The Art of Delegating – don’t take the monkey!

Freedom and Flexibility

Now that I have gotten rid of my subordinate­-imposed time, what kind of time have I now in exchange? An equal amount of discretionary time! And what am I going to do with that? I'm going to use that hard-won discretionary time to climb my "freedom ladder" in my relationship with my boss to get greater freedom with him.  

I'm also going to use it to earn a better "intra­company credit rating" in the intra-company economic system so as to get greater flexibility in dealing with it. But because people change their images of us slowly, how fast can I expect to get this additional freedom with the boss and flexibility with the system? It's going to be slow simply because, and I want to repeat it, people change their images of us slowly!

A Row of Empty Chairs

Monday afternoon is no different except that I now have this discretionary time and a strategic plan to use it. Tuesday is the same. But along about two o'clock Tuesday afternoon, George is downstairs in his office trying to make that next move in preparation for tomorrow's appointment with me. He is dealing his cards into two piles. He has them all dealt except one. He doesn't know where it goes, and after two hours struggling between his pile and mine, he decides to come upstairs to get my help. (That's because he read somewhere in my job description where it said that I am paid to help my subordinates. So he’s coming upstairs to supervise me in that effort!) Upstairs he comes, walks down the hall, and sees a set of empty chairs outside my office which is the first time he's seen that in a long, long time. He concludes at once that I am away on a field trip. So he says to my secretary, "Uh, when will Mr. Stancombe be back?" And she says, "Be back? He hasn't gone anywhere. He's here!" So George says, "Then when can I see him?" And she says, "His door is open! Walk in! He's sitting there, and he isn't doing anything."  

The Key to Managerial Competitiveness

Now I want to remind you of what this illustrates, namely, that the more you get rid of subordinate-imposed time, the more time you will have for your subordinates and the less time they will have for you. Therefore, aim for the ideal of always having more time for your subordinates than they have for you.

Morale and Self-Reliance

Since I now have more time for them than they have for me, I can afford to see them more often and for longer periods than they can afford to see me. What does this turn of affairs do to my discretionary time? It goes up. So we all win together. I'm getting more discretionary time be­cause they are getting more self-reliance. And I ask you: is there any correlation between morale and self-reliance? Almost one hundred percent. This illustrates what Douglas McGregor called "Theory Y" management. Why? Because for any democratic process to work, each individual must have the monkey on his back. "Democracy in management" is not just conversation. It is responsibility with a set of next moves.
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