Manage the Work at a High-Level or Low-Level Based on the Situation

One of the common responsibilities of all managers is the management of people and the management of work (if you don’t do either, you are not really a manager). All managers need to have timely, relevant and accurate information so that they can manage their people and work effectively. The trick, of course, is to know how much information you need, and at what level. 

Some managers like to stay out of the details. They may be able to tell you whether the work is generally on schedule, but not what the project team members are working on at any given time. Sometimes you can get away with this. However, in some cases, you can be seen as aloof and out of touch. The problem is that sometimes these managers need to get engaged in the details of a project to determine what is going on, and they are not able to do it. Sometimes, they prefer to stick with the “big picture” even when the project is a mess.

On the other hand, you could be on top of people all the time – asking them how things are going, helping them resolve minor problems, assigning some of their work to someone else if it looks like they are a little behind. You know these types of managers as well. They are the infamous “micromanagers.” They actually spend so much time in the details that it takes them twice as long to get anything done. These managers also cause frustration on the part of team members because it seems they don’t trust the team to get anything done.

Many managers are afraid of being labeled a “micromanager” because of all the negative connotations. However, there are times when you do need to assign work and get feedback on a very frequent basis. This is usually the case if you have a major short-term crunch of work to complete. It is especially relevant if your project team is not providing the short-term feedback you need to understand exactly where the project is.

A good approach to workload management is to be a “situational manager”. This type of manager provides overall guidance and coaching to the team and tries to remove any roadblocks. However, when a project gets behind, or the project gets to a point where a lot needs to happen in a short amount of time, this manager can quickly move down to managing the details.

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