When leading a large team of people often you feel stretched thin. You have the desire to give your time and energy to every problem that arises and every team member that needs it, but you just don’t have time. At some point in your role it is important to decide who you will invest in, if you don’t they will decide for you.
First, I want to address dealing with the people on your team that I like to call “time suckers” or as Love and Logic states it "energy drainers". We all have them on our teams. I am going to suggest if you don’t know off the top of your head who they are; figure it out, your success will depend on it.
It is important to label who these people are so that you can limit your time spent with them. They are the people who always have an issue to be solved, need an extra day off and or an extra hand in the classroom. I am not suggesting to remove them from your team, just don’t spend all of your energy serving them and their needs.
You know the person on your team who is always there on time, willing to work an extra shift and help out with any special events. This is an individual who knows the mission and vision of your school and not only believes it, but lives it day in and day out. You may invision this person becoming a director themselves or team lead. THIS is the person you want to spend your extra time and energy with.
In my past experience I have tried to label about 3-4 of these people on my team. I go to the extra effort to make sure they were satisfied with their job, had any resources they needed and offered them coaching on a daily or weekly basis. These are individuals, by the way who desire coaching, which is another KEY in knowing you have chosen the right person. I know this may seem like favoritism, but it’s not. It’s being strategic about who you invest your time and energy into and the payoffs are tenfold. By investing in a team member who is “ALL IN” you will have someone ready for an extra project or promotion that you trust ready and waiting at the gate.
The next time you get caught into a conversation or a problem with a “time sucker” ask yourself, is this worth my time? Often, the answer is yes, but try your best to set up systems for your center to eliminate the daily grind of the same people asking you to solve their problems. Instead, find people who can problem solve on their own and build them up as leaders in your center. You will no regret investing your limited time and energy intentionally.
Julia Erman was previously a Director of School Programs and led a large team of employees in a preschool and school age after school program. She is now working with Sandbox as a Customer Advocate to help centers grow with the assistance of Sandbox.