Letting go, delegating, managing

Let’s just say that you are a programmer, or server admin or just about anything, and you are really good at what you do. Usually, this means that you are a person “who gets things done”. This also usually means that people know this about you and so you get a lot of work assigned to you.

Eventually, people will want to test your capacity, and then determine if you can be pressed to exceed your capacity. In other words, you are given more work than you could possibly complete. Way more.  Some of it is just not going to be done, unless something changes.  At this point, management can decide to press you down one of two paths:

  1. Give you less work, so you are at (or slightly below) your capacity – or –
  2. Press you to learn a little trick called “delegating”

As you can imagine, option 1 only happens if you just start dropping work, refuse to do more work, and refuse to delegate. Basically you declare that you are a bottleneck which is “this big” and you will never be more than that.  So be it.  You are now labeled.

Option 2 is a little more interesting, but it requires growth, and growth is often painful. If you go down this path, the first time will be the most difficult.  Here is what will go through your mind:

  • It would probably be quicker if I just did it myself, instead of taking the time to explain it to someone else, who will take just as much time as me, or maybe longer.
  • If you want it done right, do it yourself. I know I will do it right.
  • If it is not done right, I will have to redo it, or train my delegate how to do it right. *sigh*
  • I will only know if it was done right by reviewing it. That just adds more time too.
  • Gosh, this is a lot of work to delegate things. I need to pick which tasks to delegate and think about all of this stuff. It is a lot to think about. It will certainly drain a lot of time out of my schedule and the schedule of others
  • I just can’t see how this is efficient. I keep going back to my first statement, that it would be quicker if I did it myself.
  • Seriously, I just am having trouble getting over it. The inefficiency if it all is causing a burning sensation inside.
  • Maybe I can sneak in there and do most of it myself and only make it seem on the outside, like I’m delegating stuff. That way, I avoid all of this inefficiency.
  • Dang it! When I try to sneak like that, I just end up with even more work, but with no ROI. Plus, my delegate is getting mad that I’m giving him “busy work”, which is way below his actual skill level.
  • If I was already done, then I wouldn’t have to go through this big transition.
  • I wish I was done, but I’m not, so I need to let go and honestly delegate.
  • I sort-of feel like a failure, because I was always the guy who got stuff done, but from now-on, that will be someone else. Buh-bye hero badges. It was nice knowing you.

It is a little like the psychological stages of grief. With steps like resistance, denial, negotiating, acceptance, um and the other steps.  Delegating does not sound like much fun.  Why is somebody putting you through this pain?

Then you get a grip and remember that you are *one* person.  Last year, you were not as good as you are today.  Somebody invested some trust in you and allowed you to achieve the great things that you have achieved today.  You can’t be the only person in the world who has this potential.  There must be others.  Your subordinate, could possibly be the next “you”.  He just needs to be led to the same place that you are.

And then, what about you? When you have led others to be as good as (or better than) you, then what about you?  Will you still be needed?  The answer is emphatically “yes”.  Because you are a person who makes more “you”s. Who else does that?  You do.  Your next move, might be to make more “you”s who make more “you”s. Dang!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Shall we. Let’s just start by delegating.  It is hard enough, for now.


About Tim Golisch

I'm a geek. I do geeky things.
This entry was posted in Career, Professionalism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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