The Art of Delegating – don’t take the monkey!

Mr. D's Project

"How long will it take you to get this thing off the ground?" I ask, emphasizing that I don't want to stop anything else he's doing.
"I think I can get through Phase 1 within six weeks, at which point we ought to take stock together."  

"You've got the job," I reply, thumbing ahead on my calendar pad to a date exactly six weeks hence and writing thereon a notation, "Nine o'clock. Mister D reports on project. Reserve two hours. Don't miss this meeting." Before I can lay down my pencil Mister D is on his way out of my office. . As I look at his back I see an exhilarating sight . . .a back with the monkey on it! That's the way we both want it. But whenever my other subordinates are allowed into my office they al­ways leave the monkey with me. As Mister D walks over the threshold into the outer office I contemplate the heavy load of boss-imposed tasks on his shoulders. "Happy is the man," I muse, "most of whose boss-imposed tasks were hatched up in his own self-imposed mind!" He had maintained control of the timing and the con­tent of his work. I think of Mister D as one of the most compliant men on my staff. He complies with my every wish. "To be sure," I reflect, "he tells me what to wish, but why dwell on trivialities? He practices yes-manship at its professional best."


Discretionary Time

Before Mister D disappears through the outer door I call to him, "Mister D! Come back here! What's your hurry?" "You said you had but a few 'minutes," he calls back, "and my time was up."

"You idiot," I whisper when he's back inside. "Now that we know whose back the monkey is on, I've got all day!" With that I put my feet on my desk and motion him to my sofa. Life is be­coming worth living. Mister D spends another half-hour picking my brains to make sure that he had overlooked nothing when, weeks earlier arid unbeknownst to me, he had climbed into the cockpit of my mind. I now open my mind to him freely, enjoying the calm known only to those who are secure from upward-climbing monkeys. Having explored my mind (he might have found it empty, it makes no difference) he leaves for his own office as I make haste to lock my door be­hind him. Passing my other subordinates hurriedly to avoid their resentful and envious glances, he congratulates himself on having such a fine boss. He fails to overhear their re­marks about their misfortune at, having a boss (the same one!) who plays such favourites. "What does the boss see in Mister D that we don't see?" they ask one another as, shaking their bewildered heads, they slump back into their chairs defeated.

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