Whose Time Is It?

The Managers in the training program I conducted this week were not happy. We were covering delegation and time management – tools that go hand in hand. I repeated a few of the mantras they hear me say over and over again in the several sessions we are together:

You should be doing the things ONLY you can do.


Management is about getting work done through others – not doing the work of others.


If you can’t develop your employees – what are they there for?

This past week, they took an assessment that measured their time and energy management and returned to training to share the results. Many were unhappy. The bad news was that they thought they were managing their time (work) well, but had learned that they were not. No one likes to see that! Making them even more unhappy – they couldn’t disagree with the results.

The good news however, was this was something they could fix.

Small changes can net big results: when someone asks if you have a minute (to help out, to answer a question, to show them something), if you are doing something else – then the answer is “no.” And it needs to be a congruent ‘no.’ Saying ‘no’ and stopping to talk/listen looks like a ‘yes.’ Waiting for them to continue with what they want to request looks like a ‘yes.’

“That feel rude,” I’m told.

“Who is controlling your time?” I ask.

Tell them to email the question to you and you’ll get to it before the end of the day. Tell them you’ll be in your office and available at a specific time. Allowing interruptions all day long robs you of minutes here and minutes there and before long you are at everyone’s beck and call and none of your tasks are being completed.

Don’t pick up the phone if you are on your way out to a meeting. Don’t tell someone you have time to talk if you don’t.

And sure – you can even say “I don’t mean to appear rude, but I’m finding that I have to stop allowing interruptions that take me off task. I want very much to help you, but this afternoon, later, tomorrow, is a better time for me. I hope you understand.”

I bet they would.

Whose time is it?

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