Managers have a challenging job. They are in charge of people, tasks — and expectations. They are leaders, and they are responsible for the outcome of a service or product. With all of this weight on their shoulders, it can become difficult to remain productive while trying to check on the productivity of team members.

Both are important to the success of the company. When employees start their eight-hour day without direction or instruction, it can quickly become a waste of time that affects a company’s bottom line. The same could be said about a manager. A misguided manager will struggle with the day, including planned and unplanned tasks. Such chaos in the manager’s office easily spills to the rest of the team.

It’s true — everything starts from the top. If a manager want to lead a productive and supportive team, there are several ideas to consider.

Plan the day

Whether you bring out the full-size desk calendar or add the details to a calendar on your phone, there is great value in planning your day — and your team's day.

This may seem daunting, but over time, it will become easier to map out your days. Some rhythms are consistent and become daily tasks. Other to-do items may be seasonal or project-specific. From the top of the workday until it is time to drive home, put it in the calendar.

Here are things to consider:

  • Meal times: Don’t underestimate the value of eating snacks and a healthy lunch during the day. Prioritize meals during the day. Fuelling your body is one of the best ways to power through the afternoon slump.
  • Rest times: Don’t believe the misconception that rest is the enemy of productivity. Take moments to walk around — or even step outside for a moment. Take regular breaks to rest your eyes and your mind.
  • Re-energize times: Is it 2 p.m. for you and your team? There may be a part of the day when your team needs an energy boost, and you can check-in to provide support.

Delegate tasks

It is challenging to be productive if you are trying to do it all. If you are wondering where you should start, take another look at your job description. Write down the essential tasks that you alone must do. For the other tasks, empower your team to lead those responsibilities. There are many benefits of delegating, but the main highlight is the freedom to focus on what’s important — and do it well.

To get a better idea of delegation, consider these best practices:

  • Provide training for new tasks: Don’t set your team up for failure. Instead, provide opportunities for training and resources that are easily accessible. Failing to train your team will prevent them from confidently taking on their assigned tasks.
  • Be clear on expectations: Communication is important while delegating tasks. Set expectations early and provide time and opportunity for questions. Sharing these details early in the process will allow for everyone to be on the same page.
  • Check in to provide honest feedback: Don’t wait until it’s too late before checking in and providing feedback. Empower your team by checking in regularly without hovering. Celebrate the positives and encourage change for the negatives.
  • Delegate while considering strengths: If you know someone won't excel at something, why would you give them a task in that area? Take the time to study your team. Note their strengths and weaknesses, and delegate tasks based on this information. A confident employee works well.
  • Reward great work: If you see something, say something. When you see excellent work, shout it out. Send a one-on-one email or share the news with the team. Delegation can be a great empowerment tool when done well.

While asking your team for support, you are modelling leadership. Leaders believe in their team.

Stay consistent

If you want productivity to become a habit, you have to stay consistent. Start by going back to the basics of following the plans in your calendar. Start your day at the same time or write in your to-do list every day. Knowing what you are going to do and when you are going to do it are the most important details to decide during the day.

Remember: your team is watching. As they see your healthy habits, they may follow, too. If you are struggling with productivity, remember to start small. Commit to setting small goals and doing them well. Then, just take it one day at a time. It’s worth the wait.

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