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Home Delegation “One of the greatest challenges as a manager is how to delegate so effectively that once you have gotten the monkey off your back, your employees don’t return it to you . . . with instructions for its care and feeding.”

“One of the greatest challenges as a manager is how to delegate so effectively that once you have gotten the monkey off your back, your employees don’t return it to you . . . with instructions for its care and feeding.”

An important part of leadership, delegation, is growing the people who are under the leader’s care.  It takes time and it takes effort, but it’s the only way to develop a strong, effective team.

Picture this.  You’ve just given one of your direct reports an important assignment.  Soon the direct report returns with questions, lots of questions.  In the back of your mind you’re thinking, “I could do this myself in just a fraction of the time it’s going to take me to explain everything.”  If you give in to that thought, two bad things happen: the monkey climbs on your back again, and you miss a growth opportunity for your direct report.

So how do you move the assignment forward and still keep the monkey where it belongs?

First, you need to invest time in your direct report.  And that’s what it is.  It’s not a waste of your time, it’s an investment in growing one of your people.  Second, to make this a learning and growing opportunity, don’t spoon feed your direct report with all the answers.  Make him/her come up with his/her own answers.  For instance, when your charge says, “I’m not sure if we should do X or Y.”  Don’t say, “Let’s go with X.”  Instead say,

“What do you think?”

“Why do you think that would be a better choice than the other?”

“Have you asked any of your colleagues for their opinions?”

“Have you talked with others in the organization who will be affected by your decision?”

“Have you talked with stakeholders outside the organization who may be impacted?”

The point is, don’t be the answer person.  Be the question person who helps draw out of your direct report the excitement of creativity and discovery.  Yes it will take some time, but you’ll end up with a more effective, self-confident employee.  And the monkeys will stay where they belong.

 
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