Monday, April 30, 2012

Delegation, The Power To Empower

By Ernie Arias
"I just do what I'm really good at, to delegate. The rest I delegate it."  twitted on July 14th, 2011.

My first gig as a studio manager was about ten years ago. A responsibility I earned because of my work ethic, outstanding skills as a studio artist and an excellent interaction with my co-workers as well as with the Traffic Coordinators, Editorial, Print Production and Account personnel. Pretty much everyone agreed I was right for the position and I was very excited in taking this new challenging opportunity. However, today I look back and realize how 'green' I was, regardless how super-talented I might be.

I still remember my first week as being such a traumatic and stressful experience, because either I wanted to do everything myself or at least be involved in it more than I needed to be as a supervisor. There I was, completely out of my comfort zone and as someone else pointed out, "I found myself distrusting my piers," the very same individuals I've never judged or distrusted before when I was not a supervisor. On the contrary, they were all excellent professionals and we had a very strong studio process in place plus a newly created quality control unit. As a matter of fact, there was no rationale that could have possibly explained my behavior. So what was wrong? What's happening?

My problem was very simple, I was not delegating as much as I should. It took me a while until I was able to adjust to my new responsibilities as manager and learned to delegate effectively.

The Big Picture

Delegation is probably one of the most important skills a studio manager must possess and it's as simple as assessing the job requests, dealing with priorities and distributing the workload among your staff (and freelancers), always following the cardinal rule of not doing anything that doesn't absolutely need to be done by you. It's very easy to fall in the trap of creating a work overload on your desk if you don't delegate effectively, especially to those who are very skillful and can take care of any task as good as any studio artist or even better. You need to focus in your task as a manager in order to maintain control over the workflow, priorities, process and quality of the final delivery. You must sit down on the 'Captain's chair' to be able to see the 'big picture' and ensure the operation is running smoothly, as well as to identify, anticipate any potential problem and take corrective action.

Building Trust And Empowering Your Staff

By delegating, assigning important tasks, you build trust and create a sense of ownership and empowerment among your team. Trust is essential to leadership and team building, and also to earn respect beyond your appointed position. Good employees are very observant of the manager's ability to delegate and when they sense they're not being utilized as much as they can perform or to the level they can perform, they simply feel themselves as not being trusted, hence a bit demoralized. They can also misjudge the manager as not being confident or even worse, holding a heavy workload on your desk might also be misinterpreted as territorial protection.

The good news is that delegation is a skill, and as any skill it can be learned. Not surprisingly, there is a very tight connection between your title and your ability to delegate. The higher you climb up the corporate ladder, the more refined and effective your delegation skills must be.


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Ernie Arias