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Manage Which? Up or Down (Part 3)

In the saga of Breeze and Hoover, so far Breeze has been able to minimize the number of times her team is derailed by Hoover’s ad hoc requests.  We set up three circumstances for which she’ll will accept the mission.

First, she has to fully understand how the ad hoc report or spreadsheet will be used.  This forces Hoover to be clear about what he wants, and it also allows Breeze some input into how it’s produced.  This minimized rework when Hoover has asked for something that actually won’t give him what he wants, and sometimes Hoover realizes that he doesn’t need the work done at all.

Second, Breeze must let Hoover know how the other work her group is doing will be impacted.  Hoover’s ad hoc requests are always necessary and urgent, so Breeze had been dropping everything to accomodate him.  This wasn’t working well for Breeze, her team or Hoover.

Now we get to the third circumstance.  There comes a point at which Hoover makes a decision, and it’s time to act, whether Breeze or the team agrees with it.  It becomes insubordinate to continue to state the case after the decision’s been made (not that one can’t revisit it with a little passage of time).

Here is where Breeze now manages down.  Before, this would have been an argument in which her staff didn’t understand why they had to do it, resentment, pouting, etc.  Now, she has a few tools in her aresenal.

Breeze has already set the stage.  She had a meeting with her team a few weeks ago in which she expressed what she wanted in terms of how the team worked.  This was the vision piece I mentioned a few posts ago.  In that conversation, she made a commitment to do her best to reduce the distractions that these ad hoc requests were creating.  And, she reiterated that there would still be times when that wasn’t possible.   Hoover, too, works in an environment that’s managed by reaction, and sometimes that has to be the priority.   She gave her group the permission to do the same things she was going – asking to understand how the work product would be used and prioritization – so that she could manage better.

No, it isn’t perfect.  But, it is better from the standpoint that they don’t feel like useless work is constantly being dumped on them.  More often than not, they can see where this work contributes to the overall strategy, which makes it a lot more tolerable when there really isn’t any value being added.  (After all, we still call it work.)  There are some benefits to a more collaborative approach, and Breeze doesn’t feel like she’s always having to make a choice about displeasing her staff and displeasing her boss.

Managing up or down…. it isn’t always an “or.”  What are the possibilities for you?

Be Your Best You Today,

Carolann

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