Diapers and Delegation: Important Lessons in Micromanagement




business-babies.jpgIt may be hard to believe, but when my wife and I had our first child, I volunteered to change his diaper every time. Odd, I know, but let me explain why. Think about it – when is the happiest time in a baby’s life? When they’re naked. Those with kids likely know what I’m talking about. Every time his diaper was getting changed, he would giggle and shake with excitement. Realizing how joyful he was during this time, I wanted to be a part of the experience so I would always be associated with happiness.

My wife did not argue with me over who would get to change the diapers. However, over time, she started observing my diaper changing and informed me that I was, in fact, “doing it wrong.” Thinking I was a pro, I was reluctant to accept this criticism but ultimately gave in and “re-learned” this simple task. Just a few diapers later, she notified me I was still doing it wrong. At this point, I gave up on diaper duty and let her do it her way.

The Key to Successful Delegation is… Delegation
This may be an experience many can relate to. There are times when tasks are delegated to us and we are happy to do them, only to be discouraged as soon as micromanagement and control come into play. On the flipside, sometimes when we are the ones delegating, we might find ourselves closely monitoring others’ methods and critiquing them to perform more like us, with a “my way or the highway” type of paradigm.

Consider, for a moment, similar circumstances in your daily work. How often have you delegated a task to someone else, only to find yourself quickly jumping back in to manage the process? For me, the answer was quite often. That’s when I realized better results can be achieved if I remove myself from the process and fully delegate responsibility, authority and execution of the task, rather than trying to control the exact methods being used.

We can all agree that morale is a major contributing factor to increased production, especially when it involves completing menial tasks. When I am micromanaged, my attitude quickly plummets, and I become completely disengaged in the process. A once joyful experience is transformed into a chore.

Through the process of changing diapers, I learned a valuable lesson for both home and work life: when you delegate tasks or ask for help, don’t micromanage. Instead, allow others the freedom and safety to make adjustments in methods that achieve the same result. In doing so, ownership is created and the entire process is more enjoyable, proving as long as the outcome is favorable, the details of how they got there don’t really matter.

For those interested in learning more about delegation strategies and ways to enhance leadership abilities, The Center offers an expert-led course in Supervisor Skills. Learn more about this class and view an upcoming course schedule here.


westra_c-WEB.jpgCharlie Westra, Growth Services Program Manager
As the Growth Services Program Manager at The Center, Charlie’s expertise spans many areas. Charlie is responsible for developing organizational growth strategies, providing management consulting, and building effective teams. Specializing in improving employee engagement with supervisory skills and leadership development, Charlie works collectively and individually with management and sales teams to develop customized workplace tools to fit specific needs and goals. His mission is to assist companies in producing sustainable, positive results.


Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

Categories: Leadership/Culture