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BLUF: I'm taking on a new role as a deputy boss with responsibility for day to day looking after the office staff (~12). I can either sit in the same office as my boss or sit with the troops. Which should I jump for folks?

(My comfort zone would be in the office with them - and I'd probably play the part of 'troubleshooting friend' rather than deputy boss (this is how I've been when leading teams before and they all have 'carried my water' on many occasions) so I'd find it more difficult to say 'no, let's do this instead' (I have had this problem before). My boss's boss insists that the boss sit separate from his troops - I'm not sure why).

The quandry is my boss's boss has told me I'm there to 'help' the boss by getting more out of the team. If that's the mission and the boss's are expected to be separate from the troops then I'm obviously best being located with him to be 'in his pocket' as it shows the behaviours expected from a boss - but to get the most out of the team I reckon I need to be with them.

I think the team suffers from lack of face time with the boss so I'll be kicking off O3's right away which should help matters wherever I sit. I'm worried that if I'm in the same office as the troops the value of the O3 will be degraded - does anyone have any experience of this?

US41's picture

Sit with the troops, hike to the boss.

jhack's picture

US41 is right. Your focus should be on your team, not your boss.

John

rwwh's picture

I'm sitting with my troops, no borders or cubicles. O3's work just fine.

HMac's picture

[quote="Fitch"]
The quandry is my boss's boss has told me I'm there to 'help' the boss by getting more out of the team. If that's the mission and the boss's are expected to be separate from the troops then I'm obviously best being located with him to be 'in his pocket' as it shows the behaviours expected from a boss - but to get the most out of the team I reckon I need to be with them.
[/quote]

There: you answered your own question. Well done!

-Hugh

AManagerTool's picture

I sit with my troops.

I talk to my troops.

I do O3's with my troops.

I don't call them my troops. I use their names.

We know each other. We tell each other if there is spinach in our teeth in more ways than one.

ramiska's picture

I have a desk away from the troops and a workstation in the battlefield. (Bad continuance of metaphor; I'll stop here.)

While it can be effective to work at my desk in solitude occasionally, most of the time I am in the back of the room, available to anyone who may need me, whether they know it or not. I rarely go to my desk for O3's. They are usually conducted in my workspace. There is enough sound-masking to have almost any conversation in the same room as the troops without any concerns about privacy.

My desk was, until last week, right next to my boss. That was very helpful for my transition into management. He is now located closer to his boss. Even when my desk gets moved (it happens a lot) I will keep my workspace with the troops.

Fitch's picture

The two-desk idea is pretty interesting...

I know hand on heart I need to be with the team to get the best from them and to be of most use to them, but my remit is to help the boss get the most from them.

It's a bit of a strange logic really - I know where I [b]should[/b]sit (the team) but I'm not sure if all I'll be to the boss is someone else to manage if I don't sit with him, rather than the assistance he needs (ie I won't be the 'buffer' between the team and him that's needed).

I know putting a 'buffer' in is a terrible idea but hey, we play the cards we're dealt.

ramiska's picture

While some may find it to be a blessing, now that I no longer sit near my boss, I have found that I am being given less to do by him.

I now need to find a regular meeting with him to allow him to delegate. Our relationship has cooled a bit since we were separated. While it would be tempting to try to move near the boss, think about how that would affect your team.

Fitch's picture

Ramiska:

very good point there - my current boss is suffering the same way - the VP is in a different office block and he often just goes to the guy in the office next door to him to delegate rather than my boss (who has the actual responsibility to do most of the things that get delegated).

Result: frustrated boss (my boss) and frustrated me (as the boss doesn't delegate to me because he doesn't need to).

I'm still undecided about where to sit though. My heart still says with the team as I can improve their general performance, but my head says with the boss because I'll be 'on the pulse' and there to be readily delegated to (or offer to do stuff for him). If I'm with the team I am afraid I'll be just 'in the pool' and kind of 'forgotten about' and not helping directly helping the boss as was the initial aim by the VP (and as I suspect I'm being 'tried out' for boss material'

jhack's picture

Being "on the pulse" is not entirely a good thing. Rather than focusing on longer term objectives, you can get caught up in the firefighting. Sure you're more visible day-to-day, but are you achieving your key objectives? What can you point to at the end of the year?

John

BJ_Marshall's picture

You might be able to avoid some of the firefighting stuff if you have your directs put these into their O3 "buckets", right?

BJ

jhack's picture

I'm referring to firefighting initiated by one's boss, not one's directs. If your boss is always stepping out of his/her office to throw the latest "urgent" matter into your lap, you'll have greater difficulty meeting your key objectives (even if you delegate them to your directs).

John

raulcasta's picture

Definitively... with the troops! I've found I'm more effective that way.

I seek the boss to update him (like today's podcast Boss One on Ones). I will never mind walking the distance.

I like to stay as close to the battlefield as possible... And, check this out: not too close as to be lured into micromanaging!

Cheers,
Raúl