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Delegating Employee Performance Collaboratively -Part 2

Furniture World Magazine


Delegating Employee Performance Collaboratively

Peter A. Marino, Ph. D.

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of 13 Units on delegation, written by FURNITURE WORLD Magazine's contributing editor Peter A. Marino. It will be posted in weekly installments to the news section of the furninfo.com website.

FURNITURE WORLD readers can request that the entire manuscript be sent to them at no charge via email, at editor@furninfo.com.

Unit Two: The Magic of Collaboration

Call collaboration by any other name (cooperation, synergism, team work, win-win) its magic does not lie merely in its bilateral nature. That alone might not be enough to promote collaboration. After all, some self-centered manager might think the following: “So the employee and I win. So what! The organization and I could have won even if I had gone it alone.” What such self-centered managers do not realize is that through delegation, both the manager and the employee win at a significantly higher level than if each of them performed separately.

What accounts for the magic of collaboration? I believe it is Nature’s mysterious way in which it works within all of its beings, animate and inanimate. Let’s take the compound H2O. We cannot quench our thirst with H2 or H alone. Chemically combined, the two undergo a change that each alone never came close to having. Something brand new takes place.

The same holds true for collaborative delegation. Something new takes place, richer and finer than would have taken place if the manager had gone it alone.

Organizations, thirsty to drink the waters of success, are free to try to quench that thirst without collaborative delegation. Every organization worth its salt is on a long journey that stretches over expansive, waterless deserts. Sooner or later, an organization led by managers who do not practice delegation is fated to die of thirst.

The magic of collaboration can be seen in the etymology of the word, which derives from the Latin prefix con. The word cooperation derives from the same Latin prefix. The root word ‘oper’ derives from a Latin word meaning work. The word synergy derives from the Greek prefix, syn, denoting togetherness, and the Greek root word, ergos, denoting work. A careful analysis of the word team is equally revealing. Team derives from the Germanic word, zaum, denoting halter, such as the early medieval halter that yoked draft horses and oxen together, thereby significantly increasing their productivity. The etymology of the word win is rather fascinating. It derives from the German word winnen, to struggle. The repetition of the word win does what the Latin con and the Greek syn do: it creates the idea of togetherness.

Incidentally, the word draft derives from an Indo-European root word, teon, meaning to draw or pull. Pulling can be painful. No pain, no gain. Collaboratively delegated assignments are seldom easy. While collaboration may make tough assignments easier; it seldom makes them easy. More importantly, collaboration is meant to make assignments more effective.

Collaboration helps the manager and the employee to work more efficiently. More importantly, it helps the employee to work more effectively. How sad to realize there are still managers whose treatment of employees trails far behind the nonabusive treatment of horses Xenophon (430?-355? B.C.) described more than two millennia ago. (You may wish to consult Greek historian Xenophon’s On Horsemanship, a precursory work on the subject of treating horses in a non-abusive way.)

Unit Three: The Symbol of the Pyramid

It is interesting to note that until modern times, nothing had risen to the vertical height of the widelybased Egyptian pyramid, a structure that rose considerably higher than the much less widely-based obelisk. Surely the Egyptians knew that verticality not sufficiently propped by horizontality could not rise to the height of its counterpart.

The two structures, the pyramid and the obelisk, can serve as a metaphor of why directive delegation cannot consistently match the efficiency and the effectiveness of collaborative delegation. Managers who practice directive delegation rely on the employee’s compliance. Directive delegation is nothing more than the manager’s striving vertically in the hope that the employee will do the same. As a result, even if the delegation turns out to be successful, the employee merely complies with the direction that comes totally from the manager. In such a case, the word delegation is a fraud. All that the manager has won is the employee’s compliance without winning the employee’s commitment. Direct delegation is tantamount to strapping a dead copilot at the side of the pilot.

A careful analysis of directive delegation reveals such delegation is a misnomer at best. Such a manager has total disregard for the psychology of motivation. Similar studies done on employee motivation by in the late 1940’s by Lawrence Lindahl, in the late 1940’s, by Ken Kovach in 1980, and by Bob Nelson in 1991 reveal that employees are motivated first by the full appreciation they receive from their manager and second by feeling ‘in’ on things.

Had Austrian-born medical doctor and psychologist Alfred Adler (1870-1937) been wrong to hold that performance, as a motivator, took second place to striving for significance, Lindahl, Kovach, and Nelson,I believe he would have placed being ‘in’ on things first and full appreciation for work second. Adler accounted the inferiority complex – a term he invented – of many of his patients on the fact that in their earliest upbringing they had not been led to believe they belonged simply because they were members of their family. That feeling of inferiority is what more individuals than we are willing to admit is passed on in the earliest years of our formal education and in the workplace. No wonder then that the three researchers mentioned above met with the same leading motivator in their studies: appreciation for work well done. Work well done is performance.

At first, most individuals strive for significance by their very nature. However, frustrated by repeated authority figures that put performance first and acceptance second, is it any wonder that the three psychologists mentioned above found that the employees they studied put appreciation for performance ahead of feeling ‘in’ on things? is, feeling ‘in’ on things? Unknowingly, the three researchers had failed to see that the employees were simply reacting to their authority figures. Thus they place the cart before the horse.

If Adler was right, how all the more urgent it is for managers to practice collaborative delegation. It may well be that by doing so, managers will be making use of the most effective method for letting their employees feel ‘in’ on things.

Next Week:

Unit Four: Helping Employees Fulfill Their Human Needs

Unit Five: Frequent Causes of a Failed Delegation

For more information on Peter Marino and his plan to help furniture retailers go to see the following article posted to the furninfo.com website. Peter Marino veteran sales educator & author wants to give-back to the industry by helping furniture retailers educate their salespeople for a token fee of $5 per day (It's his retirement plan).