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The Muse

August 25, 2006

The Art of Delegation

I am just back after wrapping up my summer work in San Diego, and boy, has it been an experience and a half. I will take away many things from my stint there - great work experience, a lot of on the job training, a few good friends and above all, insight into how one of the most successful companies in the US operates.

I attended a summer party at my Director's office, and it was at her house in a beautiful locale called Rancho Santo Fe. I would love to describe the scenery, the place and how it was, but then I would need a separate post for that. Needles to say, this is a high-end place in an already high-end San Diego. Forbes ranked it the second most expensive zip code in the US in 2006. You step out to the backyard, and well, you then realize the house is almost on the edge of a canyon. Some of my colleagues had a lemon throwing contest to see who could throw the lemons the farthest from the yard. I saw a flag way off at the bottom of a canyon, and I was told that someone practices teeing off golf balls from the backyard! Talk about enjoying nature and talk about having a big yard. And I found out that a lot of the neighbors usually take a ride on their very own hot air balloons in the evenings. I kid you not, I saw five-six passing by...When I say that Phil Mickelson is a neighbor, you pretty much get the idea right?

The party itself was awesome. We had a white elephant gift exchange, and I was a little nervous about what to take and how low to go...I don't want to get into how dirty some of my prior experiences have been. So, there I go, taking a bunch of plain ol" magnets, that have status updates like "Wingman", "Lover". "On the market" etc...pretty boring and dull huh? Well, guess what I got? A "Pimp my Cubicle" set and "Wee-wee Boy". The Pimp set was complete with leopard print skin, some serious bling bling, gold thumb tacks and a lot of other accessories. Now, with wee-wee boy, you pull down his shorts and he "wee-wee's"!! That's right, he wee-wee's water! I love these people!! I must tell you that poor wee-wee boy has had an accident since then. I was playing with his shorts a little too often, so he is standing there with his shorts around his legs, shameless in front of the world.

To get to the point, I was sitting there with all these senior management folks, laughing and having a great time, and I realized this is what team building is. This is how you gel with your office workers. This is how you identify what each person is made of. You hang out in an informal atmosphere, act a little crazy, laugh a lot, and along the way shed some inhibitions and get to know your team a little better. You can hire all the smart people in the world, but unless these people realize the importance of a team, you cannot achieve squat. And its in situations like these where you can accurately gauge how comfortable a person will be in an environment that requires effective communication and team work.

Its not about forming friendships, its more about trying to see what an individual is like underneath and trying to develop the ability to trust others with regards to work. Especially with us engineers, I've found that one of the hardest things while working on any task is developing the ability to delegate work. There is this strong mentality where you tend to want to do everything yourself as you do not trust the other person as much as you do yourself. This skill is especially critical when you are running your own business, or working in a management area, as I have experienced first hand. Perhaps its this inability to delegate tasks to others that accounts for why most of us are comfortable sitting in front of a computer and writing lines of code, but are at a loss when we have to stand up and lead a team. Something to think about I guess...

Be good!