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I work for a start-up that's been growing super fast in the last months. I'm their marketing manager and I work alone, I have no team.

All the other teams are big yet they keep focused on their niche and never want to learn anything outside their line of work. Up until now, I have always helped them do things IT, Design related. I didn't use to mind, I am a team player and I always say yes to helping people. The problem currently is that we started hiring some new managers and teams, CS, HR, Sales. We went from me working and helping 3 or 4 people to now me being literally inundated by requests to do things for other teams daily. From the managers to junior execs, everyone comes to me asking for help or to do a project for them.

If I don't do it I know they complain about me and hate me for not helping them. They're all quite passive-aggressive, so as soon as I say, "unfortunately, that project is out of my scope please ask this other person", or if I actually take some time to write a manual or create a video so they can learn how to do it, they just stop replying and go and complain to their boss and my boss. I've done countless videos and tutorials explaining how things can be done by them, but they ignore it and either come back and request for the project to be done or ask my boss to tell me to do it.

The problem is, doing all these tasks for other people meant I stopped doing my real job, marketing. I am a creative person who loves digital marketing but I literally have no time to think strategically, to come up with long-term plans for my department as I am always swamped with minor tasks. How do I stop this?

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    "unfortunately I am not in charge of the project so I can't help you" That doesn't sound like a 'no' to me. It just sounds to like you have sour grapes about not being in charge of their project. Jun 29 at 0:50
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    "either come back and request for the project to be done or ask my boss to tell me to do it." Have you asked your boss if you could hire more people under you? Or if you could outsource some of those tasks? Jun 29 at 0:52
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    @StephanBranczyk I have but he always ignores it. I want to hire someone who can deal with the website maintenance, which would take away 80% of the workload from my back and I could then start focusing on marketing.
    – Randomator
    Jun 29 at 1:14
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    @Randomator If you have responsibility for the website, you are not the marketing manager. You are the marketing manager and an applications manager. So now everyone who needs help with that application is correctly coming to you. They aren't the problem; resource allocation at your company is the problem.
    – tbrookside
    Jun 29 at 1:52
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    Suggest you edit the question with the info about you having charge of website maintenance. As initially written, I was very confused why a "marketing manager" would be asked for any of these apparently unrelated tasks. Jun 29 at 2:43
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If your workload has overtaken your capacity, you should speak with your manager.

If you assume responsibility, it becomes part of your role over time. That's just the way it works.

If your boss is unwilling to hire people to assist you, or reduce the scope of your work, you need to ask your boss how you should prioritise outstanding work.

You should also be documenting what you spend time on to help your manager make better decisions.

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Document everything to date. Days when people asked, what they got/didn’t get, outcome. As well as your work.

People tend to see only their interaction, so this will add weight to any changes you are about to make.

Next you claim you are in charge of your department, then behave as you are in charge.

Setup a ticketing system / Kanban that people have to enter to get help. Use the tickets to keep all information of the ongoing status and prioritization.

Inform the managers that is what is happening going forward and to have them to feed it down to their direct reports. Give visibility to the managers for their direct reports and offer metrics.

Ignore any personal requests for help without ticket. No matter how trivial. “I’m happy to help once the ticket is in”

Use the tickets to give a summary of gaps that team has to management so they or you can focus on reducing duplication of requests. For example reading documentation created. Avoid doing metrics that single out people.

It also gives you evidence to expand your team.

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Good answers already, my addition is that you need to work on your self-confidence, not just for this issue, but to be successful as a marketing manager.

It's probably the most important soft skill assuming competence in the technical side of the role. If you're finding it difficult to cope with colleagues, then that's a problem in itself, because it is nothing to when you're dealing with outsiders.

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  • what do you mean? How would self-confidence help me in this? I've told my manager I need help, I've also told him I don't want to do small tasks for people who are perfectly capable of doing them. I said I am leaving my work behind but he says I need to just need to do these tasks and that's it.
    – Randomator
    Jun 29 at 22:03
  • Because you're waiting on everyone else to tell you what to do, marketing is cut throat you should be making things happen not waiting on others. Doesn't bode well for sales and negotiations.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 30 at 1:19
  • I've led lots of projects and had loads of ideas. The problem is that my manager doesn't enforce my plans. Colleagues from other teams don't feel like they need to contribute or do any extra work in order for me to do my work. Even if in the end my project benefits them. Basically my manager is a a micromanager who controls it all and who has no interest in me taking the lead on anything. He prefers to tell me daily what to do instead of letting me work on the big picture.
    – Randomator
    Jun 30 at 11:36
  • then you're not a marketing manager, just got a title as one.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 30 at 14:54
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Could it be that there is a mismatch between the work you like to do and what the company expects of you? Despite you having the having the fancy job title of marketing manager, you writing a long term digital marketing strategy might not be the top priority for the company at this stage. You completing all those "minor" tasks might be more important to them.

If this is indeed the case and you nevertheless want to concentrate on long-term strategic marketing plans I think you have the following options.

  • Find another job. However I do think these kind of jobs are scarce.
  • Perform your current tasks well and hope your function naturally involves into concentrating more on the big picture.
  • Try to sell to the higher-ups that a long term strategic digital marketing plan is a big priority right now.

Personally I think a combination of point 2 and 3 might work best.

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  • the whole problem started because I took in all the work and tasks he gave me. If I didn't know how to do something, I went and learned it. This played to my manager's cheapskate attitude. He realized that quite early on and loves to give me all the tasks no one else likes to do. In the beginning, the team was small and I ended up having to deal with the endless tasks he gave me. As the team grows, I have not only to deal with his tasks but now with the whole new team his hiring, from different departments.... In a way it's my fault.
    – Randomator
    Jun 29 at 22:24

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