Watch me lob a softball question to Steven Pinker at the Mercatus Center. I come in after just a few seconds…
Delegation: Let’s keep it simple.
- Find someone who will accept responsibility for the desired outcome.
- Explain that you do not have the time and/or expertise to design the solution.
- Ask the person to propose an approach which you have some confidence (not certainty) will succeed with the resources agreed to, e.g., hours, budget, tools, deadline, etc.
- Don’t abdicate, delegate: follow-up frequently on progress and impediments to show that you still value the outcome, perhaps using something like my progress report format.
“Give as few orders as possible,” his father Duke Leto had told him… once… long ago. “Once you’ve given orders on a subject, you must always give orders on that subject.”
—Dune by Frank Herbert
p. 628 Penguin Publishing Group
Which tasks should you delegate? See this post, 3 Ds of Delegation
Too many jobs are perfectly constructed to elicit inhumane behavior. Read my book to learn how it got this way.
The most fundamental lesson of our study:
Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process.
Even when asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.
—Professor Stanley Milgram, PhD
Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View
Perennial Classics 2009 p. 6.
Professor Milgram was responsible for two psychological studies that became well-known by the general public while having almost no positive influence on government or corporate structures, the “administer a painful shock” compliance experiment and the “Small World” six degrees of separation demonstration.
Chapter One is below.
Read the Author’s Preface by clicking here.
I reminded myself that we were in a well-lit office, not a dark alley. No need to get aggressive yet. I relaxed my jaw and tried to keep the fear out of my voice as I replied, “If you pull my people off your project, there’s no way you’ll meet the delivery date.”
My client looked at me blandly, as if he had delivered a weather forecast. In fact, he had devastated my sales forecast. Five fewer of my consultants billing their time to this client meant there was no way I would meet quota to earn my bonus. I needed him to engage with me. I forced a response with a direct question that was also a threat. “Did Juan approve this staffing cut?”
“Why would I check with Juan?” asked the Director of Information Systems Development (ISD) for Billing Systems. He ran his finger down a page of the MCI internal directory as he spoke, “Nobody (more…)
Of all the management tools I recommend, one of the most effective is both very simple and very unlikely to be consistently employed—if it is used at all: the written progress report, completed on a consistent schedule.
The power of progress reports to promote results and reduce anxiety is demonstrated daily, on matters titanic and trivial. The U. S. Constitution requires that the President “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Public companies are required by law to present results to shareholders, at fixed intervals and in specific formats. Schools send regular reports to parents, our GPS tells where we are, and UPS sends a text when a package arrives.
Still, managers and employees resist implementing this simple process.
Who cares about why? Just grow up and start doing a progress report. Declare your goals. Confront your results. Adjust to living in reality. Enjoy the benefits of clarity while the less disciplined fail and fail in a fog of vague expectations and inchoate regrets.
Before I explain how to format and prepare a good progress report, let’s deal with some common excuses questions.
Q: I don’t have a boss.
A: If you have (more…)
Author’s Preface is below
Also free: Read Chapter One by clicking here.
don’t let your babies
grow up to be corporate cowboys.
Or make ’em be
bankers and lawyers and such.
In the 1980s, I was a minor participant in major trends that would blow up the world economy in 2008, determine the dehumanizing workplace culture of today, and establish the Wall Street plutocracy that still guides governments and blames the poor for the plight of the middle class. Our descent began in the eighties, from endless e-mails to mind-numbing meetings, deregulated banks to defunded pensions, mortgage-backed securities to job insecurity, hedge fund royalty to vanishing loyalty, private equity to income inequality, even Starbucks ubiquity and business books’ vacuity.
I reluctantly admit that I eagerly supported every aspect of it. I ate the dog food and drank the Kool-Aid™. I believed in and tried to practice the free market economics and financial engineering I had been taught at the University of Chicago. I worked nights and weekends at an investment bank to help create a trading platform for one of the first derivatives. I willfully immersed myself in the toxic corporate culture of MCI. I was a true believer who gave thanks to capitalist economists Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan, cowboy capitalists Bill McGowan and Michael Milken, and most of all to cowboy president Ronald Reagan for making the 1980s “Morning in America.”
I was wrong. Now, I am mourning for America. This novel, detailing a descent and incipient redemption similar to my own, is partial penance and restitution. I hope this story encourages my readers to make better choices and a better world than I did.
After experiencing MCI, I began my search for a way of working that encouraged people to produce results while feeling appreciated, connected, and healthy. That quest made me an executive coach and gave me a life dedicated to workplaces of humanity and prosperity.
Lurking amongst the thousands of words in this book are a few dozen that are considered profanity, including certain stalwart Anglo-Saxon four letter words beginning with f and s. Since a major goal of this story is to convey a sense of the time and environment in which events are set, I chose to use herein the exact, if impolite, language I heard and occasionally used. I regret any upset or disturbance this accuracy may cause the sensitive reader but expressing your objection is likely to incite the author to use these very same words in reference to the complainant.
* * *
Get your copy today.
Crimes of Cunning
On Sale Now!
A comedy of personal and political transformation in the deteriorating American workplace.
Fast-paced, funny, and smart. This novel puts you into the world of a young MBA striving to succeed at a famous high-tech company. Brash and confident yet comically inept, Tony clashes with colleagues, clients, and even his biggest supporters. He fires his most loyal employee, derails the career of his only friend, and nearly destroys his young marriage before transforming from chilly corporate collaborator to empathetic executive coach. Laugh and learn as his clients turn criminal, corporations collapse, and compassion triumphs.
It should be as much the aim of those who seek for social-betterment to rid the business world of crimes of cunning as to rid the entire body politic of crimes of violence.
–Theodore Roosevelt, 1901
A veteran executive coach draws on his years inside Arthur Andersen, Wall Street, and MCI to share a moving story that explains why your 401k shrank, your house is underwater, and your job stinks. The comedy and conflict illustrate management methods and personal practices that can improve your career and deepen your personal relationships.
Click here to be notified when it is released on Kindle and as an Audible audiobook on iTunes.