Jeremy pulled me aside as I walked down the hall. “I have the same situation,” he said.
“What situation?” I asked.
“My boss hands all the stuff to me to make sure it gets done, but he never makes it clear that I have to delegate most of the work to other team members. Worse still, he doesn’t support me when I get push-back on some of the assignments. He lets these people off the hook as soon as there is a whimper. I was here until 10:00p last night working on a project that I assigned to Sylvia two weeks ago. I found it on the corner of my desk yesterday with a note.
I didn’t have time to get this done. It is due tomorrow. I talked to the boss and he said just give it back to you. He said you would take care of it.
“I am not the manager, but the boss expects me to make sure everything gets done.” Jeremy was clear eyed, but you could tell he felt pretty beat up.
“Sounds to me like the boss expects you to take care of it. Tell me, how do you like working until 10:00?”
“I don’t. I was so mad, I could have strangled Sylvia.” Jeremy fidgeted.
“So, what are you going to do differently next time?” I asked. “Because this will happen again unless you do something different.”
“What else could I do?” Jeremy sat straight in his chair. “I saw the package at 4:30 and there was five hours of work that had to get done. I had to stay.”
“That wasn’t the question. The question is how are you going to prevent that from happening next time?” Jeremy was stymied. “Let’s take a break,” I continued. “Get some fresh air. I will meet you out in the company courtyard in about ten minutes. I have to check on something. Then we can talk some more. Until then, here is a clue about where I want to focus. What day next week is the next unfinished report going to land on your desk?”