Jul 13, 2020 | Leadership

study by Harvard Business School found that more than half of a manager’s time is spent on administrative tasks and only 7% of their time (about 2.8 hours per week) is spent on developing people and engaging with stakeholders. After engaging stakeholders, developing people is likely closer to 1 hour per week. This chronic lack of time spent on employee development is equivalent to the phenomenon known as ghosting which perpetuates both the quit rate and burnout rate. To break this cycle, the role and purpose of today’s managers must change in three fundamental ways:

From controlling to coaching. While the world’s workplaces have been going through extraordinary historical change, the practice of management has been stuck in time for more than 30 years. The new workforce — especially younger generations — wants their work to have deep mission and purpose, and they don’t want old-style command-and-control bosses. They want coaches who inspire them, communicate with them frequently and develop their strengths.

From deciding to delegating. Too many managers don’t let direct reports make decisions for fear that mistakes will take too much valuable time to correct. This tendency restricts employees’ ability to develop their thinking and decision making which is exactly what is needed to help organizations remain competitive. Today’s managers don’t need to be the smartest person in the room. They need to tap into the collective intelligence and draw out everyone’s best thinking.

From ‘what works’ to ‘what if’. Managers often encourage predictability. They want processes in place that can be referred to regardless of who is in the role. The problem with this management style is that it leads to perpetuating the status quo at the expense of what is possible. Today’s managers don’t need hired hands to turn raw materials into products. They need hearts and minds that are challenged to find better ways to operate, to discover ways to grow, and to reimagine how things have been done in the past.

Today’s managers play a critical role in helping your organization adapt to the new workplace demands. Help them succeed by reimagining them as coaches who encourage critical thinking and curiosity.

Question: Do your managers spend more time reporting to senior leaders or coaching emerging ones?


Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, subscribe to receive CEE News!



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