Plan Now for Your Next Time Out of the Office
I met with a manager, Chris, who took a working vacation this summer. He took his computer, cellphone, and pager to the beach vacation, along with his family. His family had a great time and tans. He returned home fish-belly white and tired. He was not refreshed. In fact, he looked worse than when he’d left for vacation.
I asked him if he’d delegated any of his work to his team. “No. How could I? My manager is depending on me to get things done. My team can’t do my work!”
As long as Chris believes that, and acts as if he is indispensable, he will be indispensable. He will not delegate work to anyone on his team, nor to the team as a whole. He will not develop a succession plan. And, eventually, he will be a dinosaur. Chris is in a dangerous place as a manager, and in his career. But, Chris has options.”
- Explain how long you will be out of the office and for how long you will be out of communication. There’s a big difference between being out of the office for three to five days and being out of communication for three months.
- Set everyone’s expectations about the work the team can perform in your absence. Maybe they can’t work on the budget or other money-related projects if you are a technical manager. Maybe they can’t work on technical projects if you are a finance manager. But, if you set expectations about the progress the team can make in your absence, the rest of the organization should be able to plan around that, especially if you are talking about a week or two.
- Make sure when you delegate work to your team you discuss the results you want, not how to do something. I fell into this trap last week. I asked a PSL participant to pack up books from PSL. I forgot to say, “Please pack the books so they arrive flat when I get home.” I didn’t say anything, and when he packed the suitcase, he packed the books so the books would have bent when we zipped the suitcase. Oops.
If you follow these guidelines and start planning now, you can start practicing while you are in the office. That way, when you travel on short trips you can start to practice your delegation skills. You will be ready for longer trips, and for your next vacation.
Johanna’s Speaking Calendar
I have a full speaking calendar this fall.
I’ll be working with people at AYE
about dispelling management myths such as not being able to get away from the office. I’ll be addressing the issues of geographically distributed teams at AYE
and Agile Testing Days
. And, I’ll be working with people about those issues of authority and collaboration atAYE
. I do hope you join me at at least one of those venues.
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