Letting go

I was reading an article in Management Today entitled “How to be a better boss”. As a boss, I am constantly striving to be the best boss I can be and am always learning from others.

According to Management Today, one of the hallmarks of a good manager is the capacity to let go – to give power and freedom to others, to share information freely and willingly, and to allow people to make mistakes

This is something that I think I do well but decided to check my performance against the criteria that Julian Birkinshaw suggested

1) Give up one visible element of control when you move into a new position – tick

When I joined RAFT, my predecessors used the intercom system (nicknamed the ‘bing bong’ to ask people to come to their office. I immediately stopped doing that and actually had the intercom removed from my office. It was a good system for my predecessors to assert power but I felt it was not for me. And anyway, the intercom system made me feel like I should be wearing a yellow blazer and start the day by announcing in a Welsh accent, “Hi-di-hi RAFTers, today in the lab we will be spinning out DNA, whilst in the fundraising department…” British readers of a certain age will understand!

2) Develop a signature practice that highlights your organisation’s commitment to letting go – tick

At RAFT, we practice what we preach. All members of staff are encouraged to come up with new ideas and initiatives, even for activities not within their own area.

3) Give your employees enough rope i.e. let them fail – tick

We encourage all staff to take managed risks and innovate. Sometimes they will succeed and sometimes they will fail but they will always learn.

4) Make a conscious plan to stop doing a few specific activities every week – this tip made me pause.

The suggestion of having a ‘stop list’ as well as a ‘to do’ list may be well known to others but it was new to me. Julian Birkinshaw suggested a variation which was even more intriguing “identify five hours’ worth of activities they can either drop or delegate”.

At first, I thought – impossible, I can possibly do that – but then gave it more thought.

As suggested by my Trustees I had prepared a list of organisational priorities for the next 3 months, 6 months and 9 months. I started by looking at those and what activities needed to be carried out to achieve them. To free up five hours of activities would require me to reduce my workload by about 10% so I set myself of delegating a further 10% of what I do.

Did I succeed? Well, I have only started so I will have to let you all know.