The Boss not Delegating and Affecting Quality

The organization was experiencing quality issues. The Boss was young, inexperienced, and frustrated. He was ranting about the poor quality his team was producing on the shop floor. He began by complaining about his staff not completing a time-sensitive job by the time the customer arrived to pick up the product. Obviously, the customer was angry and upset. The Boss was embarrassed that the customer experienced poor service and was looking for someplace to put the blame. I suggested the blame should not fall on anyone on the shop floor. This began a somewhat tenuous discussion with The Boss.

I said the quality problem was with him, it was his problem. The Boss immediately became defensive and said, “How could this be my problem? I wasn’t even on the floor to screw it up! It was Joe’s problem, and he should have done a better job!” Unfortunately for Joe, he was the bearer of the bad news and the crew member who had the courage to tell The Boss the customer arrived and was angry. I was in the room when this whole conversation happened. When Joe left the office for the shop floor, I began to ask The Boss some questions.

I happen to know the company’s floor manager had recently resigned and The Boss decided not to replace him. I asked why he didn’t replace the floor manager. The Boss said he could do the job and he didn’t trust the job to anyone else in the building! I stated that he already had a full-time job being The Boss. The fact that he now had to do the work of two people may be one of the reasons he screwed up. He did not like me saying he screwed up but then asked what I had in mind. I knew none of the remaining employees had the skill set to run the floor today, but with coaching, someone may be able to do the job in the future.

We are in football season, so I used that as an example. When the team loses the game, the head coach (as The Boss) addresses the media and takes responsibility for the loss. The head coach was not on the field but was responsible for the team members who were on the field. The Boss has the same responsibilities as the head coach, to coach team members up to the expected level of play or off the team. I asked The Boss to take out a piece of paper, draw a line vertically down the middle of the page and label the left side “Me” and the right side “Team.” I then asked The Boss to think of all the duties of the floor manager position and in the “Me” column list the duties he felt only he can do. I emphasized to be honest with himself or there would be no value in doing this at all. The Boss agreed. Then on the right side labeled “Team,” list all the other duties of the floor manager position. Now assign employee names to the duties in the “Team” column. These duties, one to two duties per person, would be added to an employee’s normal duties on a temporary basis. I cautioned The Boss to be thoughtful as to the abilities and talents of the people assigned to the temporary duties. This way, in the short term, no one person would have to take on all the duties of the floor manager in addition to their own job duties. Hopefully, this would be the beginning of better quality.

In The Boss’ role as head coach, The Boss will have to spend extra time with each player to train and coach them to perform their additional temporary duties. One of these people may show potential to be the next floor manager, if not at least the floor manager’s duties will be overseen by several people until a new floor manager can be hired. When an organization has a problem, keep it within the four walls of the company. It is bad business when company problems creep outside of the organization, into the public eye, and negatively affect the customers.