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My line manager keeps badgering me about low priority administration tasks, despite knowing fully well that I am at maximum capacity doing higher priority tasks that keep projects on track.

I have had a discussion with him about this, but I do not feel convinced he understands. He is always nitpicking on the lower priority work being not done quickly enough. I have suggested distributing the work between the project managers, but he hasn't completely bought it.

What is the best way to manage this?

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  • 1
    Low priority admin tasks are often high priority to people above your manager. Just because you think they are low priority doesn't mean they are. For instance if payroll can't process anyone's pay until you submit your timesheet, then yes that is far more important than the current programming task you are working on.
    – HLGEM
    Apr 19, 2018 at 15:18
  • I understand that, the problem is if I prioritize that over release related tasks I will put the release at risk. I feel like he is over working me, when there are other PMs who can do it.
    – bobo2000
    Apr 19, 2018 at 22:59

3 Answers 3

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List out every single thing on your plate, attached LOEs (Level of Effort) to each item and then sit down with your line manager again.

So something like:

  • Task 1 - Recurring - 2 hours/day
  • Task 2 - Project based - 100 hrs total
  • Task 3 - Recurring - 30 min/day

Show your line manager your (more than a full) work week and then put it on them to prioritize what is important.

Make sure to "time-box" your available time and make it clear that only the work at the top half of the list gets performed.

Then follow management's direction.

At the end of the day, you need to make this your manager's problem. Not yours.

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Ask your manager what proportion of your working day should be dedicated to the lower priority tasks. From this he should understand that diverting you away from the high priority jobs will result in them being delayed by x hours and reinforce the fact that you can only work a set amount of hours per day.

If he wants you to do everything at once, point out that this can't happen and ask for additional resources to help work through the workload.

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It is your manager's job to decide the priority of your tasks. If he asks you to work on the administration tasks, then that is the higher priority task. Priority is not determined based on what you "enjoy" doing more, what you find more "challenging", or even what you consider more "important".

Thus, you have an XY Problem. Your actual issue is you are spending too much time on "boring" tasks. Raise that as the issue with your manager, instead of questioning the "priority" of the tasks. Something on the below lines:

Boss, I have been spending a significant proportion of my working time on the administration tasks, which are certainly important for the overall project goals. However, I think I should be contributing more to the project management tasks where I am more productive. Can we work out a plan to rebalance my tasks?

If your boss agrees with this suggestion, then it would be a good time to provide your suggestions, such as distributing the administration tasks among the project managers. The plan you eventually agree on may not entirely match your preference, but make sure you work according to it.

Do not show a lack of interest in doing the "boring" tasks. Since your boss has assigned you those tasks, he obviously considers them important. Showing reluctance in doing them shows a lack of confidence in your manager's judgement. It also sends the message that you will put in full effort only when you consider it important.

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