Many leaders have a devil of a time with delegation. There are a number of reasons why we struggle with it. First, we are reluctant to cede control of a task, especially important ones. Second, delegating well often requires a lot of work. It is anything but easy. Third, we sometimes fear that the delegation will turn out badly and will not reflect well upon us. Finally, some of us are just perfectionists and cannot imagine anyone doing the work with the flair that we would do it. We know that by NOT delegating we’re limiting our success, don’t we? After all, you can only work so many hours in a day and you can only do so much.
Frame Of Mind: When you delegate, you are showing respect for others as you ask them for their help. There is no shame in that. When you include and acknowledge your teammates, you open the way to acceleration for everyone; including you, your teammates and your customers. In effect, you are leading everyone to higher ground. Don’t delay, you can do it!
Rank The Tasks: Look at all the tasks that you are currently responsible for. Think of all of those tasks in a new way by placing a monetary value on them. Categorize these tasks as $1.00 tasks (important), $.75 tasks (significant), $.50 tasks (moderate) and $.25 tasks (why am I doing this?). The $1.00 tasks are those that you cannot delegate and require that you (and ONLY you) handle them because of their sensitive nature or their monumental importance. The $.75 tasks are significant and you probably need to handle those yourself as well. The $.50 tasks are moderately important and you could probably delegate them to a worthy teammate with some preparation. The $.25 tasks are tasks that you should not be personally investing your valuable time on and would provide an outstanding opportunity to delegate to a member of your team, permanently! Start by delegating all of the $.25 tasks as soon as possible. Then delegate the $.50 tasks as you can find time, and keep working at delegating more when your team is ready to receive the delegations successfully!
Preparation Makes Perfect: When you delegate a task, be careful to delegate in advance with enough communication and planning to ensure that the result is a positive one. Select a person who is well suited to take on a new responsibility and describe the end result in detail so that you are in agreement about how success will look. Pledge your support and state your belief in their ability to handle this new, delegated task. Let them know that you WILL NOT let them fail, identify any boundaries that they will need to respect and motivate them to work this new delegated task diligently. Set a reasonable timeline and agree upfront on a good checkpoint so that you will be able to step in and help (if necessary) to ensure their successful outcome! Whatever you do, DO NOT take the task back once they have started. Help them get to a successful finish but DO NOT let them bounce the task back into your lap. Celebrate their success upon completion of the work and help them look forward to the next delegation opportunity!
What Message Are You Sending? When we don’t delegate, we are saying that we don’t trust our teammates or that we don’t believe that they can get the required results. We’re saying we cannot make time to prepare them to help us free up time for more important work or develop the breadth and depth or our team for future success. Is that the message you want to send your team?
Mastering The Art: If you accept that learning to delegate can open you up for more challenging and more meaningful work, you can begin to imagine how mastering the art of delegation can be strategic in your effort to become your best self. If you can transition to delegating successfully, you can maximize your success while helping to professionally develop those who you are delegating to! That’s a WIN/WIN if there ever was one!
Invest in Yourself AND Your Team: At first, delegation is going to seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Remember, that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and that this is an INVESTMENT that you’re making in your future workload. You’re also making an investment in a member of your team so that they TOO can step up to more meaningful work.
Adjusting Workload: When you delegate, you’re adjusting the workload for the team, placing the work where the most appropriate person can do it, in a way that strengthens the team for the future. You free up your time for the tasks that are most important and provide meaningful and challenging work to a junior member of your team, which encourages them to stretch and to become stronger.
Select and Get Started: Make your choice wisely as you select a member of your team to handle this work for you. Select a person with the skills, temperament, attitude and confidence to take on a new assignment and help to make the team stronger as they get this work done right the first time. Whatever you do, don’t procrastinate, just get started! You cannot become a master delegator until you begin to give it a great try. As you gain experience, your skill and confidence will grow and you will become more comfortable with the risks and see that the benefits easily outweigh any risks. Have fun and figure out how to spend all the time you’ll be saving!