One of the most difficult challenges managers or executives face is having their days ruled by “got-a-minutes.” The executive or manager is usually more proficient or knowledgeable about a certain subject, which makes it tempting for employees to avoid taking personal responsibility for finding an answer and going to an “easy” source. All too often, this source is you. Answering a “got-a-minute” is like throwing that employee a fish: It disrupts your concentration and prevents them from learning how to fish.
To help avoid interruptions to your days by “got-a-minutes?,” tell your subordinates that you’re willing to give everyone at least five minutes between 4:00 and 4:30 to discuss any issues that are semi-urgent in nature, leaving less serious issues for the regular weekly meeting. The only immediate “got-a-minute” questions permitted will be those rated as “emergency issues” (9 or above on a scale of 10). Work with your team to define these issues. Let employees voice their concerns and reach a consensus. Agree that you too will refrain from throwing “got-a-minutes” their way.
This approach should eliminate more than 80% of the trivial “got-a-minutes” that knock you off course. Moreover, during these 4:00 meetings, employees will be more focused on their requests. Let them know that if they think the matter will take more than five minutes they should be prepared and perhaps even use an outline. Encourage them to tell you what efforts they’ve made to deal with the issue and where they’re “stuck.” Perhaps all they need is permission to move forward.
Empower employees to figure things out for themselves. If your time is worth $100 an hour and theirs is worth $20 an hour, let them take a few hours to figure out the answer for themselves.