Delegating: love to hate it, or: The devil is in the details.

Before we moved here and I were still working full time, I attended a management course on something or the other, I can’t remember exactly. What I do remember, is that we were tasked to pair off, and then one had to tell/order/delegate to the other person the imaginary task of moving a desk out into the hallway. Easy peasy. We paired off. I promptly told the other person: “Please move this desk out into the hallway.” Finished and done.
We sat and waited for the other groups to finish for about five minutes. Five minutes. Imagine my surprise that we were awarded so much time for simply tasking the other with “Please move this desk out into the hallway.”
Turned out it was not as plain as simple as that.
The other groups covered aspects such as what should be done with the stuff on the desk and inside the desk’s drawers, phoning the IT people to deal with the computer’s cables, where to find the replacement new computer stand, all the way to which direction the desk should be facing in the hallway and which side of the passage it should be.
Of course I assumed that the desk was already emptied and that it should simply be moved out of the way, into the hallway. Nothing more, nothing less. Just get it done.
I confirmed there and then, that managing people and delegating tasks would not come naturally to me.

Fast forward to the here and now. I’m not in any type of management position. But you’ll be surprised how valuable this ability – to manage people and delegate tasks – can be in real life.

Getting your son out of bed in the morning, for example.
“Dis tyd om op te staan!” [It’s time to get up!] yelled out with a certain amount of urgency in the voice.
What does this mean to me? It means: get up, go to loo, brush your teeth, get your school clothes on, put on your socks and shoes and be down as soon as possible. No dilly-dallying.
What does this mean to my son? Apparently it means there’s still some time to snooze a bit more. Mum will call up a few times more checking on my progress… and only when she yells “Waar is jy? Kom nou af!” [Where are you? Come down, now!] do I really have to get a move-on.

When you’re having guests over for a meal and they ask to help in the kitchen, for example.
“You can cut up the tomatoes for the salad, here’s a knife, there’s a board,” I will tell them and silently pray to myself: Please don’t ask me HOW you should cut it.
What difference does it make whether the tomatoes are cut in squares or wedges? Why do I have to think about it? YOU asked to help, for goodness sake. Then help me by taking the initiative and deciding for yourself, already!

I suppose that, somehow, somewhere, someplace, I’ll have to befriend detailed delegating. Why can’t people just understand what I mean? Such a waste of good words: these damned details. I’m with Thoreau on this one: “Our life is frittered away with detail… Simplify, simplify”. Check out if you’re partial to another view. 😀


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