Supervisory Time Savers

For people with management responsibilities

When a staff member approaches your desk:

  • Set the tone of the conversation. Subtle cues often carry more weight than the spoken word. When people approach you, do you sit back and do the equivalent of putting your feet up? If you have loads of time, that’s great. If not, keep your pen in hand or your fingers on the keyboard to signal business first, socializing later
  • State your time constraints. If you only have a few minutes or if you are too busy to talk now, say so. Let people decide whether to speak with you later or with someone else now
  • Steer the conversation. Beware of staff with compound agendas when you don’t have time. People who come to discuss one matter, then launch into others can take a lot of your time. Try a list-making or agenda-setting strategy with multi-purpose talkers. Or ask them to choose the most critical issue and work that one to conclusion, tabling the others
  • Be cautious about accepting extra duties. Recognize the difference between a request to oversee work and one for you to actually do the work. Give people what they need from you to go out and handle their own work themselves
  • Just because you are in your office does not mean that you are available. Make yourself appropriately available by scheduling appointments as much as possible and holding “open hours” once a week or on some other schedule that makes sense for your group. Limit interruptions – in person or on the phone – to true emergencies
  • Closing statements should not be abrupt, condescending or patronizing. Use a firm, but gracious ending statement to signal that time is running out. For example, “Before we finish…” or “Our time is almost up, but I’d like to schedule another conversation…”
Hands of a clock