We’ve all heard the saying “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” It can be difficult to let go of this way of thinking, especially when you’re a new manager. You’re used to being the “doer”. But now you’re leading a team, this mentality is going to hurt more than it helps. Being able to delegate tasks to your team, trust your people with important issues and problem solving, and believe they can do work to your standards, will help with balancing daily tasks and big picture goals. Delegation helps reduce your workload, makes skill development possible, and creates an environment full of open communication, collaboration, and trust. A leader without delegation skills will be heading toward burnout, becoming overwhelmed with too many tasks and unable to dig themselves out.
Looking at the bottom line, delegation is more efficient. It’s so much more than telling someone what to do, it’s assigning responsibility over an outcome and trusting your people to deliver those outcomes themselves. If you’re hovering over your team members, overseeing every move they do, you’re doubling the manpower on that area of work. Trust that your chosen person has the knowledge and capacity to complete the task you gave them, otherwise you wouldn’t have given it to them. Trust that you don’t need to be a helicopter manager, let them do the work you know them to be capable of. delegating responsibilities to your people, you’re freeing up parts of your time to address larger scale issues or goals, focus on more strategic moves to promote growth in the organization – you know, manager stuff.
Delegation is a great way to take work off your plate. While this sounds a bit like overloading your team with tasks you should be responsible for, that’s not what I’m talking about. Keeping every task required to run the business as strictly your responsibility is a) how you get burned out and b) negates the necessity of having employees! By delegating daily tasks or portions of projects to your team, you’re freeing up your time to focus on tasks that require more experience to handle effectively. This also allows your team to develop their own skills and move along their career development pathways through learning new technical or soft skills you’ve encouraged them to take on.
Perhaps more to the point, by delegating you’re creating an environment where your team members can learn and grow while still being able to reach out to you for support. It will encourage them to approach projects or issues that arise from different angles, using critical thinking or strategic problem solving as they tackle them. It may take time and mentorship from you, but your team’s positive development will be well worth it as skills develop and make the daily, weekly, quarterly, and yearly goals easier to achieve. Take some time to review their work the first few times you delegate, then expand their autonomy once you’re sure they understand exactly what they’re charged with. Delegation establishes a foundation for their personal development, where they can ask questions, take on more responsibilities, and pursue new knowledge while also making your daily task list shorter. It is empowering to your employees to know you’re proud of the work they’re doing, and ready to accept accountability for when something goes wrong. This level of dedication increases the loyalty and trust your team has in your leadership, and shows you’re willing to learn and grow just as much as they are when things don’t go exactly to plan!
It’s easy to feel like delegation is a loss of control. Try to resist that feeling. Remember, you’re still responsible for your team, and you’re the one teaching them the tasks you’ve delegated! Checking over their work for errors and seeking reassurance in their capabilities might help you feel more stable when passing over responsibilities to your people. Also, keep in mind that delegating tasks doesn’t mean you’re incapable, or dodging responsibilities of your own. You’re still a good leader if you delegate! In fact, recognizing team members that would benefit from experience or are already able to do the necessary work indicates you know how to efficiently run your team and use your time to work on complex issues.
Actively using delegation in your leadership strategy creates a platform for open, honest communication during skill development. Your people feel you trust them to accomplish more, while you’re overseeing the entire project and available to answer questions should they need support. This confidence in your people builds their own confidence in you and your leadership! Providing support, clear expectations, and space to exercise their own autonomy, allows your employees to reach their best potential and create results you can both be proud of. If members of your team are looking to further their professional development, you can show your support by providing learning and development opportunities in the responsibilities they take on every day. By being given these dynamic opportunities, employees see that leadership supports their desire to succeed and wants them to meet their goals! By letting your employees exercise their critical thinking skills and their autonomy during their approach to tasks delegated to them, you’re showing your confidence in their abilities and your support in their journey.
While we talked about “if you want something done right, do it yourself” at the beginning of this article, there’s another phrase to remember, and that’s “there’s no I in team.” Your people will build you and your projects or organizations up, in ways you may not have imagined possible! The power of delegation is the power of letting go and believing in people. With confidence in your team and your support behind them, great things can happen.
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