I think today’s reader note addresses a very common management issue – delegating.
Hi Sharlyn. I’m an HR representative dealing with my first ever firing of a high level manager. My CEO believes we need to replace this manager but I don’t believe we do. This manager delegated his duties so heavily he made himself dispensable. Do you have any suggestions that would help me in this situation? Thank you. And I love your blog and Twitter!
First of all, thank you so much for the kind words. I really do love writing HR Bartender and answering great questions from readers.
I know firing someone isn’t an easy task. Even when an employee consciously doesn’t follow policy. In this case, I thought the idea of delegating one’s self dispensable raises a lot of questions. For example:
What is this manager doing all day? There are managers who delegate responsibilities they probably shouldn’t. I get it. But I’m not sure about delegating the entire job away. How long has the organization been allowing this manager to do very little work? Which brings us to the next question…
Did anyone speak to this manager? I’ve always been a fan of grooming your replacement. It’s possible this situation went a bit too far and the manager delegated a bit too much. The question becomes, did someone speak to the manager about their actions and give them a chance to correct the situation?
Did the manager’s actions improve or hurt results? Okay, so the manager has delegated their work…were employees able to complete quality work on time and within budget? Or did the work suffer? Now I guess if the employees are taking care of business and the manager isn’t doing anything, maybe that does justify asking if you really need the manager. But here’s my last point…
Delegation and abdication are two totally different things. Delegate means to entrust someone with a task. Abdicate means to abandon responsibility. Delegation is an important management skill. Managers who abdicate need to be held accountable for their actions.
Managers who delegate are not abandoning their responsibility to the team. They’re still there for their employees. And while that might not look like hands-on work, it is work. Important work. It’s hard work to teach employees how to do something and then let go. It’s a challenge to watch employees make mistakes and struggle. But it’s part of the learning process – for both the manager and the employee.
If we want employees to eventually take on positions of greater responsibility, we need to delegate. A lot.
I do believe that managers can abdicate themselves out of a job. Not sure that managers can delegate themselves out of a job. Because being an effective delegator is a job all by itself.
Image courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby1