Extreme Delegation – Get Out Of The Way

In the last post I made the audacious claim: “Even when we fully know that our junior is going to make a serious mistake, it may still make sense to delegate. “

Let me explain this.

We start with Manisha Gutman’s point about looking at delegation as a process of personal growth for both self and your report.

This point is so significant that it could become the fulcrum of your personal strategy for motivation at the work place. Especially so when your juniors are themselves managers.

What do managers do? They creatively solve organisational problems.  They make mistakes and learn from them.  They make do with insufficient resources and manage outcomes.  Well at least that is what managers are supposed to do.

I am now suggesting that you actually delegate to the point where it seems that he has to fend for himself.  He knows you are there but only for really special circumstances.

When he takes his decisions, follows through, manages the problem that stem thereon, he gets a feeling of complete ownership.  This can bring out the best in him. Way beyond what he may have had the chance to demonstrate earlier, or, what you thought he was capable of.  He truly learns to manage.   It could and does lead to personal transformation.

I have seen this happen several times. The biggest hurdle was to control my own instinct to meddle and solve problems, or, to warn my junior of the issues that I could see coming up.  Me telling him would not have helped.  He had to experience it for himself.

More importantly, I grew too.  Ajay Kapoor pointed out the “Log kya sochenge” syndrome.  I was able to do grow out of that.

It is said that sometimes the best thing you can do is to get out of the way. Think about it.

You will be able to look back with satisfaction and say “It happened on my watch.”

D B Raju pointed out rather sagely that this is a trial and error process.  You keep trying till you get it right.  The experts in delegation have learnt to use it as a tool to transform their people.

And don’t worry.  Performance does not suffer.  Well, not counting a few glitches.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Krishna Durbha on September 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Bushy while this may well be true, my experience is that sometimes extreme will be treated as incompetence by the organisation. Unfortunately perceptions are the key to organisational success not extreme delegation etc. Of couse one can achieve both – but interpretation will be otherwise. My personal opinion – I could be quite wrong. Krishna Durbha


    • You are right Krishna Durbha. Perceptions do matter. I have seen top management executives do this where they have been given a lot of space by their boss typically the MD.


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