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Submitted by pjbate on


Hi everyone,

Firstly thanks to the guys at Manager Tools for all their invaluable knowledge that has helped me be better in my job.

I do have an issue at hand at the moment where a lot of the team use the 'I don't have time to do that' excuse. 

I have recently been seconded into my manager's role for 7 weeks and have been given a lot of push back on not performing tasks as 'there's no time to do that' . 

In particular I have an issue that may take a few hours to do but its not overly complicated and I have tried re-tasking, setting new deadlines, offering to help out where I can but the person I have tasked with the request continues to refuse to give me a time to do it, and if I present a time, the deadline with pass without being done - usually because there's too much to do excuse.

I have now taken the task off him and will have a look at it (bad mistake I know but it has to be done) as he is on annual leave and it will only delay the issue another 2 weeks.

We are genuinely understaffed which makes me think this is a priority issue but I would really like some pointers on how to defuse this excuse so that I can get the staff back on track.


delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
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When my team members say they are too busy, I follow MT which suggests you ask them to provide you with a list of what they are currently doing so you can work together to set the priorities.  This requires the employee to document what is keeping them busy and gives you a document to use to manage workload.  There is actually a podcast that covers this.  Perhaps someone will remember which one.

GlennR's picture

There was a meme going around Facebook last week, I think it read, "You know how you hit something to make it work? Why can't we hit people for the same reason." :-)

"I don't have time," is a lame excuse. Everyone has the same amount of time. Therefore it's not "time management," it's priority management." Workers must become ruthless at prioritizing their work.

Then they must have the discipline to follow through and work that plan.

If you've seen the movie, "Up," remember the dogs distracted by squirrels? When your team members fail to complete work on time, it could be a failure to prioritize or it could be a failure to stay focused.

Sounds like a great opportunity for coaching.

maura's picture
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One of the podcasts that covers this is called "The Juggling Koan".


pjbate's picture
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Hi all, wow great responses thanks very much :)  I like the angle of priority management rather than time management. I'm going to review The Juggling Koan podcast today. 

I had a word with the team member today about better management of his time and he became a little more aware - I think I'll just need to bang the drum every other day.  When's corporal punishment returning to the workplace? ; ) 




dan west's picture
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I have a very hard time with people in my team who tell me they don't have time for something. After feedback, I very frequently ask for either their of tasks for the rest of the week. Then I ask for their recommendation in what to move in order to make time for the new task.

The one piece I'd keep in mind in your situation is that you're the boss for 7 weeks. Resist the desire to crack the whip on the team. Instead, find a way to work with the team side by side to help them meet all deliverables (new and existing). Using temporary role power now is a sure way to limit your upward potential in the future. 

Good luck with this one.