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The Most Valuable Job Skill You Can Have


by Glenn Shepard
November 3, 2015
Category:  Management


Frankfort, KY Nov 12
Clifton Park, NY Nov 19
Kingston, NY Nov 20
Hamilton, OH Dec 2
Amarillo, TX Dec 8
Odessa, TX Dec 10
San Angelo, TX Dec 11
Paducah, KY Dec 15
Huntsville, AL Dec 16
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Dear Glenn,

Your seminar was AWESOME!!! I took your advice on delegating more and being less of a micromanager, and what a difference it’s made! I have one question. Some of my people seem to be struggling with duties I offloaded from my plate onto theirs. Is it possible to delegate too much?

Colleen in Montgomery, AL

Dear Colleen,

Absolutely, and that’s the manager’s dilemma. You want to delegate as much as possible so you can focus on the things no one else can do, but not push people past their level of competence (called the Peter Principle). There’s no magic way to know where that line is, so the only thing we as managers can do is train, delegate, and monitor their progress. When you conclude that someone is never going to be able to do a task, don’t hesitate to give it to someone who’s better suited for it.

   Thanks for your question.

- Glenn in Nashville, TN

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Click the red Ask Glenn button to submit a question. You may remain anonymous if your prefer.

I spent a lot of time on the phone with tech support when I first began using computers in the eighties.

These days, I’d rather have a root canal without anesthesia than call tech support for help with computers, cell phones, cable TV – and just about anything else.

I’ve come to expect them to give me the wrong answer more often than not.

Recently I was trying to solve a problem with a printer. Each computer in my company has a laser printer attached directly to it, but we have a large industrial printer we call “The Beast” that’s connected to my office manager’s desktop PC.  

I couldn’t print from my laptop to The Beast over the Wi-Fi connection, and thought that connecting it directly to the network hub might solve the problem. I went to a local computer store and explained to a “Tech Support Specialist” what I was trying to do. He took a product off the shelf and assured me it was exactly what I needed. When I got back to my office, I discovered that he sold me the wrong item.   

I was frustrated that my problem wasn’t solved.
I was frustrated that I had wasted so much time.
I was frustrated that this so called specialist was wrong. 

Then I asked myself what part I played in this situation. Was it foolish to trust this guy to solve my problem?

The answer is NO.

It’s reasonable for any customer to expect businesses to train their employees how to answer customers’ questions correctly, and admit when they don’t know the answer.

Eventually my office manager discovered the problem was that The Beast wasn’t set to be shared in Microsoft Windows.

While she’s more technically literate than most administrative employees, it wasn’t her technical literacy that solved the problem. It was that she:

1. Cared more than the “specialist” did
2. Had more patience than I did
3. Has highly developed problem-solving skills which allowed her to methodically think through the situation.

I made three mistakes in my attempt to solve the problem:

1. I was impatient and looking for a quick fix
2. I was trying to buy a solution instead of figuring it out
3. I looked to a source with the best technical skills, when I should have looked to a source with the best problem-solving skills

Business is all about solving problems. No matter what field you’re in, being good at solving problems is the surest way to make yourself a superstar in your company.

To Your Success,

P.S. To see how powerful this career principle is, walk into your boss’s office right now and say “I want to be known as a problem solver. Hit me with something!” Even if there are no problems to be solved, you’ll immediately set yourself apart from the employee who brings all his problems to the boss and expects her to solve them for him.

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