Michael Hess on “Delegate your work, not your business”

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Hess for CBS MoneyWatch, the CBS Interactive Business Network. To check out an abundance of valuable resources and obtain a free subscription to one or more of the website’s newsletters, please click here.

* * *

(MoneyWatch) Delegating is one of the oldest management principles around. But experts have pushed the concept so hard that it often seems like the best leaders delegate literally everything. In my career I’ve met more than a few managers who do just that — they hand off or dump so much on others that the delegators lose touch with too much of what’s going on in their business.

In one memorable moment years ago, I sat in the office of a senior executive who was on the phone with his boss, making up answers to questions as he went along, because his minions were handling everything and he was clueless about the world outside his big office. I happened to know his answers were BS, and when I looked at him incredulously, he winked at me as if to say, “Do I know how to work this guy, or what?”

Managers who stay too close to people and their projects are often thought of as unproductive and inefficient, micromanaging, old-school. But it’s important to know the difference between handing-off and being hands-off. Yes, a good leader must delegate — appropriately, thoughtfully and effectively — in order to be effective, but a great leader delegates without ever taking her finger off the pulse of the business; in other words, she never puts others between her and the resources that make the company tick. Most importantly:

[The first two]

Employees: The most important element of your business — period. Without good people, you have no good products, no happy customers and for that matter, probably no job. Know them (preferably by name), respect them, build them up and don’t manage from on high. In other words, don’t delegate away your connection with the human engine of your business.

Customers: You don’t have to answer the support desk phone or go on field sales calls (though it helps) to stay appropriately close to the people who pay your bills. The same executive who bamboozled his boss in front of me asked to “have someone run me a report” to keep on his desk so he’d always know who the company’s top 10 customers were (because again, he had people to manage all those relationships). If you run a business-to-business company — of any size — and can’t name your top 10 customers in your sleep, something is very wrong.

* * *

To read the complete article, please click here.

HessMichael Hess is founder and CEO of Skooba Design. He is also a public speaker and advisor, obsessed with customer service, communication, and culture. Read the philosophies that make Michael tick here, and visit his website and new Facebook page for information on speaking engagements and more. To check out all of his articles on CBS MoneyWatch, please click here.

Posted in

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.