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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Experiencing Upward Delegation? You Need to Think “Three Day Week”!

Over the past few weeks I have heard a constant issue being brought up by members of both my Vistage peer groups, specifically that they are spreading themselves too thinly by being too involved.

It is a very easy question to ask but WHY are they too involved and consequently overworked?

The answer falls into two parts: why is the leader becoming too involved in the daily aspects of the business and what is to be done to alleviate the problem?

It is worthwhile analysing why this is happening.  As a grim example one of my members told me that for the first time for many years he had actually taken three weeks holiday and came home feeling refreshed and raring to go.

Within minutes of arriving back at the office he was inundated with issues and problems that had been kept for him while he was away.

None of the Directors of the business ha attempted to do anything about them; they had just abdicated responsibility and had put the monkey back on the shoulders of the leader.

I find this very depressing.  If people are thought to be sufficiently competent and committed to be promoted to a senior position in the business, why is it that on occasions they just decided that some problems are not for them and promptly delegate them upwards to the leader?

If senior people are being paid to do a job, why then do they not do it?  Why should the leader have to do their job for them?

Leaders on occasion can sadly succumb to temptation and fall into the “leave it to me, I’ll sort it out” syndrome and if that is the fact then they deserve all that they get.

Whatever the symptoms it is essential to get at the cause of the problem.

More often than not it comes down to the leader taking on more than is sensible and again implies that the leader doesn’t really trust the people what ever is said to the contrary.

It is probably time for a little bullet biting or nettle grasping.  If we allow this sentiment to become entrenched in the psyche then the leader might as well dump the team and take on all the jobs that they are doing.

Simplistic perhaps but it makes the point.

The more elderly amongst us may remember the three day week that the Government of Edward Heath implemented in the winter of 1974 in order to preserve dwindling energy supplies due to strike action.

When the results were subsequently analysed it was found to some surprise that productivity was hardly affected and production was largely matching that of the five-day week.

Perhaps leaders should take note of this.

Leaders need to make time for thinking.  It needs to be understood that the leader is probably the only individual in the business who actually thinks about the business in the round

Why not then take note take note of experience and plan for a three-day week?  This does not imply that the leader turns up for only three days each week but rather that he/she determines what is important enough to be handled solely by them and delegates everything else to the team.

The team members then are accountable to the leader and the team for their activity and need to communicate progress appropriately.

Otherwise, the leader does what leaders do (or should do), that is they coach their people, they delegate tasks as necessary, they communicate and they plan for the future.

Day to day activity is the function of the management; thinking about the future is the function of the leader.  The conceptual “three day week” is an excellent way to make time to do just that.


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