In the olden days, by which I mean in the last century when I was learning my managerial trade, the received wisdom amongst managers was that if you wanted to get something done, you gave it to the person who was the busiest.

The theory goes, I suppose, that the person with more on their plate who is better at getting things done will have more chance of completing the additional task. This assumes, of course, that busy is directly proportional to productive. It also sends a signal to the less able or less committed member of staff that by appearing to be doing less they will continue to see other people’s workload increase to a greater extent than theirs.

It is a short-term approach that has the medium-to-long term effect of alienating and burning out the very people who you want to keep in the business if at all possible. It also does not address the problem of the less able or less committed, who are clearly in need of more training, coaching, and dialogue to help them improve.

As someone who prides himself on getting things done, on executing a high volume of important projects, I can see both sides to the argument. But, as I argued earlier, it is a question of time, that most precious of commodities. Short-term gain, at the expense of long term benefit, is simply a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. It’s not sustainable. It’s not good management either.

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