Q&A: Delegation

Q: I have difficulty delegating because I want it done my way and it takes too much time to show someone else how to do it. Can you give me some tips on how to delegate?

– Sandy, Financial Industry

A: Success is achieved through successful delegation. You train others to do new things and then you have time to be more strategic and get bigger things done. There are great advantages achieved through delegation.

You, like many others, have the feeling it may be easier and faster to just “do it myself” – but is it? If you just keep doing and doing without delegating you will not have time to be more strategic and accomplish bigger tasks.

So, what are the steps to delegation? Let me share a few steps to follow when learning to delegate. One of the first steps is deciding when, and with whom, you should consider delegating to.

When you pick something up, ask yourself “is there someone I think has the background, expertise, connections and time to do this job? Does this task provide an opportunity to grow and develop someone else’s skills? Do I have enough time to delegate?” Be honest with yourself, if you take a little time to train now, it will pay great dividends later, especially when the task comes up again. The bigger question is: “Should I delegate this task or am I just too controlling?” Another good question – “Is this a good use of my time?”

Some of the objections I hear when working with leaders is – “I need to make sure the task is done right” – “It is easier to do it myself” – “My staff doesn’t have time” – “I don’t have the confidence it will be done to meet my high standards.” With these objections in mind, let’s talk about how you can break through these obstacles.

Delegation provides professional growth. You create greater value in your staff’s expertise and they feel your trust.

When you delegate, particularly to someone new at the task, ask them to “make decisions and keep you informed along the way” or they can “make decisions and just discuss them with you before taking action.” Always set progress meetings to keep you updated and for the assurance that things are meeting your needs. When being asked to assist in a decision, ask your staff to give you their thoughts. After learning of their decision, and you feel it is the same you would have made, let them know that in the future they can just take action on that type decision without asking.

By meeting with staff regularly, particularly in the beginning, it gives you the confidence things that are going well and the staff member gains confidence in meeting your needs.

Make sure you “test” your staff. Sometimes our staff has greater expertise than we give credit. Take advantage of the staff you know has the expertise to do the task and if they don’t, remember, training now will make it easier the next time the same task comes along.

A manager early in my career said “Jeanne, if the ‘i’ isn’t dotted just the way you would and the ‘t’ isn’t crossed exactly the way you would but the job is done well and presented professionally – it should be okay.” Delegating doesn’t mean lowering your standards, it means communicating your standards to someone else. As my boss was saying to me – does it really matter if the task was done my way as long as it meets my standards? Having said that you also need to keep in mind that when delegated work is delivered back to you, set aside enough time to review it thoroughly. If possible, only accept good quality, fully completed work. If you accept work you are not satisfied with, your team member does not learn to do the job properly. Worse than this, you accept a whole new tranche of work that you will probably need to complete yourself. Not only does this overload you, it means that you don’t have the time to do your own job properly.

When delegating, make sure you are specific when giving instructions and don’t forget to include what the goal of the task is and when you want the task completed. And make sure that the team member knows you want to know if any problems occur and that you are available for any questions or guidance needed as the work progresses.

Someone once said, “If you don’t own a project, why would you care?” While you might assist along the way, don’t take ownership; let the team member be accountable and responsible for the outcome, even when you’re assisting. Spreading accountability and a sense of ownership creates a stronger and higher producing team. Delegation shows confidence in both parties.

As for your staff’s time – don’t assume they don’t have time because they probably do and they will enjoy learning something new. If they feel they don’t have time then help them in prioritizing their activities if necessary so you can delegate your tasks.

Delegating takes practice. Start with clear instructions; give some latitude in decision-making so you improve your own ability to respond more quickly to changes. How does delegating give you more time? Strengthening your team through delegation allows you to have a higher degree of skillful leaders you can rely on and they will be able to step in and manage when the need arises. Delegation also relieves the stress of having too much to do and it allows some “balance” in your life between work and personal time.

This quote sums up the benefits and importance of delegation:

“Even ‘Super You’ needs help and support. There is no shame in asking for assistance. Push aside the pride and show respect for the talent others can bring to the table. And, remember that there is no such thing as a single-handed success: when you include and acknowledge all those in your corner, you propel yourself, your teammates and your supporters to greater heights.”

– Author Unknown

Contact us if you have a question or if we can coach or mentor you or one of your leadership team members. Remember, your question is a question for someone else so please send in your questions and we may print it in our next newsletter. >>

By Jeanne Reaves
At Jeanne Reaves Consulting, Jeanne specializes in coaching executives in a variety of industries. As a certified Personality Consultant, Jeanne employs technology and techniques to help her clients understand their executive teams’ unique abilities, maximize their productivity and manage them more effectively to enhance earnings.