By: Charlie Westra, Growth Services Program Manager, Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center
It may be hard to believe, but when my wife and I had our first child, I volunteered to change his diaper every time. Odd, I know, but let me explain why. Think about it - when is the happiest time in a baby's life? When they're naked. Those with kids likely know what I'm talking about. Every time his diaper was getting change, he would giggle and shake with excitement. Realizing how joyful he was during this time, I wanted to be part of the experience so I would always be associated with happiness.
My wife did not argue with me over who would get to change the diapers. However, over time, she started observing my diaper changing and informed me that I was, in fact, "doing it wrong." Thinking I was a pro, I was reluctant to accept this criticism but ultimately gave in and "re-learned" this simple task. Just a few diapers later, she notified me I was still doing it wrong. At this point, I gave up on diaper duty and let her do it her way.
The Key to Successful Delegation is ... Delegation
This may be an experience many can relate to. There are times when tasks are delegated to us and we are happy to do them, only to be discourage as soon as micromanagement and control come into play. On the flip side, sometimes when we are the ones delegating, we might find ourselves closely monitoring others' methods and critiquing them to perform more like us, with a "my way or the highway" type of paradigm.
Consider, for a moment, similar circumstances in your daily work. How often have you delegated a task to someone else, only to find yourself quickly jumping back in to manage the process? For me, the answer was quite often. That's when I realized better results can be achieved if I remove myself from the process and fully delegate responsibility, authority and execution of the task, rather than trying to control the exact methods being used.
We can all agree that morale is a major contributing factor to increased production, especially when it involves completing menial tasks. When I am micromanaged, my attitude quickly plummets, and I become completely disengaged in the process. A once joyful experience is transformed into a chore.
Through the process of changing diapers, I learned a valuable lesson for both home and work life: when you delegate tasks or ask for help, don't micromanage. Instead, allow others the freedom and safety to make adjustments in methods that achieve the same result. In doing so, ownership is created and the entire process is more enjoyable, proving as long as the outcome is favorable, the details of how they got there don't really matter.
For those interested in learning more about delegation strategies and ways to enhance leadership abilities, The Center offers an expert-led course in Supervisor Skills. Learn more about this class and view the upcoming course schedule here.
Charlie Westra is a Growth Services Program Manager at the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, which provides services and support to manufacturers in Macomb County and beyond to enable them to compete, grow and prosper. Learn more at the-center.org.