Acting roles

Suelin23

Registered
I've been asked to act as team manager for two months (juggling my normal role), how do people handle this in GTD? I have my whole setup based on my areas of focus and projects, but as acting manager I'll have a whole bunch of temporary new ones. Do I just setup a new AoF and projects for the acting role, or try and fit those within my existing areas? I was originally thinking one project for the two months, but that will be too broad to be one project. And yes, I'm really stressed about the idea of handling two jobs at once.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I think there is no way for anyone to know how to handle things without knowing more. Does the team have projects? If so, what are they and what is their status and scope? Or will you primarily be leading people who have their own projects? Or perhaps just do work that shows up? What are the expectations management has for you?

I will say this: Two months can fly by very fast.
 

gtdstudente

Registered
I've been asked to act as team manager for two months (juggling my normal role), how do people handle this in GTD? I have my whole setup based on my areas of focus and projects, but as acting manager I'll have a whole bunch of temporary new ones. Do I just setup a new AoF and projects for the acting role, or try and fit those within my existing areas? I was originally thinking one project for the two months, but that will be too broad to be one project. And yes, I'm really stressed about the idea of handling two jobs at once.
@Suelin23,

Sounds like the person who asked you to take on this role went to the right person

You have me thinking . . . try leveraging what you currently have in place with 'some sort' of demarcation so that if 'overwhelming numbness' becomes a concern the 'demarcation' in place will make it 'easier' for this new concern to be its 'own' autonomous GTD enterprise to manage and review without 'untangling'?

Knock it out of the park !

As you see GTD fit: 'remembering' everything while forgetting everything
 
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Y_Lherieau

GTD Connect
I've been asked to act as team manager for two months (juggling my normal role), how do people handle this in GTD? I have my whole setup based on my areas of focus and projects, but as acting manager I'll have a whole bunch of temporary new ones. Do I just setup a new AoF and projects for the acting role, or try and fit those within my existing areas? I was originally thinking one project for the two months, but that will be too broad to be one project. And yes, I'm really stressed about the idea of handling two jobs at once.
First off, congratulations on being asked to step into the acting manager role! This request likely reflects your current manager's trust in your capabilities and potential. It’s a fantastic career development opportunity, especially if you're looking to advance. Acting roles can often serve as a launchpad for what comes next. While the idea of handling dual responsibilities might seem daunting at first, the key will be in organizing what has your attention and continuing to execute the GTD workflow.

Here’s the approach I’d recommend:

  1. Create a Temporary Area of Focus: Set up a distinct Area of Focus (AoF) for your acting manager duties. Label it something like "Acting Manager Duties." This helps keep your responsibilities clear and separated from your ongoing roles.
  2. Break It Down into Projects and Next Actions: Within this new AoF, delineate your responsibilities into specific projects, each with actionable next steps. This structure prevents any project from becoming too unwieldy and keeps your workload manageable.
  3. Weekly Review Adjustments: Make a point to review this new AoF during your weekly planning sessions. This will help you balance your dual roles effectively, ensuring that both areas receive adequate attention and that you adapt to changing priorities.
  4. Communication and Delegation: Leverage your team by delegating tasks where possible. This not only helps manage your workload but also empowers others, enhancing overall team productivity.
  5. Stress and Time Management: Recognize the stress that may come with your new responsibilities and plan your time with care. Consider using time-blocking techniques to dedicate specific parts of your day to each role, helping you to stay focused and productive.
By establishing a separate AoF for your temporary role and adjusting your GTD system, you can maintain control over your tasks and navigate this busy period with clarity. Remember, this is a chance to demonstrate your leadership skills and capacity to handle greater responsibilities. Take it one step at a time, and don't forget to take care of yourself too.

Good luck—you’ve got this!
 

bishblaize

Registered
If I was just doing something for 2 months, I would find a way to keep my Projects seperate to make it easy to pull them out at the end. In the tool I use, that would be a folder. Other tools might have a separate list or use a tag. That way the Next Actions can sit alongside the rest of them but I can see the Projects clearly.

By the way, doing a handover at the end where you give someone a properly formatted list of Projects, with a clear next action for each one and a full list of actions completed, will be incredibly helpful for whoever comes next.
 

Stefan Godo

GTD Connect
Besides the excellent advice listed abov, one important thing comes to my mind (remembering the time a decade+ ago when transitioning from an expert role to a managerial one):
there was a definite change to my lists:
as in the managerial role you are delegating a lot more, your waiting for list will be used way more.
Additionally, agenda lists for your key subordinates will be used extensively.
Eventually, if you plan to (baseline) manage the relevant group through a regular meeting, you should definitely establish a "group meeting" list.

all the rest needs more input from your side.
  • type of job
  • number opf people and their job
  • tasks/targets of the org
  • project ongoing/to be started, etc
 

Suelin23

Registered
I think there is no way for anyone to know how to handle things without knowing more. Does the team have projects? If so, what are they and what is their status and scope? Or will you primarily be leading people who have their own projects? Or perhaps just do work that shows up? What are the expectations management has for you?

I will say this: Two months can fly by very fast.
A mix - I’ll be taking over some projects from my manager, leading people who have their own projects, and dealing with new work that comes up. My manager expects me to use this as a development opportunity, and is ok if there are many things that are just slowed down or paused. There is one new employee in the team that needs a lot of support.
 

Suelin23

Registered
Thanks everyone for great input and ideas.
For a bit more context I work at a wastewater treatment plant in the operations group, and my team is an odd assortment of things not core treatment: systems, security, access, environmental, leases (including a farmer), birdwatching, development etc.
There will be 7 staff to look after, 4 pretty experienced and know what they are doing, 3 younger ones that need coaching and support. We have a regular team meeting with rotating chair & minutes. Biggest issue is managing workload, several people have health issues and there is a huge amount of work and pressure to get things done.
There’s some work that is routine, but a lot that is new or is improving work we have been doing. Lots of pressure to continually change and improve what we do.
The business has been through a restructure lately and we find that role clarity (what our team is responsible for versus other teams) is an ongoing issue.
 

Stefan Godo

GTD Connect
Thanks everyone for great input and ideas.
For a bit more context I work at a wastewater treatment plant in the operations group, and my team is an odd assortment of things not core treatment: systems, security, access, environmental, leases (including a farmer), birdwatching, development etc.
There will be 7 staff to look after, 4 pretty experienced and know what they are doing, 3 younger ones that need coaching and support. We have a regular team meeting with rotating chair & minutes. Biggest issue is managing workload, several people have health issues and there is a huge amount of work and pressure to get things done.
There’s some work that is routine, but a lot that is new or is improving work we have been doing. Lots of pressure to continually change and improve what we do.
The business has been through a restructure lately and we find that role clarity (what our team is responsible for versus other teams) is an ongoing issue.
seems like a fine (not extremely complicated) excercise - really a good stuff for learning and development on the fly.
1. make a list of your work relevant areas of focus and responsibilities - WRITE this down
2. make a list of major success crieteria for EACH of these areas.
These can be:
a) classic operative and financial KPIs (keep treated water quality within limits, safety indicators, LTI, budget, machines´ on-stream factor, etc) etc = maintaining specific standards, abilities
b) accompanying/secondary targets (like the birdwatch stuff :) ) - like send report weekly, number of observations, "no major incidents observed"
c) change initiatives (projects) - these are besides your operative core work - what is the status of these?
- if ongoing, there are probably some planes/milestones to check regularly (you might have separate project review meetings, or you cover them on your regular weekly meeting
- if to-be-started, I suggest that you use the Natural Planning Model (see book) to create the initial team alignement
d) development goals of your people (youngsters, seniors and your own)
Make notes how, when and whom you need to report about these

3. Set up your workflow to manage above
team meetings (partly in place, add F2F meetings)
your own review and reporting time
think hard what can be delegated to the more senior people (development/mentoring is a good target, but also work (re)scheduling can be)
 

mcogilvie

Registered
A mix - I’ll be taking over some projects from my manager, leading people who have their own projects, and dealing with new work that comes up. My manager expects me to use this as a development opportunity, and is ok if there are many things that are just slowed down or paused. There is one new employee in the team that needs a lot of support.

I think @Stefan Godo’s suggestions are good, but probably too much for a two-month gig. Because I use Things in a fairly conventional way, I’d probably make a new area. You will have new (to you) projects, and you likely will need to monitor and mentor the junior people more closely than the more experienced hands. Whether you do that via “delegated projects” or a recurring agenda item or something else is going to depend on a lot of things, but I think you will quickly intuit what works for you. You don’t have to use the same approach for each team member, or each project. What’s important is that you are comfortable with your overview of everything. Experimenting is part of learning to manage.
 

Suelin23

Registered
I've just checked the release date of the new GTD book is on 28th May, so I think I'll keep things simple by creating a project called Acting to collect everything into. Then I'll buy the new book when it comes out, and hopefully it has some good guidance.
I haven't yet worked out how to handle delegated projects, other than having an Excel project list saved on Teams that we all work on.
 

gtdstudente

Registered
I've just checked the release date of the new GTD book is on 28th May, so I think I'll keep things simple by creating a project called Acting to collect everything into. Then I'll buy the new book when it comes out, and hopefully it has some good guidance.
I haven't yet worked out how to handle delegated projects, other than having an Excel project list saved on Teams that we all work on.
"delegated projects" . . . @Waiting For list . . . and/or . . . @Waiting For file ?

At least until you find a more suitable solution for your particular realities ?
 

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
seems like a fine (not extremely complicated) excercise - really a good stuff for learning and development on the fly.
1. make a list of your work relevant areas of focus and responsibilities - WRITE this down
2. make a list of major success crieteria for EACH of these areas.
These can be:
a) classic operative and financial KPIs (keep treated water quality within limits, safety indicators, LTI, budget, machines´ on-stream factor, etc) etc = maintaining specific standards, abilities
b) accompanying/secondary targets (like the birdwatch stuff :) ) - like send report weekly, number of observations, "no major incidents observed"
c) change initiatives (projects) - these are besides your operative core work - what is the status of these?
- if ongoing, there are probably some planes/milestones to check regularly (you might have separate project review meetings, or you cover them on your regular weekly meeting
- if to-be-started, I suggest that you use the Natural Planning Model (see book) to create the initial team alignement
d) development goals of your people (youngsters, seniors and your own)
Make notes how, when and whom you need to report about these

3. Set up your workflow to manage above
team meetings (partly in place, add F2F meetings)
your own review and reporting time
think hard what can be delegated to the more senior people (development/mentoring is a good target, but also work (re)scheduling can be)
This is great advice.

As someone who's built my career around new and ambiguous roles, I would add that it's extremely important to discuss #1 and 2 with your superiors to ensure you are in alignment. The last thing you want in this situation is to have a perception of your responsibilities and measures of success, only to be blindsided when your leaders are dissatisfied based on a very different perception that was never clarified. The reality is that most leaders are not very good at articulating their expectations and the expected boundaries of your role, so it's good to take personal ownership of this and drive the conversation inquisitively. It's helpful to approach it as an ongoing conversation/negotiation as it is likely a moving target.

A few more thoughts:
  1. Try to focus on deeply learning one team function at a time, even the ones you think you know. You will probably gain a new perspective from the management "seat", and as you learn you will discover the work that you need to do as a manager.
  2. Take your predecessor's advice with a grain of salt. When they brain dump a list of tasks to hand off to you, try to listen for the core functions they are performing, and the outcomes they are trying to achieve. How they do it is probably more related to their work style and preferences and might not work for you. They may also have blind spots that you will discover in your pursuit of #1.
  3. Beware the temptation to define things too quickly. I would suggest having a project on your list to "Get clarity on..." your management responsibilities, until it feels right to remove it or change the verb. GTD teaches us to get specific and use clear verbs but this can be a hazard if you don't fully understand the work to be done yet. Keep it open-ended and if you focus on #1, the clarity will arrive with time and persistence.
 
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