Raising the Dead

4. Don't Go It Alone

I'm not talking about hiring management consultants. Too many of them offer nothing more than lengthy textbook material in which the name of your company replaces the name of their last client. I'm talking here about delegation.

Typically, owners and managers don't like delegating for two reasons: insecurity and risk. The irony is that insecurity and risk are reduced when the work force is allowed into the decision-making process. The result is everyone learns to recognize and eliminate the causes of problems, not just the effects.

If employees don't perform to expectations, the fault usually lies with the company leadership for 1) not selecting the right people for the job, 2) providing insufficient information and training or 3) not creating an atmosphere conducive to achievement. To avoid these pitfalls:

  • Provide employees with enough information and leeway to make decisions and formulate ideas.
  • Modify employees' ideas so they fit the business's and customers' needs and so the people who have to work with these concepts will work with them.
  • Confront-do not avoid-the inevitable conflicts that will arise.
  • Know the difference between delegation and abdication.

One reason employees of my Middle East TV studio didn't run off while the Gulf War missiles were flying was that I had made them an integral part of its operations, and they didn't want to abandon it.

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This article was originally published in the February 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Raising the Dead.

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