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Beat Overwhelm: 3 ways to help your team take stuff off your plate

You did your New Year’s resolutions, you are now half way into 2018, you have had a decent time to execute your 2018 strategy, now you are focused on some great wins for the year and BAM! suddenly reality bites you in the ass.

Overwhelm hits and you are at a big risk of getting sucked back into drudgery. Just when 2018 was the year that you were truly going to fly, you find yourself digging out from under a pile of work and projects that somehow landed on your plate, and half of them are for your own team!


Ok this sounds crazy when you are already in overwhelm BUT if you are not managing UP you will never get ahead of the game and you will never be someone who is part of designing the future of your company. It is only when you are part of and contributing to those conversations that can you can begin to align your strategy with your company’s strategy and begin to feel like you are in control.

Commit today to spend 25% of your time Managing UP.

Managing UP involves:

  • listening to what your boss and her peers care about;

  • understanding the value that they are working to generate for the company and employees;

  • connecting with them around that value in a way that allows you to build trust with them and making OFFERs into that trust.

  • Care what they care about, if you don’t understand – request clarification, if you don’t see how you and your team can add value – ask.

This will position you to practice what you will be asking your own people to do for you so that they can take stuff off your plate. (Yes, it is a very nice self-reinforcing system.)


If someone, anyone can do the work 75% as well as you can – give it to them, ask them to do it; give them the opportunity to learn and grow.

Prepare to by 75% satisfied and sometimes, in my experience many times, be prepared to be blow away, wowed, delighted. Fly cloud cover for them, support them, help them when they ask, hold them accountable.

Your primary obligation here is to set them up for success and get out of the way.


Now that you are delegating and having conversation for design and co-invention with your team and specifically with your directs (or people who have the potential to become your directs), you now have the tools and practices to teach them to make offers to you.

Making an offer is NOT asking ‘what can I do to help?’ (more on that in 6 little words that are the kiss of death at work: Why you should never ask your boss: ‘What can I do to help?’)

Instead start by–

  • Saying NO

  • Making a small number of strategic commitment and manage them as if your life depended on it

  • Getting help

By shifting away from “what can I do to help my boss” to “let me help solve this with you”, your team learns to co-invent solutions, delivering results as a means of creation rather than scarcity. That feeling of Overwhelm is starting to ebb already!

With these simple changes, you will start seeing yourself managing better, being blown away by the capabilities of your team and enjoying the fun of working together.

Give it a go and share in the comments your results.

Jennifer Kenny helps companies innovate better together with a focus on applied Human Centered Design Thinking for Innovation and Transformation. She is passionate about helping amazing people thrive in highly complex technical environments.

For more on her Innovating Better Together, How Women Innovate and Human Design Thinking programs please contact her at or

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