Time management & saying no as a manager: the stupid delegate badly


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Text comes from: Der Arsch geht auch vorbei: Wie Sie sich gegen schlechte Chefs und andere Zumutungen des Arbeitsalltags wehren können (2018), Keinen Bock mehr? Mehr Spaß und Motivation im Management (2012), Der freche Vogel fängt den Wurm: 7 überraschende Führungsprinzipien für mutige Manager (2010), 11 Managementsünden, die Sie vermeiden sollten: Wie Führungskräfte sich um Karriere, Verstand, Ehepartner und Spaß bringen (2009) by Klaus Schuster, published by Münchener Verlagsgruppe (MVG), Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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Good leaders need to delegate. This takes courage and determination, especially in difficult times. But that is exactly what is too risky for many managers. A big problem.

Time management & saying no as a manager: the stupid delegate badly

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Klaus Schuster is a manager, management consultant, executive coach and management trainer.

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Every (good) manager works too much

If working too hard is a sin, we all commit it. But is it even one? "I have the feeling that I have to work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week in order to manage my workload," every (good) manager has confessed to me at some point. So what? After all, it's our job to work (too) much. We get paid for that. Why should that be bad? It is not a sin to work a lot - if it is the "right" job.

Let me lead by example and share my fall from grace. When I was promoted to division manager of the company I was working for at the time, I was thrilled. Downright euphoric. Motivated to the tips of your hair. In my inaugural address to my new employees, I said what any leader would say at this point: "My door is always open for you!" The first few weeks in my new position were filled with hard work, but I kept my promise . Whenever someone asked for a meeting, I boxed time. Within a very short time, my schedule was bursting at the seams. In addition, I played the uncle of concern for every troubled soul who pushed its way into my office with a suffering look.

Do you also do your employees' work?

You can imagine how I felt after a few weeks and when I was doing my "real" work. Namely after work ... of course the end of the day for others. You probably know the stupid manager joke: "The manager stands in front of his door in the evening, his little daughter opens the door for him and says: 'No thanks, we don't need insurance and we have all subscribed to newspapers.'" I can assure you that I did not find such jokes particularly amusing at the time. Because I was the one who stood in front of the door in the evening. But I was lucky. I had my very own "awakening experience".

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Late one afternoon I was standing at the window of my office thinking. I was pondering a problem that some of my closest co-workers had reported to me half an hour earlier. Restlessly thinking, I stared out the window without really seeing the world outside. I saw the hustle and bustle of people down in the street and thought nothing of it - until the flash of knowledge hit me.

The flash of knowledge

Between all the people, I clearly saw my employees who were pouring out of our building in droves. They went into the end of the day laughing and joking happily, while I was rolling over problems up here that they had given me shortly before the end of the day. Mind you: your problems. The students have time off and the teacher sits down? So does the supervisor do the work of his co-workers during the day while he does his own at night?

Another important question came to mind: If I do my employees' work, what do they do during this time? Obviously at 17 p.m. after work. I was speechless. It is a mortal sin if you work too much for doing other people's work! Personal disappointment hit me worst. Until now I had thought we were one Team. Now I could literally hear the voices of my employees: "We still have to do this and that!" Delegate that to the boss. He'll fix it! «I was really happy that it was already after work and that no one was in the building who could have been an undeserved victim of my sudden anger. I really felt like cramming the opinion of some of my dear co-workers (no co-workers!).

Checklist: My boss's catalog of sins

The next morning, however, I had calmed down enough that I could think about my leadership behavior. With every minute that I thought about it, it became clearer to me that the previous night's incident wasn't a one-time mistake, but rather an almost habitual sin. As I began listing what I did throughout the day, I became aware of the essentials. What aspects would you tick off?

  •  I solve a number of problems that my employees should take care of.
  • I control things that you could or should check yourself.
  • I'll go over what others have already checked.
  • I organize processes that my employees have to plan.
  • I take care of my employees' personal affairs that are not really my business.
  • I do tasks that others could do well and happily - sometimes even better!

Don't let your employees seduce you!

I imagined with horror the reaction of my own superior if he should find out (and the old man always found out something like that) what I was doing all day: "What is he doing?" I don't pay him for that! That is the job of his employees! «I began to reproach myself until I was puzzled: Had I done overtime voluntarily the previous evening? The realization grew in me: Managers don't (only) sin. You are led to sin. The evening before, I hadn't worked overtime of my own, but my employees had "seduced" me to do it with every trick in the book. How did they do it?

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Everyone has or knows (at least) one employee who initially appears helpless with certain tasks. Then you explain it to him (sacrificed ten minutes) and partially do the task yourself (one hour wasted). Afterwards you discover: The employee is not that helpless after all. He's just pretending! He could very well have done the job on his own. The day before, my employees had given me a problem with some ulterior motive: It was just before the end of the day. The problem had to be solved, but they had more important things to do. Namely, to go home. So they tempted me - in a way that wasn't even particularly clever.

How learned helplessness works

I once had an IT manager who was much more astute about this. When I gave him an order, it not only came back to me like a boomerang, no, it now also required three times the effort. I still admire him to this day for his talent for fooling me and doing all the work on me. Do you also have one or more of these Pappenheimers in your ranks? Then you should clarify the following problem:

The more you give in to the alleged helplessness of your employees, the more inefficiently they will work in the future (because they downright unlearn it) and the more overworked you will be! It's almost like grandfather said: "Anyone who gets on the wrong track gets deeper and deeper into the den of iniquity." What is particularly frightening about it is that the ability of employees to seduce their boss is usually much more pronounced than that of employees Superiors to resist this temptation.

3 tips for better organization

Have you noticed that too? Do you still fall for it again and again? That's exactly what I want to protect you from. Let's make you immune to the temptations and lures of manipulative employees.

There are managers who have been demonstrated in this way for decades - and not just by their own employees. Many also make themselves compliant idiots of the rampant bureaucracy. Are you no longer participating? I congratulate you on your decision. How do you create better framework conditions? By …

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  1. optimize the organizational structures,
  2.  pursue the right strategies and
  3. do not declare themselves responsible for everything.

The huh? Question

During the reorganization of a medium-sized company, I noticed that the necessary tasks in a certain department were always implemented much more slowly and half-heartedly than in the sister departments. I took the head of the department to my chest, who turned out to be a great sinner within seconds. He complained: "I can instruct what I want - every time my people throw me in with questions: 'What is that meant?' Or: 'What do you mean by that?' They just don't think for themselves."

“No,” I replied, “your employees are playing stupid and of course not moving a finger in the time it takes you to answer their questions. They realized it was a time-saver. ”“ How do you know that? ”Asked the manager. “Because it's an ancient game. I call it the huh? Game. As long as your employees act stupid and ask 'Huh?', They don't have to do anything. Even better: while you can rest, your boss has to do something! "


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