Slaving away in your executive suite, are you frustrated with not having time to join the hallway conversation about the finale of “Breaking Bad” and what will become of Jesse and Saul? Instead you’re thinking how much work there is to do, and why you’re the only one who’s busy, who cares.
Breaking free of this frustrating predicament calls for two primary ingredients. They are — like cooking the perfect batch of crystal meth — complicated and require due diligence.
FIRST, you must accept that “perfection is the enemy of completion.” In today’s fast-paced, intensely competitive environment, better often works just fine. In fact, with all the crap products and services out there, better routinely gets upgraded to best.
Rather than obsessing over unattainable perfection (I know, that’s an oxymoron to creative geniuses), acquiesce in the name of progress. Better to produce end results than dwell in the insecurity that “the best” truly exists. Besides, nowadays fixes are not only tolerated, they’re un-ironically and euphemistically marketed to consumers as “upgrades.”
SECOND, and often more challenging, you must accept that your extreme creativity and confidence (arrogance and egotism, some might suggest) is the enemy of delegation. You need to trust your subordinates. Challenge, encourage, advise and obligate them to perform.
MANAGING MANAGEMENT TIME
Delegating responsibility can be difficult and stressful. But no more so than enabling the perceived incompetence of others by taking on or back their assigned tasks. You must embrace “monkey management.” In this practice, described by William Oncken, Jr. in his book Managing Management Time (and popularized further by his article “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey” published in the Harvard Business Review), the monkey is defined as “Who has the next move.”
Be wary of subordinates who over-rely on your expertise and position of authority to solve their problems. If you fall victim to this ploy by saying let me check on that or give it some thought, the monkeys jump from their backs onto yours. Instead – and particularly when you suspect a subordinate does not have the ability to tame or care for the problematic critter — you must employ survival skills of coaching, training and directing. In a word, delegate. Consider the time well spent.
This way, with fewer monkeys vying for your attention, you can focus on your own priorities … and maybe even join the ad hoc discussion on last night’s episode of “Better Call Saul.”