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  1. My son goes to swimming lessons with his friend. So we and the friend's parents alternate taking them. This week it was their turn.

    Being a mum who believes in raising my kids to be independent, I delegated the task of getting swimming things ready to my son. I quickly checked his bag when he said he had everything. He did. The bag was placed in the hall and he picked it up when his lift arrived.

    Fast forward an hour, and his friend's Dad is explaining how he coped with my son having no towel, no goggles and no clean pants. (He did very well I think!).


    How could this be? I saw the bag packed full of the right things before he went? Simple. He had placed his swimming bag next to the almost identical bag of his sister which she had dumped in the hall after netball, and picked up the wrong one! Thankfully he was wearing his trunks under his trousers, or there'd have been no swimming at all.

    So, my attempts at delegation failed. I got it almost right, I delegated authority (to decide what to pack) and responsibility (for doing the tasks in a timely manner)  but I should never have delegated accountability - yet. That should still have been mine for a little while longer. If I had held on to that, someone else (i.e. the friend's father) wouldn't have had to sort out the problem.

    It's a timely lesson about how tricky delegation can be, even in seemingly simple situations. Of course, that doesn't mean I go back to packing everything for him. It simply means I take more care (and build in more checks) next time, until I'm happy that I can fully step away. Managers can also find it hard to delegate, and when things go wrong (as they often do at the start), they decide that they can't, and go back to doing everything themselves. That's when they get overwhelmed. Delegating takes time, and perseverance, and we have a bite-size training session that can help them to learn how to delegate effectively.

  2. My son is gluten intolerant. NOT coeliac (thankfully), but him and wheat definitely don't get on. We discovered this about 2 years ago, when he was 7... after we had put up 2 years of bad behaviour from him!

    He would throw tantrums out of the blue, be nasty, get upset for no reason, complain of tummy ache, refuse to go to bed and be generally horrible. We even labelled his behaviour as 'grumping'. We tried many ways to deal with it: reward charts and incentives; clear rules and punishments, ignoring it, shouting, cuddling. Nothing worked. We just assumed that we had a 'difficult' child.


    Because we weren't prepared to give up on him (becuase despite everything we still loved him to pieces!), we started to become aware of patterns. It wasn't just before bedtime, or when he supposed to read. It was when he had had a wheat-heavy day. Beaver camp sealed it for us: weetabix for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and pasta for tea, with biscuits in between. He came home saying he'd had stomach ache all day and was in a foul mood.

    We cut wheat from his diet and within 2 days, he was a different boy. Obviously he still has the odd 'strop', (he's a nine-year old boy), but his behaviour is much improved and well within what's normal.

    So what's the moral of this story? 

    Poor performance has an underlying cause. It may not be obvious (even to the person who is the problem), but there is something that's getting in the way.

    For managers, dealing with poor performance is time consuming, difficult and energy-sapping. You can feel that you are banging your head against a brick wall. The 'threats', training and counselling don't change anything. Maybe that's because the root cause is still a mystery.

    Generally at work, most poor performance can be attributed to:

    • Lack of clarity about what's expected
    • Lack of knowledge/skill
    • Lack of motivation
    • Lack of resources


    But these aren't the only causes. You can't solve a problem until you know what problem to solve. Once you've got the right starting point, you can turn performance around. Find out how with our Manage Underperformance Module or Performance Management Bundle.

    Alternatively, why not check out our Prezi on this topic?