Delegation Gone Wrong

Take a look at the picture below. OK, now that you have stopped laughing, why do you think this happened?

This photo was cycling social networks and online photo sites a few weeks ago. Of course it was — it’s a national brand. My guess is that someone, probably earning minimum wage, was tasked with “putting a sign up.” Someone who knew their way around a keyboard well enough to be able to produce something on the computer.

How often do we see tasks like this delegated to the most junior member of the team with no oversight, and then we wonder at the results. I see it all the time in social media, where interns seem to be the ones running the Twitter and Facebook accounts, because, after all, it’s only Twitter or Facebook, and the young people know all about that stuff.

When I first started working in a company, I was told that the most important person in the entire building was the lady at the reception desk. I was puzzled by this, after all she was “just” the receptionist. Surely, the Managing Director was the most important person. I was assured this was not the case.

It was pointed out to me that the person sitting at that desk was the first point of contact for everyone who either visited or called our office. She held the power to impress or disappoint, to endear or annoy every caller. That made her the most important person in the building.

When we hand out those seemingly innocent jobs that we can’t be bothered with or feel are beneath us as the boss, are we doing ourselves any favors?

Now, I’m not saying don’t delegate. But think through the things that really have an impact on your business, and can impact it negatively. Whether it is copywriting for an ad in the local paper, a sign for the shop window, or your Twitter account. All of these situations have the potential to turn what seems like a simple task into a PR nightmare, or at the very least an embarrassment.

So, next time you want to pass off a simple task think through how it might turn out. And then think about how much oversight you want to provide on that task just to make sure.

How do you handle the little jobs in your business?

Image credit (danger sign): gundolf
Image credit (fast food sign): unknown

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Simon Salt
Simon is CEO of IncSlingers, and is an author, blogger, writer and entrepreneur. His book on Social Location Marketing was published by QUE, a division of Pearson publications in February 2011. Simon has been published online by Mashable, Read Write Web and others.

2 comments

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  1. Excellent point about social media specialists and receptionists being the most important people at a company. When I look at all the social media mistakes that have happened recently, most seem to come from people who are using the same software for both personal and professional use. Every business should have its own social media policy, and one of the first things I’d put on it would be to ban personal accounts from company purchased programs and devices.

  2. We see these bad for business signs all the time and they are funny, but this article explains how to prevent these embarrassing mistakes from happening in the first place. Good article, Simon.

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