Why Me?

As we’re getting to the end of the year the pace slows down a bit and we get a chance to think a little. Oh sure – I know we all apply as much mental effort as we can to our daily tasks but the pace often dictates that we move quickly and there isn’t a great deal of time available for reflection. There is today so I’m doing so.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is the value of delegation. I found out many years ago that as the task list grew so too did the need to involve others in completing it. That required delegation. It’s a lesson that has served me well in my life as a consultant since often my role isn’t to do but to strategize and to recommend courses of action. I delegate (ok, more like beg) the client’s team to do the work much of the time.

Many managers delegate with a statement of what’s required and dismiss the staff member with the task and a deadline. They forget to answer a couple of questions. The first is “why me?”. It’s important for the person to whom you’re assigning the task to know that they weren’t some random choice to complete it. Hopefully you chose them due to specific knowledge they possess or a skill set that makes them the best person for the job. They should know that. It gives them an underpinning of confidence as well as a clue as to how the task is to be done.  You wouldn’t ask the accountant to write a marketing plan nor would you ask the marketing person to do a financial statement.  It’s not just their areas of responsibility that are different.  It’s their mindsets and their skill sets.  Let them know.

The second question you need to answer is about context.  How does what you’re asking fit into the broader business?  What does the desired outcome of the task have to do with what other people are doing and how does it move the business forward?  This helps the person understand that what you’re asking isn’t “busy work” nor is it random.  If you can’t answer those questions, by the way, you might need to rethink either the task or the person to whom you’re assigning it.

It’s easy to get subordinates to do things when you’re the boss.  It’s less easy to get them to do them in a way that helps them grow.  It’s even harder to have them develop themselves and the overall business.  Answering “why me” is a good start.  Make sense?

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