You Designed the System

“I have so many things going on, seven projects in the air, but the worst part is, people just seem to interrupt me, all the time,” Rosalee explained. “They don’t realize how hard it is to get anything done, when every ten minutes, I have to drop everything to answer a question.”

“Who is they?” I asked.

“Well, it’s my own team members, and it’s my manager, and my manager’s manager.”

“Sounds like you are pretty important around here,” I observed.

“I do have a lot of experience, and my projects are very complicated. Lots of moving parts and shifting deadlines,” she replied.

“So, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. I tried shutting my door, so they text me. I tried hiding in another office, they found me. I tried coming in to work early and staying late, but that turned into 14 hour days,” Rosalee shook her head.

“Why do you think everyone depends on you, so much?” I prompted.

“They are smart people, but sometimes I think they are lazy. They don’t have to make a decision using their own judgement when they can just ask me.”

“And if you refuse to help?”

“I can’t do that. Decisions wouldn’t get made and production would slow down,” she protested.

“So, the system that interrupts you, is a system that you designed?”

2 thoughts on “You Designed the System

  1. Dennis Dionne

    I am in a similar situation as described in the blog today. My boss Is the owner and in my review, he is telling me that I am too involved in the day to day problems. So, if I don’t help someone with a question, then I am looked upon as not being a “team player”. If I do help, then I am not getting my work done on time. Seems like a Catch-22 situation. Others think I have all the time in the world to answer their questions and research their problems and develop an answer for it. They do not get “the Big Picture” at all. I am trying to put other people’s “monkeys” on them to do as much as possible with a hint of how and where I would look to solve their issue. That is my solution. It is a work in progress so I don’t know if it is working out or not. And I just keep doing what I think I should be doing.

    1. Gordon

      A few months ago, I had a conversation about this type of issue with another manager. His exact words: “How many times during a meeting does your cell phone ring? If it’s your own people, you haven’t empowered them enough.”

      I struggled with this issue for a while and constantly found myself in the weeds. I eventually had to change my management style. Now, when employees come to me, I’ll listen to the situation and simply return a question back to them “So what’s your solution?” More often than not, they already know what to do. It takes time, but you’ll find that your people will learn that it’s ok for them to make decisions and move on if they know you’ll support them. Now, the drive-by conversations are simplly “Just to let you know, I told Bob to move ahead with that order” and they’ll move on.

      Hope this helps!


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