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Manager Survival – 101

April 26, 2012

The shift from being an individual contributor to a manager can be tough.  Suddenly, instead of being responsible for getting “your” work done, you need to ensure that everyone else’s work along with “your” work is being accomplished.  During my transition, I learned a few critical survival skills…

The To-do list

The to-do list is the ever growing sword hanging over your head.  The key to dealing with it and maintaining your sanity is to accept that you will NEVER cross everything on that list off as done – but as you progress, you’ll realize that you WILL get enough of the right things done to be successful.  You learn to prioritize and delegate.  And on that note…


During a crazy busy time during the dot-com bubble, I carved out 2 days to attend a project management class.  Here’s what I came back with – interestingly enough, regarding delegation and not project management:

1)      Scope it out – exactly what needs to be done?

2)      Is this something only you can do? Or,

3)      Can someone else handle it (regardless of whether it will take longer, or not be quite the way you’d do it)?

4)      If the answer to 2 is yes, it stays on your plate.  If someone else can handle it (#3 is yes), delegate it and follow up as needed.  This frees you up to accomplish the things that only you can do – a much better use of your time for the company!


I tend to describe my role as a manager as a facilitator.  My job is to remove road blocks, ensure that the necessary information and resources are available, and that the team has the knowledge and support to accomplish their responsibilities and achieve their goals.  The allocation of your time should generally be at least 70% focused on facilitating and managing your team and 30% handling “your” tasks.  Good luck!

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