Management is indeed a difficult job. As a manager you are responsible for a number of things. Making sure the projects your department is responsible for are on track. Meeting HR deadlines for performance appraisals. Seeing to that your direct reports are receiving the right amount training and coaching when and where necessary. It’s a wonder that you get anything done.
As a consultant and coach I often hear about all the work that managers have to do with little or no resources and an ever shortening of time to complete projects before receiving a new set of number one priorities from their boss. The complaints of being overworked are never-ending. But, when pushed on why they don’t take action to correct the problem I get blank stares. Let me explain.
When I inquire into what is getting in the way of their ability to complete work, I hear they often have to redo work that they delegated. For some reason it doesn’t met their expectations of quality. When asked why I get some ambiguous response. So we take some time to break it down to review the process of delegation. Eventually we find a fixable problem and the manager is thankful for the assistance and has her plan for making the adjustments with high hopes. I would like to say that’s the end of it and we can proceed to other issues that require addressing, but, the problem comes back, because I hear the same complaints. Naturally I wonder is it something I’m not conveying am I not be clear enough.
After going through this process a number of times I realize it’s not me. I don’t say that to brag but as a fact. What it turns out to be is the manager doesn’t want to change. They really don’t want to remove the obstacle because it’s become their bragging point with other managers. Sounds strange I know, but, managers – especially middle managers – feel they need to have something to always complain about, call it a cause celeb. It provides them their set of war stories they convey to fellow managers at other companies. It’s reminiscent of the old joke about the man who goes to the doctor and tells him hurts every time he flaps his arms, he asks what he should do. The doctor tells him to stop doing what is causing him pain which is flapping his arms. Simple, but for far too many extremely hard to do.
I’m convinced that managers don’t really want to learn how to successfully delegate, if they did, they wouldn’t always be signing up for the newest how to delegate course thinking they’re going to learn some new technique. When all they have to is apply what they already know and stop taking work back that isn’t meeting standards. They don’t want to stop.
We all have things we can stop doing we just have to identify them. In case of managers redoing work they delegated it starts with setting clear expectations around the finish product and holding the people accountable for meeting them and to stop accepting incomplete work product.
In the individual sense it requires one to identify things they don’t need to do and just stop doing them. It could start with stop listening to people who are always complaining about their lot in life. People like this suck the life out of you, and they don’t really want help they just want to take up your time and like to hear themselves talk. Cutting them lose will free you in ways you can’t image.
Managers are always looking for time saving techniques and far too many have bought into various programs and processes that claim to help them be better at time management. But, if as a manager, you don’t stop doing things that suck up your time, it won’t matter what sophisticated system you implement because it will ultimately fail because you just refuse to stop doing what you do.
For those of you who remember the old Bob Newhart show he played a psychologist People would come to him for help with their problems and he had some simple and straight forward advice, just stop it. When people would push back and ask what he meant he would look at them and say you need to just stop it.
In the wise words of Bob Newhart STOP IT.
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