The whole point of managing other people is so that we can be responsible for more than we can do.
This inevitably means that we have to ask other people to do things, and ensure that those things are done to the right quality standards, at the right time, and within the right budget, and all without being too annoying.
This creates a tension because although we can delegate the task to someone else, we cannot delegate the responsibility – so as much as we might want to empower people and leave them to it, we also need the task done properly … which is where things can go wrong …
… if we delegate but cling on, staying too involved, then we not only set off the Annoying Manager Alarm, but we undermine their confidence and motivation. They will be left feeling frustrated and bored, and will be less willing to take risks and make decisions because they will just be waiting for us to pile in with our big fat red pen anyway.
Over time they will become more and more detached, slowly morphing into robots that follow instructions rather than creative individuals who engage with their work …
… but if we do the opposite and delegate too much, walking away and leaving them to it, again the Annoying Manager Alarm jangles as we undermine their confidence and motivation. They will be left feeling abandoned, they will be frustrated and bored, our disappearing act creating the impression that the task is unimportant and unappreciated.
Over time they become more and more detached, taking less and less care as no one seems to be that bothered, slowly morphing into mediocre employees operating well below their abilities.
One way to bring the worst of both these options is what I call the Occasional Demon, the manager who mostly wants nothing to do with our tasks, only to pop up out the blue and tell us what we’re doing wrong. They are absent, then suddenly too involved, usually demonstrating little more than their ignorance.
Occasional Demons are a walking Annoying Manager Alarm.
So how do we hit the sweet spot and get the balance right?Continue reading “Delegation: the art of getting stuff done without being too annoying”