Delegating Is Hard to Do

Being a one-man or one-woman band in radio engineering has one advantage: You never have to tell anyone what to do
Publish date:

Being a one-man or one-woman band in radio engineering has one advantage: You never have to tell anyone what to do.

When you do all the work yourself, there�s no explaining the steps (or the goal) to another person. It�s all in your head or on a list, and you move forward, consulting no one else. No questions; no interruptions; no second guessing. It�s kind of nice.

However, if you ever find yourself applying for a larger position, with staff to manage, you might find yourself asked this: �Can you delegate effectively?� Hopefully, you can answer that question with a �yes,� but let�s take a moment to delve into the subject. I�ve learned enough to speak with some authority on it (or so my coworkers tell me).

The goal of delegation is to have someone do a project that, for whatever reason, you cannot or should not be doing. Clearly, if you have a multi-person staff, there is more work than one person can do. You may find yourself doing higher-level management task (for example, working on engineering budgets), and while that is going on, you can�t also install a transmitter, for example.

So you delegate the project. In so doing, you should make sure the goal is clear: The transmitter needs to be effectively installed and working by such-and-such a date. A certain amount of resources need to be made available to the person or persons doing the work. Explain how to obtain them (if that person doesn�t already know how). Don�t knock the station off the air while doing the work.

That�s it. You now turn back to what you were doing before.

But wait, you say. How do I know it�ll be done right? The answer is that you don�t. That�s it. The hard part of delegating is trusting that the delegate will do the job right.

But shouldn�t I go visit the transmitter to see that the job is going well? No. That�s called micro-management. If you are doing that, the person to whom you delegated will get this message: I�m not really trusted to do this correctly. As a manager, that�s the last thing you want. Staff has to trust you, and the way you establish that is by trusting them.

It�s obviously important to delegate a job to a person who you know can do it well. After you�ve done that, let them alone.

When the delegate says the job is done, you can then check to see how well it went. Here�s another thing about delegation: Don�t expect that it will be done exactly as you would have done it yourself. If the goal is met on time and satisfactorily, then the delegate did it right.

Don�t micromanage after the fact, either. In other words, if your delegate used blue wire instead of black, that�s too bad. If they ran the wires up the left hand side of the rack instead of the right, that�s too bad.

Many of us have very particular ways we like to do things, but when you start managing a staff, you have to let them handle the details. If you can�t do that, answer �no� to that interview question.

Thanks for reading this month�s issue and have a great last month of summer!


Sit Back, Relax and Learn promo image

Consistent Lifelong Learning

Radio magazine includes not only a variety of topics and authors, but articles aimed at engineers in different stages of their careers and with different degrees of interest