Are you spending enough time actively managing?

Through studies in a number of companies we have found that frontline supervisors in the UK are spending an average of three hours, every working day, doing ‘stuff’ which adds little value to the business objectives. We have seen that roughly one hour and 26 minutes are spent on emails and admin, while almost two hours are spent each day doing the tasks of those team members that report into them.

On average, supervisors spend less than half an hour each day actively managing and directing their team. Obviously this is something that is essential if they want to increase productivity and achieve business goals.

The reality is that supervisors are doing very little active management of employees in the field, and even worse, are spending a major portion of their working day on a variety of tasks which, potentially, should be done elsewhere in the business. Such tasks do need to be done, but for supervisors to be doing them raises important questions about productivity and what constitutes leadership in modern business.

When questioned, supervisors believe they spend around two hours 10 minutes on active management each day, but would ideally like to be spending three hours daily. In reality, they spend around 27 minutes!

When managers were questioned, they felt that their supervisors should be spending around 40% of their time on active management each day, showing that they are significantly falling short of expectation.

There’s a clear disconnect between what people think they spend their working day doing and what they actually do. Productivity depends on many things, such as strong leadership and providing clear direction and training to employees, but this is not happening as much as it needs to. Managers are spending far too long in meetings which have little output, and are even stepping down to carry out the work of the people they are meant to be managing, and it’s time for UK businesses to have a hard look at how they operate.

There’s a longstanding issue with UK productivity. Recent analysis from the Office for National Statistics revealed that productivity in the UK fell at its fastest annual pace in five years in the April-to-June quarter. Figures are calculated by output per hour and fell by 0.5%, following zero growth in the two previous quarters.

While some of this can be put down to how productivity is measured, it’s also true that as a collective economy we need to improve our outputs. A good way of starting this process is to look at the role of business leaders and assess how their time can be more productively spent.