Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Very Valiente Delegation of Suckitude

Delgation. That's a pretty word for "do this because I outrank you." Kinda. Delegation is important because you don't want a CEO spending time filling out his expense reports when he has a company to run. You don't want the head of an accounting department trying to fix the printer. Or even touching the printer. Delegation is also important because it's also how you teach, which is important for getting promoted; a good way to get promoted is to learn a new role and teach someone to fill yours. Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist says here that managers should delegate the good stuff as a way to teach. I agree.

There are a few kinds of delegation: genuine delegation, bitch delegation, dirty delegation, and BS delegation. Let's explore these.

True, genuine delegation means that a project or responsibility is broken up and handed out which frees the person at the top to focus on something else, while allowing others to learn or even stay employed. After all, if the people at the top can do everything (including admin work), then why do they need administrative workers. This might be something like testing a process or assembling binders for a presentation.

Bitch delegation really means assigning bitch work. Crap work. Grunt work. Sometimes this has to be done. Like Judge Elihu Smails said to Danny Noonan, "The world needs ditch diggers, too."

Hanz Finzel gave me the term "dirty delegation" in The Top Ten Mistakes Good Leaders Make. This is when you say something been's delegated, but then you tell the person exactly how to do it and breathe down their necks making sure they follow your process and run everything by you.

BS delegation is the cousin of bitch delegation. BS delegation is when you "delegate"people really really crappy things to do while creatively explaining how it's really their job to do it. The problem with this form is that you're not genuinely "delegating" here. You're really asking for a favor and sometimes just being bossy. It's kind of like saying "that's not my job." Here are some examples of BS delegation:
  • Calling someone into your office and asking them to retrieve a file from you. A file that is located in your office.
  • Walking past the scanner/copier/fax machine and asking someone to scan one single page to you.
It takes people of all levels in a team, department, or company to make the world go 'round. Someone has to make the coffee and someone has to create an operating strategy. Sometimes the person who makes the coffee ends up being one of the movers and the shakers of the company after working his/her way to the top. Delegation is important to this structure. And sometimes it's just plain old BS.


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