Dear Aunty B,
I have stepped into middle management in a graphic design business and I have 11 staff on my team. Since taking on the role, I have shifted away a lot from my using my core talent – designing – and much more into taking care of everyone else.
I still have a lot of design work on my agenda, but also have to coordinate which clients everyone is working on, timelines, annual leave, HR problems and more. I am constantly in meetings with the directors or other departments and quite honestly am doing my designing at home at night after hours.
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It isn’t sustainable, but there is scarcely a minute during the day I’m not dealing with something for someone else.
How can I sort this out so I can get my designing done during the day and be pulled in fewer directions?
Dear Too busy,
Welcome to middle management, where time is most definitely NOT on your side, everyone wants something from you and the issues are relentless.
You can no longer waltz into work, latte in hand, and get on with your day with your own agenda set. Rather you are there to make sure everyone else gets on with THEIR day, targets are met and the business confidently reaches its big picture goals.
You may love designing and no doubt you are superb at it or you wouldn’t have risen to the top. But now you need to realise that you will have to cut back on doing design yourself, and accept that you are in charge. You should only be designing a handful of the most important projects. Otherwise, you should be guiding your team with your expert eye to ensure their work steps up to the highest of standards.
If you are getting pulled in countless directions when you really need to get your own work done, block out meeting time in your diary, find a quiet space or work from home and get on with it. People will soon get used to knowing when they can approach and when they can’t, but at the moment it sounds like you are far too accessible.
In time you could be managing even more people, so you need to get this balance right now.