Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Delegating, the art of giving your work to someone else so it gets done and you can take the credit for it, is a management "skill" that is honed to perfection in the supervisor/analyst stage.

This time in your career means that you are in charge of a couple of people (or you have the delusion that you are) for the first time. Suddenly there are tons of more important things on your plate. Things like schmoozing, networking, martini lunches. Soon you find that the work that you were supposed to be doing is falling behind. The solution? Delegating.

There are a few different methods to delegating. One: your work has been falling behind when this is suddenly (and irritatingly) brought to your attention as you are on your way out the door to a mid-day 'meeting' at the pub around the corner. You tell the offending minion that it needs to be done by the end of business and leave. The person that you believe to be in charge of will invariably have some kind of personal stake in the work (ie. an actual work ethic), will sigh deeply/shake their head, and just do it. Because this is faster than trying to make you do your own work.

Two: someone will leave a list of reminders on your desk for you to look through and follow up on. You will leave it on your desk until that same someone comes back, notices the list in its original position, sighs and takes it back. Hopefully they will think that you have just been too busy doing important supervisor type stuff.

Three: you will be doing a cursory glance at all the things that still need to be done (preferably with a deadline looming, ie. end of month revenue type stuff) and fire off a condescending, slightly irritated email to the person you deem to have been responsible (in all likelihood this would have been you, but you do not have time for trifling details at this point in time). The email will include step by step instructions on how to do it (the more simply you lay it out, the more irritated the reader will be) as well as likely consequences for not completing the task. The well written condescending delegatory email will place the consequential blame squarely on the shoulders of the email recipient. Your hands will be clean (the better to play golf with this afternoon) and your lackey will do your work.

If you are going to practice the art of delegation you must remember a few things.First of all, you must actively delegate. You cannot assume that someone will find out that you have not been keeping up and offer to help. The people that report to you (or in all likelihood do not report to you but work near you) think that they have their own work to do and will not offer to help you with yours. This is why you must let them know that they are neglecting certain jobs.

Secondly, when using the delegatory email make sure to end on an equally patronizing, yet cheerful tone. Closings such as "Thanks a million!!!", or "You're the best!!!" will be sure to illicit an eye roll in response but they will not be able to use it against you because you are just being appreciative!

Finally, if everyone is swamped and you are getting grief from another department about not getting the chance to get to your work, make sure to act really annoyed and wounded that someone thinks that you are neglecting your duties. Obviously you are just busy and haven't gotten to that particular task just yet, but you will. Soon. Phrases such as "Are you serious?" and "We're swamped!" go a long way to proving just how busy and important you are.

Remember, delegating is a stepping stone to Upper Management! Think of all those expensed lunches you will be able to arrange!

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