The Art of Delegating Ė donít take the monkey!
Mister DNow that you have witnessed the horrors of the amateurs, I want to tell you about Mister D in order to describe how a professional strives to maintain control of the timing and content of what he does, even though his boss may be an amateur. Therefore, let us turn the clock back to the time when I was still an amateur manager, as were all of my subordinates except Mister D - he was a pro. You may wonder why I had only one pro. The answer has to be that the Personnel Department can't miss every time; certainly I had nothing to do with it. †
The Boss's JobSome time ago, during my amateur days, my subordinates got hold of a copy of my job description and discovered therein a key statement to the effect that I, their boss, was paid to plan, organize, lead and control the efforts of my sub≠ordinates - them. Each of them - with the notable exception of Mister D - underlined that statement with red pencil muttering to himself, "I'll see that he earns his money," breaking the lead of his pencil with emphasis! †
Not so Mister D, our "pro." He threw down his pencil in amazement and disbelief, thinking aloud, Of all the fantastically unrealistic statements Iíve seen lying around this company, this one takes the prize! The man is not living who could find the time get the facts, tap the experience and exercise the judgment necessary to direct the efforts of five experienced, capable, thinking people to the fullest utilization of their talents. Ordinarily I could dismiss this statement out of hand if I were certain that Fred Stancombe would do the same. But I know he won't. He's the kind of man who will conscientiously try to do just what it says. That this will entail his having to out-think five intelligent and active minds won't prevent his trying, however impossible the endeavour. The result will be that each of us will get about one-fifth of the quality and scope of super≠vision from Stancombe that our job description entitles us to. Life is too short for me to sit still for anything less than the best of supervision.†
It therefore falls upon my shoulders to do that part of Stancombe's thinking for him that must be done before he can direct my efforts, and to do it be≠fore he does. This is a realistic self-assignment because I'll only have to do one-fifth (i.e. my portion) of the thinking which that statement in Stancombe's job description requires him to do. My task, therefore, is to get (before Stancombe does) his next idea about what I should be doing, do a thorough research job on it, and then let him "get it" from me in finished form, that is, a form in which he can hand it to me as a specific assignment.