So I went to a conference back in May that was meant for company managers with direct reports, and one of the big things they preached was delegation. My initial instinct was fear for my own job; aren’t I then basically just training my replacement?
How Much More Productive Are You Now?
In this new technology era that we live in, ease and availability of information has usurped that of Dewey’s Decimal System. No longer do we have to spend long hours in the library to research or build out fairly simple tasks. I’ve got to think that we (as a species) are learning information at a pace that destroys the pace of 30 years ago.
That being said, the pace at which we learn means that we’re learning more than we realize we can handle. When we talk to our parents and grandparents you heard them say things like, “specialize in a field and keep the information to yourself to move forward,” or, “if only you know the information, they can’t fire you.”
Both of these statement probably made a lot of sense because to learn your job or skill, you’d need either training from you, or research on how you do it; which wasn’t as readily available as it is today.
So the rate at which you’re taking in information anymore is likely more than you can handle, in any business now.
UPS has it right with their slogan “moving at the speed of business. It changes in a heartbeat anymore and many think that if you’re not moving along with it, you’re slowing it up by not adapting.
From The Individual Contributor Perspective
If you’re not giving stuff over to your staff, then you’re not only stunting your growth, but you’re stunting theirs as well. Furthermore, you’re probably getting a reputation of not trusting your people, and that’s a slippery slope to be on.
If they don’t trust you, it is a dead deal and something needs to change immediately. At the meeting in May, they took a poll of hands as to who “trusted their boss with their life.” That’s going a little overboard, and as you’d expect the response was about 3 or 4 hands out of 300.
You don’t need to be trusted with their life, but you DO need to be trusted with their best interest in mind. Even if that means that you’re not their boss anymore, or you’re giving your best guy to another team, or another company. It’s not your place to stop them. Putting up roadblocks is just going to make them want to leave more.
Give them parts of your job. If they don’t like it, or don’t want to move to your position in the near future, let them tell you. Be open with the conversation from the get go. If they don’t want to do the jobs you’re giving them, let them have a choice of not doing it, but keep them aware that there will be a time that you’ll need their help also. You help them, they help you.
From The Manager Perspective
If you’re thinking that your people aren’t capable of doing your work, then management may not be for you. You’ve got to have confidence in your people. Did you ever have to take a second chance to get something right? Give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s a learning curve that they’ll certainly appreicate.
“But Hank, If I don’t do it, it won’t get done right. It’ll save me time to just do it myself.”
Yea, it probably will save you time… …this time. But what about next time and the time after? Give them the training for 2 or 3 times and you’ll likely be contributing less and less each time until they’ve got the whole load, freeing you up to learn or point your time elsewhere.
“But Hank, I don’t have time to train them, I’m very busy.”
Yea, everyone is, that’s why it is called a job. If you weren’t supposed to be busy for it, why would they hire you? Everyone knows you don’t have a lot of time on your hands, but you can make time. Set something up for 3 weeks into the future. I bet you have time on your calendar for that.
Everyone says they have no time, but it is because you’re pulled into meetings a day or sometimes hours beforehand. If you’ve already set aside time to train or handoff a portion you’ll not only be better prepared, but more focused as you’ve blocked out a time to do it.
But Won’t I Be Working Myself Out Of a Job?
Depends on how you look at it. What do you do if one of your employees tells you that they want more work to do? Do you just tell them there isn’t anymore? You shouldn’t. You should be then looking for more work for them. Other groups, other tasks, how can things streamline better.
That being said, wouldn’t/shouldn’t your boss do the same thing? If you tell him that you’ve automated 15 tasks that were previously taking you 20 hours a week to do, is he going to be mad at you? I’d hope not because you just saved the company money. A boss should embrace that, and in turn, search for more work for you as you did for your employee.
If he sees that you’ve completed tasks ahead of time and schedule, he’s going to want to find more work for you because he knows you get it done. If he’s not searching for more work for you to do, it’s time to look for a new gig.
Nobody likes to think that they’re going to be out of a job, and everyone likes the feeling of knowing a process inside and out, but in today’s fast paced economy that may be a feeling of the past. If you think that your boss wouldn’t be in favor of this, ask.
Tell your boss that you’re thinking of automating a process or handing off some other work to your folks and would like something else. See what he/she says. My guess is that it will be positive.
Long story short – “Don’t Be Scared Of LOSING Your current Job, Be Excited About GAINING Your Next One!”
photos by: foundphotoslj
Filed Under: Compensation