Thursday, February 22, 2018
Business

Career Q&A: New boss reluctant to delegate tasks

Q: After my boss was promoted, our director asked if I would handle her responsibilities until he could find a replacement. I had no interest in the position myself, but was glad to help out. For six months, I did most of her tasks as well as my own.

A few weeks ago, "Stacy" was hired to fill the supervisory job. Stacy has no management experience. After assuming all the duties that belonged to my former boss, she also took away some responsibilities that have always been mine. Now she is clearly struggling with the workload.

I offered to handle some of this work, but Stacy refuses to let go of anything. This makes me feel that I am no longer trusted. I would like to talk with Stacy about this, but I'm not sure what to say.

A: You must first understand that the issue is not your competence, but Stacy's discomfort. Upper management obviously finds you trustworthy, because they made you the acting supervisor. Your new boss, however, is in unfamiliar territory and may not yet know whom to trust.

As a novice manager in a strange environment, Stacy is undoubtedly anxious to prove herself. Unfortunately, she is apparently trying to do this by controlling as much of the work as possible. Though she would be expected to assume the supervisory duties, appropriating your tasks was a bonehead move that is quite likely to backfire.

Under these circumstances, Stacy is likely to view any offers of assistance as an attempt to reclaim your territory. So instead of focusing on her work, start by simply trying to get to know her. Ask about her previous experience and share insights about your company. Seek out her opinions and explore her ideas for your department.

Once Stacy believes you are on her side, she is more likely to trust you. And once she trusts you, she is more likely to delegate. So instead of feeling resentful and hurt, take the high road and start building bridges with your boss. In reality, this whole situation is much more about Stacy than about you.

Expose lazy worker for what he is

Q: One member of our manufacturing team is a total slacker. "Chad" takes frequent breaks and shows absolutely no interest in meeting production goals. While the rest of us are working, he looks for other things to do in the plant. I usually fill in for Chad so that we can meet our daily objectives, but this is getting old. I talked with the supervisor, but so far nothing has changed. What should I do now?

A: Simply put, you must stop doing Chad's work. As long as production goals are being met, your supervisor will feel no pressure to address the problem. But if you quit covering for Chad, his freeloading will soon be exposed.

If you wish to hasten this process, ask some other team members to join you in talking with your boss. Chad's behavior is a group problem, so you should not have to tackle it alone.

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