Learn to delegate or pass the buck

“Four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody were asked to do an important job. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done!”

This is a sad but too often true story of many companies. In business today, it is absolutely critical to focus sharply, plan carefully, and assign definite responsibilities.

Without that, business drift, important things don’t get done, and all too often, failure follows.

There are always too many things to do and too little time and too few people to do them. So it is always a matter of choice and focus. For the company as a whole, we must choose and then focus on the key actions, those that will really make a difference. However, to support these key actions, there are hundreds or even thousands of actions that need to be taken, jobs that need to be done.

The secret to getting them done is to make sure that each of them is someone’s specific responsibility. A job that may be incidental, although critical, a job for someone “higher up the ladder”, becomes a job of major importance for someone a bit further down the line. Given the responsibility and the authority, that person can and will get the job done.

Within a company’s hierarchy, it is quite common to find that jobs aren’t getting done, simply because the person in the more senior position is trying to hold onto too many tasks, afraid to give up the responsibility and authority.

When handing jobs over to another person in order to make your own work load that much lighter and thus more easily achieved, it is essential that you pass on clear instructions of exactly what has to be done. It is not enough to merely assign responsibility. Expectations should also be part of that assignment – in terms of quality, quantity, time, reports, whatever is important for the successful completion of the job.

Great plans may fail for lack of good implementation. Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody should not be on our payroll. Sam and Susie and John and Jane are on our payroll, and they can get the job done – if they are trained to do it, know the exact requirements and have the responsibility and authority.

If everybody has the attitude to pass the buck nothing will ever get done.