LSA Global Insights Newsletter: How to Better Manage Workload as a New Manager

April 25, 2020

How to Better Manage Workload as a New Manager

Now, More than Ever, New Managers Report Being Overwhelmed
New managers often report being overwhelmed by their workload during "normal times." They struggle to keep up with all their new and unfamiliar responsibilities. It’s daunting. 

They feel stressed about completing their “To Do” list while they try to focus on leading and coaching their teams effectively. Today's uncertainty and volatility just make it worse.

The Temptation
When faced with too many tasks and too little time, many of us default to checking off the so-called “urgent” and relatively simple tasks, regardless of their importance or value. It is not at all uncommon for managers to focus on urgent tasks (sometimes good), to ignore non-urgent activities (usually good), and to put off important projects (not usually good).

The Research
A 2018 study from Johns Hopkins asked participants to make trade-off decisions between tasks that varied in urgency and importance. It was set up so that urgent tasks expired faster, but important tasks paid more.

The research found that people prefer to finish the urgent tasks first and plan to work on important tasks later because:

  • Important Tasks are usually more difficult and further away from goal completion
  • Urgent Tasks involve more immediate and certain payoffs

And the busier research subjects got, the more they resorted to crossing off the urgent despite the important tasks being more highly paid.

The Problem for Managers
Too many managers – especially those in a matrixed environment who must act as player-coaches – choose to perform urgent tasks with short completion windows instead of important tasks with larger outcomes. 


It is a natural tendency and a way to feel more in control over days where you feel you have too much on your plate.

The problem is that, when important tasks are pushed aside and left undone, meaningful and strategic productivity decreases. This is not good for you as a manager, for your direct reports, for the team, or for the business.

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned