Multi-Tasking is a Win-Win

Recently, several fellow colleagues have inquired how I am able to read entire training manuals (see Item 1) while managing my employees. There is a simple secret behind my multi-tasking success: Style-wise as a manager, I'm a little old-fashioned. And mean.

It's true, I like my employees to complete a large part of daily work assignments on their own. I am certainly willing to assist with projects, hold one-on-one training sessions and the like, and I greatly enjoy this aspect of management. However, thinking back on my own early days of employment, I recall a good portion of my workday spent daydreaming at my desk. Daydreaming has served me well throughout my career, providing a release from everyday stresses in the workplace and world, and allowing the mental time and space for another important work skill, creativity. Developing daydream and related workplace skills is by nature a solo activity, requiring employees to forge their own way. Managerial restraint is not only encouraged in this venture, it is required. But, providing employees time and space to develop their daydreaming skills in turn allows The Manager time and space for a little daydreaming of her own.

Here at The Lo.Co., we adhere to the following procedure.

Problem
The Manager would like to get a thing or two done around the office without employee interference. Assisting the Housekeeping and Kitchen staffs, maybe, or catching up on paperwork. Or, reading those all-important training manuals vital to managerial sanity and, in turn, optimal managerial performance. Also, The Manager would also like to encourage a little autonomy in her employee(s). Because she's mean.

Solution
1. Set up the employee at their work station with all the necessary office supplies. Maybe it's indoors with access to paper and crayons, a pile of books, and a box of toys. Or maybe it's out on the grounds with the grass, trees, garden, and sky. A box of sidewalk chalk and a container of bubbles can also come in handy.
2. Set up a chair with a good vantage point, where you can subtly monitor the employee's activities and provide assistance if absolutely required. Sit down in chair. Kick back. Open book and begin to read.
3. Periodically check in with employee, who should be focused on completing her assigned projects. Use discretion, intuition and common sense when fielding inevitable employee demands. For the majority of demands, I find that the phrase "Go play!" works nicely. Applying a good measure of enthusiasm to the phrase helps disguise your meanness.

Result
The Manager allows both her self and her employees the time and space to work on independent projects. For The Manager, it's things like cleaning, cooking, and paperwork. For employees, it's honing select skills that will serve them later on in their career. For everyone, it's simultaneous productivity and a big sigh of relief. Old-fashioned and mean, yes, but undeniably multi-tasking at its finest.

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5 peanuts:
  1. Megan says:

    I second that motion.

    Won't it be great when the younger employee reaches an age at which they could play with the older one? I forsee even more managerial time on your hands!

    'Go play, with your brother!'

  1. AWESOME.

    i fully support it.

  1. Kurt says:

    The Lo. Co. is hilarious.

  1. Andria says:

    I concur - it's not mean, it's vitally important. You would be doing your employees a big disservice if you were assisting them at all times or at your complete wit's end. It's a great thing to encourage indepent play and allow yourself some precious moments to refuel.