Adapt to Thrive

I don’t pretend to be an expert at managing others. In fact I don’t even really enjoy it. I’d rather be responsible for managing my own productivity than be responsible for making sure others are being productive. But managing others has been where I’m at in my career for the past several years and until I find a means of working from home, then that is likely to continue.

When I was still a department manager a few years ago I had a top notch crew that could do most of what I did and delegating tasks to them based on the needs of the business wasn’t an issue at all. But then some things changed that were beyond my control. One thing that changed was that the management above me stopped being concerned with holding anyone accountable for anything, including themselves. At the same time I experienced a good deal of turnover in my associates. So I had an inexperienced staff and upper management that didn’t care to make them do any work when I wasn’t there.

With productivity slipping and stress building I had to find a new way to approach my job. I found that new approach one day when I realized that if things were going to improve then I needed to be able to adapt. I stopped expecting my current staff to be able to handle everything that my previous staff could and started delegating according to their abilities.

I gave my staff most of the grunt work to do and left the more complex, and often less physically demanding, tasks for myself. A nice side effect of this was that my staff now needed very little supervision to do their jobs which also freed up more of my time to accomplish what I needed to. There was one eventual downside though and that was that I became so comfortable with this arrangement that I didn’t really look for opportunities to train my staff to be able to take on more responsibility.

I had been able to adapt but only to the point of being comfortable. That can be a dangerous place to be in for any person in business. Beware of making yourself so comfortable that you forget to look for areas of opportunity for further adaptation to the needs of the business. In my case the consequences of this comfort didn’t really affect me directly. They affected my replacement. I moved to a different department eventually and one of my associates was promoted into my former position. Upper management literally did nothing to train him how to do his job. I was more than willing to teach him anything he needed to know but I was so busy trying to learn my own job, for which I also received no training, that I wasn’t able to help him out very much.

I guess what I’m really trying to say is that you should be able to be flexible enough to adapt when necessary but make sure that hidden within your adaptation isn’t a layer of laziness.