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?

Do you... work for the government?

by Ophelia, Thursday, May 04, 2017, 23:06 (19 days ago) @ Frantoll

Because all of that sounds like SOP.

Realistically, I think this just one of those facts of life - it's something I struggle with, actually. Granted, I work for a huge company, with a fairly large department of folks doing ostensibly the same work as I - there is definitely push to have our more experienced folks mentoring our newbies, so at least some of the cost of 'we're going to have an entry level person do this, with a senior member supervising is usually expected/bid for, just because that's how we work in general. (and realistically, that's how we have to work - we can't just have our senior members doing entry level work, but we also need to have someone show our entry level folks what to do.)


But, as I'm shifting toward being more of a manager (team, project, etc), rather than a functional, it's hard for me to (not) say "this would take me 30 minutes, why even bother to have someone else do it..." (Because it's the same game - I have to go to the other orgs management, explain what I need, and the timeline, then they have to identify someone to do it, then I have to go through it all again...)

(Add in the bureaucracy of gov't contracting, and you start to understand why a mil standard toilet seat costs $300)

No, that's the sad part. I work for a company of less than 10 full-time employees

by Frantoll, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 16:34 (5 days ago) @ Ophelia

it's a small company that uses a lot of contractors.

Yet I also have like 2-3 bosses: The president of the company, a departmental head, and an account manager. We also have a head of graphic design, a production assistant, two programmers, and an office manager/bookkeeper. The rest are contract writers, contract artists, contract programmers, etc.

The company keeps TRYING to hire people but we're too cheap to hire competent, high-quality people, and we're absolutely miserable about onboarding, so we end up burning through all of these newbies. There's this whole sink-or-swim thing going on, too. And because we're constantly using new people, it's like we're reinventing the wheel each time, and we're running our projects really inefficiently. The head of the company hires someone shitty or semi-shitty, then we throw them into a project and if they show signs of weakness or incompetence, the account manager has them fired. Rinse, repeat.

For the past three years we used to have a production manager, but she wasn't that good and got canned (or quit) in December. We hired a guy to replace her and he lasted less than a month before we fired him. We also lost two staff PAs early this year. We hired a director of graphic design who was "shadowing" people for two months, then he got fired a couple months later because he didn't understand his role in the company. A couple weeks ago we also lost/fired our office manager/bookkeeper who had been here longer than me. And I heard a rumor our head programmer gave notice and will be gone next week. He started at the company the same time as me, so if he leaves, I'll end up as the longest-tenured employee aside from the company president.

(Wow, when I write all of that out like that the situation seems even more ridiculous.)

So, we're chronically short-staffed and as a result, so much of my time is being spent on dealing with resource problems, logistics, supervising, QA, etc. Because I have high standards and am relatively intelligent (specially compared to some of our hires), my bosses see that and think "he should be managing people."

But they forget I'm also the only person at the company with my writing/design/client-facing skill set, and that's not something they can easily replace if I were made into a full-time manager. They really need people like me to do my job or they won't have anything to sell to clients in the first place.

I'm much more valuable to them in the role they hired me for than I would be as a project manager. And I'm not particularly good at managing others anyway, especially the incompetent or apathetic people we seem to keep hiring, so I shouldn't be doing that (Peter Principle). If they need me to delegate, fine, but give me people I can trust, or we're just wasting my time and the company's money.

Ahh, the $300 toilet seat... those are fun to sell.

by Baldaran, Friday, May 19, 2017, 07:17 (5 days ago) @ Ophelia

I enjoy selling the $10 #16 hex bolt. "No, we sell radio communication equipment, we don't sell hex bolts as a normal course of business. You want that? Then we'll have to send one of our systems engineers to Lowes (or go online and create an order and blah, blah...) to get you this bolt, and it costs us money to do that. So just go to F'in Lowes yourself and save tons of money!" It drives me bonkers, and cracks me up at the same time.

Yep. It's always the way

by madmike, Friday, May 05, 2017, 11:57 (19 days ago) @ Frantoll

More and more people are learning that after I have explained it two times I have most likely started setting the explanation to music and I am getting ready to sing them a bluegrass tune about how to do their work.


I have also developed a reputation for answering why questions with. Because we were told to make this work and we are well-payed professionals.

Yeah part of it is attitude/work ethic

by Frantoll, Thursday, May 18, 2017, 16:40 (5 days ago) @ madmike

I'd blame "millennials" but some of the worst offenders are in their 40s-60s in my experience. Intuitively, you'd think it would be people in their 20s who'd give you the worst problems acclimating to their jobs and understanding their roles, but I can honestly say everybody has been a mixed bag, from those who are younger than some of my email addresses, to those who graduated from college when I was still in diapers. Some are good (a minority) and the rest are just floating.

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