People often accept the idea that delegation is important, but they don’t necessarily know why it’s so important, or how to do it effectively. The reality is that delegation is one of the most important things you can do not just for your own success, but of all those you delegate to. In this article we’ll discuss mindset and techniques to help you be a better delegator.
Delegation should not be a list of tasks you give to someone, telling them to do this or that. It should be a responsibility that you ask of them. Very often people get hung up on SOPs, but the reason that those SOPs don’t get updated is because no one has been delegated to keep them updated, with the power to make changes as necessary.
By assigning someone responsibility, you’re telling them you have confidence in their abilities, but you’re also encouraging them to take ownership of a situation rather than simply tick through a list of tasks you told them.
Grow Those Below
We’ve all read about those bosses who are too afraid to delegate, because they operate from a scarcity mindset: if people know how to do my job, they can replace me and I’ll get fired! The truth is that delegation makes your team better and makes you more valuable. By executing what you’ve delegated to them, your organization becomes more antifragile and is less likely to be paralyzed in your absence.
Realize Your Value
Just as delegation makes your team more valuable, it also frees you up to do more valuable work. As you examine what to delegate, there are three types of tasks that you should try to delegate first:
- Things that can be done easily (these don’t require your specific set of skills)
- Things that you’re not good at (these are better done by specialists)
- Things that are time intensive (if you think about the fact that the organization values your time above all, this isn’t a good use of company resources)
If a task is complicated, be on hand to help. After you’ve demonstrated the task and explained its importance, watch your team member execute and provide them feedback on the spot. There’s no point in writing up a long how-to document — in fact, you’re taking away the opportunity for them to exercise their new responsibility. Show them how to do it, watch and provide feedback, and then allow them to write up a process, which they are now empowered to correct as they find improvements.
The truth is that as a manager the only “have to” tasks that are always in your purview are hiring and one-on-one meetings. Everything else, in principle, can be delegated. If you get into the habit of constantly delegating, you won’t allow tasks to pile up and distract you from the highest value tasks you can be dedicating your energy towards.
If you consistently delegate, you’ll also provide a great example to your team, so that they too can delegate tasks themselves and focus on the most valuable tasks at their level. If everyone on your team is following your example of delegation and executing on the things that are the best use of your time, your organization’s performance will improve dramatically.