June 7, 2010
Delegation: Knowing When to Step Back and Let Others Run With It
To many managers delegation is a four-letter word. Many would rather gouge their eyes out than hand over authority and decision making power to a subordinate or even an equal.
There is the fear that a person who has been delegated something will not perform the task adequately and that this will reflect badly on a manager. Others worry that if their subordinate does a great job and is noticed by others they will outshine the one in a supervisory position. These are both irrational fears that can easily be dealt with by planning properly and managing effectively.
In reality, delegation is a great way to empower employees, reduce stress and even save your company money. You can’t do everything yourself and if you try you will get stressed out and likely become an ineffective manager. By taking some of your tasks and spreading them around to your employees you will make the entire organization stronger and get a lot more done.
Here are some key delegation tips. Follow these and you you’ll be golden when it comes to spreading out the workload.
Knowing What Delegation Is
Delegation doesn’t just have to be assigning work that is already something in the job description of an employee. When you delegate you take one of your tasks and hand over the decision-making authority to the other person. The end responsibility is still on you though, so you need to make sure you get what you’re asking for.
Don’t delegate only the unpleasant tasks in your workload. This will lead to your employees being upset and not feeling like a valuable part of the team. Mix it up and allow your people the chance to do tasks that they may find to be enjoyable. Of course, you will also have to delegate some that are time consuming, and others that are simply unpleasant so be tactful when doing so.
You must lay out exactly what you are looking for when it comes to delegation. Your employees must understand not only the task but also how that task fits into the overall big picture. This will allow them to share their insight with you and perhaps open up avenues of innovation you have never considered. In the end, your head is on the chopping block if this blows up so you need to make sure everyone knows their job and how it should be done. Clearly define what they are allowed to have decision-making authority over and what they need to check back in with you about. This will lead to better communication and an overall better project.
It can be hard for a lot of people to let go of the power and authority they have worked so hard to obtain. You have to simply trust in your employees, explain to them what you need and let them do their job. You shouldn’t hover or micromanage because you may make an employee feel like their input and hard work is not appreciated.
If you plan properly, select the right people and let them work to the best of their ability then you will find that delegation will work for everyone. Your employees feel empowered and a part of the team while at the same time you can reduce your workload; then you can focus more on higher-level managerial tasks. Many mangers also find that when they delegate frequently they are in fact training a possible replacement. While that may scare many people, how many mangers have you known that have shot themselves in the career foot because they had no one to replace them?
If all of this makes you break out in a cold sweat, don’t worry! It happens to a lot of people. Just start slow with this process and work your way up to bigger projects. Take baby steps and you will see the benefits to all involved when it comes to delegation.