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Ask HN: Does delegating well make your team suck at customer service?
6 points by frustratedmike 944 days ago | 4 comments
One of the core skills of being a manager is to delegate to your team and delegate well. Done well, you fully explain the goal what you want to happen, why it needs to be done and an overview of how. You may need to manage the process a bit and even micromanage parts of the process. This is how most textbooks explain that delegation should work. However, I think that this just breeds a team of people who need to be "delegated" to in order to get stuff done. As a customer, getting great customer service means you don't have to think. It means that you don't have to "delegate", you just expect it gets done. This means that your team needs to be able to take vague instructions and run with them. They need to be able to probe, to identify the exact requirements and get it done. They can't expect the customer to do the work. I am almost convinced that babying your team when delegating hurts their ability to develop the skills needed to provide great customer service. Am I insane or am I on to something?



Delegating lots of tasks frequently doesn't equate to good delegation. In fact it's bad - it's highly inefficient.

I think micro-managing often implies a lack of trust where you're not sure an employee will 'do the right thing' to resolve a customer issue.

Really with a team you should be constantly letting them take more responsibility & resolving unusual instances together, this means you never have to repeat instructions for the same task twice. Continue long enough & you are only pulled into the loop for the odd anomaly.

I think this way of working builds great morale within a customer service team. The best managers remove obstacles for their team which enables them to provide awesome service.

Sometimes, simply asking your team "what common tasks are we're duplicating brain power on?" "where can I give you more responsibility?"

You may find the answers you get are really simple to implement, like "allow me to issue refunds under $10 as I ask you 10x per week for this"

Sure, maybe you get them to keep a refund log & you review it weekly but it shows that with good performance they'll create a role where they are free to use their initiative without fear of being punished.

If you create a culture where they continually look to you for instruction they are never going to step outside of that. An efficient support team needs to be lead by example.

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There are companies that already do this and remove "managers" altogether.

Example: http://vimeo.com/43676958 (Github)

There are many others. It all depends on the type of company and culture. The exact things that work for Github may not work for other companies in that exact form but there are obviously ways to do so in different fields, etc...

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Delegation is actually a skill that only works when the end user/customer does not even see it happening necessarily.

A successful manager must delegate. But "delegation well" does not just mean you explain the goal, the why etc. A good manager knows who to delegate to, when to delegate and when not to delegate.

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Curious in the responses you'll hopefully get.

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