“OK,” said Greg, stopping at Mary’s desk, “I need you to print out mailing labels for each of my customers and then each of my prospects for the past six months.”
Mary looked up and replied, “Sure, Greg, when do you need them by?”
“Let’s see, today is Monday all day. How about by tomorrow morning?”
“I don’t know, Greg. I’ve got a ton of stuff that I have to do for the other folks.”
“Well,” said Greg, “I promised our ever-aggressive sales manager that I’d have these out by tomorrow afternoon.”
“And when did you promise her this?”
“Last week sometime. Forgot all about it until this morning on the way in. I was going to do it myself, but I had to take care of a pain-in-the-butt customer on Thursday and Friday.”
“So you want me to dump everything else and take care of your stuff, right? Keep you from looking bad?”
“Hey, look, I’m doing this for everyone here. Get some new business into this place. If this works the way I figure, we can all do it.”
“Sure Greg. I’ll just add it to the pile.”
“Great,” responded Greg, turning as he saw Mark walking by the door.
“Hey, Mark,” yelled Greg, “need you to show me how to use that contact management software thing-a-ma-jig on the computer.”
“Greg,” responded Mark, looking back in the doorway, “I offered to show you that a month ago. You never had time. What’s the big rush?”
“Tell you what, Mark,” said Greg with a grin, “pop some of this stuff in that I need for my little project for tomorrow and I’ll buy you lunch sometime.”
“Why do I think I’ve heard that sorry refrain before?” asked Mark, walking back into the office.
“Where’s Melinda?” asked Greg to no one in particular, “I’ll have her seal the envelopes.”
Greg’s project will probably get done by the deadline or close to it. He probably will corral Melinda and others into helping him. And the only thing that Greg will learn is that he can also wait until the last minute the next time. In the meantime, Greg has taken time from everyone else’s work schedule.
Greg is not delegating tasks; he’s dumping tasks on fellow employees. They resent his assumption that they are there for his benefit. While they may complete the tasks simply to keep the peace, the quality of the work will be low, and any deadlines will have a way of not being met.
Sadly, Greg really does think he is delegating tasks in an appropriate manner because he has done this in the past and never noticed how anyone felt.
There is a fine line between delegating a task to someone who is capable of doing the task and just dumping the task on the same person. The criteria are very clear. First, the person must be capable of doing the task.
Second, the person must understand how the completion of the task will benefit her by contributing to a successful group effort. In many instances, no one makes any attempt to do this. As a result, the person views the task as “just one more thing being dumped on me.”
Third, regardless of the outcome of the group effort, everyone involved, regardless of how minor a role was played, should be consistently notified of what progress is being made. No one likes working in a vacuum.
Fourth, if success is achieved and rewards are handed out, everyone who contributed should share in them.
Fifth, no one should wait until the last minute then pull people away from completing their own work. Plan ahead so that everyone involved can plan his own daily work schedule.
How do you determine what you can delegate? List what needs to be done and who else could possibly do one item on the list. Now go to that person with the above five criteria utmost in your mind and enlist his services.
Delegation of a task is not dumping the task. Understand the difference before delegating.