Management Capacity is Your Biggest Constraint

Give me half a day with just about any company and I can easily identify ten easy ways to help them make more money. The steps might involve controlling costs, growing revenue, or developing a line of business, but the routes to success are often very clear. What is equally obvious is that Management doesn’t have the time to do these things.

The first consulting inquiry from a potential client usually includes a desire to grow, make more money, and/or just make life easier. “These are all very desirable goals, but what has kept management from doing these things already?” I ask. The top reply…is a lack of time, which translates in my head to, “We don’t know how.”

  • Time is the one thing that good managers actually do have. They have the most resources, the most control, and the fewest excuses. Here’s why:
  • Managers have the most available time of any employee because they can delegate responsibilities.
  • Managers control the budget and therefore allocate money for important projects.
  • Managers don’t need 100% agreement. They simply need to decide.
  • Managers can prioritize learning by delegating better, budgeting smarter, and being a good student themselves.
  • Managers are in charge of do-overs, because of all of the above.

In short, Managers have to lead and anything that keeps him or her from doing their job represents a failure by the Manager to do their job in the first place. Get it? So now that we have adequately placed blame squarely on the right head, let’s solve the real problem. Managers struggle with letting go of responsibilities and that eat into their time. “I have to do this, no one else can.”

If we can get past this problem, the rest will be easy.

A key obstacle to effective leadership is the fear of mistakes. My attitude is that if you can’t tolerate anyone else messing up, don’t have employees. More importantly, managers should embrace mistakes. They are great teaching moments, reinforce best practices, and are a catalyst for change. I love mistakes. Thirdly, companies that don’t know how to make mistakes often struggle with change in general. “We don’t have time to hire another A1, so I am going to work the gig. Really?

People Holding When

The second aspect of not letting go is that many managers simply don’t like to manage. They would prefer to be a Salesperson, System Designer, or Audio Engineer. They acknowledge all of their other these management tasks, but “…at least I can enjoy one of them.” I don’t recall speaking with an owner or other leader that didn’t see the problem with tying themselves up in transactional work, however I have heard most of the excuses about why they should do it anyway. What it comes down to is that they often do not have someone like me that will point out how many mission-critical initiatives won’t get done because the owner is out wiring a rack on a job site. All of which brings me back to the underlying issue and our topic today – capacity.

If Leaders, Owners, and Managers focused more on ways to reduce demands on their time, that extra capacity could be used to free up even more time allowing the leader to lead, the manager to manage, and the owner to own. When you make time to do your job, then you will have time to do it better. As you ask yourself, “Why can’t my team grow revenue, control costs, or stop making mistakes?” Look in the mirror. If you have the time.

Tom Stimson, MBA, CTS, is president of Stimson Group LLC, a Dallas-based management consulting firm specializing in strategy, process improvement, and market research for the Audiovisual Industry. Tom is a Past-President of InfoComm International and a current member of InfoComm’s Adjunct Faculty.

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