People Stuff: Time Span Capacity in Management

Woman behind giant clock

For several weeks now, I have been drilling into the notion that to get great people for your organization, all you need to do is get the right people into the right seats. Easy, right? (Yes, pun intended.)

Last week, we went beyond looking at the individual and what makes him or her appropriate for a seat – i.e. that he/she clears your cultural bar and GWCs the role – and started to drill into the layers or strata of your Accountability Chart. In summary, I suggested that time span capacity is the predominant characteristic separating one layer from another; specifically, that even the largest organization should have no more than seven layers with the following time span capacities associated with each of the layers:

  1. Layer (L) one (1) has a time span capacity of less than three months,
  2. L2 equals 3 months to one year,
  3. L3 equals one to two years,
  4. L4 equals two to five years,
  5. L5 equals five to ten years,
  6. L6 equals ten to 20 years, and
  7. L7 equals 20 to 50 years.

Assuming you generally buy into the broader notion of time span and its applicability in terms of delineating one layer from another, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that research shows that both managers and subordinates tend to suffer if their time spans are not adjacent (i.e., L3’s should manage L2’s). The evidence suggests that over time, a manager operating at L3 will become frustrated managing someone whose time span is an L1, and vice versa.

Typical manager issues include:

  • Lack of patience
  • Feeling like they are being held back
  • Feeling like they are not being given the opportunity to use their full potential capability in their work so they can progress toward the next level

Typical subordinate issues include:

  • Lack of attention
  • Inadequate development
  • Feelings of inadequacy

Consequently, if you want to maximize the effectiveness of each of the layers of your organization, you should make sure your right people have not only the appropriate skills (e.g., a CPA) and experiences (e.g., management), but also the capacity (e.g., mental, physical, emotional and time span capacity) to effectively lead and manage his or her direct reports.

As I wrote about several weeks ago, one of your roles as leader and a manager is to make sure that you are putting the right people into the right seat, and that means making sure the seat is neither too big nor too small, but just right for both the manager and the subordinate.

Until next time, may you build with passion and confidence.

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