The Art of Delegating Part 4 — “No Backs!”

Of course you can get the job done better yourself.   Of course.  But…

It’s your job as a manager to communicate what needs to be done effectively enough for staff to be able to run with a task to completion.  It’s also your job as the manager to create an environment that fosters teamwork, trust and cooperativeness. A surefire way to destroy all of it is to pull back a task that you’ve assigned someone, or worse yet, simply hand it off to another employee midstream or do it yourself.

In the case of my colleague (see introduction post), the floor manager should have told Josh; “drop what you are doing and do all of the clean-up right now.” if he expected it to be done within minutes of asking Josh to do it.  At the very least he should have first gone to Josh and asked “why haven’t you done the clean-up yet?”  He would have been given the smart, reasonable explanation that because not all of the dirty production work was done yet, it made more sense to clean up after all of the work was completed.  But instead, the floor manager went to Steve and told him to do it, leaving Josh standing at his production machine feeling confused, frustrated and deflated as Steve breezed by doing the job he was supposed to do.ArtOfDelegating4

“But, they aren’t getting it done–or done right!” you say.  Still, it’s no reason to derail a workers self-esteem and morale by going around them.

What is the “right” way?  Let’s say it was Cathy’s job to fill 10 bins with product every morning, and sort 6 bins of parts, all by 9:00 am.  No one has ever specified which task had to be done first.  So every day for 4 days, Cathy did the products first, then the parts.  Imagine how she would feel if she arrived the 5th day only to discover the parts were already done?  And there is a co-worker, now walking over to the products, to get them sorted. “What?  But that’s my job.  Why is that person doing my job?”

If your goal for that employee is to feel frustration, fear and a sense of failure, congratulations it’s been achieved.   If it’s not, do not undermine your employees efforts by taking back a task you’ve assigned them, especially without their knowing.

The right thing to do was advise Cathy there is a specific order of importance that needs to be followed, and give clear, concise instructions on what that is–from the beginning—not reassign the task to another worker without even giving Cathy the courtesy of an explanation.  No matter what the reason.

What kind of work environment have you cultivated?  Are you approachable?  Are you respectful?  Or are you condescending?  Are you just plain rude?  Perhaps you take the path of least resistance to avoid any type of conflict—which often results in pulling away a task and reassigning it to someone else instead of confronting the actual issue.  All that does is pit people against each other and generate an environment of ill will. If your employee is stuck mid-project and not getting the job done, it could be they are afraid to admit it.

If you somehow forgot to share important instructions, own up to it, don’t make it about the person’s performance.  A good manager will pull that employee aside, apologize for not being clear initially, and give them the necessary instructions and tools to successfully complete the task.

A good manager will be straightforward, truthful and respectful of their staff.

Don’t ‘pull the rug out from under’ your employee.  Take the time to determine what the hang up is for getting a job done, or done right, and take the opportunity to coach your person through the rough patch. Work it out together, even if it means having a difficult conversation, or taking a look at your own behaviors and making some modifications.  Your employees will respect your honesty. They will appreciate your willingness to work with them.  They will be more able to trust you. You will foster a more positive, teamwork based environment.

Have you experienced bad delegation as an employee? Have you struggled with delegation as a manager? We would love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to share this post with others who may find value and interest in exploring limitless possibilities with PR Brady AdVentures.

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