Listener question: Do I need to manage mySELF!? – DBR 011

In this episode, I answer a question from a listener named Adrian. She’s got a great new job with a somewhat smaller company and feeling some symptoms of a less-structured position. So, I’ll be talking primarily to folks that are in the same position as Adrienne or folks who want to be in that position. What do we do about promotions? What do we do when we grow into better knowledge workers? What happens when we embrace the gig economy?

I love your questions. Reach me at [email protected] or connect on LinkedIn I’ll try to answer and let you know when I publish ‘your’ episode.

Back to Adrian’s question…

  • Anyone who’s growing will have Adrian’s problem. Adrian is more self-directed in the new role.
  • Promotions require growth – Marshall Goldsmith’s “What got you here Won’t Get You There. “
  • Career growth naturally causes this situation – bosses cannot manage you in the same detailed ways. Thus, you probably feel a management ‘vacuum’.

The three forces that typically cause a vacuum:

  • A promotion often causes a management vacuum.
  • Knowledge work: Over-management makes knowledge workers dumber. So knowledge work is changing ‘traditional management practice’. “Enlightened” management is trying to recover here, leaving a vacuum.
  • The gig economy: The office used to provide services and assets that we couldn’t (or didn’t want to) replicate for ourselves. Now those constraints don’t apply any more. So, the gig economy has people ‘firing’ their companies and going out on their own. This causes a management vacuum.
  • These forces push us into self-management
  • Problem: we’re not taught how to manage self or others (normally). This results in some of the ‘symptoms’ Adrian mentions:
    –    … that balance of giving myself grace and feeling accomplished for the day
    –    … depend[ing] on positive feedback or praise from superiors
    –    … how to retrain my brain… to find… healthy and productive work days
    What Adrian is actually talking about is her growing need for self-management.

Learn self-management

Bosses help employees with task management, defining the employee’s role, and career management. But the three forces limit bosses’ ability to help employees in these areas. So these things form the notion of self-management.

Self-management’s two questions

  • First question: What is a management mindset? The ‘vacuum’ decreases our bosses’ ability to help us here. Self-management practices help us create the feedback, praise, and confidence that we had been getting from our boss.
  • Second question: How do I do task management? The ‘vacuum’ decreases our bosses’ ability to help us here, as well. Self-management practices include the development of good task and attention management practices.
  • Task management system. Here are features that our task management system needs:
    • Need to capture everything – emails, links, documents – everything
    • One online space
    • Organize multiple lists
    • Track both the decision to do something and the decision to postpone 
      something. Use lots of reminders
    • Don’t use your calendar, its too limiting 

Attention compass is designed for this exact situation 


Due to the three forces of career growth, the rise of knowledge work, and the gig economy, we’re losing our bosses and the help they give us. So we need more self-management mindset and more task and attention management tools to replace that help.