Alas, this isn’t really a SQL post, but thoughts on efforts to share work that has been previously done by one person! For the past two years I’ve handled almost all of the work leading up to SQLSaturday Orlando, bringing in volunteers close to the event to help with logistics. It works pretty well because I have all the pieces of the puzzle and know that I have to get it done. The downside of course is that I add more work to a list that is already larger than it should be, and I’m not training anyone to take over sometime in the future.
The latter is a fundamental challenge of most businesses, and most fail badly at it. Ideally every leader should be grooming someone to be their replacement, just as they themselves should be preparing to move into the job that their boss does (note that I’m not suggesting a coup!). It doesn’t happen for a lot of reasons; lack of time, lack of candidates, fear of being replaced.
For me, my excuse has been lack of time. Dividing up tasks takes time, explaining how to do them takes time, checking on them takes time, doing them yourself when they don’t get done…takes time!
This year I’m trying harder to share, and I started that by including some of the key volunteers on all the email related to the event. It lets them see how I communicate, what kind of responses I get back from speakers and sponsors, and start to feel like they understand what is going on. Last week we met at lunch for a planning meeting and to divide up more tasks, and it’s quite a dance. Volunteers want to own tasks, but aren’t sure what is involved – is it really an hour task? Or the “how” worries them, what should a message to a sponsor who isn’t responding look like? For me, there are some things that I’m not ready to let go of – key sponsors is one – and there are other tasks that are critical path and require some faith to let go!
In one case I asked Jack Corbett to request funding for the event via UGSS. First I had to add him as an admin, then he emailed back that he didn’t see the funding option. That required an email to our MS guy to fix that, then back to Jack, then finally get the request done. I’m worried that I’m annoying the daylights out of Jack, and he’s thinking the same – trying to help just added work! Some of it had to be done anyway, but it feels slow at times.
Management 101, right?
it’s the nature of managing anything that delegating takes time and adds complexity, but you hope you benefit from it in the long term. For volunteer events the more people that have ownership of it the better the event becomes, so it’s worth some pain to share the work and the knowledge.