The Cure to Managers Wasting Time with Comfort Tasks

By Todd Liles The Cure to Managers Wasting Time with Comfort Tasks

As a manager, you are probably doing too much of the wrong things. This occurs because too many managers are busy with tasks that are comfortable, but not productive. RELATED TRAINING: The Manager Series

The “busy-ness” of non-essential tasks is a real problem. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, a study of over 1300 managers concluded that, “only 47% of their working time is taken up with managerial activities.” The study showed that the other 53% of their working time was taken up by “comfort tasks.”

What is a comfort task?

A comfort task is an old action that a person falls back on when they feel the need to be “productive.”

An example would be when a service manager decides he needs to jump in the truck and run some calls. Running calls makes the service manager feel productive, and it’s comfortable.

But, are running calls a productive use of the service manager’s time?

That depends on the “why” of the service call.

The productive “why.”

If the sales or service manager is running calls with a team member to boost the team member’s skill, then it’s productive. If the purpose is to discover potential problems in a process, then it’s productive.

If the manager is running calls to make himself feel good, then that’s the wrong “why.” That’s not productive, and it is a comfort task that has no value. The comfort task is a waste of energy, time, and money.

What to do about unproductive comfort tasks?

The first step in becoming more productive is to make a decision about the tasks at hand. In our Manager Series program, we teach the following.

All tasks are going to fall into one of four categories:

  • Personally Responsible
  • Delegable
  • Automatable
  • Destroyable

Personal responsibility for a task.

 The tasks that only the Service or Sales Manager can do are the ones that deserve energy and time. After all, only you can do them, so do them well!

Other tasks that need to be done, but not by you, should be delegated.

Delegating a task.

 Some tasks require you to think on them, study them closely, and then make a decision and a plan. That often means pouring over data, but not assembling the data.

In this instance, you may delegate the task of the data assembly to another person. This could be a huge time saver, and get the problem solved faster.

Of course, there are times when you will need to gather the data because it’s a part of the thinking process. Such as a ride-along for the purpose of discovering service problems.

There are several tasks that you will notice occur often and require the same information prior to action. In those cases, use automation.

Automation of a task.

Tasks that can be automated to save human energy and time should be automated. Examples of tasks that should be automated are: data gathering, data reporting, email marketing, and repetitive physical processes.

Automating these tasks prevents errors and energy drain.

Destroy the task.

If a task is not critical or needed, then it should be destroyed. Don’t waste your time or your people’s time with tasks that are a waste.

Waste tasks are demotivators and should be removed.

As a manager, you have the responsibility of Leading People.  And people are doing the work (aka tasks) that make a company function. So, it’s important that you are focused on leading people, properly assigning tasks, and clearing obstacles that could waste time, energy, and money.

Question: Would you like to improve your Management Skills?

Companies know that they are either growing, or they are declining. People are no different! You are either becoming a better leader and manager, or you’re getting worse.

If you are ready to enhance your manager and leadership skills, then you need to attend our next Manager Series.

The Manager Series is designed specifically for the Service, CSR, and Sales Manager.

CLICK HERE to see the 2-day Agenda for The Manager Series.


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