The Art of Delegating Ė donít take the monkey!

One Week Later

Now let's move the calendar ahead one week to the following Monday afternoon. At two o'clock ' sharp, he walks through my door and lays before me a three-page, double-spaced list of the things he does more or less regularly. As I had anticipated the list begins with the very items we had used as "for instances" during our last meeting:
  1. I review cost reports.
  2. I compile the monthly safety figures.
  3. I schedule the weekly training sessions.
  4. I screen incoming mail.
  5. I follow up on the grievance procedure.
"Well, this is quite a list," I observe with a surprised smile, "but it sure is heterogeneous. It seems to be a collection of unrelated activities." "Thatís my problem," he agrees. "My job, as you know, has grown like 'topsy' over the years. Usually when a new project or procedure is adopted you've asked me to 'bird-dog' it for you, even though it may be the line responsibility of one or more of the area managers. Often a problem will come up and then become so chronic that somebody has to keep an eye on it, and I turn out to be the man to do it, even though a decision on your part could eliminate it entirely. Then there are daily matters of coordination between the area managers which, if somebody doesn't take hold, will fall between the cracks only to erupt later in spontaneous combustion. Because I have a finger in about every pie, my office is usually like an airport information counter during rush hour and I never have enough time to get anything done." †"What you are saying is that your job is what it is for purely historical reasons." †

"That, and also for reasons of the personalities of the other key people reporting to you - to say nothing of your own."

"You mean that the only way you could explain your job to anyone else would be by giving them an account of its evolution and of the roles played by the personalities of me and my entire staff?" †

"That's right. And I'd have to include my own personality too."

"Well then," I continue, "How could anyone else be trained to do your job if you left or got promoted?" †

"It would be impossible. You canít train anybody in anything unless there is a basic logic to it. Now don't get me wrong. There's plenty of logic behind each thing I do, but there's no logic to how they all relate to each other as a single job. That's why nobody can be trained to step in be≠hind me."

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