Think of a manager sitting in a chair at a desk, working if you will; planning. In the background a tornado touches down and approaches the manager. The tornado churns up earth, unleashes monster growls, and spits hail at the manager. To the sides of the manager, a building collapses with people running and screaming in fear. On the other side, dinosaurs return from the past and start attacking bystanders. All of the chaos and destruction happens around the manager. Pretty bad huh? During the immense crisis, the manager never breaks a sweat or gives the drama the attention it screams for. As hard as the impulse is to jump up and help, the manager stays sitting; calm and working. No matter how irrelevant the person feels with the commotion happening, the manager remains sitting.
This is sometimes what it feels like for a manager to sit down during non-peak volume and plan. In reality, a crisis or emergency MUST be dealt with immediately. Often times however, staff members make it difficult for managers to spend time planning because their needs are not an emergency. Staff members habitually make mundane, routine decisions feel like a crisis. The employees get bored, need attention, or don’t want the accountability that comes with making basic decisions, even when they are taught. Either way, staff members will try to disrupt the planning and need attention.
Sometimes, fellow employees will add a layer of guilt and resentment because the manager isn’t on the floor attending to the perceived and incorrect emergency needs of the employee.
The manager can also be a barrier to planning. Planning can feel ineffective because it essentially happens at a desk or in a quiet area away from the floor activities. It’s easy for a manager to justify running out to the floor to do real work with their hands and voices. In reality however, essential behaviors never happen in order to achieve goals. Poor scheduling happens, people development stops, and superior directives can be missed, just because a manager wanted to feel physically busy. If it’s not a real emergency, managers must stand firm and stay seated to plan, just like the manager facing the tornado, falling building, and dinosaurs. Remember, planning is the most important management function.