As a Manager that also produces personal fees you are, without a doubt, time poor.
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Until you progress into a non-billing role you will always face the challenge of balancing the ever moving seesaw of desk focus and team focus.
My own personal experience led me to create time-saving systems to beg, borrow, and steal the extra hours I needed to ensure I remained a great role model and kept my billings up. I was always aware that whatever standard I set in terms of billings had a direct knock-on effect on the rest of the team. Today we like to call these time-saving tips "hacks" - so here are my top 5 time-saving hacks for Billing Managers in recruitment.
Simplify daily management input
(30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night)
If you do it right, you can develop an independent team that only really requires your input first thing in the morning AND (and this is the killer part that most managers don't do) follow-up at the end of the day.
Set-up and follow-up is the Billing Manager's best friend and it's staggering how many Team Managers don't do this properly, if at all. If your team expect to have a plan every morning before 9am then they will prepare. All you have to do is:
- Review the key activities planned to ensure they feed the overall desk target in the right way
- Set expectation for OUTPUT (actual results logged on your systems and confirmed)
- Agree potential obstacles and how to handle them
- Set the deadline for the end of the day
YOU MUST FOLLOW UP - your Consultants will take the set up more seriously every morning if they know that, come 5 pm, you're going to want to know what's happened and why. Start today and do it religiously - within 2 weeks you will see a significant improvement in daily output.
Most Managers lose significant time due to interruptions throughout the day. On average it takes 23 minutes for you to refocus on your work if you are interrupted (from a study by University of California, Irvine). Do the maths - 5 Consultants with one key issue or question each that takes 5 minutes to answer actually consumes 2 hours and 20 minutes of your day! If you are also doing 30-minute set-ups and follow-ups, that's nearly 3.5 hours of your day gone already. Nip this in the bud by developing a known system in your team. Create a new rule that your team cannot just come to you with a problem. They have to think through first using the following series of questions:
- What is the actual problem?
- How does this affect my plan today and is it urgent - if no save for 5pm follow up, if yes next question:
- What are my ideas on how to resolve?
- Which idea do I think will work best?
- How do I go about doing this?
- Can I do this independently?
If you implement this system in your next team set up meeting, (maybe print it out and put it up somewhere) then Consultants will start to think for themselves and come to you with potential solutions, instead of just dumping all of their problems in your lap. You must be consistent in pushing back and BANNING problems, and only taking part in conversations about potential solutions.
Most teams have an "up and comer" who wants to prove their potential for promotion. Who is that on your team? What day to day jobs clog up your day and take time away from your desk and team? Delegate them down. If that's start date checks, KPI reports, or monitoring new jobs, it doesn't matter. If it's largely admin then delegate it away and use it as a way to "show and tell" some of your role to your next-in-line.
Don't forget that you can also delegate up! Do you have a Consultant that needs some specific technical coaching? Do you have a client visit that needs a senior in attendance? Go enlist the help of your Directors!
Keep a Manager's Journal
It's easy as a Manager to spot an issue and want to fix it straight away but that's rarely a good use of your time. Your team can't be perfect and they will make mistakes - let them! Keep a journal each week of key issues (good, bad, or ugly) and make notes. Then, in your weekly or monthly 1-2-1's, you can use these notes to discuss specific examples of work and provide impromptu coaching.
Too many Managers are disorganised due to lack of time, and run into 1-2-1's with little or no preparation. Set a schedule for meetings with your staff and STICK TO THEM. If you're going to have a 1-2-1, monthly planning meeting or review, then make it effective. Taking 10 mins in advance to collect your thoughts and prepare will give the meeting more impact and the knock-on effect should be improved performance.
Remember: Your team will find it easier to take on board criticism about their behaviour than they will feedback that feels personal and is about them as a person. So focus your attention on how they handled a situation or responded to a situation. Also, sandwich the negative stuff. Think of two things your team member has done well. Start with one and talk about that. Then discuss the area that needs work and then conclude with something else that you are happy with (it's always best to make one of the positives about effort rather than output). No staff member should ever enter of leave a meeting with you on a negative. Not only will they be demotivated, they will affect the mood of the team overall.
So these are my 5 easy to implement manager hacks that have always worked for me. I still insist that the Billing Managers role is that hardest in recruitment - let's make it easier if we can!
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Let me know if you have any questions or have some success stories to share.