and address general problems," says Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder of Fem Founder.
According to Marquet, any good manager should always keep their door open to team members and be available to schedule a time to chat in private, no matter if they have a personal or professional issue they need to discuss.
Create a problem severity chart
A good strategy for prioritizing the importance between managerial tasks and time dedicated to your team is to create a problem severity chart covering various types of issues that can occur throughout the day and to share that chart with your employees.
WPBeginner co-founder Syed Balkhi explains: "Under the low-level issues, leave the name of the supervisor they are meant to contact if they have questions. Once you start getting to the 'red zone' issues that need your touch, let them know that it's OK to come and get you for advice."
Use instant messaging platforms
No matter how busy they are, managers should always be available to their team via an instant messaging platform such as Slack, thinks Angela Ruth, customer experience rep with Calendar.
"Slack really helps me be accessible, because I may not check my email for a while if I'm really busy. Someone can ask a question or for guidance and I can respond immediately from any device and then get right back into work," Ruth explains. This way, the team gets a response faster and "no one feels like the conversation goes longer than necessary."
Organize team lunches
"In the past, I've struggled to juggle the necessary 'focus time' to accomplish many important and difficult tasks while also keeping in constant communication with the rest of my team," Bryce Welker, CEO of Crush the CPA Exam, recounts.
The solution, according to Welker, is to find a way to spend time with the team that encourages bonding as well as work-related communication. "Currently, the most effective method I've found to accomplish both of these things is to hold catered teamwide 'power lunches.' This way, we can enjoy a stress-free meal while also keeping one another in the loop," he explains.
Allow for exceptions
While it's important to create clear rules and schedules to avoid disruption, it's also important to allow for exceptions. According to InCharged CEO Jessica Gonzalez, building trust and understanding with your team is key -- this ensures that they feel comfortable interrupting if it's something important.
"If I'm working hard, but something that needs me comes up, then interrupt me," Gonzalez says. "Over time, you and your team can learn what is worth interrupting for and what can wait."
"If you're a busy manager, you are not a good manager," insists Diego Orjuela, CEO of Cables and Sensors. Despite a hectic schedule, managing perception is of crucial importance, because your team needs to know they can rely on you even when under pressure.
"Otherwise, they won't feel secure about your leading. If they don't get that sense of security from you, they'll find it from someone else, which defeats the purpose of your managing," Orjuela warns.