Circumference of Me – Chapter 15

15 Handing the shovel to others

When asked or ordered to perform a shit-shoveling chore, you must approach it as an opportunity, not as an aversion. Shovel with alacrity. In doing so, you are preparing yourself for the next step in the evolutionary process of the business world. When you readily accept delegated chores, you prepare yourself to delegate to others.

The art of delegation must be learned. One cannot master it by osmosis. Neither is it a genetic attribute. Unfortunately, the only way to learn how not to micromanage every detail of a project (or just do it yourself) and to delegate instead is to become a manager or project leader and be in a position of having to depend on others.

The ability to delegate – to shift shit-shoveling to subordinates – is one of the hardest management skills for young managers (and many older, established managers) to learn. For one thing, it goes against the grains of egocentric managers and the personal preferences of many workers.  Most good employees and a vast majority of managers – good, bad and in between – believe they can perform duties faster and get better results than anyone who works with them.

It’s not necessarily true, but that doesn’t make it any less so in their minds. Perceptions are realities.

If you truly want to become a corporate leader, you will have to move shit in various forms – liquid, clumps and hard, non-candy mountains – from one place to another for a time. In the Corporate Tribe, it’s called paying your dues. Ante up!

Follow a few simple rules: Take a shit chore and do it to the best of your ability. Show what you can do by simply doing it.  Make a niche for yourself that proves your value to the company.

Melvin sure does shovel shit well. And he does it without complaining!

If you are in a position of having to accept shit shoveled to you, and you are told to make something substantial out of it, make it the best pile of shit ever built in the history of the company.

Aspire to be a superb shit shoveler. In fact, be the freakin’ King of Shit-Shoveling. Learn not only to shovel it in efficient, bite-sized chunks, so to speak, but also how to use the exercise as a learning experience.

Few managers see the need, or want to learn how, to be good shit shovelers. Most managers won’t, but should, confide to subordinates why shit has to be shoveled, and how they fit into the shoveling channels. Few managers ever stop to tell a new employee: “Here’s a chore. It’s not glamorous; in fact, it’s a shit chore. But it’s important and here’s why . . .”

All new employees of any company should be versed in the practical reasons why shit flows downhill and how it is absolutely essential for aspiring executive managers to shovel it quickly and efficiently until there’s no more to shovel. They should know that it’s better to shovel shit than bitch and moan about having to do it, and let it build up until the only way to get rid of it is to bail.

Shit-shoveling should be viewed as a valuable lesson that should be embraced, figuratively, if not literally. Shoveling shit is a necessary part of the business process. It also is much better than the alternative – not having any shit to shovel, sitting home watching reruns of “Cops,” and glancing at the Help Wanted ads during commercials.

When it comes to paying your dues and shoveling your share of corporate shit, adopt the approach by Oliver Twist in the musical based on the Dickens novel: “Please, sir, may I have some more?”

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