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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 6, 2002
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    NJ, USA
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    2,248

    Default I s*ck at delegating - any help out there?

    I have a great job and am fortunate to be a key Accounting & Contracts employee of a swift growing company. The trouble with growing is, the accounting & contracts dept is going to need to grow too, obviously.

    The reason this is trouble, is that logically the new help will report to me, but I've had a lifelong difficulty with delegating work :-(

    My manager knows this, the owners know this, but they also know I'm the one that knows everything that goes on & has to be done in this department better than anyone, and they are hopefull I will find a way to spread the work as we grow.

    Not sure what my problem is - partly I'm naturally shy, like to work by myself. Feel uncomfortable telling others what to do let alone criticizing anyone. Also I'm a perfectionist, and it never seems to be done "perfect" enough for me, if I let someone else do it. I know I have to get past that one. Lastly, it seems really hard for me to figure out what to delegate - and what needs to be kept an eye on myself. I've made mistakes in the past with that last one.

    I know I need to become more assertive, for another thing.

    I'm not in any danger of losing my job, just in a position that the company would love it (and benefit) if I could find the way to become a better leader, better at intelligently giving out work & retreating to more of a management/review role.

    I'm hoping someone else out there has struggled with this problem and found a key that worked for them? All I can think of is finding more books on leadership & assertiveness but I've already got a lot of those & it doesn't seem to sink in very well :-/



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov. 2, 2001
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    Packing my bags
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    31,482

    Default

    Fake it til you make it.

    There was a youtube video on body language, I see if I can find it before OT shuts down. Research has shown that posing helps to feel more confident: For two minutes assume a confident posture, chest up, legs wide (they called it Wonder Woman Pose, because it looked like it) or sit at your desk, feet up, leaning back, hands behind your head, you know, like the boss.

    I always like to suggest Martial Arts as well: sooner or later you will get the feeling of 'Yeah, come and bring it' when walking across the parking lot! (yes, I kid you now, spoiling for a fight)

    Other than that, I suppose it's experience that lets you know when you need to keep taps on a project. You don't get that from hogging the work.

    It's not easy to let go. What helped me was being the mom to a boy scout: Mom does not work there, the boys do the work, not the parent. Took a while, but I am loving it now!
    Of course, I don't delegate...I brow beat!
    Quote Originally Posted by Mozart View Post
    Personally, I think the moderate use of shock collars in training humans should be allowed.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb. 20, 2010
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    All 'round Canadia
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    4,994

    Default

    I'm in a leadership position, and the best thing I did for myself is tell myself (and truly believe) that everyone is replaceable. I mean, maybe not everyone, but I'm no Steve Jobs and neither is anyone at my work, so we are all in fact replaceable

    I want this unit to run well even if I'm out sick, on vacation, whatever. I've ran into the "only so and so can deal with x, and he's off right now" and it infuriates me.
    I also don't want a pile of work waiting for me when I return from vacation because no one else was able to handle it.

    So for the unit's sake I had to learn to delegate well. My "intermediate step" was to see myself as a mentor, not so much a boss - I was helping my subordinates learn their job, I was still overseeing their work at various states to help out/giove direction, and I was responsible for the final product so I would oversee it before approving it to go out. At this point I have 2 people who can almost seamlessly step into my role with no notice at all, and I don't have to review every thing they do.
    (Which is good, because I was just unexpectedly posted - so hey, I'm in fact replaced and the unit won't suffer).


    4 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 9, 2012
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    NYC=center of the universe
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    Default

    You have to realize that YOU can accomplish more as a team than you can accomplish as an individual. And you have to know what reasonably does and does not require perfection.

    Go in with a plan. Know your team and what they can do. Determine what to delegate, introduce the assignment, have a follow-up to confirm understanding and answer any questions (if needed), periodically check in, and plan enough time to support the assignee.

    Successful delegation is a learning process for everybody involved. Obviously the other person will learn new work. And you will expand you skill-set. But it requires a commitment and you will need to relinquish some control.

    You will need to resist the inclination to check every detail. That's not efficient and that sends the message that you don't trust the other person's work - something you really should be doing only for somebody who is in bad standing. Know the work is either acceptable or it's not. So sweat the big things and not the inconsequential items.

    I've found it's best to give yourself plenty of time to discuss the work with the assignee. Prioritize the learning process over speed. Instead of quickly answering questions, allow time to explain the background. Instead of answering a question, you might want to coach the person through so they come to an answer themselves. It has greater impact. This knowledge transfer will allow you to delegate more challenging work in the future.

    Because you are used to your individual level of productivity, you will have to get used to feeling a sense of accomplishment for group performance. Include on your status reports anything that you advised on or oversaw as well as directly accomplished as an individual.

    And just do it! There is an art to it, but the key is keeping the communication open and checking work but not micro-managing.

    Good luck!!
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 9, 2009
    Location
    a little north of Columbus GA
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    Default

    Do you *want* to be a manager? Or are you getting forced into it?

    If you don't truly want to lead people, then don't. It's way more than handing out assignments, you also get to deal with the days when so-and-so can't do quality work because he/she is going through a divorce, or the kid is sick, or whatever.

    Personally, I can't do it. The parenting/psychology aspects of it are not part of my makeup. I just tell employers that if I supervise people, either they will quit, or I will.

    Just an opinion from the other side. There are other ways to advance in your career besides moving into a supervisory/management role.
    --
    Wendy
    ... and Patrick


    1 members found this post helpful.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 12, 2010
    Location
    Westford, Massachusetts
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    3,662

    Default

    What Ako said. I have no formal management responsiblities at work, but I have several people who do work under my guidance, as I have way too much I'm responsible for to do it all myself. I'm not a manager for a reason, I don't like having formal direct reports. But, it can be unavoidable anyway.

    Taking the time is important. If you are used to being a productive individual contributor, it can seem like it is setting you back if you have to take time out to teach people how to do things and support them while they get up to speed, but it pays off in the long run. It caused me quite a bit of anxiety to hand things off, but I'm soooo glad I did now, as I can really rely on these folks to take care of things and solve problems.

    The people who help me are hundreds of miles away, we have several IT offices and a lot of remote employees. I've actually only ever met them in person once. At first I created documentation for them, sent it off. Then we walked through the processes several times, while they watched me do it. Then, they did it while I watched (this is over remote software). Then they'd do it alone, calling/emailing whenever they needed help. A year later, they are running the show on these things all by themselves, solving most problems alone, using good judgment and only coming to me when somethine weird is going on and they can't figure it out, only every other month of so. It's awesome, I love them . And, I never wanted to delegate! I'm a big fan of it now.

    Give positive feedback when they do things right, don't freak out when they make mistakes or don't do things your way in the beginning. Gently correct and be understanding. Run interference for your folks when they are getting unfairly blamed for something or when too much work is getting piled on them by other people. Defend them if they are good. All that builds loyalty and that's the key to not having to worry about the quality of the work you've delegated.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 14, 2003
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    Massachusetts
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    5,765

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wsmoak View Post
    Do you *want* to be a manager? Or are you getting forced into it?

    If you don't truly want to lead people, then don't. It's way more than handing out assignments, you also get to deal with the days when so-and-so can't do quality work because he/she is going through a divorce, or the kid is sick, or whatever.

    Personally, I can't do it. The parenting/psychology aspects of it are not part of my makeup. I just tell employers that if I supervise people, either they will quit, or I will.

    Just an opinion from the other side. There are other ways to advance in your career besides moving into a supervisory/management role.
    This. Companies take great employees and figure they'll be able to manage people and instead take their great employee and make them mediocre managers. It is not fair to the great employee nor is it fair to the people who have to work for them but it happens all the time. But if you really think you are not cut out for it then tell them you do not want to manage people.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 26, 2006
    Location
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Posts
    4,293

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcadien View Post
    I'm a perfectionist, and it never seems to be done "perfect" enough for me, if I let someone else do it.
    I guess the new hires know the rules of accounting (or at least should) ... Is that correct?

    I used to train air traffic controllers for finial site certification; we had all gone through the same school so I was pretty much was assured they knew the rules/regulations but few controllers actually did everything about the job the same as others .... My first few weeks of doing this was the hardest weeks of my life, afterwards as long as they didn't kill any one I considered the candidate a success.

    In your postion, the new hires should be made aware of due dates for reports, just check on them a few days before the due dates to make sure they prepared.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 3, 2009
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    On the buckle
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    957

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Alagirl View Post
    Fake it til you make it.

    There was a youtube video on body language, I see if I can find it before OT shuts down. Research has shown that posing helps to feel more confident: For two minutes assume a confident posture, chest up, legs wide (they called it Wonder Woman Pose, because it looked like it) or sit at your desk, feet up, leaning back, hands behind your head, you know, like the boss.

    I always like to suggest Martial Arts as well: sooner or later you will get the feeling of 'Yeah, come and bring it' when walking across the parking lot! (yes, I kid you now, spoiling for a fight)

    Other than that, I suppose it's experience that lets you know when you need to keep taps on a project. You don't get that from hogging the work.

    It's not easy to let go. What helped me was being the mom to a boy scout: Mom does not work there, the boys do the work, not the parent. Took a while, but I am loving it now!
    Of course, I don't delegate...I brow beat!
    Amy Cuddy, TED Talks. I LOVE that video and always recommend it.
    Mon Ogon (Mojo), black/bay 16 H TB Gelding



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 14, 1999
    Location
    Just Enough Farm, GA
    Posts
    2,227

    Default

    I'll echo what others have said that if you truly do not want to manage people, work with your managers and owners to identify another approach for growing the department.

    If you do think you want to tackle it, but just don't quite know how, here are my tips:

    Accept that there is more than one way to get to Rome. Sometimes perfectionist is code for it must be done "my" way or it's incorrect - not necessarily true.

    Delegate, but check in. When you assign work, clearly outline a schedule with review deadlines so you can head (real) problems off before crunch time.

    Don't just manage; mentor. As others have said no one is irreplaceable and it is your responsibility as a manager in such a key area to have a functional succession plan where the duties of any key individual can be covered in case of that individual winning the lottery and flying off to Bora Bora never to be seen again.

    Manage expectations both up and down. Rapid growth can result in shoddy work as the experienced managers get overwhelmed and the new hires are not yet up to speed. If you try to just DO all the work to keep up, you're heading for a cliff. Let your management know what reasonable expectations are as you grow your department and likewise let your new people know they've got to get up to speed and pull their weight very quickly or it won't be a good fit.

    How exciting for you that your company is doing so well to have these kinds of things to worry about! Best of luck!
    If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb



    2 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 6, 2002
    Location
    NJ, USA
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    2,248

    Default

    You guys are a goldmine. Tons of stuff I'm going to try to use starting today. I think one of my biggest problems has been giving an asssignment, then sitting back nervously until they are done to find out how it went - you all pointed out how I need to stay involved, be a "mentor" - I love that.

    I'm in a position where I can't very well say "find someone else" to manage it - it is a very small company still, and just no one else they could turn to without firing me & hiring anew. And I'm willing to fight to hang onto this good job, even if I have to change my spots a bit!

    Thanks again, and my company will probably want to thank you too!



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 14, 2012
    Location
    Fern Creek, KY
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    3,010

    Default

    It's great that they are still small, and you won't be thrown into managing a large amount of people right away! I think you can totally handle it.

    Can you ask the company to hire on people at a slightly slower pace, so that you can find your groove and figure out what managing style works for you?

    I delegate to a household of dogs and kids, but DH is in a supervisor position at work, he has 9 guys under him, and I asked him about it this morning. He said that the best thing that he does is stay involved with whatever they are working on. He doesn't hover, but checks in with them throughout the day and makes himself easily available should they need help. He also makes sure to volunteer for the not so fun stuff too and I think that that helps gain their respect. He's fair when it comes to dealing with the bad, and doesn't baby anybody. They are all adults! I think that he's a natural leader (just from knowing him) so it comes easy to him, but he said that it'll take a while to get comfortable in a position where you delegate to others. The best thing that you can do is to make sure YOU know (or at least fake it..hehe) what you are doing and that confidence will translate into your actions. If you aren't sure, don't be afraid to say so, you are still human and therefore not perfect!

    He goes into work early, usually, and spends a half hour or so dividing up the tasks for the day and writes them out on a big white board. Last name, 'chores', and has set times for when he needs them done. They all meet up after PT for a morning meeting and he goes through what he needs done by everybody (including himself, so everybody knows where he is at any point in the day) and gives them time to ask questions, juggle things around, etc. I think that it helps keep HIM organized, as well as give the guys a plan for the day.

    This will probably be a good change for you (although DH came home after the first day of work and tried to delegate to me... that didn't work out so well for him) and I bet that you will find yourself more confident overall! Good luck!
    Quote Originally Posted by MistyBlue View Post
    I prefer them outside playing as opposed to standing in the barn aisle playing "I can crap more than you"
    New Year, New Blog... follow Willow and I here.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep. 15, 2003
    Posts
    430

    Default

    Managing and leading are skills just like any others, and it sounds like you're in a very fortunate position to be able to learn them in a good, supportive environment. This could be a great opportunity for you professionally and also personally!

    First thing--get thee a MENTOR. Is there someone in your organization whose leadership style you admire, or who seems not to have problems delegating effectively and getting good performance from their staff? Go to that person and see if they'll agree to help you out, give advice, be your sounding board. I do this ALL the time, asking trusted colleagues, "Does this email sound clear? Am I reasonable to expect X, Y, or Z performance? What staff member do we want to hand this project off to?" Your workplace sounds good--your bosses want you to succeed here and seem willing to give you the tools and assistance to do so.

    Also, when you get supervisees, hire carefully. Getting rid of bad eggs is a pain, and hiring and training are expensive and time-consuming. Take your time to get someone who really fits your needs and work style. It's just like horse shopping! Decide up front what are must-have qualities, what qualities you'd be willing or able to develop on the job, what traits you like to work with and what's an absolute deal-breaker. You sound like you're very aware of your own limitations, and that is a good thing.

    You also say you're uncomfortable telling someone what to do, but here's the thing--your staff members will expect you to tell them what to do. It matters more HOW you tell them. If you maintain clear expectations, tell them WHAT you want them to do, HOW you want it done, WHY you need it, and WHEN it should be completed, and then check in periodically to support them, without micromanaging or checking behind them, you will be fine. And during this process you will learn your staff members and figure out who should be trusted with what.

    I'm also going to recommend--and this might sound wacky--consider taking some classes in improv theater. I'm seeing a trend in using these skills for business-related applications; it's called "applied improvisation." It's all about working as part of a team, staying focused on not just the task but also the give-and-take of the group and the openings for you to either step forward and lead or to listen actively and accept where the rest of the group is going.

    Good luck! You may find you like managing, once you get the hang of it. And even if not, it will build your skills for future jobs.
    The hooves of the horses! Oh witching and sweet is the music earth steals from the iron-shod feet. Will Ogilvie



  14. #14
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    Apr. 9, 2012
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    Give it a shot, you may find you love it!

    God, I miss developing my newbies into problem-solving ninjas! I was so proud of what we accomplished as a team! (I'm in finance and so many firms have decimated their mid-level managers.)
    Born under a rock and owned by beasts!



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