Should New Manager Keep Doing Former Work?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about past not past:

Should a new manager take on requests to help with his old responsibilities or forward those requests to the new person in his former position?

Signed, Wondering About Workload

Dear Wondering About Workload:

In most cases, each person should do the work that fulfills his or her job description. (Executive level, administrative level, manager, supervisor or line/staff level, etc..) However, there are unique situations that may require a departure from that standard “rule” of business.

Usually if a manager keeps doing former tasks it’s because of one or more of these five factors:

1. A decision was made by the manager or those higher in the business to have the manager temporarily do some of the work while the new employee is learning.

2. The manager doesn’t know what to do in his new assignment so he just continues to do the work with which he is comfortable. This usually changes as the manager becomes fully adjusted to the new role.

3. Those requesting the work trust the manager to do it rather than the new employee and ask the manager to take care of it for them. This can go on for a long time if it is not corrected.

4. The manager doesn’t want to do the former work, but the new employee does not yet have the knowledge or skills needed to take care of it. This situation can be short-term or it can continue if the new employee doesn’t learn or if the manager gets into the habit of doing some of the work.

5. The manager still has some mental or emotional ownership of the former work and thinks he or she could do the work better and more quickly than the new employee. You don’t say if you are the new manager, the new employee or someone who is overseeing both of those levels. If the situation is creating a problem, those involved should talk about it and get things on track, using the right people to do the work or deciding what to do if either the employee or the manager aren’t capable of doing the work for which they are assigned. If you are the employee and your manager is doing work you should be doing, ask him if you can do it for him, since it is part of your work–and be clear that you can do it and have the time to do it. If he gives it to you, it will indicate that he simply was stuck in an old habit.He may explain why he was doing it in your place and that will be helpful too, whether you agree with him or not. Or, he may want to keep the work and you can ask him him if he has doubts about your ability to do it. That might open up a conversation that will be worthwhile.If you are the new employee, focus on doing your work well, gaining new skills and demonstrating that you are fully prepared to take on the full workload. You may find, however, that having the manager do some of the work now, frees you up to learn all the details of the job without time and work pressures.If you are the manager who is still doing some of your former work, talk to the person over you about what he or she sees as your priorities. Think about how you would feel if the former manager came in and did your work while you sit and watch! Talk about work responsibilities. Ensure that you and others are doing the correct tasks in the best way to achieve the overall mission for your group.Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens and how it works out.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.