Department Managers in the majority of architecture, engineering and interior design firms generally balance their project-specific responsibilities along with the management responsibilities of their respective departments. It isn’t easy! If you’re a manager in a design firm, how many times have you muttered under your breath (or screamed), "I'm too busy?" I hear it around here all the time. It’s an unnecessary, but not unusual, sentiment.

I rarely buy-into this. Architects, engineers and interior designers may be among the world’s worst delegators. Let’s face it; most designers are first class control freaks. In many cases, that’s exactly what helps make them such good designers. Unfortunately, it’s also the career-limiting anchor that prevents them from being really effective Department Managers and rising into the leadership ranks within their organizations.

Maybe the next time I hear one of our Department Managers say ‘I’m too busy’ during one of our weekly resource planning meetings, I'll reply, "let me follow you around for a couple of days." I’m confident that if I follow a manager around for a few days I can help them identify a myriad of target rich delegation opportunities they’re missing or ignoring. Besides, these delegation opportunities are oftentimes great ways to begin developing younger Gen-Y’ers for their shot at greater organizational and project roles. Who among us doesn’t want to help the younger generation succeed?

I've spoken to our managers about effective management, which means leveraging the strengths of the folks in their department to get the most out of everyone. After all, who doesn’t want to be in a role that challenges them to rise to their own highest and best use each day? It’s human nature to want to succeed. To achieve this in others, an effective Department Manager has to regularly rely upon delegation, which requires laying out clear expectations, which requires accountability, which requires daily management...

In other words, stuff architects, engineers and interior designers generally aren’t hard-wired to do. You’ve got to work at it!

I've remarked on more than one occasion that we've got some of the smartest men and women I've ever met right here at Luckett & Farley. I'm constantly amazed at what they do to solve difficult problems – pure genius at times. Just like most professional services organizations, these episodes of brilliance often show themselves during operations that occur in crisis mode – but it rarely needs to be this way.

If we can make time to manage, we'll very rarely be forced into herculean acts of valor due to a crisis we allowed to happen by not taking the time to delegate and manage in the first place.

It’s kinda like being a fire-fighting arsonist...

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