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Too Many Hands In The Pot

I fondly remember baking cookies with my mom as a child. Once in a while, she would call my brother, sister and I to come help her and of course we would get very excited. Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long because we all tried to do the same thing at the same time. My siblings and I argued over who would cracks the eggs, pour the milk, mix the ingredients, etc. At that point, she would yell and say, “Too many hands in the pot will make a mess…all three of you cannot do everything all at once!” Since we didn’t quite understand the concept, we pouted and left the kitchen discouraged.

“Too many hands in the pot will spoil the sauce” is a common idiom well known to many. Think about it; if you went to a barbershop or salon to style your hair and there were three different people servicing you, it’s more than likely that you will end up with three different styles. Sadly, I worked for an employer who welcomed this type of behavior and it drove my coworkers and I nuts! Our director would often split up simple tasks that could be done by one person (sort of a conquer and divide tactic) and I never understood why. I mean, what’s the point of asking 3 different people to complete one project? Why not assign one person in order to minimize confusion and errors? Nevertheless, I went along with what was asked of me just to keep the peace.

Have you had this experience? How do/did you deal with it? Below are some ways that I found most helpful:

MAKE A SUGGESTION: If your manager is approachable and open to new ideas, voice your opinion. Your manager may have recognized independent skills within the staff; hence the reason why all were assigned different tasks. However, he/she may not necessarily think or be convinced that one person can complete the project. You may be able to encourage a change to be made in the way tasks are divvied up.

TEAM UP: After you’ve been informed of your “part” of an assignment or project meet separately with your teammates to discuss and brainstorm how each of you can contribute to the completion of the assignment. One of your coworkers may be an Excel guru while the other is great at writing creatively. Thereafter, meet with your manager and let he/she know the tactic you have used to solve this issue together.


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