Annual performance reviews are coming up and a senior manager whom I work keeps warning me informally that I need to get more things done and make things happen and that recently I haven't.

I am an assistant manager of another team and my role is more of a spokesperson for that team rather than a decision-maker. I also help with basic coordination and filtering requests. The team I represent has had an enormous amount of requests that it cannot deliver simply because - in most cases - it doesn't even have the resources to meet that amount.

My boss knows this and tells me to keep those requests away. The external bosses tell me to do more or that I am putting my job on the line.

Is it my fault if we don't have resources, I cannot decide on resources and I am doing exactly what I am told to do by my boss + how can I ensure that my performance review is not tainted by these warnings over which I have no control?

  • hello, consider editing the question to make it better fit site topics laid out in help center. In particular, this guidance may help to learn what is expected of questions here. Good luck! – gnat Nov 4 '14 at 7:26
  • To inject some objectivity, are their expectations achievable, how does everyone else manage? Who (if anyone) do they consider to be high productivity and how do they get things done, what corners do they cut? If noone, then that tells us something. – smci May 3 '18 at 23:56
  • Sounds like a duplicate of How to Deal With Unreasonable Expectations? or similar – smci May 3 '18 at 23:58

Go back to that manager and tell him that you'd be delighted to improve but you need a bit of mentoring -- could he please give you some specifics about what he sees as your weak points, and help you brainstorm ways to overcome them?

Repeat as necessary.

It may not be related to resources at all. It may be related to the priorities being set, or to perceived inefficiencies in the use of the resources you have, or even simply the tone in which limits are being expressed.

But until you have a more specific set of issues to work on, there is nothing you can do. And even with the specifics there may be nothing you can do.

If your immediate manager is happy with you, and believes you are exceeding requirements, it's his job to defend you during the performance reviews. If he doesn't, and you can't get information from anyone on what to improve, you may need to investigate changing assignments to someplace where success is better defined.

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    (Part of your "performance" is how you respond to challenges -- whether you continue looking for solutions, ask for assistance, or silently give up and leave everyone confused about the status of the assignment.) – keshlam Nov 4 '14 at 16:26

Yes. Though its not as simple as the way you put it.

It is your job to figure out how to get the work done. Saying it is not possible looks badly on you and your team but that responsibility falls directly on your shoulders.

The external bosses tell me to do more or that I am putting my job on the line.

This may or may not be true. They may have the power to have you removed or they may not. However just saying its not my fault pushes the blame up the chain to your boss who probably does have the power. It is important that you appear to be attempting to meet their needs. It probably appears to them that you are just ignoring their requests which appears very disrespectful. That is your fault and yes that you can and should be held responsible for.

how can I ensure that my performance review is not tainted by these warnings over which I have no control?

Your job as a manager is to not just manage your reports but also your customers and your managers. Your customers expect that you will get their requests done. First you should sit down with your team and try to brain storm how you can accomplish what they need done. Being a manager does not mean that you have all the answers, that is why you have a team. Let them help solve the problem.

Figure out a few of the best options, and if they require resources take those to your manager and explain the options and get direction from them. If you can solve the problem with out resources then try and make sure your customers know you are working to solve their issues.

Your biggest problem right now is the optics of the situation. As far as your customers know you tell them you do not have the time and resources to fill their requests, then head off to the golf course(figuratively). You have to change those optics. You need to make sure your customers know you are taking their issues seriously and are working to find a resolution to them, even if that resolution is beyond your ability right now. Once they know you are trying then you have room to breathe and your manager is more likely to try to help you out where he can.

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What specifically have you done to prove you need more resources and to request them? Just because you are not the final approver doesn't mean you are helpless to try to solve the problem. You don't get what you don't ask for.

I suspect you need to talk to your people and create a list of what they are working on and what they have not been able to get to and the how long those have existed. Then you might need to show that you have people working on the genuninely highest priorities. You also need to make sure that requests that are not on the highest priority are informed as to when you will be able to get to them based on existing priorities. I would suggest you summmarize this information daily and send to all concerned parties.

Part of your problem is perceptual. People think you are not making progress against the requests, show them daily that you are. Show them daily that the problem is that there is more work than people can do. Let people who are waiting know daily how long the wait is and what is ahead of them in the priority list (they can then work it out amoung the senior managers if the priorities need to change). Make sure your people are in fact working on the highest priorities and getting them done in a timely manner.

Then you need to create a list of what additional resources you need to get the work done. Do you need more people, do your people need better training so they can handle requests faster? Are there physical pieces of equipment you need but don't have. Are there external people who are supposed to do some steps but who are not doing them? If so, what kind of follow-up are your people doing? Figure out what else you need and formally ask for it.

When you are behind significantly, you may need to ask for some extra effort on the part of your team to get the work out. Senior management may be expecting you to have them work overtime to clear the backlog.

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