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How can managers meet their goals and still be available to the team?

You've got a team looking for your leadership, but you also need to take care of yourself. 15 entrepreneurs offer their advice and habits.

6 min read


Time management


The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBrief posts by YEC.

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Q. How can a manager best balance meeting their own goals while still being available to his or her team? 

1. Spend time offline

Each week, I schedule “focus time,” which means that I cannot be contacted by the team  and yes, this means the chat gets closed and the phone is put down, too! . It gives me the freedom to focus on my own projects and goals, without jeopardizing the team, since they know to schedule their questions and meetings around this time. It’s definitely been working amazingly – and I get so much done! — Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly

2. Have weekly coaching sessions

At our company, everyone has weekly coaching sessions with their direct reports. The employee fills out a Google Doc that overviews their accomplishments, current “stucks” and any long-term challenges. The manager put comments and questions on the Doc before the meeting so most of the basic stuck is covered. In person the goal is to get uncomfortable together so real stuff can get resolved. — David Schnurman, Lawline

3. Create 2 separate goal lists

Come up with two lists of goals – those of a personal nature and those that benefit your business. Then spend some time on how goals from each list can be intertwined. It shouldn’t be that hard to do. You always want to get ahead from a personal aspect, but oftentimes the team underneath will play a major role in that effort. — Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

4. Have a truly “open door” policy

Have an open door policy  and actually leave your office door open . If you can have your desk out on the floor with your team, that’s even better. The more accessible you are to your employees the more available you will be. Many times it’s just a quick question that’s posing a roadblock for an employee; by offering a quick response, you can get them to keep moving things forward. — Russell Kommer, eSoftware Associates Inc.

5. Schedule everything

I schedule everything on my calendar: family commitments, meetings with clients, working on my strategic initiatives, and time for my staff. You can always carve out time for each responsibility, but some days one might take precedent over the others. It’s a give and take that you’ll learn to manage as long as you track what you’re spending your time on. — Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

6. Schedule regular bite-sized meetings

Rather than having to meet team members when issues arise, I schedule weekly one-on-ones to nip any potential problems in the bud. I find that a proactive approach to availability actually saves time, because you’re actually resolving any needs or wants before they snowball into something bigger. This will vary per manager  and team size , but I find that five minutes weekly with each employee works. — Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

7. Track your time

It’s important to track the amount of time spent with the team and on other projects that are about your own goals. Writing down the actual time and then gauging how much effort went into both is a good way to see if there needs to be anything changed that would create a better balance. — Murray Newlands, Sighted

8. Use the right project-management tool

Being a human, you can only do so much. Using the right project management and collaboration tool you can not only keep a track of your tasks but also manage your team. Check out Asana. It is a great tool that helps you track tasks and deadlines, while letting your team members collaborate. — Pratham Mittal, Outgrow

9. Take advantage of “short and sweet” moments of engagement

This is a tough balance for many managers. There is no “secret” here except good organization and the ability to delegate. Too many managers tend to focus on specific one-on-one meetings that take time to plan rather than on-going “on-the-fly” conversations with employees. Short and sweet moments of engagement over time can help managers maintain an awareness of their team. — Peggy Shell, Creative Alignments

10. Build in time for the inevitable

Management is balancing the reactive urgent needs of your team and actively driving your vision of the company. Managers need to ask themselves, “Have I left enough time open in my day-to-day schedule to deal with the inevitable fire drills, or am I booked in too many back to back to back meetings?” If it’s the latter, it’s time to start saying no to more. — Jonathan Gass, Nomad Financial

11. Clearly define your daily tasks

I prefer to use daily to-do lists. I find that I’m most motivated when I have a clear outline of key tasks that I need to meet. I rely on the help of my assistant to regulate my door for walk-ins and prioritize my free time between meetings and calls to chat with individual team members and problem solve. — Justin Lefkovitch, Mirrored Media

12. Let your personal and work goals feed off each other

Set a time for fun and work. Let the time for fun be the motivation to do well at work. Let your busyness at work be the reason to have fun. In the end, there must be a balance. That can be done if, and only if, everybody knows the priority and the proper time for everything. — Daisy Jing, Banish

13. Delegate and invest in your team

Your team’s goals are your goals too. Support your team members by helping them develop the skills, capabilities and competencies they need to do the work without you. While you may feel it’s faster to do the work yourself, resist that temptation. Instead, help them grow so they’ll need less of your time in the future. — Mamie Kanfer Stewart, Meeteor

14. Communicate openly

Balancing the two can be difficult, but open communication removes any gray area. Schedule specific times to meet with an agreed upon end time. This is when questions or issues should be brought to your attention – not every time an employee has a need. Create goals for them and yourself – help them understand what you’re trying to accomplish and they’ll have a greater appreciation for your role. — Ben Camerota, MVP Visuals

15. Ask your team for the answers

When you’re asked for help, encourage your team to come up with potential answers. Do not set up the expectation you will solve all problems for them. Too many times when faced with a problem it is easier to go to your manager and say, “What should I do?” This puts the burden on the manager to solve the problem. Ask your team to come with three possible ways to solve a problem; it will benefit both parties. — Chris Van Dusen, Parcon Media