DELEGATING EFFECTIVELY: DEMONS, DIVIDENDS AND DETAILS
The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” says Eli Broad, the only person to found two Fortune 500 companies in two different industries. Research says that only one in three managers delegate well. In addition, only one in three of those are considered good at it by employees. I have seen far too many managers working long hours and are stressed out simply because they do not want to or do not know how to delegate. Consequently, if this describes you, or you want to get better at it, read on. (Check this out as well: 5 Steps to Delegating)
The Demons: Why Managers Don’t Do it
The first demon managers face with delegating is they fear the outcomes. They do not trust the employee to do it right or the way they want it done. Or, they are worried that an employee might do it better than they will. Worse yet, the employee might fail, and it will be a bad reflection on them.
The second demon is that they are closet micromanagers and feel they must maintain control. They are the ‘go-fer’ delegators Steven Covey often described (do this and report back). They want to continue to be the indispensable go-to person who knows it all and can do it all.
The third demon is a lack of perspective. Managers dial in to their own career success and not that of their team. As a result, of letting these demons run wild is usually longer hours, lots of stress, a team of robots and eventually stagnant productivity as well as personal burn out.
The Dividends of Delegating
The payoff for delegating is twofold. First, you invest in developing your employees and give them an opportunity to expand their comfort zone and learn new skills. This is employee engagement to the nth degree, and often it leads to higher performance. There may be bumps along the way and mistakes but that’s part of the learning process.
Second, delegate tasks that will free you up to take a longer-term view of you goals and focus more on top priorities you never seem to have enough time for. Certainly, you can then look more critically at your own responsibilities and how you and your team can improve–even if you are doing well enough now.
The Details of Delegating
Please note delegating is not a strategy to do nothing. I have to say this because I have come across some managers who delegate to get out of work. Laziness eventually leads to resentful employees and boss problems. Unfortunately, many managers do not know how to delegate. It’s often: “Here, do this. Let me know if you have any questions.” They abdicate their leadership role. In fact, they set up their people and themselves for failure. Here are seven common delegating mistakes:
- Inappropriate person for the task or goal
- Poor communication about expectations
- Lack of praise for progress
- No follow-through or coaching on the manager’s part
- Micro-managing–looking over people’s shoulders
- Seagull antics: managers yell and squawk when things are not done their way
- Lack of delegation
To delegate effectively, thoughtfully review who to involve and what to delegate. Make sure you are willingly giving employees responsibility and accountability for the process, timeliness and quality of the task or project. However, set them up for success too, by:
- First, clearly outline and clarify the tasks.
- Second, build confidence by beginning with small tasks then moving to larger ones.
- Third, set up agreed upon check-in time for coaching, questions, problems or to review progress.
- Fourth, give your employees whatever support or resources they need to succeed.
- Fifth, at the end of the task or project, do coaching for learning and development.
Pulling It All Together
In conclusion, when managers delegate appropriately, it communicates to employees that they believe in them. Furthermore, it says, “I will help you win!”. I like these words by Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank: “I trust the people who are working with me. I delegate.”
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