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It’s my first time acting as a senior on a new engagement. Any advice on how to manage an associate who is known to struggle with time mgmt/meeting deadlines? I don’t want to seem micromanaging...

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Sounds like you are headed towards micromanaging already

likehelpful

Transparency. You need to let it out all on the table, professionally and respectfully. You’re not going to help this associate by micro-managing; you benefit nothing by standing over his/her shoulder and/or doing his/her work. Too many people who climb up the food chain with no leadership capabilities, but are purely workhorses. Coach them, guide them to what is “right” and why it benefits the overall solution you’re both aiming for. Just be honest, set expectations, and be a leader.

likesmarthelpful

Thank you! This advice is very helpful. My seniors have always managed with a lot of trust and patience so I want to be sure to do the same with the people who work under me.

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Congrats on the opportunity! Try to give them a reasonable timeline to complete the task and agree for them to check in with you at half time to see of they are on track. Giving small chunks of work sometime better than trusting them with the whole thing from end to end. Also while you are delegating, encourage them to ask questions and before you leave the initial discussion, ask them if the path forward is clear (ie do you know how you are going to do this once you go back to your desk, alone?). Also proactively ask them what else they have on their plates and if they need help prioritizing.

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agree with everything above.

would also add that if you give them a small chunk of work and you have a good idea about how long it takes, and they agreed to that timing, you are then in a good position to drive a feedback conversation around why it took them longer.

the best case is that together you can identify some issues that are driving the poor time management and help develop how they approach tasks to be more efficient.

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Agreed with M1. “Before we start working together, here is what I’ve heard about you, what have you heard about me? Let’s clear the air.” To be clear, this is not my style, I prefer black and white no feelings get the job done type interactions, but I did this with a younger associate and our working relationship flipped quickly. Listen a bit more than you plan to and all will go well

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“How can I help you meet this deadline? What do you need from me? What will be useful in keeping you on track?”

And provide expectations on when you’re going to check-in. Halfway through a project, bi-weekly, etc. Keep your end of the bargain. See if they keep theirs.

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I like to have clear planning discussions and state amount of time things are expected to take- team is expected to notify me early if things are different than expected and will take more time, not a week after the time has been incurred

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Feedback.

When you’re late to meetings, here’s what happens...then describe the negative consequences in terms that they care about. So, what are you going to do to fix this?

That middle part is critical - if you get that right, you will be talking to their core. Get it wrong and they will be rolling their eyes at you. This is why relationships are critical between managers and directs, so you can know them. Hint, all that DiSC stuff was not just stupid fluff.

smart

If they have ADHD, that won’t work. They really want to be at those meeting on time and hate themselves every time they’re late. They’re just forgetting or completely misgauging/overly optimist about how long it’ll take to get there, etc.

I put all meeting for the day on the team room whiteboard.

Having ADHD, I struggle with this myself. Intermediary deadlines help as would giving deadlines earlier than you really need it by so you’re not in a pinch if the associate is an hour late

DiSC?

Wait, how did you know the Associate was not good at meeting deadlines? and what made you decide to pick him up on your project...Curious question.

On the Associate’s reputation, could be office talk most likely, which is why some of us suggest a “test” mini task to avoid the horn effect and provide feedback made on actual observation.

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