[Thinking] Delegate vs. Get Your Hands Dirty

I am attending the Summer Workshop provided by the Haas School of Business of UC Berkeley for our new incoming MBA students.  The workshop is ongoing, and one of the components, the Quantitative Method camp helped us review the very basic quantitative concepts in a business setting.

An interesting point was that from Day One, the instructor talked about that the importance for us is to understand the fundamentals, and the rationale behind, but not the mathematics tricks, because it is very likely in the future we, supposed to be the future managers, will delegate the work to someone else.

I understand and agree with the instructor, but here in this post I would like to extend my thoughts to a question:

Delegate vs. Get your hands dirty (GYHD), which is better?

It depends, I would say.

First, the feasibility of delegation.  According to my experience, usually for a well-established, hierarchical organization, for example most big companies, once you climb the management ladder, you will have resources to delegate, and there will have lots of ambitious younger people who wish to get empowerment from you to grow themselves.  However, if you are in a small company, or a start-up, it is very likely that you actually have no one to delegate to.  After all, small companies lack of resources.

Second, each of them has their own pros and cons.

  • Pros of Delegation:  Enough empowerment could help your team members get chances to grow their abilities.  They might then appreciate your trust on them.  Thus very likely the morale of your team could be maintained.
  • Cons of Delegation and over-use of Delegation:  You are stuck in an ivory tower dictating commands, while your subordinates are tired by the workload, and then hate you.
  • Pros of GYHD:  You know the very details of what the things actually going on, so you have true confidence of the reality.  Also GYHD might  be able to generate the practical atmosphere of “down to earth”, and encourage every team member to contribute to the actual work.
  • Cons of GYHD:  You as a manager have done the real things, so what your guys do?  They either feel they have no value for the organization, or they feel you are kind of too micromanagement (a management style where a manager closely observes or controls the work of his or her subordinates or employees.).

So the conclusion:  it really and has to depends.  Depends on your goals, the team goals, the specific people in your team, etc… a lot of factors.

What do you think?

One thought on “[Thinking] Delegate vs. Get Your Hands Dirty

  1. Jenny

    there is always a trade-off between the two. but a good manager should be able to identify potential “good” delegates – those won’t “hate” their supervisor just for having to take more responsibilities. the manager should be more focused on building a solid team and growing the team instread of micro-managing it.

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