Do more with less. That’s they reigning mantra in recent years. Don’t hire more people, use the resources you have. Even though you can try to justify why you need more people, the fact is that most managers need to wear many hats.
For many team leaders, this means that you have both your “leadership role” and your “production work.” We see this most often in the technology industry, where a senior developer is promoted to team lead, but also continues to do development work, for example. This trend also is common in other areas of the business, though. Marketing managers still write copy or post on social media. Accounting managers lead a team but still manage the books. In fact, it’s pretty rare to see someone who is just a manager with no other responsibilities.
Fulfilling both roles is all about balance and time management.
Balance If you’re facing a deadline and trying to crank out a project, you might not pay attention to the climate of your team. You might not notice until something boils over. While predicting when your team is going to have a meltdown would be great, it’s not always possible. You must find the right balance of time on task and time with your team.
Time Management Research tells us that we don’t actually multitask very well. It’s just not possible to focus on two things at once. When you are balancing two roles, you need to create structure in your schedule that allocates time to both demands—so you don’t simply become reactive to issues. How do you do this? Here are some strategies for balancing your time wisely:
-Schedule your days. Block off time for producing and time for focusing on your team.
-Communicate. Make sure you let people know if you’re going AWOL for a day to get something done. Have a hotline protocol so you can be reached if people need you.
-Step away from email. Don’t try to do everything at once. Focus on your project for an hour and then spend 30 minutes catching up on communications.
It’s not easy being a team leader and a producer. You’re going to feel stretched in two directions all the time. But if you create a structure that keeps you balanced, you’ll be ready for the challenge. Let’s review the three keys to success:
-Know your responsibilities. Have a clear conversation with your manager about what’s on your plate so you can make a plan to balance your work.
-Use your calendar. Create blocks of time to get work done and to spend time with your team.
-Focus on communication. Make sure people can get in touch with you in an emergency BUT limit your email and texting so you can focus on the work in front of you.