It seems like a constant theme in my work life is that delegating tasks takes longer than doing the tasks myself (eBolters)

by Frantoll, Thursday, May 04, 2017, 11:40 (20 days ago)

I don't know if this is universal or if it's just that I tend to work with less than ideal people.

My main boss (who isn't my "real" boss, but in all ways that matter is) is constantly telling me I need to delegate this task to that person or that task to this person, and that I'm too busy with other stuff he needs me to do that I can't afford to do these things myself.

Tellingly, on a daily basis he calls me to bitch about the incompetence of others on my team (i.e., the same people he's telling me to assign my tasks to).

As someone who matters, you have power and can just tell others to do the more menial tasks, and when people come to you with questions, you get annoyed. But if you do something wrong and didn't ask questions, you're also faulted for that. So basically, unless you're 100% perfect, it's a no-win situation working with this guy. It's been difficult staying on this guy's good side but for whatever reason, I am.

Anyway, almost without fail, if I'm asked to assign one of my more mechanical or busy-work tasks to someone else in the organization, the sheer logistics of 1) getting the person assigned to the task, 2) describing the task to them and setting expectations, 3) setting time tables with them, 4) answering inevitable questions from them as they start the task, and ultimately 5) checking their work to ensure they did the task correctly, takes so much time that more often than not, it literally would have been less time for me to just do it myself.

Case in point - I have a set of Word documents with a bunch of tables in them. They're about 20 pages on average and there are a dozen of them. Once you factor in the formatting from the tables, the actual number of words is pretty small. The documents include dialogue that's going to be read from a teleprompter for a video shoot.

I need to have someone copy and paste text from the table to a separate document with less formatting so it can be given to the teleprompter person.

I'm guesstimating, but if you add up all the conversations I've had about who is going to do this and what they need to do, it's not an exaggeration to say it's been 3 solid hours of my life. I've had to talk to and email our contract PM to tell them this was a task we needed to account for on the schedule and find a resource for. So, maybe 20+ minutes right there since we've had 3 separate conversations about it including how to update the schedule. If you count the conversations with my boss telling me to do this, let's add another 20 minutes because he's wanted me to keep him apprised of the status of this task. The PA who was going to do the task decided to schedule personal days on the same couple of days she was assigned to do this, and she didn't communicate this to the PM and I only randomly found out about it b/c of another email, so there was another 10+ mins talking to the PM about it, and another 20+ minutes responding to multiple emails from the PA about whether she could do the task anyway if we got her the scripts early (no, we can't; they're with the client). The PA had to work with her other PM to try to find another person to do this, and they ended up hiring someone at $50/hr for what she estimated is a 4+ hour task. But the person they hired isn't available today and the window closes tomorrow morning so she'll basically be rushing to do everything first thing tomorrow. And because it's a rush job and I've never worked with her before and have zero idea about her competence and dependability, I'll have to set aside 30-60 mins in the morning to cross-check her work with the original documents to make sure she didn't miss anything.

Jesus. I can honestly say this is maybe a 90 minute task for me to do myself, and I've spent twice that just setting it up for someone else to do, and beyond the additional time it's going to take me, it sets us up for a high potential for human error and puts me in the hot seat tomorrow morning.

I'd do it myself but I've been repeatedly warned not to.

I don't get it, though I have a theory. I think my boss reflexively likes to blame others and secretly likes to set up people to fail so he can get some sense of satisfaction for criticizing the other person and being a martyr about how he has to work with so many incompetent people. By having me delegate tasks, he is doing what he does himself--creating a cushion for blame and accountability. I can't be blamed for a mistake I didn't make.

I understand how in theory, it would be great to assign grunt work to others so I can focus on the higher level tasks I'm being paid for. And maybe it's just a virtual team thing, but it just seems that in most cases, it's just more work than it's worth. Am I unique in this or is this something any of you experience?

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