People are overwhelmed with the sheer complexity of things to do and torn between the various commitments in their life, both at work and at home. Some of this is caused by the pace of change, the expectations of others and the nature of our work environments. Workload is killing us. The Japanese have a word for this phenomenon - Koroshi - literally death by overwork. Stress in low doses is good for you - this is called eustress. Stress in high doses is bad for you - this is called distress and in its worse form - death. I am more in favour of eustress than distress, personally.
Today I have friends visiting. We have had a wonderful time together and I haven't had so many belly laughs for a long time. Liz and I walked up the hills of Sumner admiring the views and talking about anything that entered our heads at the time. I don't do enough of this, do you? And yet exercise, laughter and friends are a winning combination.
I reminded me of the survey I asked educators to fill in towards the end of 2008. This survey asked some key questions about their competency in relating to others. It was a self rating survey and the results were very interesting. It was no surprise that the following question was rated lowest by respondents:
There are two main problems with lack of delegation. The first is that it can led to distress because we try to do everything ourselves. It will be quicker after all, we won't have to fix others' mistakes and we know how it should be done. Koroshi here we come!
The second issue is important too. By not delegating we are stealing from others who have the ability to perform. Our role as leaders is to build the capacity of others so that they can grow their own abilities, and in doing so succession is more likely to be assured. In order to delegate it is important to understand a person's strengths and build on these. What are the person's productive skills for that particular task? Do they have the constructive energy for the task? Consider these elements in order to delegate appropriately. Build the skills of others on purpose, for if you do everything yourself they will never learn. Your employees, colleagues and family will be trapped in a dependency model and may very well resent their lack of power. Develop their abilities to be resilient and to cope with stress positively. This implies building strong relationships and knowing the needs and capabilities of those around you.
I'm not going to rush off and shed my workload, or abdicate my responsibilities. But maybe there are some things that others want to learn and to take control of. Maybe I should start by asking them what I am doing that they could be doing. Maybe I could identify others' strengths to build on and support them to have a go. Maybe I could live for a few more years in a non-koroshi state...now that's appealing...