Published date: December 12, 2017
Last modified: December 12, 2017
You mean I’ve got to hand this over?
For some, delegating comes easily, maybe too easy.
For others who are perfectionists, letting go of even the most trivial task is almost impossible. If you are in this second category, you are probably familiar with the references behind your back that you are a “control freak” or a “micro-manager.”
London business school professor John Hunt highlights that only 30 percent of managers think they can delegate well, and of those, only one in three is considered a good delegator by their subordinates. Therefore, only about one manager in ten really understands how to empower others.
The challenge is delegating the right things. If you don’t get it right, you are busy, but working on the wrong items. Jan Yager, in her book “Work Less, Do More,” has outlined the following key steps to effective delegation:
Choose what tasks you are willing to delegate. You should be using your time on the most critical tasks and that only you can do. Delegate what you can’t do and is of no interest. For example, non-computer types should consider delegating their social media, website, and SEO activities.
Pick the best person to delegate to. Listen and observe. Learn the traits, values, and characteristics of those who will perform well when you delegate to them. Give the work to people who deliver and not the least busy. This means hiring people with the right skills, not the least expensive or friends and family.
Trust those to whom you delegate. Trust is crucial and along with it, you also have to give the people to whom you delegate the chance to do a job as they see fit. It must be done well, but your way or the highway is not the right way.
Give clear assignments and instructions. The key is striking the right balance between giving so much detail that the listener is insulted, and not explaining enough for someone to understand expectations. Remember when you were learning, when you were the “newbie”.
Set a definite task completion date and a follow-up system. Establish deadlines and milestones & be specific. This will allow you to monitor progress before the final deadline, without fuzzy questions like “How are you doing?”
Give public and written credit. This is the simplest but one of the hardest steps for many people to learn. It will inspire loyalty, give real satisfaction, and become the cornerstone for mentoring and performance reviews.
Delegate responsibility and authority, not just the task. Managers who do not delegate responsibility along with specific tasks, eventually find themselves reporting to their subordinates and doing the work, rather than vice versa.
Avoid reverse delegation. Some team members try to give a task back if they don’t feel comfortable or are attempting to dodge responsibility. Don’t accept it except in extreme cases. In the long run, every team member needs to learn or leave.
Almost everyone who has grown their startup, from a one-person band to a going concern with many employees, has struggled with letting go. On the other hand, executives who come from a large company to a startup tend to delegate too much, resulting in high costs and loss of control.
Finally, every entrepreneur needs to set aside their fear of delegating. If you do it right, every task will likely be done better than you could do it. The only thing you can’t delegate is “the buck stops here” role. Only the person in charge can do this, and it better always be you!
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