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Can’t Delegate This!

Years ago I wrote an article entitled: “Only Superman Can’t Delegate” which was published in “Business Credit” magazine.  I wrote that it was essential to delegate, and that delegation benefits the delegator and the person to whom work has been delegated.

A colleague contacted me recently.  She is a credit manager. Her question was why her boss cared whether she did the work herself, or delegated certain tasks to other members of her team.  I asked why she was not delegating, and got the answer I expected.  She told me she could do the work faster, better and with fewer mistakes.

I told her I thought it was likely her boss wanted her to delegate more work more frequently based on some or all of the following reasons.  Your boss thinks:

  • You are micro-managing your subordinates,
  • That you may burn out if you don’t slow down,
  • You may be holding subordinates back by not delegating since delegation usually involves cross-training others to do the work you are doing right now,
  • Delegating is a simple and effective way to help the credit department to operate more efficiently,
  • You won’t delegate because you don’t enjoy training the members of the credit team or because you don’t trust them,
  • You are insecure about your position and believe that by not delegating and not cross-training you can make yourself indispensable to your employer, but at the cost of a less efficient department,
  • Your boss thinks you are capable of performing higher value added work, but he or she recognizes that until and unless you delegate more routine work you will not have time for new assignments no matter how important they are to your employer and to your manager.

Work should be delegated to the lowest level at which it can be performed competently.  When this happens, it frees up time for managers to think and act tactically or strategically rather than operationally.  When the credit manager think more tactically and strategically, their employer’s investment in accounts receivable is better managed. My advice was to consider her boss’ “suggestion” not as a request but as an order.  Start making lists that day about what tasks could be delegated to whom.

Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

My opinion is that everyone reading this who has someone working for them has work that could be delegated… and if it could be delegated then it should be delegated.  Anyway, that’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is  www.coveringcredit.com

The opinions presented are those of the author.  The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors.  Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.

7 Responses to “Only Superman Can’t Delegate – Take Two – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. Eddy Sumar says:

    Michael, thank you for this article!

    Delegation is a key factor for success.
    When we delegate effectively, others begin to grow.
    When we delegate, we become efficient and effective.
    When we delegate properly, we begin to influence and lead.

    When we delegate we can think of the acronym DELEGATE and the possible positive consequences:

    Designing
    Excellence
    Loyal
    Engagement
    Growth
    Advancement
    Talent
    Expansion

  2. Heather says:

    I strongly agree that delegation is key to a strong department and to becoming a strong leader. I typically struggle with the “how” of delegation. I can’t just “throw ’em to the wolves” and let them figure it out themselves because I’m still responsible for the accuracy, deadlines, etc. But training and retraining and working out the kinks is so time consuming. I definitely understand where your credit manager colleague is coming from…

  3. Karen Buckinghan says:

    I agree also. Delegation is one key to the effective and efficient operation of the credit and collection job functions. I know Heather is right that work cannot simply be tossed over the fence. To do it right, delegation is a multi-step process.

    The only think I am not sure about is whether managers actually spend time worrying about whether their subordinate managers will burn out : )

  4. Michael Dennis says:

    I agree with Karen that delegation a multi-step process. For example, one of the steps is establishing a realistic timeline for completion. However, I did not think this Blog was the right forum for a delegation checklist.

    I agree with Karen’s last comment. Management follows the squeaky wheel process. If you are not squeaking, you definitely don’t need help.

  5. Christine Alfonso says:

    In my opinion, the only way we increase our knowledge and competence and value to our employer is when new tasks are delegated to us. In this regard, delegation is job security, Why would any company want to employ someone who is not expanding their skill set in order to become more valuable to the company that employs them.

    In other words, bring on the new work delegation.

  6. Dorothy Siegel says:

    When I worked for you, we called you Mister T for a very good reason. T for Teflon.

    You were non-stick. Assignments ever stuck to you. Instead, you smoothly delegated work to your subordinates. You deftly transferred work to your peers, and, on more than one occasion you somehow managed to talk your manager into doing your work for you.

    Somehow, upward delegation never seemed to work for me with you.

    Good blog Mister T

  7. Michael Dennis says:

    Dorothy,

    I think it is likely that many readers don’t know who Mister T is, or how big a celebrity he was at one time.

    Best regards

    Michael (Mister T and proud of it) Dennis

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