The Art of Delegating – Introduction to a 4 Part Series

The other day I was talking with a former colleague who manages a production department, and is struggling with delegation issues.  He described an incident where two employees actually fought a tug of war with a broom over who was going to sweep the shop floor.  One ended up storming out, and consequently was written up.

“How can this be?” I asked.

As it turns out, my colleague had promoted someone into a floor manager role who was lacking in certain skills; namely, the ability to delegate.  “Josh” was on a press finishing up a product run.  The floor manager asked Josh to sweep and dump the trash before the end of the day.  Josh had about 25 minutes left to complete the product run, and just over an hour left in the day. No problem.  But when the floor manager saw dirt on the floor and the garbage still there 15 minutes after assigning him the task, he turned to Steve and said “go sweep and dump trash or it will never get done.”

And so the problem began.  ArtOfDelegate

Josh, while working hard to finish up his run, caught a glimpse of Steve sweeping.  Confused, he felt Steve was being an opportunist by trying to take away his responsibility and make him look bad. Steve thought he was just doing his job, didn’t appreciate Josh getting possessive about the task, and  felt “set up” by the floor manager. In the end, neither got the job done, one was written up and the floor manager ended up with the chore.

“My department seems to really struggle with job satisfaction.  People are quitting more, and the energy is so heated sometimes you can cut it with a knife.  What do I do?  I don’t want to demote they guy now, but he can’t keep the peace, get things done, or even keep employee morale intact. He’s out there doing their tasks instead of crunching numbers half the time!” my colleague sighed.

Just because a person is assigned responsibility to manage others, doesn’t mean they should have been.

Clearly, the floor manager is lacking on all sorts of levels and his manager needs to think about how to coach him through, or out.  Having him learn some delegation skills would be a step in the right direction.

The clinical definition of delegate, as a verb, is:

To choose (someone) to do something

To assign responsibility or authority

To give (control, responsibility, authority, etc) to someone: to trust someone with (a job, duty, etc.)

Entrust (a task of responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself.  “he delegates routine tasks”

Day to day, delegation is three basic things.  Communication, letting go and empowering the other person.

Communication is key.  Less than 1% of the entire population is composed of bone-a-fide mind readers.  There’s a good chance your employees are not in that 1% group.  If you don’t actually say what you want, they are not going to know. When you articulate clear, concise instructions that your team can understand and run with, you will be better able to do your job.

As a manager, you have to be strong and secure enough to let go of control.  Did you forget why the people working for you were chosen?  You are not a one person team.  Let go! Trust that others are competent.  Remember the people working for you are being paid to do a job. Give them some credit that they know how to do it. Keep in mind that there is always more than one right way to get things done, and someone else’s way can be just as successful as your way.  When the people around you look good, you look good.  Let go, and you’ll be better able to do your job.

Last, as a manager, you have to let the people you hired to do the job do the job.  Step back and let your employees do their job, without fear of having the task taken away mid-stream .  Are you the press operator?  No, you’re the manager.  Are you the designer?  No, you’re the manager.  Are you the sales person?  No, you’re the manager.  Respect the various roles and duties within your organization.  Most importantly let your workers do their job completely, in a way that makes them feel glad to be there, and gives them a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  If you let them do their jobs, and feel the positive results of getting it done, you will be better able to do your job.

Sounds simple, but there’s a little more to it.  Welcome to a 4 Part Series on the Art of Delegating, posting the next 4 Mondays.  If you need to delegate, follow these four basic rules of thumb and you will see increased productivity, and find yourself  with more time for things you should be spending time on.  That is, of course, unless you enjoy running ragged doing it all yourself while your employees stand by and watch.

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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With a lifetime of experience in the outdoors, one of my biggest joys is to share my passion for adventure with others. After spending decades in suits and buildings, I found a way to combine the office and the outdoors in a way that optimizes positive results. There is a clearly defined correlation between nature, sensory contact, and high impact performance.

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  1. So very true.

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