Do you need help with delegating?
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So, today’s topic is delegation. For some, this is an extremely difficult task. For others, we might tend to over delegate at times. I will never forget the day the President called me into his office to let me know I had full responsibly for a multi-million dollar project which needed completed on a compressed timeline. He said, “Chris, I’ve watched you over the years and you’re a delegator. Don’t delegate this one!” Well, he was right in that I was a delegator; however, that was also a large part of my effectiveness as a leader. Needless to say, I understood his message, had no issue with taking responsibility, and was up for the challenge. That project was completed successfully; however, there was definitely a lot of delegation happening throughout. Since that time, I have had the privilege to work with all types of leaders through team and leader coaching. Effective leaders are effective delegators; however, there is a difference between delegation and avocation. Let me explain.
Let’s say that you have a new administrative assistant starting and you’re transferring responsibility of your calendar management to her. Advocating in its extreme might tend to look something like: “Welcome aboard Susie, I’d like for you to manage my calendar. I’m sure this is something you’ve done for many other executives and have a handle on. It’s all yours and let me know if you have any questions.” Now, how effective do you think Susie is going to be at meeting your expectations? I’m betting there will be a conversation within only a matter of a few days where you’ll be talking to Susie about a few mistakes she’s making or other considerations she’s overlooking about how you like this process managed. Matter of fact, for someone who tends to “delegate” in this manner, they tend to pull most things back because “no one can manage things like I do.” Forgive my basic example; however, I anticipate you are able to make the correlation.
So, what is the right way to delegate? Well, before we go there, let’s talk a little on why people have challenges in delegating. First, we have the reason mentioned in our example “no one can manage things like I do.” If this is your mindset, it may be time to hire a coach and develop a bit more self awareness. I don’t want to be too blunt, however, does “controlling” or “micro-manager” describe you? Yes, these terms may once again be the extremes; however, a person who struggles with delegation normally is having some personal insecurity, control, or fear of failure issues. Now, this isn’t always about that individual as it can be about the environment for which they operate. Regardless, it must be identified at its source and dealt with in order to improve leadership effectiveness.
Another reason for lack of delegation is that it simply takes time. For many tasked, it is truly is easier for us to do them ourselves versus take the time to properly train and delegate to someone. We’d need to talk more about the specifics, however, my encouragement to you would be to still challenge yourself to delegate these task.
As a general rule of thumb, many of you have held the old song better the lady and gentlemen that says, “Anything you can do, I can do better. No you can’t, Yes, I can…” Well, let the reverse of this be your mindset “anything I can do, you can do better.” Chances are, this may be much more true than you will every admit. Reality is that great teams are made up of members with complementing gifts. Thus, chances are there are people on your team who will be far better equipped and possibility passionate about handling these task.
So, now that we’ve decided to delegate, how do we do it. Well, a fairly simple process I normally encourage people in is as follows:
1. You perform, they observe
2. They perform with you present, you observe
3. They perform without you present, you audit
4. They perform, you only engage upon request
Now, timelines and details of this process vary, however, the principles are still the same regardless of whether your delegating calendar management or going through a formal apprenticeship. I might add, what step is the example above starting out? It immediately jumped to step #3 which is a common mistake as steps 1 & 2 take a bit of time.
Finally, I would note “don’t be afraid to let people mess up”. Great leaders give their team members the freedom to fail. I know you’ve all heard stories of some of the most successful leaders in the world. One of the characteristics of these leaders is that they are able to fail and immediately forgive themselves for their mistakes. Be a leader who encourages this type of environment!
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