1 April 2015

When A Manager Is the Biggest Bottleneck in Your Work

It’s hard to be productive when your manager is a bottleneck in your work. How can you keep your productivity high when work seems to screech to a halt when it lands on your manager’s desk?

We asked our four career experts, and here’s what they had to say:

Alison Green says:

If your manager’s need to sign off on or give input on work is creating a bottleneck in your workflow, you have three basic options:

1. Point the problem out to your boss and suggest alternatives. For instance, you might say, “I know you get a ton of emails and documents for review. Is there a way for me to make it easier for you to give input? I was thinking it might be easier to review if I brought it to our meetings, or maybe there’s some of it that I can move forward with on my own.”

2. Experiment with ways to minimize her need to give input without totally cutting her out of things she needs to be involved in. For instance, on certain types of projects you might include a note saying “I’ll plan to ___ (send this to the printer/move forward as outlined here/run with these numbers) on Friday unless I hear otherwise from you before then.”

3. Plan accordingly. If you know that your boss is a bottleneck, you can cut down on some of the frustration by building in time for that delay from the beginning. For instance, if you know you’ll need her okay on a marketing strategy before you can start delegating to your team, take care of that piece of the work first. Get her your overall blueprint as early as possible, and then work on other pieces while you’re waiting for her response – as opposed to waiting until later in the process to approach her, when you might need a faster turnaround and be more inconvenienced if you don’t get one.

And keep in mind that even great managers can sometimes create bottlenecks for their staff, when they have higher priorities that demand their time. Sometimes that bottleneck just reflects the reality that there are more pressing demands right now – and that’s not unreasonable.

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