There’s no I in management, but there is a ‘team’ – and it’s your job to find it.
The Harvard Business Review found that as much as 41 per cent of a worker’s time was spent doing activities that they didn’t find rewarding and could be passed on to others. In a normal work week, that would mean you are spending Monday, Tuesday, and a little bit of Wednesday doing work others could do just as competently before you actually start doing the most important jobs for your role.
Any great delegator knows there’s more to the job than just handing out tasks. You need to understand why it’s important, you will test your own faith in your team and you will have to learn to let go. You’ll need to decide how to choose the jobs for certain people, and why it’s not always the most competent person who will be the best fit for the task.
In short, you will need to become a guru in the fine art of delegation.
Understand why you must delegate
Every time you delegate a task to another staff member, you are helping them in more ways than one. If the job is completely new to them, it may take them a little more time to complete, but at the end of the project they will have added a new skill to their repertoire. Not only that, but you’ll have built up their confidence in tackling new challenges, and you might just find that their talents in the area may even outstrip your own.
As you consider ways to delegate to upskill your team members, remember that this responsibility can help you move through the ranks as well. Delegation typically gives you more time as a manager to focus on more important tasks, and should you complete these higher-level skills well, you may be able to use them to progress to the next level yourself.
A burnt-out manager is one who is not at full capacity to lead a team, so protecting yourself from this typical managerial complaint is important. Dole out the work more evenly so you don’t have to burn the candle at both ends just to stay on top of the workload.
Know that delegation isn’t as easy as it sounds
Plenty of managers struggle to come to terms with delegating tasks and projects that have been exclusively under their own wing until now. Understanding that this delegation is not easy and that at one stage, someone had to hand the reins to you as well, will help ease the mental block of passing it on to someone new.
You will need to trust others to complete these tasks, and this is often as much a leap of faith as it is about knowing the worker and training them to do the job well. Impress upon the worker that they should come to you with questions if they are worried, but let them know you are confident they have the skills to do it well. This will help ease both of your minds’.
Empathy for your workers is one thing, but failing to delegate for fear of overloading them will only hold you both back. If you are really unsure, ask the worker if they feel they have room on their plate for the extra task. If they can prove they simply don’t have the time, you could work together to delegate some of their old tasks.
What, when, and how
Continually ask your staff what areas of the job interest them most. More often than not, you’ll be able to pass on tasks that they have mentioned, keeping you both happy.
A good time to hand over work is when there is plenty of time to get it done. This keeps the stress off and allows the worker to learn the skills properly the first time before they have to pick up the speed.
Make sure to clearly explain to the worker why you chose them for each particular role. They need to know that you trust them to do it, that you want them to advance with the skills they will surely learn, and that they have your support should they get stuck. Without explaining your motivations and hopes, workers may feel like you are passing the buck on your own work, rather than helping them with theirs.