Questions for the boss

March 14, 2006

Questions for the boss

Question: As a boss, I find it hard to delegate as every time I do, either nothing is ever done the way I would do it, or it is not done to a satisfactory level. How do I learn to ?let go? and get across to my team the right way to do things?

Answer: Let?s assume that you have people on your team with the skills to do the job. If you have come from within the team to be now the team boss, then you might be still trying to do not only your job as the boss, but also the job as a team member you used to do. Bosses need to let go of the work they used to do at the lower level, and concentrate now on the job at the boss?s level. Generally, the work at the boss?s level involves being a service to your team members. In most situations, team members know their own job.

In delegating, sit down with the team, or with individuals, and ensure that you get agreement in terms of quality and timeliness. In doing so, don?t just tell the team member. Have a discussion, and ideally have them nominate the outcome. Then you should state the outcome to be clear about the agreement (?So, we need that done by 5pm Friday?is that okay? Do you need anything to help you get that done??). Then let them do their job, and just check in with them close to the deadline. ?How are you going with getting that project done by the end of tomorrow?? You will soon know the team members that are going to deliver. You will also learn the members who might need your mentoring in aspects of the job.

Question: I manage a team of four and the work is quite mundane. How do I keep my team fresh, interested and challenged?

Answer: First of all, the work, although routine, might be satisfying to your team members. It sounds like it isn?t from your point of view, but you might be projecting this opinion on them, whereas they are happy in their roles. Some people like routine. And generally routine roles in an organisation are very important (receiving money, paying invoices, shipping product etc). How can a business operate without your people doing their important work?

For you to be fresh and interested, you might need to think about how things could be improved and done better. Ask yourself, ?if we were starting this role today, how would we do things?? If things are being done now pretty much the same as they have been for years, then there is likely to be a number of ways the work could be improved. Ask yourself what improvements would people associate with the team in the time that you have been the manager. Look for answers that you are proud of.

By Andrew O?Keeffe author of The Boss. Published by Great Bosses. Recommended retail price $24.95

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