Do you feel overloaded, stressed, and don’t seem to be making much progress?
This is a common issue faced by most managers. There are only a limited number of hours each day. What you do with these is crucial to your success. You must identify your core skills and tasks that only you can do, and look for other simpler, lower value tasks that can be done by others to be delegated.
Delegating is one of the key skills for any manager. Other key skills are posted as challenges in the 30 Days to Become a Better Project Manager series. If you are joining today, read them first, after joining the 30 Days To Be a Better Project Manager challenge.
Good delegation helps to develop the team, saves you a whole lot of time, and motivates the team. But if you don’t do it correctly, you will be frustrated, demotivated, and may even vow to never delegate in the future. Plus you also demotivate and confuse the other person.
When people on your team goof-up, make mistakes, or simply do not seem to “get” it, many managers tend to get upset, angry and in their zeal to show how much of an expert they are, they may even snatch the work from them, and say… “You can’t even do this simple thing. I’ll show you how to do this work quickly and efficiently.” As you get busy doing the work, you are the only one staying back, fixing it, while others have all left for the day. You get stressed, worked up, and upset, while everyone else seems to enjoy.
Herein lies the problem: Can you take over everyone’s work and do it yourself, the “right” or the “Best” way?
Your real job is to teach them, mentor them, and be patient with them. Of course the timing is going to be tight, but how do you still build and lead a highly productive team.
Why Don’t Managers Delegate?
There are many things that we do not want to give to our team to do, for fear that they will not do it on time, will not create it with the right quality, and you simply want to be “sure” that it is done correctly. “What happens if something goes wrong?” is a constant fear.
Other managers don’t delegate because they are perfectionists. First of all they don’t like to delegate. If at all they delegate, they’ll want to “micro-manage” every aspect of it, killing the whole delegation process. Such “control freaks” find it hard to think of delegating.
Sometimes, people don’t delegate simply because of the time it takes to explain the job. “By the time I’ll finish explaining, I could have finished the job!” they say… and then they do it alone, grumpily, frustrated and angry.
The point is, how will the team learn it, “get” it, when you never give them the chance to do it. Of course, when you give it, they will make mistakes, the timing, costing and quality won’t be always right.
You have to teach them, coach them, and provide support to them, but not get in their way. Let them do it. Manage closely initially, until they master it.
They will learn something new, become better at it, and that mastery will become their USP. They’d love you for it, ’cause you gave them the chance to become good at something, and let them do it on their own, independently.
Identify something that you would normally do it on you own… for whatever reason… higher quality, better timing, or simply because you love to do it. However, you know that you shouldn’t be doing it.
Identify someone who would be best to do it. Ideally, this person should be reporting to you. Otherwise, delegation may not work. Arrange a meeting with this person, and delegate the work to them. Explain clearly how you would like the work done, what is the benchmark, and when and how is it to be delivered. Set a milestone and tell them you’d be monitoring it initially, on a regular basis.
Also, inform other relevant people that delegation has occurred, so that if support from other parties is needed, they’d know and will cooperate with the team member for information, support etc.
Once you have delegated, get out of the way. Let them start and take a stab at it. Don’t kill their creativity and enthusiasm. Do check regularly (but not hourly), and ask them to show the progress. Give encouragement, suggestions, and ask for their feedback and experience in doing the job.
As they gain experience, they feel better, will do the job better, and that’s one more thing off your plate. You now only need to monitor and support this person to do it right. It may take more time initially to delegate, hand-hold, but in the long term, delegating leaves you more time to focus on your core action items… things that only you can do… more of strategy, more of planning, more of the proactive things, and makes you a better manager.
Challenge for Team Members (Non-Managers):
If you are an employee, and not a manager or in a position to manage others in your team, you can still do this challenge of delegating. Only, this time, you will be an ideal person to “delegate” a job to.
The next time your manager delegates some work to you, get more clarity on the task:
Repeat what you have understood, and clarify the goals, objectives, when is it due, time line, quality requirements, budget, communication requirements, and any other specific ways to do, or not do it. This way, there is less chance of errors or mistakes, and a higher chance that the work will be done close to the way your manager want it.
Final Steps For The Challenge:
Delegating work and responsibility is one of the hardest tasks for a manager, and can create stress for the employee if not done correctly.
Take it as a challenge to delegate effectively by clarify the requirements, responsibilities, time-lines and get agreement that the other person has understood it clearly. Work together to get it right the first time!
You will get better at it with practice. And this will prime you for the time when you are ready to “delegate” your job to the next person, and move higher up the ladder.
Try it out. Post your feedback here. What did you try, and how was your experience.