I have often been told that I am really good at “doing.” In other words, I am the go-to person for everything because I get it done. Being a work horse may sound like a good thing but when you are drowning in it, it is hard to see the forest through the trees. This is why it is imperative as managers to take control of the people, projects and influencers in our lives.
In reality, we should all be team players and expect the same level of participation and effort from everyone. So instead of constantly singling out and relying on the one person you know you can always turn to, spread the wealth. You’ll learn more about the people around you and empower them to be better. If they don’t do it right, manage them, coach them and get them on a path of learning.
You want to avoid being part of the group of American workers who, according to a study by Microsoft, spend 16 out of 45 hours being unproductive. Become more productive by making sure you are not enabling others (which can add to your work load with their busy work). Hold them accountable. It can seem rewarding when you are the go-to person; i.e. the one who knows everything about a specific process and holds the key. And sometimes it can even be a way to create job security. Knowledge is power, right? So we should be the ones to use it the right way. Just think how much more powerful it is when we share the wealth of information with everyone.
Besides, when you are the only one holding the keys to the castle, it can be a hindrance; weighing you down with endless to-dos that never really seem to go anywhere. Knowing/doing everything isn’t always a good thing. This is how you create a dependency in others, stop promoting growth and find yourself in a rut that establishes a trend of overall poor performance even though you are working your hardest.
So how do you make a change? I have a few tips to share on how to become an expert manager, influencer and team player without doing all the heavy lifting yourself.
- Table it – If someone brings something to you and you don’t have time to do it or it’s not something that fits into the current goals for upward movement, your team’s goals or your personal growth, table it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to help others to get important work done, but if the task in question is something that can wait or they can do, that’s what needs to happen. This is how you protect and manage your time. Another option is to just let them know what you can and can’t do to help and in what timeframe you can do it. If it doesn’t work for them they need to find another solution. In other words don’t let them put the “monkey on your back.”
- Be the best at the important things, not everything – Don’t be the best bathroom cleaner in your location. You’ll stick yourself with doing the dirty work even though you are the manager. Set expectations and share your skills, then move on. It needs to get done, but just because you are the best at that task doesn’t mean it makes sense to waste your managerial time on it.
- Learn to say NO – Ah, the word children learn as a full sentence before anything else. Embrace it, love it and learn to say, “NO”; in the right manner of course. You don’t have to say yes to everything to show you are a good manager, not let others down, or grow within the organization. Saying NO can actually do these things for you. It brings balance into your work life and people will respect and value you more.
- Challenge yourself by dreaming big – If you have dreams for your growth and personal advancement, focus on making them a reality. Find someone within the company who will support your dreams and your efforts to make them happen. This could include continuing education, shadowing others, creating your own special projects, or moving into a new role that is more challenging, such as a district or regional manager.
- Speak up – I have the habit of initially sitting back to take everything in before I move to say something, so don’t follow my example here. Don’t hesitate to be a part of the conversation; staying quiet is a career killer. You risk being seen as uninvolved, not caring, or as being indifferent to the process at hand. If you don’t like something or can’t do it, say so. You are still being part of the overall solution. Just make sure you are not raising your hand for everything or you’ll be left doing it all once again.
- Educate yourself – To be a great leader you must always be on the road of learning and self-improvement. You are what you put out there, so take the time to know and fully engage in what your role is when you interact with your employees and upper management. By embracing your role and focusing on doing your very best, you are more apt to display a high level of confidence and capability, which is what great leaders are made of.
Start implementing some of these steps into your work or personal life today. You will gain back your energy and be able to place it where it counts. As a fellow doer who is dedicated to moving forward to become something much more, I have to say it’s worth it. Watch out world, when the anchors are cut you’ll soar to new heights.
By guest blogger & former Red Book user Crystal Gardner, Marketing Production Manager, Red Book Solutions | 6 years Marketing and Project Management Experience in Agency, Corporate and Private Institutions| Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Marketing & Luxury Homes Coordinator | University of Denver, Daniels College of Business, Office Of Communications & Marketing, Office Manager