I have trouble delegating work and assigning tasks to others. My logical brain understands the benefits of delegating and how it drives productivity. I’m all for anything that helps me Get More Done. So should I be blaming my right side brain for holding me back?
In day to day work, that Inbox Zero seems a distant dream so I reflected on why I’m reluctant to delegate more and what I can do about it.
Excuse 1: It’s easier to do it myself if I want it done right
This is especially true when a task “done right” means executed the way I’d like it.
To address this, I should assess how I’m delegating and whether I provide enough clear instructions and expectations to the team.
Often, I think it would take more time to delegate and monitor that the task is being done to my satisfaction than to complete it myself.
I need to consider is whether my time is best spent doing this task and if anyone else can perform it satisfactorily so as to free me to complete tasks that can’t be delegated.
Focus on outcomes not on the process. Ensure the person assigned the task understands the purpose within the project or the big picture.
Excuse 2: I feel guilty assigning more work to my team
Whilst it shows empathy for my direct reports, I’ve found it helpful to learn about each of their capabilities and plans for advancement.
Make sure the employee delegated the task to has the necessary skills, experience and authority to execute. Giving them the responsibility of owning the task builds a culture of engagement and accountability.
Relieve your sense of guilt and optimise for success by providing clear and thorough instructions and context. The time spent developing your employees and team to perform these tasks will help their professional development.
I have to remind myself to give them space to own the task and perform once assigned so as not to micromanage.
Excuse 3: By assigning work then I won’t be needed anymore
It’s an annoying voice in the back of my head and I’m ashamed to say it’s there. The nagging thought is the fear that by delegating tasks away, I somehow diminish my personal value to the organisation and be left with nothing to contribute.
Whilst it’s good to get it out of my head, it’s total rubbish! As a manager, we were assigned a team for a reason. To nurture and build them up. To leverage our collective talents and efforts to achieve more for the organization than by working independently.
Prudently delegating tasks to the right people frees up bandwidth to focus on relationship building, strategic planning and managing the team. Managers need to liaise with their peers to optimise resources and plan for an uncertain future. All of which are essential for company building.
Bonus: The importance of Feedback
Delegating is an engagement in itself not a transaction. Both parties grow from the experience when feedback is shared constructively. The act of delegating should be framed as a show of trust in the employee that they are able to complete the task and recognition of their value to the organisation.
Feedback shouldn’t be at the end of the task. Scheduling regular follow up meetings allows both parties to monitor progress, clarify expectations, opportunities to ask questions and assistance if required. The meetings should be designed to optimise for success and support rather than an exercise in micromanagement.
Constructive feedback and being grateful for their commitment and efforts are powerful team motivators.
I try to focus on being an active listener when giving feedback, recognise and thank those who assisted and be gracious in sharing the credit. I make sure feedback is given and received so I can improve my delegating skills.
Was I clear in outlining the task and goals? Did I support with allocating appropriate authority to the employee for success? Was I accessible during the process or micromanaging?