If you’re a manager, leader, or otherwise work in some way with people, then chances are you’ve had at least part of your day derailed by a ‘gottaminute’. It all starts innocently enough; you’re sitting at your desk when you hear that curtesy ‘tap tap’ at your open door and someone pops their head in asking if you can spare them ‘a quick sec’. After you say ‘of course, come on in’, the asker will usually enter your office, sit downand engage in conversation that is ALWAYS more than ‘just a sec’. I’ve never met a manager who didn’t acknowledge that the gottaminutes were huge time sucks. These unscheduled, sometimes lengthy meetings, can derail you, and by extension your team. So why don’t we just say no?
Rest assured, managers aren’t merely saying ‘yes’ to the gottaminutes because they’re insecure people pleasers who don’t know how to say no (well, some are, but that’s not who this is directed to). We say yes because:
- We appreciate our people and want them to know we’re available to them
- We know that our people are often privy to valuable information that we’re not, and that it would be foolish to plug our ears when someone wants to talk
- We enjoy interacting with our team
- There is an issue that needs our input in order to be resolved
- We are the only ones who can make certain decisions, and so need to find out if this is one of those
- We’d prefer to be in the loop on any actions that need to be taken
- We have carefully cultivated a culture encouraging open communication
So for all these reason, we tend to say ‘yes’ when there’s a gottaminute, and wonder if there’s a better way.
The trick is mining the gold from the gottaminutes and doing away with dross. To do that, we have to look at the four categories of gottaminutes. These are a) exchanges of non-urgent information b) coachable moments c) urgent issues and d) a side effect from micro-managing (you control freak, you).
Realistically, you’re never going to eliminate all the gottaminutes, and I’m not sure anyone would want to. But what we do want to do is give you, the manager, control back over your time while still maintaining a positive relationship with your team and a finger on the pulse of your operations.
The solution lies in setting up structures for your communication with your team. I recommend the weekly spot check, monthly one on one, the scheduled gottaminute, and the urgent gottaminute. It looks like this:
- Once a month you have a 30 minute one-on-one with your employee about their job, their goals, any projects, training needs, and general well-being. This is the time to talk about anything you’ve noticed in terms of performance trends, and to let them in on any company info they should know.
- Weekly spot checks are prescheduled times where they employee knows they’ll have your undivided attention to talk about anything. I recommend covering a few key points such as wins, obstacles, needs.
- Scheduled gottaminutes: Sounds counterintuitive, but the idea here is when someone needs your opinion or advice on a non-urgent gottaminute that you agree to meet later in the day at a time that works for you both. So if you’re in the middle of a report, or you have a meeting starting, you let the employee know that you want to be able to give them your full attention, and ask them to come back later.
- This leaves only the urgent gottaminutes, which you should legitimately make room for.
As you go through this process, there will be a period of retraining for your team and yourself, as you learn together what urgent and non-urgent really mean. A natural (and wonderful) by-product is that everyone will become weaned off the need for you to make every decision for everyone, and you’ll become more and more comfortable in the judgment of your team, and their ability to make decisions. They will also appreciate your efforts to give them your undivided attention, rather than a grudging, watch-checking (maybe even sighing) half-hearted gottaminute session.
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