You have way too much to do, you’re buried in work, and it seems there’s no way out from under it all. But there is: delegation. Yes, you know it’s important to do and you know it will save you time and help others develop new skills.
So Why Aren’t You Delegating?
A real concern is that many leaders won’t delegate. What’s your excuse? Do you believe that you can do the task faster, better and more efficiently, rather than taking the time to explain it to others? Are you a new leader struggling to shift from doing to delegating? Are you an experienced leader who doesn’t trust that the task will be done the right way? Do you have a lack of knowledge on how to delegate? Do you feel guilt associated with giving more work to your team? Do you fear showing weakness in your ability to get the job done? Do you fear losing control of your projects? Do you just enjoy doing the work yourself?
It’s Time to Drop the Excuses!
Lack of effective delegation will almost always limit a leader from achieving their primary job of accomplishing the mission and goals of the organization.Take stock of the constraints on your time. If you are swamped, and especially if you find yourself having to turn down new work, this is a sign that you are not delegating enough.
You’re Ready to Delegate. Here’s Some Tips on Doing it Effectively.
Delegating produces success you cannot realize on your own.
- Start with a small project and ample time. Especially if you are new to delegation. Don’t delegate your most critical, time-sensitive tasks.
- Pick the right person. Who has the skills or experience? Who needs the developmental experience? Who has the time now, or could make the time by delegating something currently on their plate? Who would like to have this opportunity?
- Explain why you are delegating. Let the person know why they were selected. Help them see the benefit to both the company and themselves.
- Set clear goals and expectations. Define what success looks like – what is to be accomplished by when (specifically). Give information on who, what and when. You might leave the “how” to them. Grant the authority required to complete the task.
- Provide resources and training. Make sure the person has the resources they need to do the job. Does she need training before taking on the task or responsibility? What guidance will she need? Remember to allow room for independent thinking whenever possible.
- Touch base but don’t micromanage. Schedule time to check in periodically throughout the course of the project to make sure everything is on track. Give positive reinforcement and coaching as needed. The more complex the task, the more often you may need to check in. Be sure to remember though, that to effectively delegate you have to let go.
- Provide feedback and feedforward. Give feedback about what went well and what didn’t. Identify lessons learned – both for the person and for you. Brainstorm with the person on what he/she may do differently in the future for an even better outcome.
The only way a busy leader can become more productive when there is only so much time in the day is to delegate more of what you don’t have to do yourself. This frees up your time so that you can spend it where it is really valuable. Yes, delegating may take more effort up front, but in the long term, it will save you time and allow you to focus on the bigger, more important aspects of your work.
Lynn Whitesell provides advanced expertise in leadership solutions, organization and culture transformation and executive coaching. She co-founded Harris Whitesell Consulting, LLC to partner with leaders and organizations to help them achieve measurable improvement and reach their full potential. For more information visit harriswhitesellconsulting.com.