The Art of Delegating – don’t take the monkey!
Giving Monkeys BackAnd I say, "For one thing, you have to admit that this is a rather unsightly pile, so you might begin by neatening it up. Now for starters you might get yourself sixteen three-by-five cards, and then take one of these scraps of paper on which you will find written, in my handwriting to myself, a decision or an action required and transfer it onto a three-by-five card written in your handwriting to yourself. The only skill required on your part will be the ability to retranslate all these back into the original tongue, which should be familiar to you, because I got them all from you in the first place (or have you lost track?). Do the same with the remaining fifteen. You'll then wind up with sixteen three-by-five cards each carrying a statement of a decision or an action required, written in your handwriting to yourself. Then, in the quietude of your office, deal those cards into two piles. If a given decision or an action looks like it goes with your job, deal it in your pile; if it looks like it goes with my job, deal it in my pile. And if you want some help in figuring out which pile these things go in, I'll loan you my job description. That ought to be of some help. That way, you're going to wind up for sure with two piles! Now, by when will you get all of this done?"
He says, "Well, Stancombe, with everything else I have to do, it will take me at least two days." I say, "That's fine. So when will you be back?" And he says, "About nine o'clock on Wednesday." Today's Monday so I can reach for my appointment calendar, leaf it ahead exactly two days, and put a note there to myself, "Wednesday, 9:00 a.m. Be Here! George will show up with the piles."
How's It Coming?George grabs up that mass of confetti, turns around, and leaves. As he goes, the sight that I see is slowly turning me on. It's causing blood to surge up and down my backbone; my nerve-endings are tingling; my nervous system is being rehabilitated; years are coming off my life. What am I looking at? I'm looking at his back! There goes a back out of my office with the monkey on it squarely between his shoulder blades, out that door, down the hallway. For the next two days, I will be waiting for George. He will not be waiting for me. And several times this afternoon and tomorrow, just for my own therapy (not for my information) I'll stick my head in his office and say, "Hi, George. How's it coming?" I'll tell you there's nothing like it, and long before he can draw a breath even to answer the question, I'll be way down the hallway. I won't hear his reply. I don't care how it's coming. All I want is a chance to ask the question once in a while!
Then like a young dentist having successfully pulled his first tooth professionally for pay, my morale way up, I stick my head around the corner and holler, "Next!"