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

Whole New Ballgame

Never before can I remember heading for the garage on a Monday morning with a spring in my walk. I whistled in the car on my way to work! I couldn't remember the last time I did that. I pulled into the parking lot, walked at a fast clip into that building, eager to encounter the very people whom I used to hate, I walked up the stairs, and as I approached my office down the hallway, what did I see? A familiar sight. These four "crows" sitting, as it were, on a clothesline outside my office, poised to ask the same old questions: "Stancombe, what are we going to do about the budget overrun?" "Stancombe, what are we going to do about the cost-cutting program? We're behind, and we've got to make a report on it to Chicago in a couple of days." "Stancombe, what are we going to do about this returned­ goods problem we have with Sears Roebuck? They're a good customer, and we ought to be flexible with them." "One problem after another" is what they're going to hit me with. It's been that way every day for years, like running a gauntlet, and I used to hate them. Why? Because I used to see in these people the source of all my problems (which indeed the police department through their Fingerprint Section could prove they are). We generally tend to hate people who are the source of all our problems.  

But now I love these people dearly. (How can one switch from hate to love in forty-eight hours? Only divine intervention, we repeat, can pull that one off.) Why do I love these people? Because for the first time in my life, I can see in each of their backs a potential repository for several monkeys. While it used to be that I'd wish they were smitten dead, today I'm saying to myself, "If these people don't live in good health, then I'm dead. I'm finished!" What a switch! And I know that if they find out about this radical change in my attitude, the shift itself would make them very nervous. Sudden changes in the boss's attitude will make people nervous even when they're for the good, so I've got to be very careful that they don't find out about it abruptly. Otherwise, we might stimulate some emotionally unsanitary behaviour. I decide instead to walk past these people with a deadpan, looking neither to the left nor to the right, lest I reveal my emotions. But I'm a bad actor.

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