After reading Pat Lencioni's latest book, The Three Signs of a Miserable Job, one of the things that I walked out with was the realization that for some managers their management responsibilities are an interruption. In an interview that he did he said:

[i]First, many managers think they are too busy. Of course, the real problem is that most of those managers see themselves primarily as individual ontributors who happen to have direct reports. They fail to realize that the most important part of their jobs is providing their people with what they need to be productive and fulfilled (a.k.a. not miserable) in their jobs.[/i]

Upon reflection I can say that this has affected nearly all of my managers and myself to greater or lesser degrees. MT helps tremendously (imho).

My question for discussion is how do others convince your managers that you need to have the time to do your manager responsibilities rather than spend so much time on reports, projects, etc. that seem to be the norm?[/i]

jhack's picture

In general, reward them for being managers. Do not reward them for being "individual contributors."

If you set up rewards (feedback, coaching, the whole bit) correctly, you'll get the behavior you seek.


corinag's picture

Since you said it's a question of rewards, I wanted to point out this article


which is one of the many online versions of Steven Kerr's management classic "On the folly of rewarding A, while hoping for B".

I always thought it's not simple folly, it's a pandemic.


madamos's picture
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You need to make sure you have set the proper goals for you managers. Do they realize their primary job is to manage their team? Do they understand what this means?

I have found that many managers promoted into the job don't truly understand what the true nature of being a manager. You need to make sure they understand what you want them to accomplish as a manager. Then you need to give the coaching on how to delegate some of their work to their teams so they can focus on their major responsibilities. Take a listen to the Juggling Koan podcast. It provides a good scenario to help explain why your managers need to delegate some of their work to their directs.


lionel's picture

The replies so far are excellent but assume that the issue is with those lower on the 'food chain'. What do you do if those on the lower levels want to do a better job as manager yet are unable to because of the pressure/requirements from those above?

TomW's picture
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[quote="lionel"]The replies so far are excellent but assume that the issue is with those lower on the 'food chain'. What do you do if those on the lower levels want to do a better job as manager yet are unable to because of the pressure/requirements from those above?[/quote]

then maybe it's time to find someone else to provide me with pressure ;-)

jhack's picture

Have someone else do the reports, projects, etc...

Check out the podcast on the "Juggling Koan" and think about the new big ball being management duties (spending time with directs, etc).


Mark's picture
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Sorry this took so long.

I hear you. And there's no magic. You don't convince your boss that you "need" time. You simply change your priorities and do the manager stuff that we talk about.

This is not a marketing problem, it's a results problem.

Put the manager stuff on your calendar. Make that stuff happen. Then, spend less time on the reports - find out how little you can spend on them and not get in trouble. Be WILLING to get a little in trouble in return for doing the long term value stuff that we recommend. One way to do that is to delegate more to your team members, during one on ones, and give them feedback on it.

The only way out of this problem - in terms of boss pushback - is to produce better results to justify the change.

Try to keep your sense of humor as you go over the Horstman Curve.


peterlevy's picture
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I've been thinking about this in the past week or two. In my experience (in the insurance business in Jamaica) we take the most technically capable (underwriters, claims handlers, etc.) and promote them to management as a reward, without really assessing their capabilities as managers. It's institutionalizing the 'Peter Principle'. The result can be that we gain an inadequate manager and lose a good underwriter

In my own professional life, I have long said to my managers/supervisors words to the effect that the reason they are being paid as managers is not to be a better underwriter, but to make the 6 underwriters who now report to them better. That is how they can create value for the company.

But really that is not enough. We have to take that into account in selecting managers, and it may well be necessary to break some 'rules' that currently obtain. For instance, top technical performers might best create value continuing in that role. I suspect that many of my peers (especially the HR department) would be aghast at a suggestion that an underwriter might earn more than her department head. What about Salary Grades?!!!

But is there really anything inherently wrong with such a situation? I don't know, it's a big issue, and there is significant investment (not talking about financial investment) in the existing ways that we organize. As I said at the beginning of my post, I've only just started this internal dialogue. I know I will incorporate these ideas into my thinking and decisions from here on, but I'm not sure of the extent to which I want to extend these ideas outside my immediate area of responsibility (read 'control').