Managing Workload When Your Promoted.

Managing your workload when you get promoted can be very difficult, as getting promoted means more responsibility but the hours in the day are finite. Having an effective plan on how to manage the workload is critical for any leader stepping up.

Leadership coach Liz Kislik suggests three practical steps to keep things under control.

Build a 90 Day Plan

For any leader taking on new accountability it is very important to establish a plan that sets out the known and the unknown. It helps set timeframes for hand over of any old responsibilities and coming upto speed with the new ones.

A 90 Day Plan (some people prefer 100 day plans) should consider the strategy (which may include vision and mission if they are not clearly inherited from the organisation). It should also be clear on the objectives (scope of activities), the resources available to the team.

The plan should properly establish the right success criteria/metrics (KPI/KRA/OKRs) for the team. Establish the operational cadence and the communications plan.

Image Credit: Pexels

Experiment With Mind Maps

Mind Maps are a powerful tool for capturing processes, requirements and business opportunities – you can even use it as part of the 90 day plan to capture work, resources and timeframes for critical deliverables.

They help to visually organise the information with a hierarchy that connects each element (resource or work). Major ideas are connected to the central concept and they branch out connecting ideas, deliverables and resources.

The great thing about mind maps is that they are rapid, inclusive and can help explore alternatives with your team members.

Focus On The Team

When the leader has taken on new accountability, the first thing to do is spend time with the team explaining the changes, about what stays the same and what will need to change as the leader take on the new workload.

Keep the operational cadence, bring together team members and communicate frequently. Everyone still needs encouragement, recognition and gratitude.

Delegate With Care

In the classic HBR article “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey” the authors explore the issues of managers running out of time when subordinates run out of work. They look at three specific types of management time.

  • Boss Imposed Time – used to complete tasks that the boss requires and cannot be disregarded without penalty.
  • System Imposed Time – peers and process based requests that also cannot be disregarded though the penalty may not be as direct or swift.
  • Self Imposed Time – work generated or originated by the manager (made up of time working with subordinates and discretionary time)

The HBR article considers that it is very easy for the manager to get swamped with work delegated up (from subordinates) and down (from bosses) and then become a bottleneck as they need to work through the often conflicting priorities.

“Get control over the timing and content of what you do” is appropriate advice for managing time. The first order of business is for the manager to enlarge his or her discretionary time by eliminating subordinate-imposed time. The second is for the manager to use a portion of this newfound discretionary time to see to it that each subordinate actually has the initiative and applies it. The third is for the manager to use another portion of the increased discretionary time to get and keep control of the timing and content of both boss-imposed and system-imposed time. All these steps will increase the manager’s leverage and enable the value of each hour spent in managing management time to multiply without theoretical limit.

Translated that means leaders taking on more accountability need to make sure that when they delegate the work they establish clarity of expectations

  • what the work is
  • when it is expected to be completed
  • the frequency of update required (and the stakeholder who need to be kept informed)
  • the resources available
  • what success looks like

Key Takeaways

  • When you take on new accountabilities there is potential to get swamped with the new and the old work.
  • Build a 90/100 day plan and work through a mind map to establish the program for the next quarter.
  • Consider how you communicate to the team, explaining what changes and what stays the same.
  • Delegate with clarity and be careful not to let all the work get relegated back up (monkey on the back…)
DIGEST of an article from Liz Kislik
Published: October 2020

Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?
by William Oncken, Jr. Donald L. Wass and Stephen R. Covey
Originally Published: 1974 updated in 1999

Leave a Reply