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Stepwise Success

Project or Just More Work?

Published February 15, 2013 6:26 AM by Scott Warner

Delegation is supposed to be the key to good management. As managers, we are told not to be autocratic and arrive at all decisions through consensus and delegation of responsibility. A great manager trains successors by delegating tasks that challenge the abilities of employees. And so on.

The dictionary defines delegate as “to send or appoint (a person) as deputy or representative.” Thus, I might delegate someone to attend a meeting as my representative, but it gets a bit stretched when I give someone a task that I normally perform. It’s a small quibble, and we all know what managers mean when we say “delegate.”

And this is the problem. Delegating, assigning, or giving a project to a person could just mean more work to the person asked. Why not call it what it is? Why not say, “Well, Jane, I don’t have time to do this and I know you don’t either, but you have to get it done.”

I can only think back to a time when I was given responsibility over an instrument. The manager told me, “I’m delegating this to you because I have faith you can do this and I know you’ll do a good job.” I’m sure I did, but there was a point at which I asked if someone else could take on the job. He frowned and said, “The problem with you not wanting to do it anymore is that I’ll just assign it as part of your job duties.” I remember at the time feeling depressed. Delegation was just dumping more work on me.

Of course, if the employee really wants to do extra projects, the work is incentivized, or the manager leaves the commitment open ended to allow professional growth, the dynamics of delegation can be quite different. We all know when this happens, and it can be elating and exciting. I suspect, deep down, we all want one of those bosses.

When a task is delegated how many of you see project or just more work? Please share your stories.

NEXT: Music Wars

posted by Scott Warner


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About this Blog

    Scott Warner, MLT(ASCP)
    Occupation: Laboratory Manager
    Setting: Critical Access Hospital
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