Submitted by jbyrd1984 on
I have 11 direct reports (Program Technicians) across 3 offices, each of which I'm ultimately responsible for managing. I direct work, perform performance reviews, provide feedback/coaching, discipline as needed, etc. Each day of the week I travel to a different physical office. The nature of this makes it difficult to have a full, true sense of what is happening in each office. My 03s have been very important if for no other reason than I learn how some people act when I'm not physically present and I've been able to work towards correcting problem behaviors and formally disciplining them where needed. It's unfortunate that 2 of my 11 directs essentially need a babysitter to behave, and I'm working to correct that, but that is a whole other matter...
Due to the difficulty of keeping an eye on all my staff - and keeping tabs on the details of everything happening in each office aside from that - an intermediary role (Chief Program Technician) was created which was a promotion for one of my directs. They work in offices opposite me. This Chief Program Technician has some managerial responsibilities. They can help delegate work, help set office priorities, help direct workload, etc. They also provide me with their insights regarding performance which is heavily weighted when doing performance reviews or otherwise discussing performance directly with my direct reports via 03s, but they have no power themselves to discipline via sanctioned HR channels. They could provide feedback, though. Basically, there is role power, but it isn't the same as my role power. Their role power is the role power I trust and allow them to wield, and I could reign it in if I wanted/needed. Basically, anything I CAN delegate to them, I try to delegate to them in order to allow me to focus on bigger picture items.
I'm leaning towards having my Chief Program Technician performing 03s with the remaining 10 directs. It makes sense to me that the Chief Program Technicians need strong relationships with each of the other Program Technicians as much as I do, and they also need a strong sense of what each person is working on, what questions they have, where they need assistance/training, etc. The Chief Program Technician is more of a "work in the trenches" type position than mine, which provides them with a valuable perspective that I sometimes do not have in regards to the work getting done and where our priorities need to be at any given moment.
I don't think this would eliminate my need to have 03s. I'm still ultimately responsible for all 11 direct reports and perform all HR functions in relation to those members. So if I go this direction, all my staff would be having two 03s - one with me, and one with the Chief Program Technician.
I'm interested in other people's thoughts regarding this situation as it makes sense to me on one hand to direct my Chief Program Technician to have 03s, but on the other I could see it as something of a duplication of responsiblities. Maybe it would make more sense to have my Chief Program Technician do a more diluted version of 03s than the full thing (completely remove the final 10 minutes regarding the future).
Why this rather than structure as leads?
Seems like it'd be confusing about whether you or this new-role "speak for the company" to someone -- the "multiple bosses" syndrome. If he says one thing while you say another, then this overlapped duplication of responsibilities causes trouble, especially for your 'problem children'. Either you or your #2 (or both) would get ignored.
In orgs where there's very little moving between spaces, I've seen an intermediate layer of "leads" grown to handle this situation. The leads work like you describe, focused on doing the work and making close-to-the-ground decisions on the work (not the staffing/planning of the work). For the times I've been a lead, it's mostly been handling technical stuff/staff, with the manager next up the chain handling several leads and (gradually fewer) technicals directly as leads got added/grown. I didn't have direct responsibility for hire/fire or budget as a lead, and did what was "peer feedback" and "project manager O3s" -- meanwhile, my manager was doing the "manager feedback" and "classic O3s".
That leans me towards suggesting you consider your promotee stay in an office with neither 'problem child', so he can take that office's day-to-day off your plate. He'll learn as you continue rotating through, you'll learn, and at some point you'll rotate into that office less often, mainly to see him. At some point, he gets responsibility for reviews and O3s, taking those off your plate too and growing him from a "lead" into a "supervisor" (using terms familiar from my industry, bear with me).
If it weren't for the troublesome dudes, and you were the only site-shifter, it'd be a simple suggestion to sit one lead in each office, and you rotate sites to O3/oversee them as they O3/oversee the others at their site. One manager I knew took a situation like yours, gradually sloughed off the poor performers, and opportunistically inserted a lead as soon as a team got cleared of poor performers.
Anyway, my thoughts and reactions, for what it's worth.