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

Rule 3

The next story illustrates Rule Number 3. It's a story about a plant manager who typifies an amateur in management.  

This man (me) comes to work in the morning about 8:00 and by the time 10:00 rolls around, I've got most of the routines out of the way, plus a few crises. And then I get this fishy feeling every morning that the boys on the shop floor are probably plotting against me again. I've al­ways had that feeling. So I've now got to go down into the shop and walk around to find out what peculiar method they have selected to do it this time. And as I walk down the hall toward the stairwell to get to the shop floor; you might be reminded of what Benjamin Franklin's grandfather once observed, that when trouble is what you're looking for, you will be handsomely re­warded. I hit the bottom step and who just hap­pens to be standing by but Ed Dickey, a first-line supervisor in charge of the shipping and receiving room. He was appointed to that job out of the hourly ranks about six weeks ago. He reports to a foreman who in turn reports to a superintendent who reports to me.

Therefore, when Ed put his ‘molecule’ (sphere of work, up and down one level and across to colleagues) together, was I listed on it? No, I'm many times removed from his molecule. When I put my molecule together, did I have Dickey's name on it? No. Our molecules are not even tan­gent to each other. I look past Dickey through the door into the receiving and shipping room, I look right through it and out the other door to the receiving dock. There t see a crate. It is now 3:30 Thursday afternoon. That crate was there last Monday, it was there on Tuesday, it was there on Wednesday, and now I see it there on Thursday, and I'm here to tell you, I am burned up! And I tear into Ed Dickey about that crate.  

What just happened? I, the plant manager, have just run into a monkey that's almost dead of starvation. I grab the little creature in one hand, force-feed it, slurp, slurp, slurp, flex the little muscles, nurse it back to life and vigour, hand it back to the supervisor, and go looking for another one.

Sound familiar? That manager is not long for this world. What he doesn't realize is that he can do something about his predicament. And what should he do? Just follow Rule Number 3 for the care and feeding of monkeys. Here it is: Monkeys shall be fed on the responsibility of the subordinate at the time and place specified in the feeding schedule; bosses shall not be chasing down starving monkeys and feeding them catch as catch can.
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