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What’s the Best Gift for Boss’s Day?

By David Tessmann-Keys

Boss's Day is October 16thDon’t panic! If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself showing up empty-handed on Boss’s Day. After all, who has the time to keep track of all these holidays? (It’s October 16th, by the way!)

But there’s good news for those of us who aren’t on top of their calendars: There’s still time to get the perfect gift. And I’m not just talking about picking up a Happy Boss’s Day card or grabbing an extra cup of coffee, although I’m sure your boss would appreciate them.

Rather, I’m talking about getting bosses the one thing they want most: More time.

Give Bosses the Gift of Time

I’m sure plenty of you are thinking about bosses (past or present!) that don’t deserve recognition on Boss’s Day. Seemingly everyone has a horror story of a manager who puts people down, ignores conflict, mismanages projects, barks orders but rarely praises—and the list goes on.

The reality, however, is that leadership is a tough gig. It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to guide other people, satisfy stakeholders, motivate their team, and drive business results, all while maintaining their own individual workload. And while many bosses truly want to become better leaders, research shows that the #1 barrier to learning is time.

After all, think of the last time you asked a manager how they were, and their answer wasn’t “busy.” For most leaders, their days are packed with meetings, emails, reviewing others’ work, as well as squeezing in their own personal workload. And even once they go home, evenings and weekends are often spent catching up on the work they didn’t have time for during the week. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported, the anxiety over catching up on work has meant that Sunday night has become the new Monday morning.

So this Boss’s Day, here are three ways to give leaders the gift of time—and help them become the kind of managers worthy of celebration.

Eliminate the Number-One Time Waster in the Workplace

Yes, you guessed it—“too many meetings” ranks as the top time waster in the office. In fact, there are over 100 million meetings a day even though 72% of senior managers call meetings unproductive. It’s no surprise since less than 20% of managers have received any training on how to host and lead an effective meeting. It’s time to stop the “meeting overload.”

Through a partnership with Dr. Steven Rogelberg, the world’s authority on meetings, we’re excited to share the science and techniques to design and lead effective meetings that engage and energize. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the research featured in a new DDI course Leading Meetings: Use Time Effectively and what your leaders can do differently:

  • Never default to an hour. Just because Outlook does, your meeting doesn’t have to be 60 minutes. Schedule a 48-minute meeting, then push to end sooner.
  • Seek feedback on the meeting. Usually, the meeting leader is the only one who thinks the meeting was effective. Seek feedback from others about whether the time spent together was productive.
  • Mix it up. Ever try a standing or walking meeting? Research says they’re more effective.
  • Keep it small. The larger the meeting, the more the dysfunction. You also don’t want social loafers.

With the right skills, leaders can create impactful agendas, encourage active participation, and facilitate the meeting to make sure there are next steps towards progress and results. Imagine if all your leaders played the role of stewards who make the best use of everyone’s time!

Empower and Delegate to Get Time Back

One of my colleagues recently shared a story in which she was coaching a manager who was totally overwhelmed by her workload. At the end of every exhausting day, she hauled her laptop home and continued working until all hours into the night. She knew she couldn’t keep up at this pace, especially at the cost of her family. She began to doubt whether she was cut out for leadership.

But as my colleague dug into the root of the issue, it became clear that the manager had the motivation and skill to lead. But she was lacking in one key skill: delegation. She was hesitant to ask others to take on the work they needed to, and felt it was her responsibility to make sure everything met standards. If she was going to succeed as a leader, she needed to learn to delegate.

Her problem is one of the most common problems for people transitioning into leadership roles. Many of them have been promoted because they were high-performing individuals who worked hard. While those qualities make for an exceptional individual contributor, the compounding work becomes too much when a leader is responsible for an entire team.

To succeed as a leader, bosses need to let go. They need to consider the people on their team, including their skills and abilities, what energizes them, their development needs. Then it’s up to the leader to match people with the work that will fit and expand their skills. Leaders need to learn both what to delegate and how to plan a successful delegation.

When leaders learn to delegate with purpose and empower others effectively, they’ll find that:

  • They spend less time dealing with day-to-day issues and can focus on leading their team and driving towards strategic priorities.
  • The team uncovers issues and resolves them even before they realize they exist.
  • They are less stressed and more confident in their team’s ability to handle things when they’re not around (so they can actually use up those vacation days!).
  • Most importantly, their teams are energized and engaged. Team members display more initiative, are increasing their capabilities, and are more focused to contribute to key goals.

Improve Interactions to Make Every Minute Count

Making meetings more effective and delegating better help meet leaders’ practical needs to save time. But there’s also a personal side to eliminating wasted time.

Often, one of the most draining parts of the work day are negative interpersonal interactions. In the span of a minute, an angry conversation, confrontation, or nasty off-hand comment can create frustration that lingers for hours, negatively impacting focus and productivity.

It’s critical that leaders pay attention to those interactions, no matter how small. While a few minutes may seem insignificant, they can have a tremendous impact. To succeed in their 480 minutes each work day, leaders need a set of core skills that will help them have positive interactions with others.

Chief among these skills are:

  • Demonstrating empathy and emotional intelligence.
  • Practicing active listening.
  • Coaching people for success.
  • Having purposeful conversations.
  • Engaging people head and heart in their work.

An Investment of Time

In the busy world of leaders, taking a few hours away from their usual schedules to develop their skills can seem impossible. But consider what can happen when they don’t: Unproductive meetings will continue to eat up valuable time. A lack of delegating leads to more work on their shoulders. And negative interpersonal interactions can end up slowing down and disengaging the entire team. To top it all off, they may find themselves giftless on Boss’s Day.

Becoming a better leader isn’t about trying to cram more things into less time. Rather, it’s about making the right investments of time so that they – and their teams – are equipped to spend time on what matters most, inside and outside of work.

Learn more about DDI’s Core 480 program to build essential leadership skills, Leading Meetings with Dr. Steven Rogelberg, and Delegating for Results.

David Tessmann-Keys is President of DDI.

Posted: 15 Oct, 2019,
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