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The operational leader of front-line workers is one of the busiest roles in an organisation.  Managing your time, and the tasks you will complete and your approach to them is an essential part of your success.

Investing in the ‘core’ activities (your operating rhythm):

Your operating rhythm.  There are key activities that improve your effectiveness as a team manager.  There are general ones that all managers are advised to do such as one on one meetings with staff and team meetings, and then there are ones that will be specific for your role.

When we don’t plan for these activities and book them out in advance in our calendar, our time tends to be consumed by urgent, but less important work that bombard managers.

We suggest managers list out all the tasks they would like to do regularly, make sure there is enough time to do them all, and once that is confirmed, book them into the calendar as recurring items.  Below is a templated example for a contact centre leader and here is a link to request an excel document with the formulas that you can use to complete your own [link].

#TaskFrequency Hours % of time
1Phone queue workWeekly      3.09%
2Call Monitoring / assessmentMonthly      9.27%
3Call Coaching (on above)Monthly      5.04%
4Run Team huddles plus prepDaily      0.37%
5Run Team meetings plus prepMonthly      3.02%
6Hiring and inductionQuarterly    10.02%
7Escalations / questionsDaily      0.511%
8Staff member 1:1 (x10)Monthly    10.07%
9Clearing work email inboxDaily      0.511%
10Continuous improvementMonthly      3.02%
11Forecasting and rosteringWeekly      2.58%
 70% *
*note, aim for less than 70% so you have time for the miscellaneous managerial tasks that frequently occur

Wherever possible, we are planning and scheduling tasks so they go from unplanned to planned.  For example, we know that turnover occurs in all teams, we just don’t know when it will occur.   When it does, we know the work that will be required over the next 13 weeks.  When someone in your team resigns, don’t try and make up the end-to-end process as you go.  You’ll need to recruit, onboard to the organisation, induct into the team and then train through to competency.  You may need to book out time to review the Job Description, get the job ad ready and all the other one-off tasks that occur.  There will also be other tasks such as reviewing resumes, interview sessions, post interview admin, and so on.  Invest time to plan out all the activities and book them into your calendar. 

Handling other demands on your time to protect your core activities

When miscellaneous tasks come up each day, assess them first.

Checklist before accepting new tasks:

  • Is this task more important than core work and current backlog of tasks
  • Am I the right person for the task – is it in my role accountabilities and do I have the skill
  • Do I have capacity to do this prior to it being due. 

If you accept the new task, add it to your list of commitments and book it into your calendar as soon as practical  allowing enough time for completion.  Almost everyone underestimates the time it takes for new or important tasks; add an extra 20% until your ability to estimate task time becomes more accurate. 

Your core work listed in your operating rhythm (above) is always your first priority.  Important and competing activities will arise, so at times you will need to divert to this ‘non-core’ work.  If needed, make space in your calendar by shifting a core task, but take care to never shift one of your core tasks above more than twice, particularly your staff member meetings – if you constantly move them, you are sending a message that their time is not important, which defeats one of the core aims of one-on-ones – building trust and respect. 

Check your motives before accepting a new task and prioritising over core tasks.  New tasks can be interesting and seem important upon first glance, but when we weigh them against the value of the core tasks, they are often revealed as distractions not worthy of your time.

Additional commitments can be time consuming and if they are not scheduled in advance, when the time arrives for the work to occur, they will be competing against your core tasks and other miscellaneous tasks from the rest of the organisation that have filled the space in your calendar. This is often why managers work longer hours than they are contracted for – the urgent tasks fill in the spaces during the day, and then the important work extends into the evenings.

During your one-on-one meetings with your senior manager, share with them your core operating rhythm and your current commitments (live tasks and backlog of promised work).  This helps to prioritise new work that they would like to assign to you and also helps to manage their expectations. 


A manager needs time to think and plan.  Your role is to bridge the gap between senior management plans and the day-to-day activities of your staff.  If you don’t do the planning and execution, who will?  However, as a manager it very easy to fill your time running from one activity to the next, one meeting to the next because everyone wants a piece of your time.  Therefore, book out time in your calendar for the preparation work, as well as the task itself.  You will see in the operating rhythm section above that preparation time is included in the task.  The below example illustrates the point; prepare for all your important activities.

For example, the one-hour monthly team meeting has 3 hours allocated; one hour for the meeting and two hours for the pre and post activities that occur.  Meetings are a powerful way to create a strong team, but often they fail, or worse, de-motivate the team.  Many team members complain about how wasteful or boring team meetings are, and they are often right in their assessment – don’t let your team meetings be one of these examples.  Another way to look at it is this; if you have 10 team members, and the meeting goes for 30 minutes, your meeting takes up 5 hours of resource.  Every minute you waste is 10 minutes wasted. 

Therefore, prepare well to avoid wasting resources:

  • Collect relevant data, information, updates, activities throughout the month and present in a coherent structure. 
  • Create an agenda and send it prior to the meeting. 
  • Create informational packs that you can share in the meeting, and afterwards for staff who couldn’t attend.
  • Ask team members to contribute, and even assign individuals agenda items that they prepare for. 
  • Read articles / books on building effective teams and put into practice the best suggestions. 

There are many more important aspects of your role that you’ll want to book out preparation time for, including:

  • Recruitment
  • Training
  • Engagement activities
  • Performance assessment and feedback
  • Leave management
  • One-on-ones
  • Monthly team meetings
  • Assign tasks
  • Continuous Improvement