Said He Was Too Busy

“I was surprised,” said Janet. “Barry is my best guy. I just assigned him a task and he said he was too busy, told me to go find someone else. He always does such a great job. I thought he would be the perfect person.”

“Who else could you delegate to?” I asked.

“Well, there is Simon and Rachel. But what if they screw it up?” Janet scrunched her nose. She didn’t like the idea.

“Janet, what is the purpose for your delegation? Are you looking to save yourself some time or are you looking to develop some of your team members?”

Janet knew it was a loaded question. “Okay, so I am trying to develop some of my team members. I know it’s a learning process.” It was the kind of unenthusiastic, politically correct response I knew I would get.

“Good answer. You must have attended the seminar,” I chided. “Look, Janet, of course they are going to screw it up. Tell me. Do people learn more from doing something perfectly or making a mistake?”

Janet wasn’t sure where I was going with this. “I suppose people learn more from making a mistake.”

“Exactly. If delegation is your most powerful people development tool, then part of delegation is people making mistakes. Count on it. Plan for it. Budget your time for it. But remember that it’s still worth it. That’s what learning is all about.”

3 thoughts on “Said He Was Too Busy

  1. Henry Camp

    Good one, Tom. And the reason Janet required the advice was that she was reluctant to look out far enough into the future to clearly see the payoff. So, she’s talking to her boss who can see over the rise she can’t quite peer over. Sounds like she is getting close though!

  2. Tom Foster Post author

    Hi, Henry,
    Thank you for your thoughtful observations. I like the analogy of seeing over the rise. -Tom

  3. Sharmil @ The Learning Academy

    I like how Barry has enough self-awareness to say “No” to his boss. Janet should be commended on her leadership skill because she empowered her employees to speak up and set realistic boundaries. And as a result of Barry’s actions, she had the opportunity to develop another employee.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.