Finalist Creative/Digital Category

for The Business of Healthcare Podcast 2020

Runner-Up Business Woman of  the Year 2018

Runner-Up Business Woman of  the Year 2017

Winner Best Newcomer

2016

As Seen In The London Journal of Primary Care 2018

© 2020 Tara Humphrey Ltd. 

  • Tara Humphrey

Why get someone else to do it when you can do it yourself

Updated: Jul 17, 2019


I was recently having a conversation with my friend Rachel who really struggled to see the need to hire more support when she could do her tasks herself.


Rachel is a GP, GP Trainer and the clinical lead for a diabetes network.


Rachel is rushed off her feet, managing multiple email accounts, organising meetings, filling in project progress reports and looking for funding opportunities.


In regards to the day-to-day management of her diabetes network, Rachel coordinates the work of 15 volunteers. She has some administrative help, but there just seems to be too much work for her to keep on top of everything.


Rachel shared that:

  • Her already long days are getting longer

  • She is increasingly missing key bits of information due to too many pulls on her attention

  • She feels overwhelmed

  • She is becoming a bottleneck to progress as everything passes through her

  • Too much time is taken up with basic or technical tasks that could be performed better by someone else

  • She finds it extremely stressful taking time off and when she does find some time, she ends up working anyway

  • Everything feels like a priority

  • There are few systems and processes in place

  • She is still passionate about her work but feel stressed and drained

On hearing this, I ask: “Why don’t you hire a project or operations manager to help you?”

Rachel says: “Why would I do that? Besides, there are a lot of things that only I can do.”

So I say: “Yes, but you could train someone.”

Rachel says: “Well not really.”

I ask: “Could you have someone to help manage your email? I do (shout-out to Ashlea!). It was hard at first, but now she takes care of things I don’t even need to see. Ashlea responds to my clients and sometimes I don’t even have to see the email. When I do, we have a conversation which takes less than a minute and then she is sorting it.”

Rachel says: “That would be great, but no… The work I am involved just couldn’t be passed over.”

'Ok' I say: “But wouldn’t hiring some more help to support the day-to-day management of the diabetes network and projects free you up to focus on the strategy, partnerships, human resources, the structure and sustainability of your network? Have you got funds you could use?”

Rachel replies, a little frustrated: “We do have money, but why would I get someone else to do this when I can do it myself?”

I say: “Because you said:

  • Your long days are getting longer

  • You are increasingly missing key bits of information due to too many pulls on your attention

  • You feel overwhelmed

  • You admitted that you are becoming a bottleneck to progress as everything has to pass through you

  • Too much time is taken up with basic or technical tasks that could be performed better by someone else

  • You find it extremely stressful taking time off and when you do find some time, you end up working anyway

  • Everything feels like a priority

  • There are few systems and processes in place

  • You feel stressed and drained

I believe Rachel does need additional support, whether that be an interim position or a fixed term hire, and she does have the budget. But, like many of us, Rachel believes that she is the only one capable of running things. Rachel would also rather save her network funds for projects and not the management of them, which I do understand, however if projects are poorly managed they will never achieve what you set out to accomplish.


So where do we go from here?

Write these down, talk to yourself, talk to a friend, talk to a coach or mentor, talk to a colleague.


Reflect and revisit these questions and then make a commitment to act.


It is hard letting go and, for many, is a work in progress (and I am no different). We all know that there are some things we could do to lighten the load, but it takes, consistency, training, trust, a flexible approach and leadership.


About the author:

Tara Humphrey is the founder of THC Primary Care, a leading healthcare consultancy specialising in workforce transformation and the only consultancy to have worked with 11 Training Hubs across South London, Kent, Surrey and Sussex.


Tara and her team also work with GP federations supporting the implementation of clinical services.


Tara has over 20 years of project management and business development experience across the private and public sector and has an MBA in Leadership and Management in Healthcare, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care and is the author of over 100 blogs.

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