Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Manager asking for too many reports without sufficient notice

From a reader;

I work as an analyst and part of my job description requires me to prepare/generate reports on a regular basis. I’ve a weekly schedule that is planned way in advance and it helps me to prioritize my work such that deliverables aren’t affected. This mode worked great with my previous manager who has since left the Company. I now report to a new manager and I’m finding it difficult to adapt to his style of working. He’s ok with my weekly schedules and has been very supportive at work. However, I’ve noticed many times that he has asked for too many reports (not in the weekly schedule) without giving sufficient notice. The requests are mostly from clients who want a report immediately. This has had an effect on my weekly deliverables. I don’t want to continue in this manner. I need to discuss and sort it out. How do I approach my manager?

Is this happening only to you or have the other team members (if any) brought up the same issue? There are two things that come to mind. First, I get the feeling that your manager is much disorganized and needs help with time management and prioritizing his work. Also likely that he isn’t able to manage clients well enough and he’s getting pressurized to deliver things quickly. Second, maybe his trust and confidence in your work is high and hence he is relying heavily on getting the work done only by you. Either way he shouldn’t be having too many last minute requests, at the cost of already-scheduled work.

Whatever be the reason, it’s time for you to set up a discussion. Now. His management style is hurting your deliverables and that will come up for scrutiny sooner than later. If it comes to that, you’ll not be able to justify by saying you were catering to last minute/unscheduled requests. There’s a high chance he’ll ask why you hadn’t brought up the issue earlier. You get my point? It’s better to sort these things out before it reaches a point of no return.

Timing is crucial when you set up a discussion. Don’t do it when he comes up with his next last-minute request. That will backfire. Instead choose a time when you’ve completed work on his latest request. That’ll give you some data points to talk about. You need to find out if he is comfortable with a formal discussion or an informal one? If it’s a formal discussion that he prefers, then set up a meeting on his calendar at his convenient time. Tell him you want to discuss a concern that’s affecting your work and deliverables. Next, when you meet him, go prepared with points that you want to discuss about. Don’t try and get defensive, rather have an open and candid conversation. Get to know his side of thinking and address them accordingly. If he’s a good manager, there’s a high possibility that he will see that his actions are indeed hurting your work and change them to work better. On the other hand, if he turns out to be a jerk, he’ll agree to change and yet continue with his previous style. Hope it’s the former and not the latter that you encounter, since you mention that he’s very supportive at work.

If he turns out to be a jerk and doesn’t change his style. You have a few choices. While scheduling your work the next time around, allow for some buffer. If a project requires 10 days, you ask for 14 days, you then have a 4 day buffer, should he come up with last minute requests. Make sure you document very request that comes your way. That will be helpful for later discussions and will also act as a cover. If that’s not the way you work, you decide if you want to work for this manager.

My experience says that nine of ten times, having discussions early into an issue helps clear the air. Good luck!

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Yes, it's ok to disagree with your manager.