How to Spend Your Time as a New Manager

Published: March 14, 2022
Estimated reading time: 3 min


A client asks:

“As a new manager, I know I’m supposed to transition from being a doer (executing tasks) to being more of a planner and coach, but what does that actually look like day-to-day? What should I spend my time on?”

Becoming a manager does require a shift in how you spend your time alongside more attention to delegation. As a manager you still execute plenty of tasks—just not the same ones you used to.

For example, let’s say you previously wrote weekly newsletters and other communications. Now, you’ll spend time checking in with your team to make sure they’re clear on expectations and have the information (and skills) they need to get a draft to you for approval. It might look like this:

Make the implicit explicit.

You’ll block out 30 minutes to prep a Delegation Worksheet so you can download all the info in your head and set a clear bar for success. You might spend a few minutes looking for a good quality example (e.g., a previous newsletter) so your staff member can see a model for success.

Seek perspective.

You’ll talk to them about the project and get input. Do they have ideas for improving the way you’ve done things in the past? Does the timeline seem doable? Are there any areas they think they need support or training?

Develop people and stay engaged (without micromanaging).

You’ll suggest resources to support skill development. You might schedule a side-by-side to model one part of the process before they try it on their own, and you’ll block out time to look at a first draft (and maybe more). Before your check-ins, you’ll spend 2-3 minutes prepping the questions you want to ask to see how things are going.

Share and receive feedback.

You’ll give and ask for feedback during check-ins and debrief after they send their first solo newsletter.

Consider comparative advantage.

Alright, they did great with the newsletters but what about the annual report? When it comes to projects on the line between their role and yours, you’ll also make time to think through each person’s comparative advantage and decide whether to delegate the report or keep it on your plate. You might even spend 20 minutes each quarter looking at the division of labor for your team and making sure it’s current, clear, and equitable.

Here are some other ways you’ll spend your time:

  • Holding regular check-ins with each member of your team (and occasional skip-level meetings if you manage managers)
  • Preparing feedback before check-ins
  • Observing folks in action
  • Planning ways to share praise and acknowledge people’s contributions
  • Identifying big rocks (yours and your team’s) and blocking time to accomplish them
  • Gathering input from your team and collaborators so that you can make key decisions
  • Blocking time to manage a hiring process or scout candidates (tip: you should be scouting all the time!)
  • Thinking of ways to support your team members to grow the competencies they need to succeed
  • Scheduling quarterly stepbacks on team goals
  • Planning meetings to reflect and get aligned with your team in advance of goal-setting
  • Reviewing or updating role expectations
  • Preparing midyear and end-of-year performance evaluations
  • Planning a staff celebration or planning ahead for the next round of staff birthdays, work anniversaries, and other milestones

Find additional resources for new managers:

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