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Submitted by raf on


Hi, I am about to start a new position at new org managing 10 people, one of whom is explicitly designated as a deputy to me - to be clear not an admin assistant, but a #2. (Each department in the org has this structure.) This person has been in the deputy position for a little while and at the org for longer than I think anyone else in the department. The deputy reports to me, along with all the other directs, but presumably is ideally used in some sort of leadership capacity rather than as a pure individual contributor. 

What are the best ways to make use of this deputy? From the grand to the nitty-gritty.

I know the advice is not to change anything for the first 90d in the new position, so my meta-plan is to start off with "however it worked with my predecessor." But if anyone has worked in this type of structure before, advice appreciated.

j3snyder's picture
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This structure sounds similar to many call centers, who utilize a "lead" role to support people managers. Generally what I have seen work well in these situations is to have the manager be responsible for people management duties, and the number 2 be responsible for owning various business processes and product. A structure like this helps delegate responsibility while maintaining distinct roles and responsibilities (it also avoids directs reporting to two leaders).

Note: this setup is specifically designed for frontline leaders, as opposed to middle managers. Your mileage may vary the higher in an org a structure like this is used.

jrb3's picture
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This gives additional bandwidth to actually plan and manage the team.  One bonus, for a growing organization, is that the team can bud off another team, with the deputy leading, to allow for absorbing more people and thus expand overall output.

I'm such a deputy right now.  While I'm in the role like what j3snyder describes (a "lead" for and among individual contributors), the processes and measures I'm planning now will be what I will initially implement when I step up when my manager transitions out in the coming months.  So a mix of both situations.

SK68's picture
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I have a deputy and they play both these roles.

They hold the process and operational side of things such as financial management, but also they hold those additionally as we have identified these as areas they want to be able to show competencies in to either replace me or be the CEO elsewhere.

I also think, and I bet so with all this experience in your case, a high performing deputy makes an excellent thought partner. It's good for them to have to reflect on big strategic work with them, and good for your process too.