Why Your Employees Are Better Than You

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Scenario: "Dude, I just delegated. But the work sucked, so I had to intervene. Then, it turned out great. Yay!" Yesterday, we talked about delegating your tasks to your employees. Delegating saves you time, gets your better results, and increases company productivity. We forgot to mention:

Yet, if you've ever delegated, you probably felt a sense of "suckyness".

That is, you thought your employee's work kind of sucked, so instead of fully delegating that work and accepting the results as is, you continued your hand-holding as before:

  • "You did a good job, but that's not how I want it done. You need to do this, this, that, and this," you say.

Then when you fixed whatever your employee did, you felt the work went super well. And, that wouldn't have been possible without your intervention. It's the whole "My-baby-is-cuter-than-yours" mindset -- though the other baby may actually be cuter.

We call it the uh-oh mindset.

Because you intervened in your employee's work, that rarely means you produced better results. As humans, we overestimate our abilities:

  • I run a better business than you.
  • I play basketball better than you.
  • I cook better than you.
  • I sing better than you.
  • I learn quicker than you.
  • I have more dedication than you.
  • I communicate better than you.

Unless it's indisputably distinguishable, you'll always say you kick more ass. Why? It's rooted in our psychological minds, according to gurus Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Cialdini:

One of the most widely documented effects in social psychology is the preference of most people to see themselves in a self-enhancing fashion. As a consequence, they regard themselves as more intelligent, skilled, ethical, honest, persistent, original, friendly, reliable, attractive, and fair-minded than their peers or the average person. On the job, approximately 90% of managers and workers rate their performances as superior to their peers.

So when you're intervening into your employee's work thinking you're producing better results, you probably aren't.

The famous "delegation" process:

  1. John studies design his entire life.
  2. He goes to a renowned art school.
  3. You have him design your brochure.
  4. He designs a kick-ass one.
  5. You think it can be improved, so you tell him what to change.
  6. You practically redo the entire thing.
  7. John does what you say.
  8. John now thinks the brochure looks like crap.
  9. You think you just produced the sexiest brochure in the world.
  10. The world laughs at your fugly brochure.

It's in the study: People overestimate their abilities like a mutha flucka.

Says gurus Porras and Cialdini in a joint study on delegation:

One reason that it may be difficult for managers to delegate responsibility is that they may perceive work produced without their direct intervention as inferior to comparable work produced under their direction. In the present study, participants viewed the same print advertisement as superior when they apparently had more individualized supervisory involvement in the process that produced it. Similarly, they evaluated their supervisee's abilities and their own managerial effectiveness more highly as well.

Use Our Tip

Our not-yet-famous 3 points to help your delegation skills:

  1. Know that your employee probably does a better job than what you can do.

    If have the right person in the right spot, they likely have more training, more knowledge, more background, and more passion than you. 99% -- or some freakishly high percentage -- they'll produce better results than you ever, ever will.
  2. Get out the way.

    The minute you start altering their work, you start demotivating them -- and then you transition the work from "John's work" to "my work". People love stuff they "own", so if you're removing ownership from them, expect mediocre results. Instead, empower the living ^@!$ out of them. Sit back, and see their magic.
  3. Accept the results.

    According to those "business academics" and self-described "business experts," here's a seemingly "whacked position" on our part: Even if you think the results are crummy, just accept the results. Move on. Why? First, the results are supremely better than you think. Second, don't get into the perfectionist mode -- that totally kills precious time and energy; if the results will do for now, you can always improve it later. Third, keep moving forward like the badass adventurer that you are. One of the best lessons we've learned in the business world is to keep moving forward.

But What if the Results Sucked?

If you're absolutely, totally, without-a-doubt sure the results sucked, you'll have two options:

  • Move the employee somewhere else.

    Either that's to another position, or to another company completely. You want people who you won't need to hand-hold. That increases the quality of the results, and more important your company and personal productivity.
  • Find somebody else to improve the situation.

    You want somebody who can see a destination point, and find the best way to get there themselves. Like one of our favorite guru once said, the moment you feel like managing them, they're probably in the wrong position.

Delegate as fully as you can. The moral in six words:

Delegate. Trust. Like a $^@^.

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Posted on September 14

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