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I'm currently a manager (and part salesperson) for a 4-person business unit in a 50 employee service company. My department is currently undergoing huge growing pains, with plans to add two additional people this year. I've been directed to also take charge of a second, three-person department to tidy up the org chart (and the new department).
My boss is the current leader of the three man crew and says that management of that area takes about 15-20% of his time. This department also needs a systemic overhaul before it can really run on all cylinders and it is also growing like a rocket.

My assessment is that I don't have 15-20% of my time free to properly manage both groups without some task offloading. The president (my N+2) essentially gives no consideration and just gives the 'work smarter, not harder' and feels that the privilege of the added role is all the reason I need to scoop it up. There's little more I can delegate down, as both groups are underwater as it is. Of course there is no financial incentive, just the "you should want the additional responsibility (read: accountability)" and "it'll be another feather in your cap", like I can eat feathers... :x

Does this seem like a recipe for failure? How might I react to this situation?

Do I need to just eat my gruel and and 'work smarter, not harder?'. :)

Looking for some guidance from the more experienced managers!


juliahhavener's picture
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Why does a group of 3 take 15-20% of his time? Is this something that weekly O3s will help? Are you currently doing these with your team? Are you structured to delegate as much as you should? Are you utilizing the resources within your team to develop them to the point they CAN take on more of this responsibility?

Working smarter may be the way to go. I'd seriously look at my own time management, see if improvements in my current tasks, and in the responsibilities to this new department, can offset the addition of three people and their responsibilities.

I don't know if this helps you at all, but it would be the first questions I'd ask myself.


Mark's picture
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Of course it's not a recipe for failure. What you're being asked to do is normal, and you should accept and figure it out.

Further, ANY discussion by anyone (else) about how much time any "part" of their job takes them is usually poppycock. It means nothing.

Yes, you will be busier for a while in the new role. That's called the stress of change, and it's actually eustress vs. distress, though it takes a few days to realize it.

I don't particularly care for the "smarter/harder" aphorism, because no one knows what to DO with it, but essentially it's one way to describe what you'll be doing.

Take it and run. You'll be fine (busy, but fine). Using the Management Trinity religiously (no pun intended) would be a smart move...


stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]Further, ANY discussion by anyone (else) about how much time any "part" of their job takes them is usually poppycock. It means nothing.[/quote]

Reminded me of a definition I read a while back: "Timesheet - A work of fiction usually serialized on a weekly or monthly basis"

Unless you record on a regular basis (e.g. every 15 minutes) what you're doing, you're unlikely to have anything like an accurate idea of where youtime is going. I believe that you mentioned this in you "Effective Executive/Efficient Assistant" podcasts and it's also part of Drucker's "Effective Executive" that how executives spend their time probably isn't aligned with their key priorities even when they think it is, and they're suprised when they do analyse their time and find that their main #1 priority that they thought accounted for a large chunk of time actually accounted for very little.


kevdude's picture

To me, a set up for failure can include one or more of:
a) being told to cost-justify yourself
b) being constantly undermined by your manager
c) having a "manager" title but without a team or a budget
d) being hired by your manager who has intentionally hidden an agenda for your purpose
e) being bullied
f) being given ridiculous deadlines and impossible deliverables
... etc. Not sure if you have had these experiences. But if the company you are in just doesn't feel right, it may be a message to find greener pastures.