“I can’t get out from under this week. The minute I cross one thing off my to-do list, three more take its place!”
Sound familiar? It’s a recurring problem resourceful managers face.
Admit it – there’s something motivating about thriving under pressure. The more we box ourselves into a corner with deadlines, to-do lists and obligations, the more revved-up we get.
But we need to do a better job of spreading things around.
One step in great leadership is developing enough confidence in your employees to empower them to do the work. After all, you’ve given them solid guidance and led by example. And you know you didn’t hire second-rate people.
Plus, knowing when to involve your team – and developing an effective delegation playbook – contributes to your success.
So Why Do We Still Hesitate To Delegate?
Tara Powers , CEO of Powers Resource Center, says it takes a true understanding of the benefits delegating can offer before most managers actually let go. “Often when leaders delegate, they fail for several reasons: lack of planning, taking back the task because it appears easier to do it themselves, or concluding that they don’t have time to delegate,” she says.
Here are the four dumbest delegating excuses we use:
1) I Got This All By Myself
Sure, this is true some of the time, but it’s impossible all of the time. Trouble is, we sometimes convince ourselves that yes, we can do it all at once.
This is the kind of thinking that leads to burnout.
How to delegate it: Even if you hadn’t considered it before, think about the duties you know you must do yourself and separate the things you don’t.
For example, take some of the smaller tasks of a huge project – such as making phone calls, doing research – and split the duties up among your employees.
Make it a “team effort,” and your employees will think they’re doing you a favor instead of seeing it as more work.
2) Explaining What To Do Takes Too Much Time
You never took the time to teach your employees that complicated new archiving system. It was faster just to do it all yourself, right?
You won’t still feel that way when you’re in the middle of non-stop archiving hell.
It pays to periodically train staff in more advanced duties. So take note: If you haven’t gotten around to teaching your gang a new task, decide which ones they can take over for the future and start training one or two employees.
The bonus: As soon as you train one employee in a new task, he or she can then train co-workers, saving you time.
How to delegate it: Don’t delegate tasks you know might be too complicated to pick up in one sitting. You’re better off handling those yourself to get them done right. But figure out tasks that need little or no explanation and enlist someone.
Or, delegate tasks you know someone on your team has had basic experience with. For example, call on employees who have research experience to help you find data to support a project proposal.
3) I Don’t Want To Pile Extra Work On My Employees
So you’d rather pile it on yourself? That just makes you cranky and also never gives your employees an incentive to step up and learn something new.
But check with employees first. Even if they’re eager to step up, they might be thinking about looming deadlines and not having enough room to wiggle.
You don’t want an employee to cave to pressure to do more work because she thinks it will “look good.”
How to delegate it: Make sure the timing is right. Avoid times when you know your team has extra work (for example, at the end of a fiscal year or during heavy travel months).
Genuinely ask if the employee can take on the extra work, and if not, reassure them that’s fine, you’ll catch them when they have less on their plate.
Your aim isn’t to stress people out, so make sure you’re choosing an opportune time to delegate.
4) I’ll Be Up A Creek If It’s Not Done Right
Obviously, you don’t want to find yourself in a position of having to redo your team’s work. This is why delegating to the right people is critical.
For instance, it’s best to avoid assigning something too complicated to a rookie; you could be stuck redoing the assignment if it’s above the employee’s level.
How to delegate it: Take the time to thoroughly explain the delegated task and your expectations. Make sure the employee has a clear understanding of what he’s responsible for, details to focus on, absolute deadlines, etc. Let the employee know what the desired outcome should be.
Next, resist the urge to hover. Yes, it’s your hide if the job isn’t done right, but show enough confidence in your employees by checking in only every so often and not looking over their shoulders. Establish some basic checkpoints or deadlines and follow up to see that things are going in the right direction.
Delegating has myriad benefits we don’t always consider. Delegating provides employees with growth opportunities, develops their skills, gives them a sense of achievement, and boosts commitment and morale.
Not to mention, it frees us up to do other things, reduces our stress – and ultimately makes our jobs easier.
The Busy Manager’s Guide
to Effective Delegation
Empower Your Team, Increase Productivity, Get Things Done Right
If you want to empower employees, hold them accountable and finally – LET GO … then check out our Effective Delegation Blueprint.
It’s a 57-page, complete step-by-step guide to delegating without feeling like you’re passing off “busy work” or being perceived as a paranoid micromanager. What you’ll learn:
- How to decide what to delegate, and what you shouldn’t
- How to select the right person to delegate to
- How to give instructions so the person “gets it”
- How to ensure expectations, timelines and deadlines are met
- How to monitor and follow up without being a micromanager