can a manager ask for “alone time” at work?

A reader writes:

I work for a busy law office that manages hundreds of files for large corporations daily. The work is very detail oriented, and even the slightest issues can set us back tremendously.

I supervise a group of 5 other people, all of whom have been with the firm for less than 9 months. I myself have only been with the firm a year, but since I developed all the processes our team follows, I am by default the go-to person for questions. I get questions not only from my team, but the other teams in our department as well. On any given day, I say I’d get at least 50 emails asking me “what if” or “how come” types of questions.

As a supervisor, I still have my own set of work to handle aside from supervising the work that others do on my team. Often we get rush files from our clients, and because they need to be processed very quickly and with 100% accuracy, I will do them myself as to avoid my team members’ doing them incorrectly — or answering numerous questions that will come up if I rely on someone else to do them.

The problem is that while I am working diligently to finish rush requests from clients, my team members find it difficult to understand that when I am trying to focus on these projects I do not have the time to answer their questions or talk them through their issues. I hate to be unapproachable, so I will typically still answer questions even though I’m already swamped. My department has an “accessibility” mantra, and being helpful and communicative is our number one priority. I have no problem being communicative, but I need peace and quiet here and there to just get to my own work.

Is it unprofessional if I tell my team, “okay everyone, for the next 2 hours, I’m working on an important project, so asking me questions is off limits”? Or do I just need to grin and bear it as the life of a supervisor?

It’s absolutely not unprofessional. In fact, it’s often necessary. Managers get interrupted all the time, and if you don’t carve out some time to concentrate, you’ll never be able to.

Schedule yourself some work blocks — meetings with yourself that you hold as inviolate as you would a meeting with someone else. Use that time to focus on the things that require concentration without interruption. These might be a few three-hour blocks per week, or they might be two-hour blocks each day, or whatever makes the most sense in your context. Then let your staff know that you’ll be busy during that time and they should hold their questions until afterwards unless it’s truly urgent. And if you do get interrupted during that time, it’s fine to say, “I’m in a work block right now, so if this isn’t urgent, would you check back with me in an hour?”

You do want your staff to feel comfortable coming to you with questions, and you don’t want them to spend hours struggling if a 30-second conversation with you would solve the problem, but you also want to train them to help themselves as much as possible and save up their questions for convenient times to the extent feasible, and to protect your own time when you need to.

Another thing: If a lot of these interruptions are coming in the form of email, you might be creating some of the problem yourself. Most people don’t expect instant answers to emails, and getting an answer later that day or the next is just fine. If you’re feeling obligated to respond to emails as soon as they come in, that might be an internally-generated problem, not an external one.

Of course, that depends on your office culture, which brings me to the next point: Talk to your boss. You don’t want to start carving out work blocks and taking longer to answer emails and then discover that your boss hates this new work style. So talk to her, explain the problem, explain what you’re planning to do to address it, and ask if she has any objections. Most managers won’t. Some will. If yours does, you want to know this now.

Some other things to think about:

* Are there ways you could head off some of these questions? Could you create a FAQ or other documentation and direct people to check there first?

* Does your team need more training? You say that you’re hesitant to give them some types of work. Is that because you really should be the only doing it, or would an ideal team be taking some of that on by now? (As a new manager there yourself, you might not have enough perspective to answer this question, and it might be something you should seek input from your own manager or other mentor type on.) It’s possible that you either need to give them more training (which will require more of your time but will pay off in the long run) or that your staff members aren’t working at the level that you need them to be working at. That’s worth figuring out.

{ 58 comments… read them below }

  1. Ann O'Nemity

    Putting recurring blocks on my calendar to get work done is absolutely essential for me. Another thing is developing a habit of checking email at certain intervals – 3x a day, once an hr, etc. and sticking to it. (If your job permits it, of course.) I would I honestly don’t know how I’d accomplish anything if I didn’t use these tricks.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      Wish I could edit this now. Just ignore the random “I would” nonsense.

      Also want to add:
      If you develop a habit of checking emails at certain times, your co-workers will get used to it and stop expecting immediate responses. That was my experience.

    2. Kou

      Absolutely. My boss does this because he manages a huge team, and we have access to his calendar so before looking for him we check that and we can see if he’s blocked work time and maybe it should wait.

  2. Rob Aught

    Just a thought, before I was in management I didn’t really know what managers did all day. If they weren’t in meetings or telling us what to do, I was completely ignorant of their responsibilities. In fact, I didn’t even see behind that curtain until a project manager left a project and the senior developers had to start attending client meetings.

    Yikes!

    The thought that you might actually have real work to accomplish may not even cross people’s minds. Just like we ask employees to manage their time wisely, we have to set the example by making sure we set aside time to get work done.

    Although I don’t do it, I know many managers block time off their calendars to work. It’s a good habit to get into and I’m not getting into why I don’t do it.

    You definitely have to do something to make sure you get work done. I know I do or I wouldn’t have time to share my experiences here. ;)

    1. FD

      Exactly! I felt much the same way without realizing it until I started being trained for management. Then I realized how insanely much managers have to do, in addition to meetings and telling us what to do. And now I wonder how anyone ever manages to get it all done!

      1. Rob Aught

        Delegation is key for me, which is why the OP’s situation seems mildly insane.

        Ironically, I struggle with delegation even though I know how important it is. I have gotten much better.

        I think it is hard for managers to trust their people to get tasks done, and since managers are dependent on the performance of others to meet their goals, they tend to get overly involved. Thus the rise of the micro-manager.

  3. ThursdaysGeek

    I need to send this to my spouse, who has “interruptions interrupting interruptions.” However, he has a boss that provides a negative benefit, and most people have been there for many years, so the interrupting habits are ingrained. He’s also the only one with his set of knowledge, so if he doesn’t answer questions, no-one else can, and people can be stopped in their work until they can talk to him. A closed door doesn’t stop people from coming to him, nor would they check his calendar first.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      Oh, and he’s not a manager, so he has no authority over the people coming to him. He’s just the person who knows the answers about research problems that are always changing.

      1. Ash

        Could he create a FAQ to help others out? And then if they still interrupt him with e-mails or questions for things on the FAQ, he can refer them to that ad nauseum.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          FAQs work good when the same question is being asked over and over. It doesn’t work so well for research when every question is different, and no-one else has the expertise he has.

          I’m frustrated too — I want him to lock his door or something, but it sounds like the interruptions are a major part of his responsibility, and he simply has to do both and figure it out on his own.

          1. Anonymous

            He needs to figure out way to get those people to research their own problems, with a little help from him and how and where to start. Giving out answers, while faster, doesn’t consisiently get you good results in the long term in research.

          2. Another Emily

            What if he made a process manual for how to deal with certain types of issues? It could have helpful resources for questions about a general field that his team often researches. Or it could have some steps to follow if the Highly Specialized Tool breaks down.

            Since he can’t have an FAQ that says “If X, then the answer is Y” would it work to say “If X-type situation, try A, B and C.”

          3. Jessa

            This is the time to teach them “how to find the answers.” Also a faq is necessary. Even if it’s a weekly email with excerpted questions and answers. Also if you’re afraid to give the team the work, there’s a training issue there. Period. If they cannot do the work accurately, you have a management problem. I hate to say this to the OP but “you’re a manager now, you can’t keep doing jobs your subordinates are supposed to be doing. You have MANAGEMENT stuff to do.”

            That being said you absolutely have a right to block off time and say you’re not available. However, if you’re doing that in order to do work that “you’re afraid to give to them” that needs to be resolved. If you’re worried about errors then you need to put error checking in place. They are never going to learn to do the job if you don’t let them do the job. You’re not getting management money to do the jobs of your subordinates.

    2. Anonicorn

      Could he install Google Talk or similar application? People wouldn’t have to barge in with questions, and he could put off checking it until he’s at a reasonable stopping-point.

      You also have to ability to change your status from “Available” to “Busy.”

      1. Kelly O

        My husband’s company actually uses Google Talk for that purpose. If they’re available, then they switch to that status. If they’re busy with a client, they change it to “Busy – ABC” or “Busy – Install XYZ” – it gives everyone an idea of who they’re with and what they’re doing.

        They all work remotely, and it’s a good way for them to stay on top of workflow. They can still chat with each other if they need, but at least you know why he might not respond for a few minutes. (And he and I use that as our main form of communication in the day, since it’s on both our phones too. So I know if he’s busy or has a minute if I need something.)

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          We had an IM at Lastjob and I loved it. If I needed to talk to someone, I could see first if they were even at their desk. They could change their status if they didn’t want to be interrupted, and we honored that.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        He can’t install anything that the company doesn’t approve, but if shutting the door doesn’t work, I don’t think it’s a problem that can be solved by technology. The problem is from a combination of a weak management system and a nice guy who has specialized knowledge — being pleasant is part of his problem.

  4. Kate

    My last workplace had a similar culture. During especially busy times, our manager asked us to “bundle” non-urgent questions and schedule time on her calendar to discuss. (We all had access to each others’ calendars on Outlook and could schedule meetings.)

    Instead of popping in and out of her office to confirm this or clarify that, I’d send her a request to meet 4:30-4:45, and bring a list of questions I collected throughout the day. It worked well, and it also broke me of my habit of asking my manager’s opinion because her office was across from mine and hey, why not?

    1. Leslie Yep

      I’ve done this with my manager – just with a consolidated email instead of a meeting. I think when you say it “broke you of the habit” of just tossing the question out there, you hit it on the head. I have one staff member who I manage who has a tendency to just shoot off questions as she thinks of them because, as you say, Hey, why not?

      This process of requesting consolidated updates has really helped her take ownership of these questions for herself. Google it, check the intranet, marshal her evidence and then ask me the things I actually need to give input on, rather than every little step along the way.

      1. Jessa

        This works very well. I agree that insisting on an assurance that the employee made a genuine effort to get the answer themselves or somewhere else, unless it’s some decision that only a manager can make is vital.

  5. The IT Manager

    Is it unprofessional if I tell my team, “okay everyone, for the next 2 hours, I’m working on an important project, so asking me questions is off limits”?

    Not at all. Totally professional and reasonable for boss’s who have their own work to complete.

    because they need to be processed very quickly and with 100% accuracy, I will do them myself as to avoid my team members’ doing them incorrectly

    This is a troubling statement … you can’t trust your staff to do good quality work. If they truly cannot be trusted this is something that needs to be addressed especially since you only have a few more months experience at this particular job than your staff. Have you hired people who lack the skills and experience they need to suceed at their position? Or is it possible you could delegate this work, but you just can’t bear to do it?

    1. martha

      Thanks for picking up on that IT Manager. As someone who’s prone to trying to do it all myself I recognized that potential issue here. As a manager, I’ve had to learn (who am I kidding, I still have to remind myself regularly) that *I* cannot, simply cannot do everything that needs to be done quickly, accurately. I have to pass on to my team with very clear instructions. It’s led to some difficult situations, sure, but it’s also allowed me to stay focused on MY projects.

    2. A Bug!

      Yes, the bit about not delegating is concerning. If there’s literally no way you can reliably delegate this work, then your team members aren’t suited for the job they’re supposed to be doing.

      What you describe, OP, doesn’t sound too out-of-place to me for a lot of the law firms that might be described as “legal mills”, with high turnover, few experienced assistants or paralegals, and little lawyer supervision. So you end up with a half-dozen people brand new to the legal field, maybe with a certificate from a career college, being paid peanuts, reporting to someone who’s got maybe a year’s experience on them, all doing work way above their pay scale, with little to no lawyer supervision.

      If that describes your situation, OP, then congratulations: your firm’s partners are lining their pockets on your (admirable) dedication to serving your clients.

      I hope that it doesn’t describe your situation, and that you are being compensated appropriately for the level of work you are doing and that when you bring your situation to the attention of your supervising lawyer the response will be “Oh dear, I had no idea, let’s fix that right away”, and then she’ll follow through.

    3. SerfinUSA

      My supervisor claims that it’s in our best interests to shield us from complicated/crisis issues & tasks. She says it’s her job to protect us so we can concentrate on our usual (menial, boring, routine, dead-end) workflow.

      Another supervisor does the opposite, which makes that department a bit more stressful, but then again that staff are being promoted and assigned interesting new work by higher ups.

      So keeping complicated work to yourself can hamstring the other employees’ chance to learn and grow.

    4. theotherjennifer

      I agree. I was that go to person as well but at some point you have to teach these people to fish because you are not getting your work done. 9 months is far too long to still be asking questions at this furious pace. Delegating for a person who wants to do it all correctly is very difficult but it is necessary for both you and your staff to be more effective. Start small and give your staff some responsibility.

  6. Kay @ Travel Bug Diary blog

    I was in a similar situation once. My workspace was in an open office environment, so I had to deal with “drive-by” questions. I wasn’t struggling with email volume, but a lot of people stopping by with questions. I came in early regularly to get work done, and the early morning hours were really productive. I also blocked chunks of time and reserved small conferences rooms where I could hide from the drive-bys and focus.

  7. Ash

    There are several things that bug me about your e-mail OP, so I’m just going to post a bunch of questions that will hopefully give you some things to think about.

    -Why can’t you trust your employees to deliver error-free work?
    -If they can’t do their work accurately and without multiple, repeated corrections, why do they still work there?
    -Can they be provided some form of remedial training to help with their issues?
    -Should you institute action plans with some of your employees?
    -Why in the world do your employees need so much direction and have to constantly bug you all day?
    -Why are you allowing your employees to disrespect you by constantly interrupting you with [seemingly] short, easy questions?
    -Why haven’t you gone to your boss at all about any of these issues?

    1. OP

      OP here

      I am so happy this was posted today – and thankful for the comments.

      The odd thing is today ends the first week I really saw a major flaw in my budding management skills. I have realized I’m keeping my group from growing by keeping them out of our “high visibility” files – and this week I’ve practiced more delegation and although the questions are just as if not twice as frequent, I myself do not have as many solo projects keeping me swamped.

      To answer a few other questions:

      – I have a mostly unskilled non-experienced group. I won’t say I distrust them completely, but I work for the kind of firm where mistakes can be costly and I’m too much of a perfectionist and literally cringe when something is t done just right.
      – I don’t necessarily work for one of the “mill” firms but its not too far off for sure. I’m paid fairly well.
      – I had previous litigation experience, and when I started I had no team, just me, managing a ridiculous and cluttered workload. I streamlined so many processes in 3.5 months and organized a chaotic and overgrown workload, and was able to convince management I needed a team. By the time the last person joined, I had barely stopped training the first person to join due to the sheer size of our workload, so it’s possible our team structure needs a revamping as well.

      1. Jessa

        Can you daisy chain the training, you’ve trained person one, now they train two and two trains three, and you oversee it to make sure you’re not playing a game of telephone? Otherwise having a team does you no good. Because they’re NOT lowering your workload at all.

  8. Lisa

    I love wednesdays, its my one day of no meetings, no calls, nothing. Its awesome. I am not even a manager.

  9. Angela S.

    I don’t think it’s unprofessional, but I think you might experience resistance from some people.

    In my last job, my manager is very good with blocking uninterrupted hours for himself and for me. Sometimes, I still feel regretful that I left that job.

    In my current job, my manager is not a fan of this. He interrupts people all the time. And when I have a question, he just says that I could interrupt him when he’s not busy. Well, the problem is that he seems to be busy at all time; also, there is a person in the office who is better skilled at interrupting him, often leaving me not having enough time to ask questions. I have to say that my current manager’s style of managing often drives me bananas.

    If you want to block hours for non-interruption, just make sure that you also block hours for spending time with your colleagues. The last thing they want to feel is that you don’t care about their work until it’s too late. Also, just make sure that your office door is closed; and don’t spend too much time answering their emails during those blocked hours unless it’s an emergency.

    1. CoffeeLover

      I think most people function like this, including me. In fact, I think your manager blocking off time for YOU seems a little uncommon (although I do agree that it’s nice). You need to stop feeling bad about interrupting your new boss because a) it’s his job to help you out and b) he told you this is his preferred method of communication. If the question needs a quick answer, then go interrupt him. If it can wait, then email him. If it requires significant discussion, then set up a meeting. You can always preface the interruption by saying you have a 5 minute question and ask if he has time. If he really doesn’t have time, he’ll let you know.

      1. Angela S.

        I think you miss the other point in my message – which is that a co-worker of mine is “better” at interrupting my manager. He has a desk which is located closer to my manager’s desk, and he could see my manager’s every move from where he sits. On the other hand, I don’t have this advantage – when I sit at my desk I face the opposite direction and I sit further away. I feel like that more often then not I have a competition with him in who could get my manager’s attention first, and my co-worker always wins.

        And then when my co-worker is done with my manager, and usually it takes more than 5 or 10 minutes… more often then not, my manager has to be at somewhere else or on a call.

        I did joke with my boss about this “advantage” that co-worker. But yeah… I know it’s a small problem, but it still irritates me.

        1. fposte

          I think framing it as a competition is making things harder than they need to be, though. I suspect the problem is that he doesn’t realize you don’t have the visual-cue proximity that your co-worker does, and he thinks of your co-worker’s timing as the model for “interruptions.” I don’t think it would be any better if your co-worker weren’t there, unless you were sitting at the co-worker’s desk.

          So how often do you generally need to talk to him per day? Can you say that since you can’t feel his workflow in the same way, the current “interruptions” plan isn’t getting you what you need, and you’d like to be able to check in x times?

  10. B

    I agree with AAM – not at all unprofessional to carve out time for yourself to work on projects. However, I think you also need to let go of the reins a bit because if you are not allowing those you manage to work on projects they won’t get better and will always come to you with questions.

    Yes, work needs to be error-free but a) we are human and b) if you do not give them the opportunity to learn than they will keep coming to you with questions.

    Also, when you do carve out this time I might phrase it differently. Yes, your work is important but you also do not want to greatly diminish the work that others are doing.

  11. fposte

    If you don’t like talking in terms of non-accessbility, frame it the other way and identify your accessible time blocks.

  12. Jeannie B

    I have to be the dissenting voice on managers blocking out alone time. even, on a predictable basis. That can put some harsh limits on how I can do my own work; I work in a law firm and there are tight deadlines on almost everything we do. Lots of times I run into things that require a judgement call that only an attorney can make. If it’s a choice between missing a deadline or interrupting an attorney, the attorney gets the interruption. It’s so common that our Senior Partner calls it our second golden rule: always ask, never guess.

    1. Cat

      Yeah, none of the stuff about blocking out time/not answering phone calls that works in a lot of places really works in law firms, unfortunately. But attorneys can and should make it clear that they’re only available for time sensitive things at certain times.

      1. Cat

        Oh wait, I just noticed that the op is in a law office. Maybe I’m just talking about the kind that is heavily litigation oriente then.

    2. Ash

      There’s a difference between, “Hey boss, I had this silly question for you that I’ve asked dozens of times before” and “I am going to miss this deadline if I do not ask you this very specific and important question”.

      1. KellyK

        Exactly! Even if you can’t ever be completely uninterruptible, you can still let people know that you’re only available for high priorities that *cannot* wait.

        1. Joanne

          maybe put that in your calendar – on a scale of 1-10, this block is reserved for “8 or higher, bro”

  13. Meg

    My workplace is considered “interrupt oriented” meaning that our work is based on interruptions, not working around interruptions. But then again, it’s not a legal firm. It’s a programmers/coders who get assigned tasks or peek our heads in for assistance with a program that some are better than or need help debug a line of code or something like that. I get CSS bug requests daily, and I probably bug my coworker who is a Javascript wizard daily when an app I’m working on needs some Javascript attention and if I’m doing it the most efficient way possible.

    But to block out specific times to get work done, no, that’s not unprofessional. What is bothersome is that you HAVE to.

  14. KA

    I’m not a manager, I’m an assistant, but I have to block time off on my calendar regularly for things that require a lot of concentration. I even go so far as to book a conference room and turning off our internal chat so I don’t have people popping up and asking me a million questions. Even if it’s something that will only take me 30 seconds to answer, it completely knocks me off my train of thought or makes me lose my place in what I was doing. Even so, I still get people who will come and seek me out for inane questions. Once I was working on a long speech and was in a conference room (with the lights off and the door closed!) and someone found me. They had a really stupid question about booking a hotel room that they either A. could have asked anyone else or B. could have waited on. I was livid because it completely broke my concentration and ended up wasting far more of my time than 30 seconds because it took ages to get back into the “speech-writing zone”.

  15. blue dog

    Best advice is to LOG OUT of email, so that they are not constantly popping up. Then, set 15 minute blocks to check them throughout the day: 8:30, 11:30, 1:30:, and 4:30. This way, you can get work done without constant pop-up distractions.

    I also have a colleague who tells everyone, “I am unavailable in the morning. If it is an emergency, you can reach me from 1-3. Otherwise, I return all phone calls and emials between 3-5.” While people are sometimes put off at first, you tell them, “I want to give my projects the undivided attention they deserve. When I am working on your matter, you will appreciate that I schedule uninterrupted time to work for you.”

  16. EngineerGirl

    I haven’t seen the positive side pushed – “office hours”. These are hours I block out to be available to people. If people know that you are accessible at certain times they are less likely to interrupt you at inconvenient times.

    My calendar is public (with private appointments locked out) and with published office hours. People can go in and see what times are available.

  17. COT

    My last workplace (small social-service nonprofit) was a very high-interruption setting, for all of us but particularly my boss. She usually kept an open door but sometimes just needed to concentrate. Hiding out in her office with a closed or almost-closed door helped somewhat, but she also would take her work to a coffee shop. She was still reachable by email/phone/IM if needed. She also encouraged us to work offsite when needed, and I definitely did when needed. Getting offsite, whether working from home, a coffee shop, or a library, is rejuvenating for me.

    Having my boss unavailable has also helped me be more self-sufficient. She likes talking things over with us, so I was used to seeking her perspective. While we never stopped working together closely, as she got busier with other things I got better at working through things on my own or seeking others’ advice, not just hers.

  18. DD

    I could swear the OP and I work in the same industry! Outlook calendar scheduling and “busy during this time block” emails are key. Good luck.

  19. IT Girl

    I have a “Do Not Disturb” sign that I put up when I need to concentrate. Combine that with headphones and it’s pretty effective. I make sure I’m not “under” for longer than an hour or two, and my team know they can wave their hands at me if something is urgent. We used to have a fairly strict no headphone policy but I have agreed with my manager that I can make use of them as long as I don’t abuse the privilege. I also close Outlook during this time – again if something urgent comes up people know they can approach me at my desk.

    1. IT Girl

      Just to add that I also have clinic times twice a week – hour long blocks during which anyone can approach me about anything. People tend to save questions for these times so I can work through them in batches.

  20. Meaghan

    THANK YOU. This is why I continuously facepalm when people conflate “having an open door policy” (I hate that phrase more than “synergies”) with “never closing my door and doing any damn work.”

  21. Another Emily

    Hey OP, do I work for you? ;)

    When I first started at my current job I was fairly new to the workforce. For the first time I was doing very specific and detail oriented work. I was going to my boss with all kinds of questions. After a while, he made me come to him with lists of questions instead of one at a time. That’s when I realized I wasn’t managing these questions very well and started creating an SOP for myself. This caused me to develop a methodical process for myself and also remembering 99% of the answers he gave me. It made for a much more productive environment.

    Some things that could help:
    – Get your team to come to you with a list of at least five questions for non-crucial items.
    – Encourage them to share information and discuss issues amongst themselves
    – Make a checklist or procedures document for routine tasks wherever you can

    You mentioned in your post upthread that you felt maybe you should give your team some of the high profile work you do. I think this is a great idea. It will help them improve their skills and confidence to do work that’s more difficult, and you can still check it and make sure it’s correct. :)

  22. Anonymous

    An article about five years ago in Fortune or a similar magazine touted the benefits of uninterrupted blocks of time for anyone who does detail-oriented work (and who doesn’t, really?). That was the thing that convinced my manager to start letting us work from home one day/week.

  23. Clarity

    Absolutely fine to schedule alone time.
    However, there is a glaring problem in the OP’s message.
    Doing work yourself because you don’t trust others to do it right? Why do they work there if they can’t get it right? Why don’t you trust them? That sentence alone should have you asking yourself why you believe that to be true.
    You set up the systems which means ensuring there is adequate training, FAQs and sources to find answers was in your bailiwick. This is something that effective managers do as they are devising the system.
    How much time will you have available if you organize proper training, set up a source for information (intranet etc.) peer coaching system. Whatever. The approach you have now will ensure you are the ‘go to’ person for awhile but in time (everyone has been there less than 9 months?) those people will start to be frustrated and demoralized by the person who is handing out information by dribs and drabs, who assumes that only they can do it right etc. and your boss-will start to see the inefficiencies and poor management as a detractors.

    What do you think will happen if you get sick or want a vacation?

    1. chikorita

      +1 You need a team that can function and get their work done even if you’re in Hawaii/looking after a sick relative/in hospital/experiencing any of the other speed-bumps that life throws at us from time to time. If you never give your team a chance to even try doing some of these tasks, how are they ever going to learn? You also risk people becoming demoralised or feeling like they’re being held back from developing and improving themselves professionally. I’m not saying throw them to the wolves, but give them some opportunities.

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