Cleaned My Desk Today

That is a good Friday feeling.  Wow, it was a tough week. 


I put on my coat, and after placing the wooden hangar on the silver hook mounted on the back of my door, I glanced  into the office, and it felt, oh, so good.  My wife was working late on this Friday, and it gave me a rare opportunity to get things in order.  
Typically, if I stay late on weekdays, the other offices and cubies are filled with colleagues.  Some are busy crunching those final touches on their reports, presentations, or research.  Other work spaces are occupied with the golden children, making certain they are seen working late by the correct people who can continue to support their career climb based on others thinking they put in so many long hard hours.  The rest of the office is cluttered with socializers with no where else to go.  Either way, it makes serious evening work difficult.  
There’s always that 6:30 knock accompanied by “hey, got a minute?”…Actually no, I don’t, but I guess because you already interrupted me, I can give you the other 45 seconds too.  Or there’s noise, commotion, or just other stuff making it difficult to focus on my stuff.  However, on Friday night, when no one wants to be around it was my time.  The other “weekday lions” had better things to do tonight.  It was the beginning of a great weekend.  I was the winner, marked by their absence. 
So on this Friday evening, as I glanced back after putting on my coat, I marveled at such a proud site.  My desk was clean, carrying a remarkable reflection from the 28th floor window overlooking the bright lights of an active city.  Casual onlookers might exclaim, “wow, look, he has a desk with a wooden top”!  Or, “better check the dumpster, he must have filled it.”  

But this time they were all wrong.  No dumpster diving, no desk designing.  Soon, they would all know where the stacks, files, and post it notes went.  This time rather than re-stack, file, or organize the yellows and blues, I actually found a better home for everything that had cluttered my desk while I was busy spending my week being important. This time I Delegated. 

Ah yes, the fine art of delegation.  It’s one of the time honored traditions and trappings that come with success.  You work hard, you get promoted, people work for you, and now you can delegate.  Delegate…I grew up thinking that meant giving people who work for you all the stuff you don’t want to do, can’t do, or don’t have time to do.  Sometimes I learned delegating must have been a form of punishment towards people Boss’s didn’t like, or minions that had done something wrong, and now had to pay the price.
Somewhere, I learned delegating meant something more.  When I began to realize the value of hiring great people on my Team, [see “Hiring Up” http://bit.ly/gdPQvG from March 22, 2010] this delegating thing began to take a new shape and a new, more profound meaning.  What if…you actually invited people on your team to become engaged in each-others work?  What if you took this idea a step further and actually invited others to become engaged in your work? And just think, what if you made this work meaningful, made certain your team understood the assignment, motivated them, gave them feedback along the way, and shared in the rewards of a job well done?  I know this sounds crazy, but what if you didn’t micromanage their work?
Well, you’re probably already a step ahead of me in understanding where this thought took me. When I assess why I have been successful, in addition to hiring people smarter than me, I became passionate about engaging them in my work, my success, and my rewards.
Thinking back to that clean wooden desk, it was more than simply finding a better home for all the clutter. I very carefully considered who could help me champion each of these important tasks. Because if I was going to delegate these tasks and projects, they must’ve been important. Being an important task or project was only the beginning. Knowing it was meaningful, I need to make certain my team member had 100% clarity of the project. Realizing each of my employees was different than the other I had to consider what might motivate this employee to be as excited about this project as I was. I decided to make certain I could step up to the plate and help them along the way, (without micromanaging) because in the end I too wanted to make certain there was success to share.  
A Team member empowered through great delegation, will go a long way to ensure success…for them, the organization, and also for me.
  1. Who has an uncluttered desk and empowered employees?
  2. What can you do to delegate better?
  3. Where do you learn how to delegate?
  4. When is the best time to begin to delegate?
  5. How can you empower employees when delegating?
If you want to learn more about the Rare Leader™ in you, 
or if you are interested in retaining Steve as your Executive Coach, 
Contact Steve Riege via: twitter, or his website.
6 Responses to Cleaned My Desk Today
  1. Betty Everitt Lochner, M.Ed.
    March 8, 2011 | 9:25 am

    Great reminder to assess where you can empower your team and give them the opportunity to be successful! It's a challenge in an understaffed environment these days, but well worth the effort.

  2. Steve Riege
    March 8, 2011 | 10:53 am

    Betty, thanks so much. Great insights into our understaffed environment. This does add to the art vs. science of delegating.

    What do you see as ways to empower while delegating?

  3. Liz Weber
    March 17, 2011 | 8:58 am

    Nice job Steve. This is a funny, but oh so true feeling of seeing that you got things done because they moved off of your desk! But wow! The thrill is they moved to someone else's desk who can handle & should handle them as well (or dare I say better than you!) I to am honored to have a great team to delegate to: I learn from them each day.

  4. Jen Turi
    March 22, 2011 | 8:52 am

    I like this post, Steve. With the right team and if done properly, delegating makes the delegated feel valued and excited to contribute and the delegator relieved and appreciative of the team members. A win-win for everyone. Plus, those great feelings just make work more like fun and less like, well, work.

  5. Steve Riege
    March 22, 2011 | 9:52 am

    Liz, you have assembled such a great Team. Mature leaders realize their Team helps to make them successful, only if willing to check your own ego at the door. You hire people that are not only better at something, but you are willing to learn from them too. Empowered employees are golden! Thanks Liz…

  6. Steve Riege
    March 22, 2011 | 9:56 am

    Great point Jen, An engaged Team makes success far more probable, and creates opportunities for everyone. Remember the days when we all liked our jobs, and the places we worked, and the people we worked with? It's a lost art – creating that environment. You, obviously have kept this culture alive in this new economy. Congratulations!

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