The Times Work, Career Section - Life Dilemma

Dilemma: I have worked in a small team in a much bigger company for about two years, which I enjoy but which has limited job prospects within the team. As part of an attempt to gain experience with a view to moving out of the small team a senior HR manager has arranged several short secondments in different teams around the company. I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and don't feel that I can say no, but it is causing me problems in my current job. Because the secondments are short (often one week), there is no point in bringing in someone to replace me so I am trying to juggle my normal workload and that of the secondment. How can I manage this better?

Answer: Ros Toynbee, The Career Coach

Congratulations on your secondments! They're a terrific opportunity, and it's important you don't worry about your workload while you're off learning vital new skills.

Getting cover isn't the only way you can handle this (nor is it the most practical). Instead, treat this as an ideal opportunity to perfect your time management skills. Take stock of your workload and identify which tasks are most important and/or urgent... and those things that are less so. (If you aren't sure, then ask your boss to help you prioritise.)

Do only those things that must be done. Then delegate or put on hold the rest. Delegation won't only save you time. If you delegate to the colleague who might welcome the extra responsibility, you will grow her skills too. The key is to give clear instructions, to let them know you're available for support, and to debrief their work constructively afterwards. Happy delegating.