Monday, September 26, 2011

The Art of Delegation

At work this morning, while searching for inspiration for my next post, I had a sit down with my current employer. After this discussion I decided that it might be beneficial to have a lesson not only targeted at my fellow workers and other interns, but a lesson targeted at employers.

The discussion this morning was about an employer's standpoint of an intern and what exactly they should do with an intern. It's not only hard from our side because we're being adapted into a new environment and have to learn new things and new processes, but it's hard from their side as well. Employers have a path, a track to a goal in mind, and when you insert an intern, the question becomes what tasks can I give to this intern that will help me achieve my goals. The problem then than becomes that no one wants to give up their work for the intern to do because it's easier for the employees to do it themselves. This leads me to...

Lesson #6, Delegation is key to obtaining your goals.

Delegation is sort of an art. When the company delegates tasks to me, they have to be tasks that achieve the company's goal, but are still independent from the works of others. The employees at Super Book Deals can take me aside and assign some of their normal tasks to me, but that would be a waste. This is because it would take me time to learn these tasks, and I would only be able to do them for three weeks until I leave and the responsibility falls back on them again, not to mention they could have been doing it better in the first place. This is where the art of delegation needs to be played correctly.

The employers here were smart enough to assign me tasks that were independent of everything else, but still helped to achieve the common goal. They had me handle a giant pile of contracts that had been laying around for months waiting to be scanned and filed. When I got to the filing cabinet, it was a mess and completely unorganized. By scanning the contracts and organizing the file cabinet, I helped the common cause, and now the process of finding files doesn't rest in the mind of a sole person. It is a numerical method that is efficient and anyone can find anything. I was also assigned the task of updating the facebook page and creating a blog. These tasks still helped the company to achieve the common goal, but it didn't require me to explain my process to someone else to hand it over to them.

So the lesson in short is that delegating tasks is important to the success of a business. Determine the person's skills, and assign them tasks that are productive but at the same time independent from your process. Give them work that they can do by themselves without the detailed explanation of the secret steps that solely reside in the mind of one individual. Have them step outside of these processes and tweak them so that they can be preformed independently of one's prior knowledge. Create a system that works no matter who is performing preforming the task.

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