Mid-level manager at mining company.
Four offices located hundreds of miles apart.
Emails constantly back and forth between operators at sites.
Too much to do and nobody to do it. Everybody works in the business, nobody works on it.
Time is consumed primarily in generating reports and plans. These are communicated to state and federal regulatory agencies for compliance. Plans can take a few hours or they can take 9 months. I'm sure you are all familiar with such things.

I'm a mid-level manager. All I hear are complaints about how we just can't keep up. No guidance from Sr. Mgmt. "Just get it done." Not sure how to overcome this.

I decided to turn off email two days a week. I've been in the job a little while and essentially everything getting passed via email is really low value "Can you proof this for me?" or shit that works itself out, "NVM! I called X and it was fine." Thurs I will devote to the long-term projects I've been tasked and Fri I will devote to working on the business instead of in it. Is this stupid? Mon-Weds I can spend running around on the "urgent" and definitely unimportant.

Your feedback and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

cruss's picture
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I would suggest looking up the book Predictable Success by Les McKeown. It lays out his view for the phases that a company goes through in it's lifecycle. I think you will find one that neatly fits the description you give.

Overall, I enjoyed his descriptions of the phases and how to deal with a company in each phase. He suggests working to keep a company (or team, division, or organization) in the predicable success phase. This is essentially a Goldilocks zone between out of control growth and overly burdensome bureaucracy. As with most business books, I wish he had more actionable advise and less theory and anecdotes. Still I found the suggestions for each phase useful and have implemented some of them on my own team to get us out of the White-water phase.

kwaters's picture
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Dear liginamite,

I felt like I was in a similar situation in a role at a global medical device company. I managed a new global team. I was located in the Seattle area with team members also located in the San Francisco Bay Area and South Korea. Much of the guidance from my boss was to "get it done". In addition, there were local managers that I worked with to set priorities.

Three actions that I took that helped in the mid to long term were: 1. One-on-ones with each team member; 2. Staff Meetings; and 3. Regular communication with the local managers. These helped me better understand everyone's actual work load and challenges and how these aligned with priorities.

In general, all the asks we received were reasonable. With limited resources, we prioritized our activities. I communicated with stakeholders so colleagues understood.  Other groups understood our situation, because they were under similar pressures.

Hope this is useful.

Best regards,