Tech Manager—Asking for More Staff
Some of you work alone and others have staff under you to help with supporting tech. Being a Tech Manager means you oversee technology efforts and hopefully staff. Both of these areas of oversight are important. Overseeing technology started on day one, but overseeing staff may not be something that your firm has expanded into yet. Or you may have staff but need more. The job is just too big to get done on your own. Having staff who report to you and help with tech oversight is a great benefit. If you have help, be thankful. If you have no one who is paid to help you, or you have too few people helping you, then this article is for you.
You Need Help
When you have too much to get done and it is impacting projects it is time to ask for staff. It is overwhelming when you think of all the things you have to get done. It is tiring, just thinking about it. When it is just you, it can be very daunting. You need help. You need more people. Projects are being impacted. You are overworked. When you have a team and the team has too much to get done and it is impacting projects, you need to ask for more staff. Either way, you need help.
So how do you build a good case for getting more staff to help with CAD/BIM/Tech? Oh, that was just as easy as asking. Everyone should know how swamped you are. They should understand your trials, toils and travails. This should be a no-brainer. Just ask and they will give you more people.
You do need to ask, but you can’t just waltz into the boss’s office and ask for another team member… “One does not simply walk into Mordor." You need some data to back up the request and some planning on presenting it. You need to do your homework. You need to build a case for the productivity and progress that can be made with a larger team. Try some of the things that I have done in the past to help me get more staff.
Define What you would Delegate
If you had another person to help out, what would they do? I covered delegation in the last few articles and even if you have no one to give things to… keep track of what you would give them if you had someone. I know one of the questions would be “What would the new person do?” You need to be ready to answer that question with a good list of things that could be done by someone else. Be ready with a list.
Keep Track of Hours Spent
When discussing staff tasks you may hear a statement, “Those things don’t take that long to do.” You need to follow up your delegated task list with the time it takes to get the things done. This is a must. Don’t let others define the timeline that you have to live with. Make sure they know the actual time it takes for the tasks you plan for a new employee. They add up quick. Don’t forget the daily, weekly, or monthly repetitive tasks that must be done that few seldom know about because they are less obvious to others.
Define What you would do if you had Time
The two-part conversation above is usually followed by, “Aren’t you doing that now, why do we need someone else?” The Answer: “Because it chews up a lot of my time.” Then you can rattle off the things you would be able to do if you had the time. Paint a picture of the innovation that could be achieved. Tell them about the new tech you might be able to introduce. Don’t make promises but do let them know the possibilities.
Keep Track of Hours Spent
You may not really keep track of how long it takes to get things done. You just keep plodding along and things come and go, and you may not remember how long it takes for some tasks. Start writing them down. Write down the start and stop times as you do them. Don’t forget to include the time it takes to break off what you are doing and starting up something else. Planning time is needed also, no matter how brief. Include that. Documentation after the job is done takes time too (you are doing that – right?). Include that also. You will soon start seeing where all your time goes.
Keep Track of Overtime and Charge for it
You have to come up with 40 hours per week that is needed to sustain a full-time employee. If you are working beyond the 40 that is shown on the books, track it. Don’t forget to add those hours that you put in by starting early, working through lunch and staying late. And the best thing to do is to charge for them. If you are non-exempt, make sure you are compensated. If you are exempt, you may not be paid but you need to make those hours visible to others. You may have to send an early email (to timestamp when you are working) or send one right before you head out the door 45 minutes after quitting time. Don’t forget the weekend emails that you reply to. Or the longer hours you or others put in to get the tech back online and working. Don’t leave those hours hidden. If you have a team, the collective hours can be pooled to get 40 or more. It is critical that other see those hours, because you need to use that data to say, “We are working enough additional hours to justify another full-time employee.”
Keep track of what is being delayed
Another topic you may want to bring up are initiatives that are being delayed because of the lack of sufficient staffing. Things are taking longer. Your backlog is growing. Things languish for the need of extra hands to help. You may have projects that are not being done or strategic plans that are not coming to fruition. This discussion is a delicate balance, don’t make it seem like you are unable to do your job or prioritize. Keep it positive and show your desire to tackle these tasks, but you just need more help. One way to do this is to ask your boss which is more important, project 1 or project 2, because being shorthanded may cause delays in one of them. Then she knows what is on your list, that you can do them both, but that staffing constraints is causing delays.
Make a Staffing Plan
Know what position you want to hire and what the duties are. Have a job description draft ready. Plan for expanding your staff and in what order. Write it down. Always remind your boss that you have a plan and know what is needed next. Add the justification to the plan. Write up a paragraph on each position that you need (if you need multiple people) and why you need it. Update it as new initiatives come to mind. Keep him informed.
Make your Case
Is the company increasingly profitable? Are they expanding? Taking on new projects? Then it is time to ask for more staff. Ask casually and formally. Set a meeting with your boss to discuss workload and staffing. Talk about what the current situation is, don’t complain. Tell them that you are managing it well, but it is getting tougher each day. Let them know what the benefit is of hiring. Then, depending on the flow of the conversation, ask if you can hire now or soon. Don’t be too demanding and don’t be too soft. You need to ask, politely, “Now? If not now, when might it be possible?”
Ask regularly for more staff. If you get a no, then take it as “not now”. Go back every so often and ask again. Do it more informally for a while, then make a formal request after a period of months. Situations change all the time, and you may be able to make some headway. Is the company hiring in other departments? Ask again. Did the company just land a major new project? Ask again.
With skill, luck and perseverance, you can land a new staff person and see the results. It is worth the effort, and it strengthens your team and firm.