Small Business: How To Stop Your Staff Delegating Upwards To You And Do The Job You Pay Them For

Published: 06th May 2009
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Some employees become very skilled at getting their bosses to do their job for them. They refer upwards anything out of the ordinary. And the managers accept the extra workload to the detriment of doing their management work. It doesn't have to be this way.



The Signs. Do you find yourself saying "Leave it with me" or "I'll get back to you" when staff come to you with some problem or unresolved issue? Do you have a deskful of "papers" or a screenful of unanswered or unresolved emails? Do your employees regularly come to you and ask questions starting with " Have you looked at?" "Have you thought about?These are just some of the signals that your employees are adept at "managing upwards".



Don't Keep It. If employees bring papers to you, make sure that they leave with them. When they refer you to an email they've received, by all means bring it up on your computer. But delete it after you've discussed it.



Make A Time. Sometimes, you simply don't have time to discuss an issue raised by an employee. That's normal. Don't say "I'll look at it this afternoon". Say "Come back to me at 2.30 pm and we'll discuss it". Put the appointment in your diary and ensure the employee does the same.



Refer It. If you can't discuss it within 24 hours, do two things. Find out if the issue can wait. If it can, make an appointment. If it can't, refer it. Send the employee to someone else to get resolution.



Insist On A Recommendation. Ensure that staff always, yes always, suggest a course of action when they bring a problem to you. They may not bring a solution. But they should suggest some courses of action: others to talk to, interim measures, undertake research. It's a harsh reality for some staff. But they must realize that you expect a recommendation from them every time.



Report Back Always. Whatever the outcome of your meeting or discussion, set a time for the employee to report back to you. You shouldn't have to get back to them. They must get back to you.



"If You Want It Done Properly, '" "Do it yourself" is the rest of this old saw. It might even be true. But you're paid to run the business. You can't do everything yourself. Your staff will never learn to do their jobs properly if you do their jobs or even parts of their jobs. When they're competent, you'll have more time for your own job. And they'll stop referring lots of things to you.



The Potential Disaster. Occasionally something needs your instant attention. This should happen only rarely, but it will happen. The temptation to completely "take over" is overwhelming. Don't. Involve the employee. Have them obtain information or check records. You may take responsibility for fixing the problem. Always ensure, however, that the employee, and others where appropriate, participate in resolution.



Conclusion. I'm not suggesting that you "cop out" and dump everything on your staff. What I'm suggesting is as old as the quote on my General Manager's desk all those years ago. In those days we had a name for the actions I'm suggesting. We called it "delegation". Remember, there's no such thing as a manager who can't delegate. There are those who will and those who won't.





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