You’ve heard it said that the reward for doing good work is more work! That bit of news might feel more like trauma than treasure, but is it? When you’ve inherited more work than you can handle, there are five things you can do right away to manage your new found wealth.
Reading the will
Have you ever thought about what positioned a person to receive a portion of an inheritance? Here are some common reasons:
- they were just simply a part of the family and everyone got something
- they were a favorite son, daughther, niece, nephew or grandchild and singled out for special treatment
- they showed kindness to the one leaving the inheritance and found themselves unexpectedly in the will
- they were a gold-digger and married for the money
I’m sure there are many others, but you get the idea. Most of the time, it was up to the one leaving the fortune to determine who to include and how much to leave each one. Many criteria may have been used to make this determination in their mind.
At work, sometimes you are just part of the family and work rolls to you. Other times, you find yourself a favorite son or daughter because you have been effective and delivered assignments on time, taken on projects and achieved stated objectives.
Understand the expectations of the one leaving the fortune
When the work was delivered to your desk, the one who assigned it to you had something specific in mind. There was a goal, an outcome, an expectation and sometimes this isn’t clear by the time it reaches you. The first thing you have to do is go right to the source and establish the expectation.
Find out if there are stipulations
There are many stories of great wealth being left under stipulation. Think for a moment of the son or daughter who will not be told who they can or can’t marry in order to stay in the will. They would rather miss out on the windfall of wealth than obligate themselves to another’s unreasonable expectation.
When you find that the stipulations for the work given to you are unmanageable, it’s important that you address it immediately. Maybe the delivery deadline conflicts with projects already on your desk or the resources required to complete the work are unavailable. Don’t wait, identify the obstacles that will prevent your success and try to come up with alternatives.
Legal counsel on matters of estate
When inheriting large amounts of money, it would be wise to prepare for the new found wealth by seeking out the advice of those who can help protect it. This would include lawyers, tax attorneys, financial advisers, etc… Are you astonished by the number of people who fall into great wealth and then ultimately wind up with nothing? It’s not uncommon.
Even if an inheritor manages to not squander their wealth, the Williams Group wealth consultancy says that 70% is lost by the second generation and 90% is lost by the third generation. One explanation: people don’t understand the value of what they have received…and they don’t want anyone else to tell them what to do or how to do it.
Seek out the advice of the experts
Here’s a significant lesson for those of us who are inheriting work: when you have twice as much to do this month as you did last, the methods you used last month aren’t going to work now. You don’t manage $10,000 the same way you manage $1,000,000.
There’s risk in trying to use “the way you’ve always done it” when taking on something you’ve never done before. It’s not optional – your mindset has to change and you must look at your new workload differently. The tasks coming to your desk are going to become more and more important to the organization.
Look around you. Your co-workers are crazy smart. Ask for 20 minutes from those best positioned to give you guidance on the new task inherited. Go and seek out the experts and save yourself time.
If we use the Paretto principle here, 80% of your value is going to be derived from 20% of your tasks. If it’s not clear to you which tasks are the heavy-hitters, then ask your manager. They want you to be successful because everyone wins when the team delivers.
This has to be done on a daily basis. Which items are going to generate the most value for your employer today? Start with the ones that deliver…for you and for them! If you don’t control the tasks, the tasks will control you.
Sharing the wealth
The best part about having new assignments show up on your desk is that it broadens your exposure to unfamiliar tasks. As you take on more of what you have never done before, your knowledge and skill set begins to rise. If you aren’t seeing new challenges, then ask. If you don’t try new assignments, you won’t broaden your capability.
Provide challenging work to your team members
It can be overwhelming when more and more items show up and you feel like you can’t keep up. Having a plan before this happens is important. Get to know the areas where each of your team members excel. Look for things they are particularly good at, things they enjoy, and ask them to help you out with the work that is arriving at your desk.
It doesn’t take much time to sit down with your team members and find out what interests them. If you know that they want to improve a particular skill set, you can use them to assist with your new assignments. They will rise to the challenge just like you did.
Keep in touch
As you and your team take on the new work, don’t be surprised when the reward is new assignments. Be selective – not all assignments are required and when you have an option, choose ones that fit your team’s skill set. Most importantly, don’t allow the work to drive unhealthy behaviors.
Avoid this by keeping the lines of communication open between your direct reports and your manager. Give your team freedom to tell you when they have more than they can handle. If they can talk when it’s too much, you’ll find they also let you know when they have capacity for additional responsibility.
The real secret is this: if you volunteer for the work that interests you or your team, there’s less time for assignments that don’t add value. Ideally, your schedule will start to fill with the work that challenges and contributes to the company’s goals. When you are busy doing things that matter, the things that don’t matter either won’t get done or will be dealt with by those without a clear vision about how to manage their work.
Leave a comment below about the ways you have managed to bring additional value-adding work for you and your team – your opinion counts here!