The Mechanics of Tasking 2/5 — My task! Not Yours!

August 28, 2007 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

It’s my Task! Not yours!

Talking about how to delegate is all very good, but it begs an often unasked question,

“Why do some Managers avoid delegating?”

Let’s tackle some of the easy reasons first.

They don’t know how…

That’s not too difficult to fix. Do some reading on the subject, pay attention to how other managers delegate, work with a mentor, get some coaching, attend a course or watch a training video. Perhaps even more important than all of these? Learn from the doing. Delegate a task, pay attention to both what you do and what results you get in return. Rinse. Repeat. Profit.

They’ve never even thought of offloading some of their work to staff…

Okay. Make them aware of the option and move along. This isn’t that unusual. When you’re used to being the ‘doer’, then handing what you consider ‘your’ work to someone else, isn’t exactly an obvious thought. I speak from painful personal experience.

They’re afraid the work won’t get done as well as they could do it.

I won’t rehash old ground. Read this older post Arithmetic for Managers.

Then, here’s the unspoken biggie.

It’s my work! If I give it away, what do I do?…

The ‘work’ we do as Managers is fundamentally different from the ‘work’ we did as staff. (see the first installment of this mini-series for some examples of legitimate ‘management work’) It’s so different, that it’s difficult for some of us to even classify it as ‘work’. There’s this sense that if we delegate away all the work we used to do, the stuff we’re familiar with, then what we’re left with isn’t ‘real’ work.

Some of this Management work which we discount so heavily isn’t so easy. Weekly staff meetings with each and every staff member. Weekly department meetings. Workload balancing. Customer and interdepartmental relationships. Incoming and outgoing proposals and RFPs. Budgeting. Mentoring. Coaching. Prioritizing. Planning. Policies and Procedures. Project meetings. Crisis management. The list goes on. There’s more than enough management work to fill the short 40 hours we’re allocated each week.

And… then of course, once you’ve delegated a task, it’s not really gone from your desk.

We’ve merely transformed it into a different type of work. A delegated task is yet another form of management work.

Sadly, in some organizations, the peculiar notion that management work isn’t ‘real’ work is held by upper management. Hence their creation of the ‘Working Manager’ – a chimera comprised of the poorest parts of worker and manager. Someone who supposedly ‘manages’ other people, but is also tasked with additional duties. And since the ‘additional’ duties are things recognizable, and rewarded as ‘real work’, they typically get all the manager’s attention to the detriment of his very real, and frankly, far more important management tasks.

So? Have no fear. Even if you delegate everything you can delegate, you’ll never run out of work. Nature abhors an empty desk, even more than it abhors a vacuum.

illegitimis non carborundum


Entry filed under: Delegating, Management, Managing.

The Mechanics of Tasking 1/5 — The insides of Delegation The Mechanics of Tasking 3/5 — Good tasks start with Why

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