McKinsey: Managers Spending Less Than A Third Of Their Time Actually Managing

A new survey by McKinsey has revealed that on average, managers spend around 28% of their time actually managing employees, highlighting a potential cause for concern given the importance of people management in retaining top talent, building effective teams and fostering a strong company culture.

The survey revealed that managers reported spending about 18% of their time, or nearly one full day each week, working solely on administrative tasks, 31% of their time on individual-contributor work and 23% of their time on strategy-focused work, leaving relatively little time left to support, mentor and guide their direct reports. Part of the shift away from direct management can be attributed to employers moving in recent years to incentivize and reward more individual-contributor work within their organizations, leading to managers turning their focus to what they perceive as the highest value work which comes at the expense of supporting their own teams.

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A few best practices have been recommended so that leaders can ensure that managers spend sufficient time empowering and supporting employees. Firstly, leaders need to recognize that managers are pulled in multiple and often competing directions so they must act to remove barriers such as organizational bureaucracy and repetitive manual tasks which take time away from their real work of supporting their teams. Automation can play a significant role in reducing administrative overhead, freeing up managers to focus on their real priorities, and should be a priority for investment and development within an organization. Communication also plays a crucial part, and executives should clearly define what it means to be a manager at their organizations bydiscussing expected behaviors and outlining the amount of time they should invest in managerial tasks. Lastly, a change in incentives can drive a change in behavior, and leaders should motivate and reward their managers for spending time with their direct reports.

Managers need more than a title to be effective at their jobs: they need development and support to grow the kinds of skills that make them effective in leading a team and delivering results. By investing in streamlining workflows and building more effective tools, managers can be freed up to spend the bulk of their time supporting and developing their own teams, ensuring that staff are empowered to fully utilize their talents and skills.