Dear Aunty B,
I started working at a new company a few months ago.
In my first month, I couldn’t understand why I never seemed to have anything to do yet everyone else seemed run off their feet.
I asked many people for advice about what to do. I was told to ask my manager, ask to help others and to create my own work. I have implemented points one and two, but am unable to implement three as, in my line of work, I basically help improve the quality of products. Therefore, I cannot improve the quality of products that don’t exist.
Since then, I have realised the reason I have nothing to do (or very little to do) is because I work with control freaks. These people want to do everything themselves (hence being run off their feet) and won’t accept help or delegate.
Those few things I have done are, in fact, then inspected and re-done by these people also (so I’m basically adding nothing to the work process).
I am wary of constantly asking for things to do as I am concerned about my position. They need me – there is far too much work for the couple of others alone. However, those others end up doing everything anyway, even when they need to work many extra hours – meanwhile, I’m using my work time to email you!
I have even pitched ideas for new products so that I’d have something to work on. But they don’t like my suggestions so they are no-go. So what do I do? I don’t know how to change the control freak dynamic here and I’m bored out of my mind.
Aren’t you clever to have worked that out so quickly. I am guessing you work with a whole lot of silly women (and probably a few blokes) who would go home at the end of the day and pat themselves on the back for working so hard and being so good at their job.
And there they are, completely missing the opportunity to restructure their teams to make you a proper role that is accountable. That means they don’t free themselves up to have the time to properly consider your projects, to look ahead at what’s changing, to spend better time with their families and to do their job even better.
Here is what you must do. Don’t catastrophise; but do decide that you are probably going to leave and, therefore, have nothing to fear because the place is badly run.
Then go and see your manager and explain that due to the way the team is structured and the passion with which the staff carry out their work, you don’t have any work to do. Run through the initiatives you have taken and express your love for the work and the job. And then suggest that maybe the teams can be restructured so you have a job description, with clear ways to measure performance and feel like you are contributing.
I must say though that it sounds like quite a boring job – and company – for an astute go-getter like you. Why don’t you get a job in an entrepreneurial business which is fast moving, well run and no one wants to micromanage because I would yell at them?
American social psychologist Douglas McGregor wrote about this type of thing in his X and Y theory, with stories around how to manage micromanaging bosses and staff. You will see that you approach the world differently to them, but there are ways of dealing with these difficult people.
Your Aunty B.
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