Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Self-Improvement: Taiji & The Art Of Delegation

ONCE and for all, I would like to stop the cultural misuse of the word "taiji" when it is used synonymously with "delegation", and reframe it in a positive light.

Throughout Singapore, executives proudly stand up and say: "Yes, we know how to delegate: 'Taiji it!'" They then proceed to make a pushing gesture with their hands followed by laughter. The joke is harmless enough, and the laughing reveals perhaps a deeper knowledge that this is not the way to delegate.

You do not "push" things off to others. This is both personally irresponsible and disastrous for an organisation .

Pushing things off is half the equation. In taiji, all movements are performed in a circular manner.
After you push, the hands circle back to you. The motion only ends when the circle is completed. Any task you delegate does not disappear. It comes back to you.

So I say, yes, "taiji it!" The taiji process makes for an intelligent form of delegation. It sets something in motion, which then circles back to you completed. It is a continuous dynamic process that encourages personal responsibility.

Wise delegation is integral to transforming your work overload into a sustainable workload, managing your time better and encouraging your employees to develop their potential.

It makes the difference between being an effective or ineffective human resource manager. At the heart of delegation lie the issues of time and trust.

Delegate to manage your time

Delegation is essential to time . management. The amount of hours managers work each week has been steadily increasing over the past decade.

It is essential to find a way to effectively distribute your workload to your staff and col­leagues. lf you feel that a par­ticular task will not get done unless you do it yourself, you are definitely on the road to burnout.

To avoid potential stress­related illness, it is best to examine each task you do and ask yourself the following questions:
· Do I need to do this?
· Who else could do it? and
· Who would be best at doing it?

Be ruthless. Analyse the necessity of your presence at each scheduled meeting. Monitor the interruptions that prevent you from completing your work in the time you want. Make an appointment with yourself. Close your door and do not take phone calls for an hour to do your important planning.

After a recent coaching ses­sion, an executive sched­uled in an hour and a half of planning time in a quiet place near his office. For the first tinle in five years, he had uninter­rupted planning time during his normal working hours.

By managing your workload through effective delegation, you clear your backlog and can see more clearly into the future. You can move through the day at a less hectic pace and with less urgency in your actions. You become more centred. You are planting seeds now in a more stable ground.

This is also an essential ele­ment of taiji. The basic stand­ing position is balanced solidly on your two feet and centred in the tan tien, the point of power just below your navel.

A centred, grounded man­ager delegating from this point of strength is "in control" but not needing to control. Controlling involves tension, suspicion and pushing, and displays a lack of trust. Being in control, on the other hand, involves an alert and trusting attitude.

Delegation needs trust

Trust in your staff is a critical skill to develop in these times of constant change. It is a skill that must be honed and de­veloped through practice and experience. Delegating mean­ingful and challenging tasks to your staff will give them a chance to grow by encouraging them to take personal responsi­bility for what they do.

You also need to be trust­worthy. By giving them em­powerment to make important
decisions, you show your support. You stand behind them solidly by being there when they need you.

Taiji movements are repeated over and over until you are no lon­ger doing the movement: The move­ment is doing you. You get into a flow, and time disappears in the presence of being.
If you get a flow of your staff in motion, taking personal responsibility for their actions, you will find an im­mediate increase in productivity, staff morale and better communication.

Delegating involves navigating
You navigate through your myriad projects and key responsibilities, selecting those that can travel through your gate to another ap­propriate dock.

Letting go of some of your bag­gage creates a lighter load for you. Just beware that you do not" dump" your load. Lighten your load while brightening up someone else's.

Delegating provides an oppor­tunity on both sides, a chance to simultaneously reduce your work­load and give your employees a challenge. It can restore harmony in an unbalanced workplace. So, taiji it!

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