A leader inspires, a manager implements, a teacher shows and a worker executes. So why do we call leaders executives when they should be inspiring rather than executing, getting others to execute the work?
Delegation is not an exercise of power, but more of an opportunity to empower. There are many reasons for delegating, not just for freeing you up to do more of what you love or what you are good at, or what is required of you. Delegation also gives others the opportunity to grow and to offer you support. It may be because they are better than you, or can become better than you. Know that being efficient is doing things right, but being effective is doing the right things. If they do not have the relevant experience initially, then make it your responsibility to train them. Give them a comprehensive brief and an outline of required outcomes with timelines, gently guide them, and then stand back to let them grow and by doing so, allowing you to make better use of your own time.
Once you get used to the freedom enjoyed when good delegation is in practice, you can use that free time to become more effective. It is essential that you do not just get rid of tasks that you do not like. Some are required of you in your role. Think very carefully about why you are delegating, and who you will be delegating to.
You need to trust the person you are delegating to. You need to be confident of their skills. You must know, however, that people have a ceiling – sometimes they can grow and take on additional responsibility, but when they hit their ceiling they can flounder. This results in a lack of confidence which affects the quality of the work. Watch for this. Watch too for laziness, and a reticence to take on an extra load “because it is not in my job description”. Grrr. The people who want to arrive at their jobs at eight and leave at five, and make no additional contribution, can be called corporate soldiers. They march in and march out, and you may have to accept that it’s all they want.
How do you delegate?
- Plan what needs to be done.
- Look for expertise in your team that has not yet been discovered. Identify skills that could be fine-tuned and capabilities that could be seen.
- Train the right people and tell them what your expectations and parameters are.
- Tell other people who you have entrusted the tasks with so that all lines of communication are clear.
- Offer responsibility and accountability to whoever you are delegating to.
- Allow breathing space and do not hover, looking over their shoulders until they get it right.
- Have faith that someone may do the job differently from you, and it might well be done as good as or even better than you could do it.
- Encourage regular feedback.
- Monitor their progress and if possible, measure it tangibly and regularly.