While it’s true delegation to a team member can be about getting a simple and routine task completed there is also a much greater outcome that can be achieved through delegation; that is the development of skills and experience by a team member. Delegation has a role to play in encouraging people to learn new skills.
The challenge for managers can be that they don’t want to let go, or give up control. However in the interests of other employees and to reduce the level of stress upon the yourself, delegation is a key skill for you to develop.
Managers find it difficult to delegate because they feel they can do the job better themselves, they don’t want to be left holding the can if someone else stuffs it up, they don’t want to invest the time training or explaining to another person or they may even feel threatened by helping others develop more competencies. Some managers may even feel that in helping develop others they may expose their own level of incompetency. It is possible that you don’t even know where to start with delegation and hopefully this article will provide you with guidance.
Delegating helps you as a manager. It reduces your workload, therefore your stress and enables you to focus on the really important, strategic, stuff. It spreads the workload while helping others on the team develop skills so that they are more useful to you – again reducing your stress, while making their job for interesting.
The time to delegate is when you have too much work for the hours, when basic mundane tasks get in the way of bigger, strategic activities, when its clear staff have very little to do and have the skills to do the task, or when staff have indicated a desire to take on greater responsibility.
Here is a simple exercise. Place an A4 sheet on your desk and for the next 30 days make a note of every activity you engage in and the time spent on that activity. For example; attended a meeting x 3 hours or admin catchup x 3 hours. At the end of 30 days take another sheet, divide into two columns, head the columns ‘critical tasks’ and ‘non critical tasks’. In the critical column list the activities and time of any task that only you can do. In the non-critical column list the activiies and time that in the perfect world others could do. Now start delegating the activities in the non-critical column. We talk about these management strategies, amongst others, in our workshop on project management.
There are two types of activities you should seek to delegate. The first is routine admin tasks that are within the capability of the other person. The second type are those activities that will develop the capacity of the other person. These are tasks that test and stretch the other person and require more of your time to oversee and monitor. It is critical you do not set the other person up to fail when you delegate a stretch activity.
Be aware of the person you are delegating to. That person must have some ability to do the work or at least have expressed a desire to learn something new. Don’t use delegation to overload already effective workers. Test the employee with a small task to begin with and as their confidence grows increase the complexity. Allow plenty of time for them to learn.
Delegation is a positive management skill. It is something you do need to develop the ability to do, it will make your job far more interesting and less stressful. Be decisive about your decision, and your right to delegate, while also stressing to the other employee the benefits to them.
For anything other than basic tasks you cannot simply delegate and walk away. Remember the higher purpose of delegation is to develop another persons skills. You are their mentor and coach in this circumstance. Show them what the desired outcome is, ask them for their ideas on how they might achieve the outcome, answer every question they have, no matter how minor, remain positive and supportive throughout the process. Avoid criticism. Mistakes are inevitable during a learning process. Engage in conversation about the impact of a choice and the alternatives. Let them learn through experience.
Don’t expect someone you have delegated a task to do it the same way you would have done. People work in different ways. The outcome is more important than the process. Be patient. You already know how to do the task, but remember at the beginning it took you time to learn also; as it will for the person you delegate the task to. Make sure the person you are delegating to has the time, the skills and the resources to do the work. If not take a step back, break down the delegation and develop competencies one by one.
Do not delegate an assignment and then attempt to manage it yourself – you will make an enemy of the overruled subordinate – Wess Roberts
Delegate well and you will build an effective team. If you don’t delegate you will destroy yourself.
I have been helping managers be the best they want to be since 2002 as a mentor, coach and professional development facilitator. When you are ready to be your best please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a free, no obligation chat. #BeYouBeYourBest