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wholeheartedly, much like swallowing something without digesting
it), and integration (they fully accept the idea it as if it were their
Deci’s experiments on getting somebody to do a boring task show
that if three elements are present in the demand, the subject is
more likely to integrate the task, as demonstrated by the fact that
they perform the activity in their free time. They will take on the
job and show volition if the demand includes these elements:
providing a rationale;
acknowledging that it may be something they do not want to do;
granting that they do have a choice about not doing it, while
at the same time emphasising that it’s important to you that
they do it.
In practice it’s not so hard to provide a rationale and to acknowledge
that it’s not something they want to do. However, giving the other
person a choice not to perform the task is not always something you
want to do when delegating downwards. You won’t achieve perfec-
tion here – just do the best you can to try to include these three ele-
ments when asking somebody to do something for you. If you can
minimise the pressure – and thereby give the other person some
sense of choice – he or she will take ownership of the task and will
do a better job of it.
Delegating to somebody
On delegating, Patrick Quinlan told me: ‘When you’re running an
organisation of any size, you want to spread out the work to
approach the definition of efficiency, which is each doing only
what each can do. When people aren’t doing the job they’re
supposed to be doing, that will eventually bubble up to the CEO.
In this situation, people, starting with the CEO, aren’t delegating
appropriately. To delegate requires clear direction, and proper
recruitment and training. It’s all about getting other people to do
their jobs, so you don’t have to do it for them.’
Exclusive discussion with Patrick Quinlan, April 2008.