Do you remember when you first became a manager?

You probably inherited a team of people who came with all sorts of problems for you to resolve.

It made you feel so important having all these people who needed you to solve their problems large or small.

After all, that was why your company promoted you to a manager role — because you knew the business, knew the customers and had vast experience in handling problems.

The last one has always been seen as part of a manager’s job. But don’t you sometimes get a bit fed up of having to solve all these problems?


Being there for your team

My first job in management was as a regional sales manager in charge of six field sales engineers.

This was in the days before mobile phones, so the guys used to phone me at home in the evenings.

At first I would let them phone me anytime because I wanted to be “there for them”. I was their leader and I thought they couldn’t survive without me.

However, when I was getting phone calls just as I was about to tuck into some well-deserved dinner, changes had to be made.

So we agreed on a time window when I could be phoned and that worked okay for a while. However, I started to get tired of these problems eating into my personal life.

At that time I didn’t know what to do about it, so it was tolerated — it was just part of the job.

I was eventually promoted to an office-based sales manager’s job and there were even more problems to deal with.

It wasn’t just the sales people I had to deal with; it was the people from the finance and marketing departments, the distribution people and of course — the customers!

Solving problems is part of your job as a manager.

Do it well and you will have a happy and motivated team. Do it badly or spend too much time dealing with problems and you will have exactly the opposite.

Spending quality time with your team members — listening, giving feedback and coaching them — is a vital part of a manager’s job.

One of the reasons some managers don’t do this well is because they spend too much time solving business problems.

If you are not listening, giving feedback and coaching, you are in danger of creating a de-motivated team that does not make a positive contribution to your business.

So let’s look at the whole situation of dealing with problems.


Business versus staff problems

If you want to be a successful motivational manager, then you need to minimise your time solving business problems and focus on any people problems you may have with your team.

Your success as a motivational manager will be determined by the amount of time you spend with your team.

If you are faced with too many business problems, then I suggest you have a meeting with your boss.

You need to make the case that business problems get in the way of managing your team and consequently jeopardise your ability to achieve your objectives.

I remember one day, just as I was about to leave the office to spend some time with one of my sales people, my boss, the sales director, stopped me to suggest I join him in a meeting to discuss how we could solve some problems in the administration process.

Now, that would be the easiest thing in the world for me to do — sit in on another meeting and possibly prove to the people there what a clever chap I was.

However, I resisted the temptation to give into my manager’s request and said: “My plan is to spend some valuable time with our salesman John, helping him increase his sales conversion rate and bringing more sales into the business.

“Are you telling me you don’t want me to do that and attend this meeting?’

There wasn’t much he could say about that, other than to suggest I continue with my plan to spend time with John.

I am not saying that I won every one of these discussions; sometimes I was overruled and had to do what the boss wanted.

However, my prime objective as a motivational manager was to achieve my outcomes through the efforts of my team. Attending meetings and solving business problems wasn’t going to do that.

Fight hard for the time you spend with your people — that time will determine your success.

As American psychology professor William Frederick Book said: “A man must be master of his hours and days, not their servant.”


Article by Alan Fairweather, “The Motivation Doctor”. He is an international business speaker, successful author of three books and sales growth expert. For more information, visit Article source: