This may be the wrong question; I'll try to be clear.

What are the key tasks that a manager needs to have done for her that I can take on that will show her that she'll want to promote me and make me a manager?

I was on the manager track a few years ago, and was very close to reaching that goal .. then came the outsourcing. After being moved around a bit within the company, I recently ended up in my current department.

I have a good manager. She's not an MT manager, but she does do One-to-Ones each month and tries to give her DRs tasks that they prefer – where possible – out of everything that needs to be done. This definitely works in my favor because of her six DRs, NOBODY else wants to do ANYTHING other than what they're doing now (I don't understand that!), and they all do disparate jobs. Her goal is to do some cross training so that there are no problems if someone is out for an extended time, but all of the others push back at any suggestion of taking on more work – even the two managers.

When I ask her what I can do for her, she says, "What do you want to do?" I want to do EVERYTHING. I don't want to do just one thing. I'm proactive and I want to be involved in everything that she's involved with, and when there's a new project, I'm chomping at the bit to be involved. However, I know that I can't do everything [u]and[/u] be effective [u]and[/u] show her that I am manager material.

My initial thought was that since she is currently backing everyone up when they're out, if I can learn enough about everything, I can take some things off her plate. We have scheduled some time to discuss this on Monday, and I'm very excited. Unfortunately, her plan is to ask me, again, “What do you want to do?”

I worry that if I take all of the “menial” tasks, like data entry, that will be my lot in life. Unfortunately, she does a lot of these things because the people who should be doing them can’t or won’t. She’s not going to push it (although I would if I were their manager .. alas, I’m not..).

Another concern: Her DISC profile seems to be very similar to mine (5147), we enjoy doing similar things and think in similar ways and get frustrated by the same things. While this makes her very easy for me to get along with and we’re almost always on the same page, I’m also going to enjoy doing the same tasks that she enjoys. I don’t want to leave her with the things she dislikes, but I don’t want to end up with a lot of items that I dislike. I know that I shouldn’t worry about this, but I do because I care and I know that she won’t offload these things to those that should do them.

Any insight would be great. I’m willing to pay my dues (again); I just need to know which currency to use!


rthibode's picture

Hi Chelle,

Interesting post. A few observations:

1. Know your boss's goals. What are the big deadlines she's working toward, and how can you contribute to helping her meet them?

2. Know your boss's boss's goals too. Try to have a big picture of where the organization is going. This will help you offer help in areas that are most likely to be career-advancing.

3. Offer to take over a task your boss dislikes. I agree you don't want to end up doing clerical/repetitive tasks that your boss has taken over from lazy/incompetent directs. But if that's what she asks, agree with enthusiasm, then try to make the task more efficient. For example, maybe you could document the exact data-entry procedure so absolutely anyone can do the task, then suggest pushing the data entry down a couple of pay grades.

4. If your boss is a high C, she may have trouble letting things go until she's confident you can do them perfectly. If your boss is reluctant, offer to do the task for her once. It may be easier to let go if she doesn't have to commit to a permanent handover. (This is from the recent delegation podcast, I think.)

5. Since you're a high C, you may have trouble feeling ready to take something over until you have lots of detailed information about it. Resist, and jump in before you feel ready. Chances are you're more ready than the average bear.

BJ_Marshall's picture

Your boss does O3s monthly. Are you making them an effective use of your time? Check out [url=]One on Ones for the DIRECT[/url], and maybe you can get a leg up on the pile here, too.


Chelle's picture

rthibode Thank you for your prompt reply, and for your faith in me!

I posted the question originally because I fear that by taking away the mundane tasks, she may then say "Well all you do is mundane tasks, that's not showing me that you can be a manager." Catch-22 anyone?

You gave me some great suggestions regarding knowing her goals and her manager's goals. I think I was tripping over her "What do you want to do?" general question. I think maybe I surprised her with these questions and she wasn't prepared to answer! We're meeting again tomorrow, she says she has more detail. woo!

I knew the suggestion was coming about taking everything off her plate that she doesn't want to do! I know that I should (and made that offer), but our being so similar means I get the 'junk' that neither of us wants to do! Oh well, that's how it goes. :)

Luckily, although she and I are both high C, I think that our D is what drives us - neither of us have problems with taking on new things or delegating them out without having to have total control. I also don't require a lot of detail or data before I take on a new task. I'm sure that this will make it even easier to be effective for her.

Her problem is that some of her directs refuse (not me!). My problem is that I no longer have anyone to delegate to. ;)

BJ - thank you for the suggestion on the podcast! I'm still trying to catch up as I've only been with MT a short while. I had actually sent an email (asking what I can do to help her and how can I get more responsibilities and back onto the track I was on to be a manager) before our "one-to-one." It was nice to know that I wasn't too far off! I probably could have done a better job, but I will have plenty of time to prepare for next month!

So.. tell me if I stepped in it.. I told her that I'd rather have 1.5 jobs than only half a job (with regard to variety and goals). I can't stand not to have anything to do and I don't like to be bored (and I get bored very easily). Am I borrowing trouble?

jhack's picture

How about offering to cycle through the different roles/jobs, rather than trying to do them all at once?

When she asks what you want to do, say that you want to become proficient in all the tasks. And suggest that you work your way through them one by one. Create a list, and start with the first one...


mjpeterson's picture

I concur with Jhack about offering to cycle through the other roles in the group. This way she will know that she has at least one person she can count on to fill in when there are problems. This would also make you the obvious person to be put in temporary charge when she is on vacation or on extended trips.

Have you expressed your desire to move into management to your boss? If she is a good boss she ought to be willing to help you develop and be prepared to take over her role, when she move up the chain. Hopefully your company is doing some talent planning and if so, she should already be on the look out for someone to replace her when she changes roles.

Chelle's picture

jhack, great point! I have begun working with my manager to increase responsibilities and tasks - cycling through is a great idea and will enable me to document things.

My department uses 3 different systems and I know the older version of one of the systems inside-out, so that won't be a big leap.. although the architecture is the same, the feel is different and it's used in a different way. I also work in one of the other two systems, but still learning that. The 3rd system is a mystery to me, but I love learning new things.

mjpete, great point about her taking me seriously about this. It's still surprising to me that nobody else in my dept. wants to learn anything new. There are a couple managers under my manager that each manage a different system (and don't care to broaden their horizons). I see your point that this is a better path to advancement and totally agree.

Yes, I told her that I was already on the management track before I got derailed when one of my previous jobs was outsourced, but I'm at the same company. I asked her what I can do to regain this path. My hope is that she is thinking in the same direction - somebody will eventually need to take over, I will be the only one who knows all systems!

I wrote this question feeling very limited in my prospects, but the helpful answers to my questions so far have given me hope. Thanks so much!