There’s a lot to be said for a manager who delegates.
Delegating takes mindfulness about the workload, the priorities of the department, the team and the development opportunities for individuals. After all, it can be easier to just do it ourselves, right? But any manager knows this only leads to resentment and burnout, and does nothing to grow a team.
This one crucial step of delegation is the one I see most managers miss, and it leaves them wondering why delegation doesn’t work like they imagined it would! This one step makes a big difference in the results - and yes, we’re talking about those results that the manager is ultimately responsible for, even after the task is delegated.
When delegating, what happens most often is a manager looks at the workload and decides what to offload to the team. The manager then sets out to divvy up the work. However, the step that is often missed is figuring out who is willing and able to be delegated to!
If a person is not willing or capable - due to lack of confidence, lack of skill, or disengagement for any other reason - delegation will not be as effective and efficient. The person will resist, usually not overtly. It’s typically more dubious in nature - acting unsure, hesitating, unclear, unconvinced and even skeptical. Regardless, getting to the result is inefficient at the very least.
Before delegating, make sure the person is ready. Do they have the skills to do the job? Do they have the confidence and willingness? If not, delegating is not appropriate yet. They need training or coaching first.
Delegating is not abdicating responsibility. Managers are still ultimately responsible for the results, so it’s in a manager’s best interest to be mindful of a person’s readiness for delegation.
Getting to know the team is an important component - spending time one-on-one, truly being present and listening to people, and paying attention to emotions and what’s not being said will help a manager understand individuals on the team. Encouraging candid conversations, and the manager’s willingness to be transparent and vulnerable will create a culture of openness. This environment will encourage people to be candid about their strengths and limitations and be more willing to ask for help.
When a person is willing and able, and you’ve delegated the task, check-ins help keep people on track. Set the expectation upfront, and depending on the person’s experience, you can give them the responsibility for checking in. But remember, you are still responsible for the end result so until you can trust the person to follow-through, so you might set a reminder for yourself in case they don’t.
Here are a few check-in levels you might consider when delegating:
Delegation is about more than divvying up the work; it’s about providing people with development opportunities, and freeing up your time to concentrate on more management level activities. Your delegation efforts will be rewarded if you take the time to build in these steps.
Do you have any delegation tips or questions to share? Comment below so everyone can benefit!
PS - Check out our free resource library for a High Value Activities template to help you and your team get aligned to what's most important. And btw, this helps with deciding what to delegate and to whom!
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